Month: February 2017

The “Worrier” Inside Me, and You.

Hakuna Matata, it means no worries. When I come home to visit my family, as I walk into my bedroom I am greeted by the words “Hakuna Matata”, as they hang over my bed. To many the phrase “Hakuna Matata” is most recognized by the widely famous Disney movie, The Lion King. Hakuna Matata is a Swahili phrase, that when translated roughly means “no worries”. In The Lion King the phrase is turned into a song that teaches Simba, the young lion cub, that he should forget his past, and live in the moment.

I often forget that this phrase hangs above my bed at home, as it has been there for a while and I usually just glance past it. However, today as I came home to visit my family I was reminded of the precious phrase, it means no worries.

In general we as humans tend to worry a lot, some more than others. It can often be an innate thing to do when one is placed in situations where the outcome is unknown. I’ve blogged previously about embracing the unknown, and while that is a task in itself, learning to live with “no worries “can be an even greater one.

I have been a “worrier” all my life, as a child diagnosed with anxiety you can come to your own conclusions on how “worrying” should have been my middle name, I’m sure if you asked my mom she would probably agree. In fact, I am worrying right now about my Anatomy test tomorrow, that I have been dreading for a week. But, we’ll get back to that.

I noticed that after my accident, worrying became something I did a lot less of. I didn’t hesitate as much before I did things, I wasn’t overly cautious about every move I made, and I certainly didn’t think about every possible outcome for the action I was about to take. These can all be recognized as common actions for a “worrier”.

For many, the act of building oneself up to actually complete an action is far worse than the actual doing of the action, or the aftermath that follows it. Every action, has a reaction. Shout out Ms, Klinger, freshman year of H.S. physics teacher.  I am definitely one of those people that would spend nine years worrying about every possibility of crossing the sidewalk, which would only actually take three minutes to do. Would I trip while crossing the sidewalk and land on my head, and obtain a subdural hematoma? Would a car accidentally drive onto the sidewalk and hit me? Would  a flock of young children riding bicycles maul me over? Would a stray dog happen to run past me, and bite me, and infect me with rabies? Would the sky finally fall, as Chicken Little predicted so many years ago? )(I knew I should have listened to that animated chicken.)  I would never truly know if any of these ridiculous hypothesis were to come true unless I was to actually cross the sidewalk, but the nine hours before hand in which I calculated all my risks seemed necessary before I was to do so. I have yet to have the sky fall on me, nor has a stray dog attacked me on the many sidewalks I have crossed, so I believe it is safe to say that you can probably cross that sidewalk you were worrying about but I wouldn’t completely take my word for it, and I would also probably look both ways before doing so.

I realize that I am not a doctor, because trust me I know there’s nothing worse than thinking you’re a doctor when you’re actually not. I mean lets not let our imaginary MD’s get the best of us now. With my imaginary MD set aside, I do realize that anxiety disorders of all kind are well,  a real pain in the ass. The brain works in crazy ways, and the way that we perceive things sometimes, can be overwhelming. There are few things worse than wanting to accomplish something, but being unable to because your brain is telling you that you can’t.

Coming from a past emetophobiac, why yes that is someone who has a fear of vomit. I can understand what it’s like to not eat anything that isn’t home cooked because of the fear/worry that it might make you vomit. Growing up as a kid, flu season was always the worst, because that meant going to school with a higher than normal rate of germs going around, which meant possibly catching them, which meant possibly getting the flu, which meant possibly puking. You get my point, ya girl hated puke. And to be honest it still isn’t one of my favorite things. But instead of running and hiding at the good old sound of gagging, I can successfully stroll through the ER and laugh with a doctor at the glorious sound of the stomach flu, and I’ve even become a pro at holding the puke bag.

As you can see though the mind can easily fall into a rhythm of cyclical thoughts, that lead one to nowhere good, thus the term “worrying”. We have all been there one time or another, and wether the worry was valid, or a bit crazy like that of puking. You can’t deny you’ve never worried about something. Some maybe more than others, all eyes on me, shout out Polly the therapist.

As I realize how long this blawwgg post is getting I should probably get to the point. It is okay to worry, worrying is a normal thing. There is a lot in our world to worry about, like the cure for cancer ever being found, and wether Kanye West will run for presidency. It is when we find ourselves unable to live freely because of worry that we should step back, and reassess things. While living Hakuna Matata would be a dream, it is more of a mantra than anything. It would be worrisome if someone lived completely without a worry.

I said earlier that I believe I became a little more fearless after my accident, and I do believe that is true. However, I don’t condone, nor would I suggest falling 10 feet head first so that you can “live a little more”, there’s nothing wildly sensational about your head smacking a gym floor. 0/10 I would not recommend. But I would recommend reminding yourself of all of the amazing things this world has to offer. I would recommend setting your fears, and worries aside sometimes, so that you may pursue things you only dreamed of. I would recommend taking the first step in the direction of something scary, so that you can come out on the other side stronger. I think for me and my “near death/paralyzation” experience, I was able to see how quickly things could have changed, and how much I could have missed. I’ve spoken with a handful of other people who have been involved in fluke accidents, and a majority say the same thing, that their accident helped them to further realize the value in life.

However, I think we as humans should learn to appreciate the value of life, without having to be in a tragic accident. We should stop to appreciate the little things more often, and maybe not spend so much time worrying about the unknown things.

We only have one life, and a life full of worrying is not the way one should feel. You deserve to experience everything you’ve ever dreamed of, no matter how scared it has ever made you feel. The little worries, and the big big worries, I believe you can overcome them.  And that Anatomy test, yeah I will do the best I can and learn from my mistakes, A.K.A prepare further ahead of time, and make better study habits, says the college kid.

You are an overcomer.

P.S. – I’ll get on that rollercoaster someday.

P.P.S – This post was not made to offend anyone, I know first hand how terrifying anxiety can be, and I give all my love and support to anyone battling an anxiety disorder.

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The dreaded 9 months later:

It’s been a few months since I’ve spilled my brain out onto these pages. I’ve tried so many times, but everything I’ve written just didn’t feel right. There’s an odd comfort here, I find relief on these pages, it’s a corner that is my own, and regardless of the rest of the world’s thoughts or opinions this little space, is mine.

Identity is something I’ve struggled with a lot over the past four years. Not like sexual identity, or religious identity, in fact I’m not really sure how you would even classify it. You see when I was diagnosed four and a half years ago I felt as if everything I had ever been, had worked to become, was taken away from me. I traded in my “old life” for a new one. I had to give up the things I loved, and it wasn’t because I didn’t love them anymore, it was because I physically couldn’t do them anymore.

It’s been four and a half years now and while some days I feel as if I’ve built a stronger, more confident self through all of this, I still find myself lost in the labels.

There is no solid, concrete evidence as to what someone’s life will look like with POTS 5, 10, even 15 years out after a diagnosis. There is no solid treatment plan that is followed with every patient that tests positive for POTS. There is no “normal baseline” of what one will experience with a diagnosis.

I think this is part of the reason that I struggled so much with identity, because I had no idea what was ahead. Unlike many other disorders, and disease’s where there is a “usual” path a disease may follow, POTS has none. It is so unique to each individual that it has no limits. When first diagnosed, I was told not to expect anything, because we had no idea how my body would react to treatments, wether medications would even work, and if they did how long they would take. I never fully accepted this but I understood that the outcome was “unknown” and it still is.

While today I am so much better, SO much better there is always the possibility that things could change. Because there is so little information and research about POTS, we don’t know what the possibility is for patients to relapse into flares, or if once their bodies return to what their normal once was, if they stay there.

Four and a half years later I find myself the night before my big doctors appointment laying in a hotel bed unable to sleep. This happens every time, and it is always to be expected. I find worry in the unknown. I usually am a person of the unknown, I enjoy unplanned things, I am a last minute kind of person. But these appointments, the unknown, it keeps me up at night. Particularly tonight.

The last time I found myself here I was told the next day to come back in nine months, and we would discuss what the future looked like. Wether it meant coming off of some of the medications I have become dependent on for four years, or if it meant I still needed time for my body to heal, and I would have to wait another nine months.

I’m at this weird stage of it all, I’ve moved past identifying myself as “sick”, in fact I prefer to avoid acknowledging it at all costs if I can. I am trying to figure out what it means to live beyond the diagnosis now. I used to take comfort in surrounding myself with others that were going through similar things, but now I am learning what it is like again to live as someone that isn’t solely defined as “sick”. I enjoy being able to do things I forgot I even had the capability of doing. I long to be rid of all of the things that attach me to my accident, and are a constant reminder of what changed things so drastically for me.

I take comfort in knowing that I have made it this far, through all of the “shit” that has come with it, but also all of the awesome it has brought. I realize that some people aren’t as lucky as I am. For some the pain is something they may never escape from, and their bodies may never get a break, I once thought this was myself but have come to learn that with patience anything is possible.

But I am also jealous, and still mad that I had things taken away from me. While I have been lucky to have things for the most part return to normal, I envy the times I had to give up because of what this disorder took from me. I hold on to the “what-if’s” and I probably always will.

However, I fall asleep eager tonight, for good news. While most nights that I have fallen asleep here, I have been weary of the bad news I knew was ahead of me, tonight I don’t feel that way. I am certain there is good news ahead, because as each day passes I can feel the healing just a little bit more. I have “high hopes”.