The Anxiety I Feel When I Think About My Health Improving
Chronic illness and anxiety often go hand in hand. Before becoming severely ill, I lived with an anxiety disorder my entire life. I did my best to live the fullest life I could despite it and the physical manifestations that came along side it. I worry about everything and anything, and as soon as I have cleared one worry, I find a new one. But this new one is unexpected – I am now anxious about getting well!
These are guilt laden and possibly taboo words after years of longing to enjoy life free of pain, and possibly quite offensive to some who remain unwell with no hope of improvement. But here it is, my new panic causing, all encompassing thought. The slightest sign of improvement has brought thoughts of real life and the outside world rushing towards me like a freight train. That train always was moving, but at a very slow and pausing pace.
After years of adjusting and working hard to find a semblance of peace with the grief of a loss of life, independence, a hard gained career, the chance of love and children, I now am panicked with the possibility it will return. What kind of cruel twist is this?
Besides learning to live with the relentless pain, discomfort and loss of brain power and cognition, being ill and doing it well is like learning a new language with ear plugs in and no books.
It is the hardest thing I, or anyone, will face. Despite the difficulties I faced and losses that occurred, I survived it. I survived the horrific torture of applying and proving my ill health to get my due benefits, I survived the medical and personal abuse that sadly comes with many chronic illnesses and I survived the darkness of my confinement and loneliness.
Finally, after years of searching for answers, I found someone to help me, a path that suited me personally and bit by snail-pace bit, I am improving – but the outside world now scares the poop out of me! People, traffic, conversation, shops overwhelm and floor me. The world feels busier, louder, scarier.
How will I transition back to the world I was metaphorically dragged kicking and screaming from when normal for me has been solitary confinement and at best only managing my self-care, treatments and basic food?
How will I ever manage to nail real life, the expectations from other people of a “well” person and all of those extra things I need to do to remain well?
I only got my benefits because I was so severely ill and there was an excess of evidence to back this up – what will happen when I’m half way back? When I am reassessed, how can I keep those benefits I need to survive? Will I have to go back to that world earlier than I should just because I’m not on my death bed anymore?
Internal ramblings engulf my brain.
What will I do? How will I earn my living? My very niche job totally relied on me in person being in a certain place at a certain time ready to perform, does not exist any more. To find similar employment would mean travel and commitment I am not capable of. To what degree will I be “well?”
Of course this all could be very exciting were it not for that yapping dog that is anxiety. I am a woman in my 40s about to embark on a new life that bears no resemblance to my old one. Love, travel, experiences are all now a real prospect.
So for now I take a deep breath, bring myself back to the moment and acknowledge I survived and will continue to whatever I face. I will embrace the tiny glimmers of excitement and hold on to them and continue to hold on to gratitude for any circumstance and just being alive. It is all daunting but I need to get a grasp on my anxiety and see that train is still a distance away, not rushing, but crawling at a slow pace with many stops on the way.
Learning to adjust is still key.
My journey to survive began with Toni Bernhard’s book “How to be Sick,” which needs the highest of recognition. Along with my psychologist, my naturopath, my osteopath and my acupuncturist who have all worked hard on my personal puzzle pieces – as well as the immense support I have found with my family within online communities.
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