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How FOMO Keeps Me Going in Life With Chronic Illness

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Defined on Google as:

Fear of missing out, or FOMO, is “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent.” This social anxiety is characterized by “a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing.”

I never really experienced FOMO until I got sick. Sure, there was the odd Saturday night in which I chose to stay in and I felt like I had missed out on a fun night after seeing social media posts about the awesome time everyone was having, but it was a choice. Was I really missing out if I had the choice to go and didn’t? In my current state there really isn’t a choice. Now I stay in because of a symptom flare-up or a new strange symptom that has decided to ravage my body and confuse doctors.

I want to go, I feel guilty when once again I have to cancel plans or call in sick to work. I want to do literally anything but stay in, once again feeling like my body is fighting against me and mentally torturing me about my life passing me by and letting everyone down. I’ve always been a free spirit, but suddenly my body has become a cage.

For a while I used social media to at least view what others were up to, a way to still feel connected, but the more I tried to feel connected the more I felt the the FOMO creeping up and worse, I felt envy. Envy for the people who are able to live their lives, envy that they have the energy to go out after work and enjoy activities on their days off. Envy of their health, bitter over their comments about how they wish they could just lay in bed or how it must be nice to go to bed at 5:30 most nights.

I begin isolating more, increasing the FOMO by doing so. Not wanting to answer messages of friends reaching out asking how I’m doing because I’m tired of always being negative, never having anything positive to update them about my health. I stop posting pictures of myself. I always look sick and exhausted. My eyes are hollow, with dark circles, my skin constantly breaks out in rashes and hives, my hair falls out leaving it noticeably sparse on top and at my hair line.

Fear of missing out… now more real to me than ever as I watch the world from bed. The only thing worse is the fear of giving up, the fear of letting the sickness win. The only thing that keeps me fighting so hard that I still manage to pull myself up out of bed most days and get to work, clean the house, care for the family.

Fear is powerful and my fear of missing out runs deep, the fear that I’ll let my body win. I could let the fear take over or I can use it to fuel my mind to keep my body going. I can use the fear to keep hope and push me through yet another test, another doctors visit, another day where the pain is so extreme I can barely move.

FOMO keeps me going.

Originally published: January 6, 2019
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