We all have moments in our lives where we put on a brave face and charge through the day. Maybe it’s a job interview, or a presentation, or even getting up the courage to ask a certain someone an important question. As a child you think you’ll get braver as you get older, and maybe some of us do, but many others of us don’t. Regardless, I realized the other day, while sitting in therapy
yes, so glamorous that I’m terrified. But here’s the thing, I don’t go there emotionally, in other words, I don’t allow myself to feel the fear. Every day I put on that brave ‘job-interview-face’ and I mentally charge into the day. So I sat there in therapy, words spilling out of my mouth before my mind had the ability to analyze their meaning, and I realized, wow, I really am scared.
I really am scared and yet, I only realized it…why? Have you ever skipped stones across the surface of the water? When you get that perfect stone and it skips softly across the surface as you count the touches, watching it glide so gently and then finally, plop, it dips away. I realized I’ve been skipping stones, every day, just touching the surface of my fear, and then in therapy the other day, plop, my stone dipped down. Which I think is okay, to acknowledge your fears. I didn’t ruminate, I didn’t stay, I just acknowledged them and kept going.
Acknowledging fears just seems to open this whole other can of worms, so here we are days later and I’m still pondering how much I want to delve into that particular fear, the fear of getting sicker. The reality is that studies have shown that there is an increase in risk for earlier mortality in patients with ME/CFS. The below quote from a 2016 study was published in this article. If you are looking for further content the full study is here.
The findings suggest patients in this sample are at a significantly increased risk of earlier all-cause (M = 55.9 years) and cardiovascular-related (M = 58.8 years) mortality, and they had a directionally lower mean age of death for suicide (M = 41.3 years) and cancer (M =66.3 years) compared to the overall U.S. population [M = 73.5 (all-cause), 77.7 (cardiovascular), 47.4 (suicide), and 71.1 (cancer) years of age].
I’ve read numerous studies indicating that the cardiovascular system and risks of cancer take big hits with this illness and I’m left asking myself questions like, are you actually getting sicker? Does worrying about it help? Does ignoring it help? Are you doing everything in your power to not get sicker? The answers convince me it’s a legitimate fear, worthy of acknowledging, but not one to think about day in and day out. It’s a motivating fear. Like when you are scared and you react quickly. It motivates me to take the absolute best care of myself that I possibly can, and to find doctors that also want to provide the best care they possibly can.
At the end of the day, at the end of this post, and after much reflection I’m going to say that I’m glad I’ve had this underlying fear, it feels like for now I’ve made peace with it. Without the fear I don’t know that I would have cared for myself as I have. I don’t know that I would have learned and started practicing self-compassion, nor eaten the way I have been. My fear and my fighting spirit are working together as a team in the background of my mind to keep me as healthy as humanly possible right now. So the truth is, yes, I’m terrified, but it’s okay. Back to skipping stones across the water.
Thank you for stopping by to have a read. If you’ve been following along, my son finally has his doctor’s appointment next Monday, so I’ll update on Tuesday.
Here are a few more little paintings from the past week. Painting therapy has really been a huge part of chronic illness journey. It’s helped in ways I can’t begin to explain. Mostly it’s given me a platform to maintain some sort of contact with the world outside my bedroom and you just can’t imagine how important that is until it’s your reality. Hoping this finds you having the best day possible for YOU. 🌸