I was desperately trying to think of a pun involving either my eye or my health anxiety but couldn’t think of a good one, although worried sick is a banger if I ever choose to do a mini book on all of this crap. I’m a writer, ladies and gentlemen.
Just a quick post to update on my fizzy brain and how things are in terms of my bout of health anxiety and how I am getting through. I’m going to keep it fairly short because I’ve made a point of not indulging my anxieties for as far as I can, and writing about it can tip into that indulgence. You know the thing where someone tells you not to think of a pink elephant and all you can think of is a pink elephant – well imagine one wearing a t-shirt perhaps one size too small and pawing at his eye and you’ve got me.
But that’s doing my recovery a disservice, because, touch wood, my eye is getting better. That’s right: after weeks of telling myself that this was the end (and, if I’m honest, reassuring myself that it actually wasn’t) whatever the fuck was wrong with my eye has calmed down. Still twinges quite a lot but if that doesn’t underscore what I’ve been saying about if I just accept it’s nothing, I’ll relax, and in turn it’ll go away, what does? I’m almost convinced it was what I said it was: a pulled muscle that took forever to heal because I spent three months frowning like a chimpanzee doing a jigsaw. That and I remembered to put my glasses on of a morning instead of treating them as a fashion accessory and somewhere to rest my eyebrows.
So progress is always good news and it shows you that even with health anxiety, once you choose to accept that the sky isn’t about to fall in, things can and will get better.
But it does lead me to mentioning something else which is a total knacker with health anxiety – transference. That is, the removal of one worry and the replacement of it with another. For me, I’ve gone from fixating on the eye pain onto worrying about the fact I’m twitching and (LOL) jerking all over the place. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write. I feel a bit like Tweek from South Park, massively over-stimulated and very bouncy, but that’s an easy enough one to deal with because frankly, who fidgets themselves to death? And it’s a funny one because I’m not sure I’m fidgeting anymore than normal, but rather just being very aware of it. Paul is forever telling me to stop bouncing my legs or clacking my fingers or breathing unnecessarily and I often find myself tensing my hands or feet or whatever and I’ve never really given it thought, but of course now it’s all I can notice. I went through a phase a few years ago where I was convinced that the muscles in my leg twitching away were a precursor to MS, and what is this if not an extension of that? Only I’m not so arsed this time around. But I can live with some fidgeting, if anything, think of the extra calories burned. Indeed, the only way to get over transference of symptoms is to treat it as just another thing to rationalise and get on with – and that’s what I’m doing.
So all in all, progress, and good progress at that, and if you’re reading and going through a bad spell of anxiety yourself, hopefully you can take some comfort in how quickly things can turn around.
I will say one other thing, because well I’m a writer see and I want to hit my word count. This has, in all honesty, been the worst period of health anxiety I’ve gone through in probably a decade. And not just health anxiety, but the resulting general anxiety and feeling down. It happened fast and it happened hard and for quite a bit of it, I couldn’t see a way out of it. I still feel a very long way from myself – but I’m getting better. And in a perverse way it’s provided me with a kick up the arse to realise this is something I’ll always have and that I can’t be complacent about it – it can and will bite me if I don’t pay attention to how I’m feeling at the time.
But you know what really made a difference? Being open and honest about it all. Writing everything down, whether unpublished or otherwise, and talking about it with family and friends and folks online. There’s always the worry of feeling like a burden and for all that I have plastered all manner of detail about our lives on here, I’m actually a very private person when it comes to discussing how I’m feeling, so it was a hard habit to break. I tried a different tack this time around and spoke openly (when asked) and it absolutely helps – I mean, I still feel like a loon when I’m rattling off my symptoms, but it’s good to talk. Remember that, whether you’re the one struggling or you know someone who is.
I’m luckier still in one respect: I have Paul, who god love him, has had to deal with all manner of nonsense these last few months. The best one was when I had to wake him at 4am because I was panicking that I’m having auditory hallucinations through lack of sleep. Nope he explained, that’s just the gas meter door creaking outside, and cuddled me back off to sleep. He’ll also cheerfully explain why I haven’t got disease X or illness Y or Jay-Z. Everyone needs a Paul, but you can’t have mine. Seat’s taken.
I wrote before about reading your blog on health anxiety and realising that was me too. I decided to speak to my GP and after some discussion and taking on his advice, I feel much better. I’m still waiting for heart palpitations to hit again but I’ve stopped constantly checking my heart rate and seem to be feeling much better. I know a lot of your writing is tongue in cheek, but seriously, thanks to you, I’ve started to get a grip on my health and trying to enjoy life. You’re a wee star. Thank you. X
Thank you for coming back and I am so pleased to hear you’re moving forwards – good work! So glad you’ve broken out of the cycle of checking, because it’s such a false reassurance. Don’t go looking for trouble!
But do indeed keep going and get out there and enjoy yourself and remember, there’ll be bad days as well as good, but they’ll come at you less often until one day, you won’t remember the last time you felt bad about all of this. Promise! x