My precious dog who I lost last month, Colleen ❤
Hello person who is reading this! This is a depressing but much needed venting post.
It has been a while since I have posted anything here, which is due to a number of things. In March, I found a therapist (yay!) so a ton of my introspective time was devoted to my sessions, which took a toll on my mental and emotional quota. I got really into feminism, and no I don’t mean that bullshit third-fourth wave stuff. I really appreciate my therapist, as she has been immensely helpful in dealing with the events and aftermath of my month of April, which was a disaster month. It started with a terrible and relentless flu. It peaked with my appointment at the neurologist (I had a panic attack 10 minutes before arriving). And it concluded with having to put my most valuable companion down, my dog Colleen. At the neurologist, I learned a few things. Thankfully, I don’t have epilepsy, which was the source of a lot of my anxiety. Sadly, my fears have been replaced with a new disease, every health-anxiety sufferer’s nightmare: multiple sclerosis (MS).
What are the odds! My neurologist found a few lesions in my brain from my MRI. They are teeny tiny but I doubt that size matters. What makes the situation even more sad is that I was really looking forward to getting an MRI. Well, not the actual MRI part, but the results of it. I would relentlessly sign up for fMRI studies at my university in hopes of seeing what my brain looked like, extra-curious about my amygdala since it seems to be the attention hog, even before GAD. After it was done, I ordered copies of my MRI for my own personal use. I thought my brain looked pretty darn sexy AND healthy — yet I did notice the white oval shapes with concern, learning that they were scars and can be caused by injury (of which I have had many). Yet, with my doctor, I learned that those little bright white dots are scars…or possibly demyelinating lesions. She then proceeded to question whether my coordination is different or whether I have been using the bathroom normally.
It’s not official, but things aren’t looking so great. I have paresthesia in my left arm right now, that floats around each of my limbs and induces all sorts of interesting sensations. This has been going on for a week and a half. Currently parts of my face feel numb too. MS and anxiety have almost exactly the same symptoms, which doesn’t help. And my stress levels have been rocket high…I can’t seem to focus on anything else. If I do end up having MS, it’ll be another thing to add to my rather extensive list of “Stupid Shit I Must Deal With”. Sometimes I feel rather unlucky, despite all the wonderful things I have experienced and the things I am grateful for. I am still grateful for these things but I just wonder why I seem to experience the fortunately few, but random adversities in my life. Truthfully I am not in the most positive of head spaces at the moment, but I do recognize that MS is not a life sentence and that I can hopefully do everything I’ve ever wanted to do in life, despite having a chronic autoimmune disease (hopefully).
Like many people, I have spent a large amount of my life yearning to be normal and feel normal. I have never wanted that to be true more than right now.
The possibility of being diagnosed with a chronic illness has already changed my outlook on everything. For one, I feel like my anxiety is now warranted because I actually have a legitimate thing to be worrying about. It’s almost like this whole year was wasted on worrying about dumb, insignificant things, but preparing me for this. There is also this element of surreality that has been inserted into my days…through all my googling of anxiety symptoms, I never once lingered or obsessed on MS and yet, here I am being told that I could have it. It’s like I was blind to it…like a ball just came flying out of no where, aimed perfectly for me.
It’s hard not to look at my future and be scared, because this is something that could influence every single aspect of my future. Not just jobs and relationships (because how could I find either?), but even the little moments. What will Christmas be like with MS? Pregnancy? Could I even have a child?! Travel? How am I going to manage to do anything if I have flare-ups? I know that I’ll eventually get used to it, as I have gotten used to my “anxiety symptoms”, but it’s something I just don’t want to deal with. It’s something I don’t want anyone to deal with. Life is complicated enough. I feel like the juicy parts of my life have yet to start…and this possible diagnosis almost seems like the stop to all of that, like it’s never going to happen. Realistically, I know it’s just a “Colossal Titan-sized” hurdle, but there’s so many things I wanted to do…how can one do these things while taking expensive medication and dealing with limbs or eyeballs or privates that suddenly stop working?
There is also a certain level of irony here…at least from what I have noticed. I have continuously struggled with my self-esteem, and it’s something that mediation brought to my attention, since you must spend a copious amount of time with your thoughts, and only your thoughts. Part of struggling with low self-esteem is that dreary cycle of self-criticism and judgement…where nothing is good enough…where you’re not good enough…where you’re doing everything wrong. Maybe I have been doing this to myself for so long that my white blood cells have taken note and are now proceeding to attack the myelin that my brain needs to keep me functional. Perhaps because I haven’t really been living for so long, it has now made it’s contribution to stifle the process. I know that’s really dark and untrue, but I can’t help but notice this connection.
To cope with the ruminating on MS (and possibly the MS itself, if I have it), I have been eating healthier (no sugar! so hard), taking supplements (1000000 IU’s of vitamin D), exercising (mostly long, emotional walks), and distracting (thanks, Buzzfeed videos!). I will stop researching, though it is so very hard, especially as things get better or worse. Many meditation sessions have been had too, but to little avail…I almost think it’s making things worse. This brings me back to my issue of mindfulness meditation being all about “being in the present” and “noting the sensations of your body”. Because, what if noticing the sensations of your body in the present are the things that are causing you distress? Even in loving kindness meditations, I am brought back to the “MS space” because hearing over and over again: “May I be well. May I be healthy.” just makes me think about all the people that have to have their attention brought to their un-wellness and un-health.
I know I have to go back to that specific space in my mind, the one that took me ages to find. The space that can block out, and most importantly, accept what my body is doing. But now that there’s a chance that a debilitating illness could be causing this: how can I? For one, MS is like the ultimate example of your body betraying you, other than cancer. It’s literally attacking itself. For another, there are no positives. Makes me wish I was an overly positive person so that I could find a few… Being an idealist is tough for so many reasons, but I think reason number one is that unwillingness to accept reality, a continuous dissatisfaction with the here and the now. Sometimes disaster strikes and instead of seeing it as something to conquer and master, you just want to run away. You can’t run away from MS.
It will probably take a long time for me to get diagnosed, I think on average it takes a few years. I have an appointment with my neurologist in July. If you’re reading this, cross your fingers for me, in hopes that my myelin is fine and that a cure for MS will soon be found. And please, don’t ever take your mobility, your dexterity, your health, or your pets for granted ❤