I have been struggling for the last decade not only with the physical symptoms and other manifestations of chronic illness but with the innumerable issues that come with NOT being “functional” and all of the emotions that come with it. Today I have been trying to sort things out in my head a little bit and I have realized something very important – that really, when it comes down to it, the MAIN emotional response I get when confronted with the problems directly from and that arise from having severe chronic illness is the sense of being OVERWHELMED. It comes in response to thinking about the future in any context – regarding family, friends, “partners,” and other “relationships;” regarding money; regarding health care and insurance … basically anything that COULD become problematic for a “healthy, normal” person that that person would be able to “fix” with focus and hard work becomes something like a black hole in my mind. As optimistic as I try to be, I am very much a realist (and without any doubt, a “skeptic”) and when all of those happy “YOU CAN DO IT, BETH!” thoughts clear in the moments during which I feel especially ill, I become engulfed by this sense of dread – the overwhelming feeling that I WILL die alone, homeless, sick, penniless on the street … and in the long-run, as it stands now, there is not a damn thing I can do about it. I know that sounds absolutely awful and terribly contrary to everything I have written here. But I just want to address the very REAL reality that those of us with chronic illness face – that is, the dichotomy that exists between what we know we are capable of achieving if our health improves and what we KNOW the outcome will be if it doesn’t. It is a terrible state to allow one’s mind to dwell in which is precisely why I write what I do write here and elsewhere – I firmly believe that “dwelling” in that sort of mental place, however “real” it is, accomplishes nothing but establishing a feeling of dread, from an “objective” standpoint.

To clarify that a little bit, it is very much like self-confidence. One doesn’t have to be especially confident to exude the “air” of having self-confidence – I have proven this time and again with myself and my interactions with others. There was an interesting exhibit at one of the museums in Pittsburgh many, MANY years ago – basically you stood in front of a screen upon which there was the figure of a woman projected. You held a small sensor in your hand which, from what I gathered, was very much like one of those pulse-ox things they put on your finger in hospital or while visiting the doctor. Based on things like your pulse and O2 levels, the sensor conveyed how “nervous” you were; the more “nervous” you came off, the farther the woman would walk back and the LESS nervous, or the more CONFIDENT, you were, the closer the woman came to you. I went to this exhibit with my boyfriend of the time (the one I have mentioned here many times … God help me….) and the woman strayed far from him but I put on my “I’m cooler than everyone; I’ve got friends with NAMES and INFLUENCE; I am SOMEBODY” persona and the woman “walked” right up to me. It was really an interesting piece of “art” and very telling as far as “confidence” goes – you don’t have to be especially confident in yourself per se to get others to BELIEVE you are confident; you can superficially and momentarily believe you are “all that” and more and that “aura” is definitely given off to those around you. This is a little trick I learned back in either junior high school or high school … but, as is often the case, that story is for another time.

All I basically want to say here is that it seems – at least for now – that the “negative” emotions that bombard me from time to time when I think about “reality” and how harsh and cruel it can be and IS all congeal into something that resembles the idea behind the word “overwhelmed.” If I go back to the Wayne Dyer “quote” that says “Don’t worry about the things you don’t have control over because you don’t have control over them and don’t worry about the things over which you do have control because you can do something about them!” I find that the “middle ground” between the mental attitude I have assumed through YEARS of thought and practice and the mental attitude that exists in my “unconscious” somehow eludes that “don’t worry about anything” kind of thinking. How can one not worry when one knows there are really big issues over which one MIGHT have some control but if that control is not able to be exerted, the consequence can very literally be death? I have been working on that one and I have SOME answers (or some of the “answer,” depending on your perspective), but it is a very tough “issue.” I don’t know exactly how to rectify that for myself or for anyone else who suffers with severe chronic illness or disability of any kind. I am very much hoping that my “adventures” in writing here and elsewhere and whatever else I can get involved with will help me discover BETTER answers for all of us.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I certainly hope you have a better grasp of the potential future! If you have managed to find a REAL way to escape this feeling of being absolutely overwhelmed, please let me know how you have done it! If you have found there is an action that carries far into the future that enables one to ENSURE the ability”not to worry about it” because it IS something one can change, I’d love to know about all of “it!” I think the thought processes that go behind these things are just as important as the “things” themselves. At any rate, I hope you are having a happy and healthy day wherever you are in the world and please know that my heart is ALWAYS with YOU.

❤ Always, Beth


One thought on “Overwhelmed.

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