I recently had a small health scare and I was reminded just how hyper-aware I have become to every random ache or cramp. I always believed that chronically ill people were less likely to be worried about getting sick because they know their bodies extremely well. But the truth is I am more worried whenever I feel a little bit off. I am very in-tune with my body and I do know when something is really a problem (I have the symptoms of serious medical issues memorized), yet I still find myself freaking out when my stomach hurts or I feel nauseous.
At first I thought that it would pass and I would return to the person who wasn't afraid of getting sick, the person who truly believed that serious medical problems were never going to be part of her life; it has been over two years now and the fears haven't subsided.
When I realized that this fear was preventing me from doing things that I love, I turned to the internet--as any stereotypical millennial would. Google showed me tens of thousands of results from sites explaining just how normal this fear was. I read medical journal articles about the anxieties of chronic illness and I read blog posts from those suffering from chronic illnesses who wrote about the same fear. The things I read offered me some helpful techniques to prevent myself from letting my fears get the best of me such as deep breathing and exercise.
But the thing I found most helpful was simply an explanation for why I felt this way. On some blog, they were able to articulate that I wasn't scared of getting sick as much as I was scared of the unknown and of my own mortality. I never thought that I was invincible before or that I couldn't be hurt, but I also didn't think that I was breakable either.
I guess the point of my article is to reassure people with chronic illnesses who feel like they are always worrying about getting sick or who are letting the things they love fall by the wayside because of the fear that you aren't crazy or overreacting, you are dealing with a very real illness and it is scary. The unknown is scary and our mortality is scary, but we also can't let that stop us from getting the most out of the times when we are healthy. I think the only way to combat our fears is to recognized them and to deal with them head-on.
Check out some of the sites that I found: