Health problems and the fear of dying caused anxiety and triggered my depression …
I remember sitting in a car outside a Medical Clinic, scared beyond any other memory, as I opened a letter to hear if the scan had found a brain tumor.
I remember one year later (my wife 7 months pregnant with our third) being told to lay still on the hospital bed as the nurse tore off the ECG printout and ran to the hallway calling, “He’s having a heart attack!”
I remember some months after that, booking in for surgery to cut out a large portion of my lower lip where a doctor had diagnosed a cancerous lesion.
I remember staying in bed most weekends and avoiding any engagement or fun with my kids because my days were numbered.
I remember thinking it was only a matter of time and I was going to die … despite a series of false alarms, something would eventually get me.
I remember considering driving into that other lane so many times, because a quick death would be much easier for me and those who loved me.
I remember a series of health issues had put my anxiety through the roof and I began self diagnosing every sniffle, lump and pain as some symptom of a life threatening illness.
I remember after a long period of constant illness, sitting in front of my GP sobbing and saying, “I’m sick and tired of always being so sick and tired!”
It was very clear to me that I was going to die and all I wanted my GP to do was book me in for a full body scan and blood tests to find whatever it was that I had.
I was afraid of leaving my kids without their protector and provider.
I was afraid of how my death (through some terminal illness) would destroy my kids emotionally.
I just wanted to know what I had in me and how I was going to die.
Fortunately, I had found a very good GP and she guided me through accepting, understanding and treating the illness that I now know I have … it was none of the ones I imagined … and it was not terminal.
My Depression and Fear of Death
So today … almost 10 years later, after medication, reading, cognitive training, and a better understanding of my mind … I am again worried.
Because I no longer fear death.
But that’s a good thing right?
It would be a good thing if it was just about accepting fate. But it feels almost like a numbness … an indifference … I don’t know …
When I was first diagnosed and began treatment, I would go straight to my GP for any ailment that worried me and she would do all the tests I needed (or wanted) to eliminate my anxiety. But lately I have been ignoring my ailments (even when friends say I should ‘get that checked’), I tolerate a lot of pain … and today when I sliced my finger open on something I was working on in the yard, I just looked inquisitively at the depth and length of the cut, watched the blood begin to run out, and continued to work.
I worry that because of the emptiness at times … because of the shell of a man I am compared to what I was or could have been … my mind’s eye sees this body as having no value or worth.
These past 10 years have taken my pride, which was not such a bad thing.
But, these years have also taken my dignity and self-respect.
I’m not the husband I hoped to be.
I’m not the father I dreamed my kids would have.
I’m not the friend I wanted to be.
I’m not the author, artist or CEO I could have been by now.
I think subconsciously I despise my body for so often failing me, slowing me down, getting me lost … and as such it is dismissed as already broken … any other injury or illness is therefore null and void. I know it is a mental illness and not a physical one that I have, but given the part my body played in triggering this illness, they are both partners in crime and I do not differentiate in their judgement. The poor treatment of my body is compounded further by the masochistic tendencies I have at times (will leave that for another post).
Only way I can see of changing with this is to accept, respect, and learn to love the “Me I am” … not the “Me I was”, or the “Me I could”.
Easy … right?
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