Feature image from HEALTHYPLACE
There is a part of being chronically ill that a lot of people don’t talk about – Fear – but I thought we should have a little chat about it now. Why not?
I can remember when I was first diagnosed with ITP (5 years ago now) I became afraid of the strangest things. So many aspects of my life that I used to take for granted where suddenly fraught with danger and worry.
I was a ‘sick’ person and standing at the top of a flight of busy stairs was a frightening idea. I became scared of riding my bicycle on the road around the city, and crossing a busy street. I was afraid of knives, blades and hitting my head on the kitchen cupboard doors.
The blood rushed, I grabbed my foot to my chest and held it so tight my knuckles turned white.
I was scared of hurting myself and bleeding in front of others, of having them stare or fuss over me.
All of these things were always a danger – but I had been made aware of them now, and I was finding it hard to ignore. Eventually – over the years, a lot of these fears have moved to the back of my mind, replaced with other worries like being late, or loosing my wallet, but there is one fear that is still with me.
I am still afraid of being alone. I don’t mean romantically, I mean actually alone. I am scared to live in a house on my own.
A few years ago I was at home one night, rearranging our house. We must have just moved in, because I had been to Ikea and bought a few photo frames to frame so old sketches from Art school. I was so careful removing the glass and unscrewing the sides, leaning everything against the end wall as I went.
I stopped mid project to make dinner – and when I returned to the lounge room, I walked carefully around my projects admiring how a frame can lift a drawing so dramatically – When I heard a dull crack and felt a hot white slice – burn through my foot. The blood rushed, I grabbed my foot to my chest, and held it so tight my knuckles turned white.
One glass plane had slide silently down the wall onto the carpet and lay invisibly on the carpet.
To this day, I still feel sorry for my mother, for the horrible phone call she received from me that night.
I have not found any way of making that fear go away. Sometimes, I think that there is no cure for fear, you just learn to be ok with its presence.
If you know someone that does suffer a chronic illness perhaps ask them about their fears, get them talking about what they have become afraid of. It can reduce the power, if fears are known and understood.
You have your own fears without getting caught up in the fears of others. In the past I have been influenced by other people being scared for me. Like the nurses when I went to get my contraception changed, or friends not wanting me to do silly or exciting things. Family not wanting me to travel too far away.
They will only be worrying because they care or they are interested in what you have, either is a compliment that you should just take and shut up about.