My Noodle

Running Towards Fear

Today, I am afraid.

I’m deathly afraid and I’m afraid all the time. Trying to sort through the fear in any sort of meaningful way, seeing it as a whole, flummoxes me.

I have an appointment with another health care worker and that makes it worse. I have a history of being fired by therapists, coaches, anyone who are supposed to help. I guess it’s a little like dating, after one too many bad dates, I feel like throwing in the beach towel.

Today, I fear Death. Not Death itself, but the idea that it’s time for me to die. It might be next year, next month, tomorrow, or even today. I feel my mortality. Deeply. I am going to die. Logically, I know this. But viscerally, it takes me by surprise every time it occurs to me. Someday, I’m going to die. It seems so unreal that such a thing could ever happen to me!

My looming death occurs to me often. There I am, going about my business, when suddenly, I freeze. For just a moment, it’s like time folds and I’m both here, right now, and also at the moment of my death. I feel it crawling up my arms. Fingers caressing my back, letting me know that yes, Death is here.

Today, I fear Death because it’s been over a week since I’ve had any decent sleep.

Now you might think, well Karin, lots of people have bouts with insomnia. It’ll pass. Do some meditation. Take a pill. Drink yourself asleep. At least you don’t have cancer. Maybe if you thought about someone other than yourself you wouldn’t have so many problems.

Yeah, Fuck Off. Right?

From age 40 to 50, I rarely slept. I’ve gone up to 10 days without a wink. I’d lay there all night in a panic. Meditating. Trying to remain calm. I’d get up and go to work in the morning, driving in traffic. I went insane. I had barely the energy for work. I went from a size 14 to a size 0 in the first year. People talked about having an intervention for me but gave it up once they realized I was eating every two hours.

I drank, took pills, and contemplated ending my own life. People asked me how I could do it, how I could live like this. They shook their heads as though they could never do it. Sometimes they looked at me as though it were all in my head. If I were truly that bad off, I couldn’t go to work. I just couldn’t.

But I looked at the people living on the streets, those who may have hoped that someone would save them. They taught me that that hope is not realistic. If I want a place to live and food to eat, I must work. I must do it myself. My mental state was irrelevant. I knew my choice: suck it up or die. Since I’m more afraid of screwing up a suicide attempt and ending up in a hospital as a vegetable than I am of Death, I sucked it up.

Sometimes, pictures just can’t capture it, can they?

10 years of hell. No doctor could help me. 10 years.

I have an abiding anger around doctors, and dentists. I remember sitting in the dentist chair as a child with an old man breathing whiskey on me as worked on my teeth. You take what you can get when you are poor. When my mother passed, the doctor took us kids aside. He explained that the hospital was not going to help my mother because she didn’t have insurance. My mother died for business reasons. Yet they demand trust.

So many doctors. No help at all. Every time I see an ad telling you to “ask your doctor if Snazzy Druggie Poo XYZ is for you”, I want to punch someone. I know the system. Doctors don’t help you figure out your problem. If they can’t figure it out in 5 minutes, you must be a hypochondriac. They’ll give you a prescription for anything if it means getting you out of their office. They have other people they need to not help so they can bill. It’s all about the dollar bill.

Now, for your listening pleasure…

“For the Love of Money” – The O’Jays

I love that song. I get a Primal Thrill from the anger it causes me.

Anyway…

I need hope. Feeling hopeless is the worst thing for me. I need something to hang onto. If I don’t have anything, if I don’t have hope, that’s when I go downhill.

Then a miracle happened. I was at work when I had severe pains in my chest. I thought I was having a heart attack. My co-worker Fred went with me to the ER (I wouldn’t have made it through the door without him) and it was there that the miracle happened. They had me drink a chalk drink and the pain went away! It was the first thing they did! All those doctors in all those years didn’t once bring up whether my “panic” could be the work of acid reflux.

Once I started dealing with the acid reflux, I started being able to sleep again. Not well, but some. Now, whatever is going on, I always ask myself “Do you think it’s acid reflux?”

I was never so happy to write a big check to a hospital in my life. I smiled the whole time. Best $634 I’ve ever spent!

Of course, that’s an ER doctor. It’s not a mystery why so many people go directly to the ER. It’s the only place they’ll take the time to help you. 

I went and had an endoscopy to verify what I already knew, but of course, they found nothing. I guess if I had to look in people’s stomach and up people’s butts all day, I might not look too closely either.

I’m 55 now.  It’s been a few years since that day in the ER, but I’ve never really gotten over those ten years of insomnia and panic. I have PTSD from a trauma when I was in my 30s, and that 10 years of insomnia was added to my PTSD. I go into a tailspin when I don’t get sleep. I’m afraid those days will come back, and if they do, I might make a final decision. I can’t live like that again.

Today, I’m afraid.

It’s been over a week since I’ve gotten any good sleep. Even though I know that this will pass, part of me is scared that I’m going back to the way it was. That I’ll have to make that decision again. Suck it up or die.  I can’t go back there. I don’t have it in me. I don’t have the energy anymore.

I’m a size 10 now. I like size 10, I want to stay here. I don’t want to be up all night. Eating every 2 hours. Insane. But it’s like the valve letting in the acid is stuck open. I can’t seem to do anything about the acid reflux this time. I’d go to a doctor again but the last one said nothing was wrong. And really, there’s nothing they can do anyway. It’s not curable. Or at least not curable profitably.

So, I’m sitting up in bed, taking the pills, drinking the baking soda/apple cider vinegar, eating right before bed. Eating coleslaw until my cabbage powder comes in the mail. Going to work, warning my co-workers that I may not be thinking clearly.

I can’t do this again. Please, no…

It’s okay Karin. For 5 years you’ve had your bouts and they always end. You know what the issue is now. You have been meditating. Dealing with your stress. You’re doing some scary, creative things! No wonder you have acid reflux! As you get used to the new things, it will abate. Cabbage really helps so it’s good that you like it.

Relax Karin. It’s only fear. You’ve been in a bubble because you had no energy to do anything else. You’ve grown out of the bubble. It’s natural to be afraid. That fear of going back to your 10 years of hell is the fear of the unknown. You don’t know what will happen with this blog, your other creative endeavors, or even your life.

The fear, the resistance, is telling you that you are moving forward! It’s a good thing! Greet it, Karin. Give it a hug. Run toward your fear.

I’m trying to run, trying…

Still, today I am afraid.

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