Posted 1/27/2015 7:08 PM (GMT -6)
WARNING - VERY LONG POST
As a lot of you know, I have had a lot going on in my life in the past few months - my mom was hospitalized for a time, my dad had a heart event, my cat has cancer, and I have had a highly abnormal pap that I've been following up on. BTW, my gyn/oncologist cleared me today for just routine frequent pap tests, because none of the tests they've done show what the pap says was there. So, I'm closing the chapter on that one, and hopefully all subsequent paps will just be normal.
I've been a regular on healingwell for a very long time now. I have received help and advice from so many people on healingwell at a time in my life when I most needed it. Not only that, I learn more about crohn's disease, treatment advancements, and research avenues from this board as well. Plus, the few times I have been able to help someone, I feel like I am contributing to someone's wellbeing and happiness.
While all this stuff is going on in my life, I noticed that I always expect bad things to happen to me. When my dad was taken to the hospital with chest pains, I was sure he was going to die, and I was in a complete panic/anxiety state. When my pap came back abnormal, I learned that 1-2% of them were actually cancer, not pre-cancer. When my husband says his eye is irritated, I think he has uveitis. When I found a tick on my dog, I took her to get checked for lyme disease.
Talking to the oncologist today, he said to me, 2 doctors have given you the all clear now - your regular gyn, and me. You should take that as a very good sign, and be very happy, and you should fully expect your checkup in April to go fine. I walked out into the hospital parking lot, and I realized that is not how I was feeling - I felt that they missed something, and this whole thing is just going to start up again in April.
I seem to look for the worst, even when it is very unlikely; and not only that, I focus on it, and my anxiety goes up, and my ability to function as a human being and feel joy and pleasure in life diminishes greatly. After thinking about it, I think a lot of it has to do with the insane amount of time I spend learning about every bad test result, and all the forums I participate in. I google for information way too much, instead of just taking the doctor at their word, and letting it go. I sign up for online forums where unfortunately, mostly the experiences posted there are extreme - when things are good, people don't reach out for help and say, hey, I'm having a great day. My blood pressure these last two weeks was an average of 150/100, when normally it is 110/70, just from the anxiety of test results and outcomes and possibilities - all based on information I collected by talking to people who have been through similar situations and most of whom have had rough outcomes.
The psychologist I've been seeing on a regular basis for the past year, has implored me to just stop looking for information online. He said I am feeding the wrong thoughts by constantly reaching out and reaffirming that other people have had tough outcomes. I always felt knowledge is power, and ignored his advice. But today I feel that by doing excessive research and by hanging out in forums, where suffering is the norm, I've trained my brain to look for and focus on the bad, and assume that the bad is what is going to happen, and live my life bracing for bad things to happen.
Of course, looking for information is not bad. But in my case, I think I've lost the ability to know when to stop. Like an alcoholic, I don't know how much is too much. So, I think I'm going to just take a break from posting online, reading health forums, and googling for studies and information regarding any medical condition until I feel like I have done enough mental judo with mindfulness meditation and other exercises my psychologist tells me to do to re-exert mental control to not let information terrorize me. I need to do all the behavioral training and mind training to get the right perspective back.
My friends promised to help me in the meantime - if I have a bad medical test or my husband has something go wrong, they'll do the looking and reading online to make sure we are getting the right care. I just need to focus on mental control, and work with my psychologist and with the teachings and practices of mindfulness meditation to help me improve my mental kung-fu.
So, I'm going offline for a while. I hope you can understand my reasons. I've updated my profile with my e-mail address, so if you need to reach me, you should be able to do so that way. I will miss all of you, and I will be thinking of all the regulars on this board.
Thank you very much for taking care of me all this time. I will be back, hopefully stronger and more capable of being able to handle the human condition. I am more spiritual than religious, and my beliefs are more aligned with Buddhist philosophy than anything else. So, I am going to read a lot of Thich Nhat Hanh books, and try to establish a mindfulness meditation practice. I am also going to work with my psychologist and see what he recommends I do in terms of coping with illness, and diagnosis, and terrifying possibilities (so we can take the terror out of it).
Good luck to all of you, and my very best wishes for good health and great happiness.