Somewhere along the road in my childhood, filled with Girl Scout meetings and discovering my parents were the ones responsible for all those presents under the tree on Christmas morning, I developed a medical phobia. Now when I say medical phobia, I mean full blown, faint-at-the-slighest-thing-you-could-imagine, phobia.
It all started when I was the ripe old age of seven. My parents had taken me to a movie theatre, and it was that night they discovered they wouldn’t be raising a medical doctor. After a close-up of a woman with a hole in her trachea was flashed on the screen, it took me about five seconds to completely pass out, and awake in a cold sweat, fairly unsure of what had just taken place.
Fast forward a couple years, and I was less than delighted to discover this instant fainting reaction that my body had blessed me with applied to almost all things medical. Surgery on T.V.? Pass out. Needle in my arm? Pass out. Mention of stitches bursting during a ninth grade history class? Pass out and awake to discover the principle and most of the janitorial staff, staring down at you.
Now normally this would be pretty standard stuff, albeit a little extreme, but as most of my friends know, I don’t like to do things half-assed. So, as my mind searched for new ways to torment me, it was during my teen years that I also launched into a full blown hypochondriac. A hypochondriac with a medical phobia? I wish I could describe the look on the doctors faces when I would rush in with a minimal problem, sure that I was near death’s door, only to race out of the office the second I heard the word “blood test”. I remember feeling a sense of helplessness, that the very thing I seemed to be afraid of, was the only thing that could calm my enormous anxiety.
One of the reasons I felt relieved when mindfulness came into my life was that it has greatly reduced both the phobia and the tendency to think I am permanently ill. I had previously been to therapy to try to deal with both problems, but I found that while it helped with the phobia, the anxiety from thinking I was sick hadn’t really budged at all. It was only after I had completed my therapy with meditation that I was able to live a mostly blissful period in which I could more easily simply “let it go”.
Now, with the stress of 2016 *almost* behind me, I am going to do what I should have done months ago, and dive deeper into practices that allow me to stay present and reduce my anxiety.
It would also be nice to watch an episode of Grey’s Anatomy without passing out 😉