365 Days of Hypochondria

And other personal happenings.


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Spontaneous Trip ft. The Beach (Day 293)

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Sometimes my brain prefers to inhabit a comfort zone. Spontaneity and the “unknown” help me to push through these mental boundaries of comfort.

Tonight I was invited to the beach. I met new people. I took photos. It was lovely. I always say beaches are better when it’s cold out, on the greyest of evenings. Tonight, the grey was comforting and unsettling, all at the same time.

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Why I Haven’t Posted Lately (Days 276-279)

I’ve been trying to understand the concept of longevity and the way that it relates to my mental illness. I am incredibly aware of the constructed-ness of time and the fact that “365 days” essentially, means nothing.

I’ve been thinking of ending this blog early because I feel as if I’ve discovered all that I can about myself for the time-being. I am parched for words and my mental health has been fairly consistent lately. When I have episodes I now know how to deal with them because this blog has taught me so much about myself.

So I’ve been thinking- why continue “365 days” when continuity (neither a beginning nor an end) is really what coping with mental illness is about? I remember the very first day that my hypochondria was triggered but I know that in that moment, I may have already been destined for it. My subconscious chose hypochondria in order to protect itself from a situation, and I didn’t have a say in that. You can’t change a brain (at least I don’t think you can) but you can always deal. Dealing and healing exist for lifetime.

But of course “365 days” means something, even when it means nothing (nothing is always something). And one thing I dislike about my character is my impulsiveness and my sometimes erratic behaviour. I will not quit this project that I set out to complete. I’ll finish it for myself. But after it’s over, one major lesson I’ll take with me is the knowledge that healing is a forward moving process that never really ends.


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Triggered In Class? (Day 230)

I knew today was going to be triggering for me because I came to class with the knowledge of what my lecture was going to be about. I didn’t have any expectations for myself, apart from the fact that I forced myself to go-and I’m glad I went to class.

As much as academics are important, it’s also important to prioritize your mental wellbeing, especially if your powering through school with anxiety and mental illness. For some people, school and academics are driving methods of achieving success in their lives, but for others (like me), school can sometimes hinder life, as well as success. While it’ important to constantly challenge oneself, it’s also important to know when you need to step back and take time to collect yourself and your thoughts. And it’s also important to not compare yourself to others. I didn’t participate as much as I could have today and I also left earlier than expected, but that was just my way of working through the situation.

 


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Anxiety & Death- Part 2- Triggers (Day 223)

Trigger Warning: death, depression, health.

Little Disclaimer: In my life, I am privileged to have experienced death in a certain way- I’ve never experienced war or violence that takes lives. Members of my family have only ever passed away due to isolated health complications that could not be cured with medication. Despite a tendency towards mental illness, my family is pretty healthy. It’s weird to say that there is a privileged way to see a loved one pass, but there is, and those are the experiences of death I am referencing when I draw from my own experience.

When you are living with mental illness, there are certain triggers you can’t prevent and death is definitely one of them. My grandmother was the first relative of mine to pass away. I saw her dying long before she was hospitalized. The doctors weren’t entirely sure of why she passed away, but they said it must have been cancer. In addition to that experience, a few older male relatives of mine have passed on. Most recently, an Aunt I was very close with passed away from complications due to Type 1 Diabetes.

Being triggered during or after an experience of death is a reality that happens when you have a mental illness. And as far as I’m concerned, there is obviously no method or way to prevent this (especially when the death is sudden), but there are definite ways to cope with it. For me, the actual death is not the trigger. The way that the people die is the trigger.

Me, my aunt, my brother, years ago.

Me, my aunt, my brother, years ago.

I’ve written about this before. In my first year of university, I was trying to get my mental health under control. When my aunt suddenly died from diabetes, all that effort became irrelevant. Besides mourning her death, all I could think about was getting the illness that took her life.

So how does one prevent or cope with these kinds of triggers? First of all, I think it’s important to remember that your being triggered by such an event is not inherently selfish. You don’t need to feel guilt for being triggered, you couldn’t prevent it from happening (that’s why it’s called a ‘trigger’). As well, I think it really helps to talk to someone (a doctor or friend) after an experience with death. Leaving things inside of you, only allows your emotions to fester. I let my emotions fester and nothing good came out of it. I had the worst year(s) of my life. If you don’t have someone to talk to, then write, paint, do something productive with the negativity. You might be surprised with what you can create when your mind is at its worst. I wish I had better advice, and I wish there was a solution for those who have depression due to death. I had to let my depression run it’s course, but at times I was on the verge of quitting. I think the key is to talk. Talk talk talk. I feel like I should link to something incase someone happens upon this blog and needs help.  This link includes a list of helplines for a few different countries.  Finding helplines for your country is only a google or click away.

If anyone has better advice, please leave it in the comments bellow.


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I’m Not Scared: An Open Letter (Day 214)

I am tired of people telling me that I am afraid of everything, because frankly that is not the case. Seriously, listen to me – that is not the case. And I don’t have time for the people in my life who don’t try to understand the complexities of mental health and phobia.

With that being said, I am writing this post because I think it’s important for me to speak out against those who get the shallow impression that I am ‘scared of everything’. Because I most definitely am not. I’m one of the strongest people I know and I would take a bullet for any of my friends and family.

Anyone can shoot me down (in the most cliche way possible), but everyone knows that only the weakest find superiority in curtailing other people’s achievements. Strength and courage are not shallow concepts and they should not be measured as if they aren’t deeper than that.

It takes an incredible amount of strength to live with any form of anxiety or mental illness, let alone make that aspect of your life public. Calling anyone ‘fearful’ is inherently insulting, no matter the intention. People with anxiety are already hyperaware of the judgement that is prevalent in society. When I hear people use words such as ‘fearful’ or ‘scared’ to describe my personality (and experience with hypochondria), I am re-affirmed of the fact that I am surrounded by stigma.

An open letter to those who have ever undermined my strength:

I am not the sum of my worst ‘fears’. I am not my mental illness. People say this all the time, and the reason you might repetitively hear it is because people don’t seem to get it. Some of my own family members think fear is a primary part of my character, when they’ve known me all my life. If you still don’t get it, I’ll repeat it for you; my phobias are not me.

If you don’t know who I am by now, then frankly, I feel sorry for you.

You are frustrating, you are inhibiting, and you are replicating the very forces in society that I have spent my time rejecting and trying to push back against. And you clearly do not understand the amount of courage and strength that it takes to attempt any act of resistance. (And fuck, it even takes strength to not resist.)

I am just one of millions of people who are so incredibly strong because they live in a society that tells them they aren’t. Yes, I have a phobia of chemicals, of driving, and I get anxiety and constantly think I have cancer, and if you think living with that mentality makes me weak, you don’t know what it takes to endure. I am strong. And if you think I’m not: kindly eject yourself from my life or change your stigmatic attitude.


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Retirement at Twenty (Day 165)

Do hearts have good retirement plans? Or are they simply mediocre? I ask this because I would like to know what happens when a heart moves on. (I’ve been feeling more literal aches in my heart and they remind me of the achey people I would like to forget. I’ve been wondering if my chest pains relate to stress.)  I don’t know what to do with the plethora of connections that make my heart ache. I would love to ease my heart. To try and soften the connections with some of the people it hangs onto. Do I hold onto them for future reference? Or do I let them go along with some of my favourite memories. Can you really let a memory go? Memories are coping mechanisms. We use them to cope with loneliness. I used to be obsessed with them. Now I think I would like to pack all of my memories in a suitcase and travel with them to a country miles away. I would leave the baggage and return home empty-handed. I’d retire my heart, knowing I could revisit the past if I wanted to; but really I wouldn’t travel there again.