When something is niggling at me, such as a problem at work or a decision to be made, I’ve always been pretty good at thinking about it when I want to, and also not thinking about it when necessary. I’ve always considered this some form of mental compartmentalization. Like “putting away” thoughts or problems, for later. Choose your own metaphor for this; my personal choice is shoe boxes (because I like shoes. Predictable, I know). I also like to be organized, so they’re definitely labelled. “Finances”. “Vacation”. “Can I Really Cook a Turkey?”.
I know, based on talking to other people, that this process comes less easily, or not at all, to some. I am also aware that this can be considered unhealthy, perhaps, to “worry bury”. I’m not referring to repressing some kind of terrible childhood memory, and then wondering why you’re so scared of snakes or clowns. I’m just saying this is how I’ve always thought I’m wired, in terms of multitasking and managing stress. I recall my mom telling me that her mom’s thinking on worries was, “Can you do anything about it now? If yes, do it. If not, stop thinking about it and go to sleep.” That’s always been my philosophy, more or less.
I have learned that health worries, for me, at least, are different. They don’t seem to settle into a box that I can contain at will. They have some sort of devious life of their own, they are low and reptilian critters, based on what I’ve glimpsed of them, skittering about in and between those orderly mental boxes, draining my focus with their tiny, clicking, clawed feet and flat eyes and flipping, pokey tails.
I constantly seem to be working on finding some sort of balance in terms of how much of my life – my mental energy, my thoughts, my time – I am able to dedicate to my health condition. I feel like it’s a slippery slope, where I could literally descend into endless repetitive, paralyzing thoughts, sitting around all day reading meanderings of so-called experts and chasing cure-alls. That’s why I had a bout of what I can only call “blog panic” over the past two weeks. I liken it to stage fright. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not shy, I always have something to say, I’ve never been accused of being short on opinions. I didn’t expect privacy, I wrote personal things on a public blog. I’m not afraid of criticism or differing points of view. I know all of these things about myself. So I didn’t anticipate this blog panic (blanic?).
It hit the first time I saw 1000 readers in one day. It was mainly about feeling like I’d created something that was going to throw off my hard-fought and precarious sense of balance, in terms of how much time I spend with my brain tumour on my mind. Punny, right? I saw comments, questions, my panicky thought was, “I’m no expert! What have I done? I don’t even want to watch Coronation Street right now because of the Cancer Storyline, how can I read all of these people’s experiences and not have them shake awake my worry critters????”
It was my husband who suggested that if I feel good when I write here, perhaps I can leave it at that, and take the rest as it comes. That made pretty cool sense to me. So please don’t be offended if I don’t answer your comment or objection. I’m probably just being selfish and dragging out some other shoe boxes. I’ve noticed there are some smart folks throwing down comments and links on here, to whom I’m very grateful, anyway, that we can all learn from too.
Cheers to shoe boxes. I’m labelling this one “Greymadder and Madder and Madder…and Related Matters”.