Have you ever experienced any health scares? If so, you likely know what it is like to live with fear, worry and anxiety.
There are two things I know quite a bit about: 1) hepatitis C and 2) worry. I used to have both. It took me nearly 25 years and treatment to overcome hepatitis C. Worry was much harder to conquer. However, it was the burden I needed to most unload.
I knew that if I was going to live with hepatitis C, it would be easier to endure if I didn’t also live with fear and worry. So early on, I set about to find ways to live life on life’s terms, and to leave anxiety by the wayside.
Some of you know that for many years I battled serious mental illness. You can read my story if you are interested in knowing more. What you may not know is how hard I worked at overcoming anxiety, worry and fear. And trust me on this, it didn’t happen overnight.
Let me clarify one thing. Fear is a normal human emotion and I still feel it. However, I usually can let fear pass through me. If I don’t, fear gets comfortable in my head, and then invites a few friends in; the next thing I know, worry and anxiety are having a party and consuming every part of me.
It took lots of work and practice and trial and error to learn that I didn’t have to live with worry. With my history of mental illness, it feels miraculous to me that my spirit is so free.
However, I am not here to boast; I am here to confess. Sometimes I forget how messed up I was. When I do that, I lose compassion. There are times when I make an off-handed remark that shows I have forgotten what it was like to carry the burden of hepatitis C and the fear that accompanies it.
I’m confessing this, because I want you to be empowered, even when you are afraid. I believe that others may act as carelessly as I have sometimes acted. I suspect that doctors and nurses can get busy and overworked, and perhaps wrapped up in their own fears, that they don’t take the time to address their patients’ fears.
If this happens to you, support groups are a good place to work this out. If this happens to you because of something I said, please let me know. I try not to discount peoples’ feelings, but humanness is fallible.
However, I won’t cosign on endless fear. At some point, we all make a choice—live life in fear, or live life on life’s terms. Personally, worry has never improved or solved anything. Worry never helped my hep C. I could not get rid of hep C on my own, but worry was a deficit that I didn’t have to keep. Now that worry is mostly gone from my life, I don’t miss it at all.
And here’s the thing – there is treatment for hepatitis C and many other medical conditions, but life is terminal. We all are going to die. I don’t want to waste a single moment of my precious like caught in a misery of my own making.
So what about you? Are you hanging on to worry, fear and anxiety? If so, why? And do you want to hang on to worry, or are you ready to let go of it? I promise you, you can. It takes patience and practice, but you can live without fear.