Posts Tagged ‘fear’

I feel like I just posted yesterday, but it’s been over 3 weeks. In those 3 weeks I have watched my brother run in the state track meet, drove to Denver and back, spent time at my parents, went to graduation parties for my brother, cousin, and a few others, worked, and even managed to fit in a few alone days at home. I also have gone back to see E—.

I have now seen her 3 times. The first time I went I was terrified. Maybe terrified isn’t the right word. Ashamed is probably more accurate. Really I am ashamed every time I see her. Probably 90% of the emotions I experience are some form on shame. I am ashamed of what I eat. I am ashamed of what I weigh. I am ashamed of when I eat. I am ashamed of not exercising enough. I am ashamed of being fat. I am ashamed of having a huge stomach. I am ashamed of my fat fingers and thighs and arms.

But the difference this time is that even with all this shame I am fighting. I’m not always moving forward, but I’m fighting to not move backward. I would say that although I’m not jumping in to the work of recovery, I am dipping my toe in.

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When I experience guilt, I really experience guilt. If I feel that I have done the tiniest thing wrong I am immediately overcome with an intense feeling of guilt.  But that’s not the worst part.

The worst part is the sudden anxiety/guilt attacks that occur for the next few days.

It’s essentially a panic attack, I have this intense foreboding that something terrible will happen if I don’t fix it immediately. But usually I don’t know exactly what it is. If I think back and try to come up with a trigger for the anxiety (which I do with most panic attacks) I don’t come up with anything. Instead I just come up with guilt. Reminders brought on by an unconscious thought crossing my mind. And BAM. Guilt attack. I have to fix my wrong.

Problem is, most of the time I didn’t actually do anything wrong. I just perceive it as wrong. Or I think that someone else will think it is wrong. And I can’t fix it. But I still feel guilty.

It’s debilitating. Honestly. I live in fear of doing something that awakens my guilt. It keeps me from taking risks because I’m afraid of making a mistake. It keeps me from trying new things. It gives me intense anxiety about getting pulled to another unit at work because on a different unit I don’t know every tiny little detail of each rule and therefore I’m less prepared to ward off a mistake. I don’t have the best chance at performing *perfect* work, which means that there’s a larger chance I’ll miss something. And feel guilt. Even when the other people on the floor forgive me because I don’t usually work there.

So often I want to ask doctors questions about their work and how they chose to go into what specialty they are in. But unless I have a complete set of questions worked up in my head I won’t do it because I’m afraid of sounding stupid and embarrassing myself, which causes more guilt.

And the guilt renews itself each time I see a person associated with the situation.

This perpetuates the eating disorder.

This is what is holding back my life.

And I don’t know how to stop it.

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If there were ice outside, I would blame that. But it’s just me. Falling back into my habits.

I’ve lost a couple pounds this week. I have no appetite (I think maybe the change to prozac has made that worse). There were even a couple days that I tried to eat and got food and sat down with it and just couldn’t get more than a couple bites down.

I walked into the kitchen several times today…once I took a bite from a banana and threw the rest away, another time I ate 2 raspberries, another I had a blackberry. I finally ate some sun chips and half of a 6″ sub tonight, but it’s not sitting well with me.

That’s not the scary part though. The scary part is the thoughts that are coming back. The sadness, loneliness, lack of motivation. The increased fear of gaining weight, feeling fat, thinking that everyone else’s life is so much better than mine.

And maybe at this precise moment, my life isn’t incredibly desirable. It’s been tough not getting a graduate assistantship (emotionally and financially). I can only take so many rejections. I’m fearing more med school rejections. I’m scared that I won’t be able to handle next semester.

And all of this is adding to the situation.

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Know what it’s like to walk through an unfamiliar house at night?

You walk in the door, groping the wall and hoping the switch appears under your fingers. Perhaps it does, maybe it doesn’t and you have to take a few tentative steps in and try a little further along the wall, or a different wall entirely. Breathing lightly, stepping lightly, and straining for any glimpse of what lies in front of you. With a constant fear that your toe will crack into the couch or an errant shoe will break your balance.

The light comes on and one area is bathed in the warm comforting glow. You move confidently for a while until the room ends and you enter the hallway.

For a short time you can just slow down and see a bit using the excess light from the previous room.

Soon nothing but darkness is ahead of you and your hand again slides across the wall praying that there is a light switch. Straining to see, hoping that there is nothing unexpected in your path, and completely afraid that there will be.

Ahhh…a breath of relief. Saved again. You can continue to the end of the hallway and turn into the final room.

Standing in the door frame an eerie square of diffuse light lies across the carpet. And you realize that yet again, the light switch has to be found.

Maneuver around the edge of a dresser, slamming your hip into the corner. Swearing under your breath and searching, searching, searching for that damn switch.

Finally. Breathe in peace. You have reached your destination.

What does this have to do with anything? This week I saw the physician for the first time who will be coordinating my medical needs (in regards to the eating disorder) here in I—. She asked how often I got on the scale. (A lot….) Then she asked me why? What did the scale give me? There must be some reason I continue to do it again and again and again. When I get up, before I get in the shower, before I go to work, after I run, before I eat, etc.

I thought about it and realized that the scale is my light switch. I step on and it lets me see where I’m at. I can walk a little further without intense anxiety. But eventually the light runs out and I’m straining to see, starting to panic, stubbing my toes. So I step on the scale. And the light comes back on. But I never reach the intended room. There is always a different hallway, a new passageway, another room to find. And I find myself looking for the light switch again and again and wondering if the experience will ever stop.

I’m not sure what it helps me see though. Does it show me a life map? Not really. A personal health map? No. It just seems to be the only thing right now that alleviates the anxiety, if only temporarily.

The elusive light switch when what I really need is a flashlight.

Or the confidence to take on the dark.

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I’m living with a lot of fear right now. Fear of gaining weight. Fear of not getting into medical school. Fear of having to make a choice of what to do with myself next year in case I don’t get into medical school. Fear of failing exams.

I live in fear of having life fall apart and everyone seeing that my successes (or at least lack of failures) are all a sham and I will be outed as a fake, a stupid terrible flutist fake.

I know worrying about all this stuff is a huge waste of time. And although I berate myself for what I consider to be unnecessary worry and anxiety I need to remember that at least some of these fears are founded. It is okay for me to be concerned with getting into medical school. It truly does determine the course of my life for the next year or so. It is a huge deal. I haven’t decided if the concerns about what I will do if I don’t get into medical school are worth my time and energy. On one hand I know that I should try to be positive about my applications, but on the other I can see that my attitude at this point will have absolutely no effect on my applications. I also can see value in having a decision made as soon as possible. If I know now what I want to do, then my decision will not [hopefully] be emotionally swayed by rejections from medical school. By the middle to end of March I will also be limited on time for getting housing and other plans worked out if I intend to move somewhere else for the year. I will need to start that right away and having a firm decision will make that easier.  Fear of not getting into medical school is only part of the problem though. I take these rejections personally. I have a decent MCAT score, outstanding grades, experience–which lead me to believe that the problem with my application is….me. And that is hard. A friend of mine told me recently that essays were the most personal part of college. To write a good essay requires passion and part of one’s self and to be graded harshly for it hurts more than doing badly on an exam. And I think that’s where some of my personalization comes from. Other than grades and test scores my applications are judged on my essays and my reasons for wanting to be a doctor. To be rejected makes me think that I’m not good enough. That they don’t believe I would make a good doctor. It’s the only thing I want to do and if they don’t believe I can, or simply don’t want me, what else will I do?

The other fears are less founded. Ever since coming to college I have had a fear that everything I do is simply contributing to my life of cards. Any day now it will all come tumbling down and everyone will see that all the As I have earned, all the ensemble positions I have won, all the tests I have aced, were pure luck. Who am I, a farm girl from southern [I], to come here and have a full academic scholarship and huge successes as a flutist? Why do I think I even have the right, much less the ability to attend medical school and live my dreams? Have I been fooling myself my whole life by thinking that I could rise above the education and opportunities I received growing up in [S]? (My therapist once mentioned impostor syndrome….I do appear to have it, no?)

Fear of fatness? That’s always there. Pretty self-explanatory. To me being fat would be yet another sign of my failures. And I do think I’m fat.

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