TW: death, sudden death, mental illness
My body freaks me out. I’ve never really understood how to embody it properly, to feel right in it. I guess there is no wrong way to embody your body, but I have always felt confused and afraid of my own. There’s so much about it that I can’t know—so much that is left automatic, and so much that could go wrong—and that inability to really, confidently know if I am safe in my body has literally driven me crazy at points in my life.
My mother is a nurse practitioner, and I’ve grown up hearing horror stories about sick bodies. I’ve heard about people whose lungs have burst unexpectedly, and people who’ve had aneurysms walking out of their house. I have always fixated on and obsessed over stories like these; random and unexpected deaths and what can cause them have caused me endless days and nights of panic, way too much time reading WebMd, checking my vitals for possible signs that I too could fall victim to this, and a lot of unnecessary doctor’s visits and expenses. I was also afraid to take any medications for a while because of possible side effects and negative interactions that could happen. What terrifies me the most is the lack of control, I think, that I and everyone have over our own bodies. There is only so much we get to decide, the rest is up to a myriad of factors that could add up to living to be 100 or dying a lot sooner than that. I’m sorry that this is grim, but these are the kind of thoughts that show up in my mind uninvited and have in the past sent me running out of classrooms to repeatedly check my vital signs and call my parents because I was scared I was going to die. About two years ago I was at my worst point and I had trouble leaving the house because I was terrified it would be the last time I would, but I’ve recovered a lot thanks to a therapist and Prozac which has eased the obsessions and compulsive checking that follow. From time to time I will still feel a twinge in my head and think “oh my god, this is it.” But now I just think about how many times this has happened, the slim chance that this will actually be the time an embolism or whatever else I’ve read about lately ends my life, and I usually can resume whatever it is I was doing. I still hate that there is so much about my body that I can’t really know, but I’ve (mostly) accepted the fact that there are some things I don’t have control over.