I probably have some of the worst sicknesses of all, the invisible, most stigmatized, most misunderstood illnesses and the most easy to brush off. I’m not saying they’re all at the top of the list, they sure are somewhere in it.
I suffer from :
- Minor Acrophobia
- Serious Claustrophobia
- Panic Attacks
- I wrote so much about my depression here. And since I started, it still doesn’t feel like people around me have started to understand the true meaning behind my isolation. Labeled as capricious, needy, spoiled, attention seeker, gloomy, boring, mute, cold, empathetic, indifferent, a drama and crisis lover, I just stopped explaining what I suffer from and how it affects me. This way, I don’t get disappointed and hurt, in the end, when I realize that the same people who where nodding to my explanation were the first ones to throw me under the bus when things got intense.
- I think I used up all my energy trying to convince my parents and friends that migraines are an actual illness. They all blame it on anemia, fatigue, lack of /too much exercise and else. Even my doctor, once told me they were just bad headaches. And until 6 years ago, I couldn’t understand why I had to take a specific pill, why I had auras (I didn’t even know they were auras), how a simple headache could make me so hypersensitive to sound, light, touch.. So many unanswered questions until a doctor told me about it when I was discussing of it with my mom at the hospital. She still doesn’t believe it’s an illness though and the number of times she hid my pills from me because she said it was irrational to take one every single time my head hurt, “you’ll get accustomed to it and it won’t work on you anymore, just get used to the pain once in a while”, she’d say.
- Acrophobia is the phobia of heights. I say minor because it doesn’t get as alarming as people afraid of getting on chairs or up the stairs. But it is a problem for me since I can’t look down from a certain height without the feeling of jumping. Even if there’s a crossbar, I have to stay at a certain distance or the desire to jump will increase. I remember hiking with friends and we got at the top of this small mountain (less than 2000m high) and they were all taking pictures at the edge of it with the view of the foggy scenery below. It only took me one look and I couldn’t even stand anymore, I had to crawl away from it which got me a few mockeries and sarcastic comments. Even if I’m not the one at the edge, if my friends are too close, it gets to me too. It’s a freaky feeling and I’ve been called suicidal because of it sometimes, which it’s understandable when people had to stop you once or twice from walking to your death from a cliff and still have to keep an eye on you every time you get too close to one.
- Claustrophobia is a real problem in my daily life. Cars, elevators, closed rooms, anything that doesn’t have an immediate access to the outside scares the hell out of me. Once I was staying a weekend at a building apartment in NY with some friends, I almost got a heart attack from climbing 19 flats of stairs every single time I wanted to get in or out of there. It’s not easy for me specially in spring (sinusitis) and winter (cold) when I can’t keep the car windows down. I fainted once in a closed room with no windows, even my own room doesn’t stay closed for too long, I fainted twice in a elevator and I couldn’t even get into a store once because I didn’t see any other apertures than the front door which was locked after every customer got in. It’s a real struggle.
- My anxiety has many triggers like the storms (since the time I’ve been almost hit by a tree struck by lightning), too longs distances (that’s due to another trauma I’m not ready to share), claustrophobia, etc. and it gives birth to the panic attacks.
- Panic attacks are almost common with me and it seems like the older I get, the more often they are to happen. If I don’t take the time to control my breathing and cast away the trigger, I hyperventilate then pass out.. My father used to say that I was being pampered too much and this was the result of my resolve being too weak. Maybe he’s right, I don’t know. Any type of storm particularly the rainy ones are an enough reason to get me shivering to the point of me rarely consulting the weather report. What I don’t know can’t hurt me, right?
- Well that one is a bit of an embarrassing. I’ve been constipated since I was a baby, my mother never had problems with my diapers or potty training. The most time I held it in, until now, have been two and half months. Two awful months to be frank, I had multiple colics, bloatings, I felt uncomfortable, and it even reflected on my skin. But I can’t possibly do it once a day or even a week. It’s impossible for me. I tried many fiber diets or supplements. I used to love prune juice. But now, it doesn’t help me at all. It all just works temporarily. I actually have a support group for that because my doctor is worried every time he touches my belly. At most, I’d go to the bathroom every week or twice every 3 weeks. It’s something apparently concerning but I must say that I’m used to it by now. It doesn’t really worry me. Even the images of sick ugly black colons didn’t get to me so I guess it says a lot about me and my peristalsis intestinal. I do resort to laxatives once in a while.
The reason why I’m being partially naked for you to see, it’s because of the stigma and misunderstanding attached to these illnesses. Beside my constipation and panic attacks, I’ve never received proper treatment for any of those; now that I think of it, I don’t know if breathing exercises count as treatment unless it is the actual treatment for panic attacks. Nobody thought it was necessary, just man up and cope with them or just snap out of it.
I’m shamelessly showing to all of you some of my weaknesses, not to brag or to attract pity and sympathy. It’s awful that you can’t be accepted for who you are just because your surroundings fail to understand what you’re going through. It’s the way we are, whether we were born like this or have been affected by it through our life journey. It would be nice once a while to be truly supported by people that aren’t the same as you.