I am fiercely independent. Anyone who knows me will tell you this. I enjoy my independence and I hold it close to me. I’ve learned to enjoy being alone, attend the cinema alone, buy myself dinner, travel alone. I enjoy these things. I relish my independence. It feels strong and stable and enjoyable.
However, my independence is very fragile and fleeting. Unlike people my age, I am so very aware at my fragile independence and it scares me. I feel as though my independence is intertwined with the simplest things, like the weather. The weather, the seasons, my food, my mood.
I’ve realized my fragility all week and it’s beaten me down. I realized it Sunday morning as I opened my eyes and the world spun above me and I felt it. I felt my independence escaping as I sat up in bed and tried to steady my still dizzying world. My balance eventually returned to normal, but I know the imbalance, the dizziness, the spinning will be back. It does come back because this is the nature of Meniere’s Disease.
Meniere’s disease is characterized by Vertigo Attacks, Hearing loss (hearing fluctuation), feeling of fullness in affected ear (fluid retention in the inner ear), loss of balance, nausea, vomiting, sweating all induced by vertigo, thank Healthline for that official information. Though this symptom is not in any list that i’ve found, i’m adding fatigue. I don’t know why it’s not listed, because frankly, vertigo is exhausting. The fear of vertigo is exhausting. Meniere’s disease is managed by exercise and a low sodium diet, since sodium can cause fluid retention in the inner ear for people with Meniere’s Disease. Meniere’s disease can be aggravated by caffeinated beverages, sodium, MSG, stress, and tobacco.
The hearing fluctuation, hearing loss, feeling of fullness in my only hearing ear, nausea, vomiting, and sweating don’t bother me as much as the vertigo bothers me. It terrifies me. It keeps me up at night when I know i’ve experienced it recently. It prevents me from walking, talking, driving, reading, opening my eyes to make eye contact with people. It prevents me from being me. Bouts of stress, sleepless nights, fluid retention caused by changing seasons and diet can all affect me. It has become a really horrible cycle some weeks- especially this week- Stress and sleepless nights and vertigo. I wake up in the middle of the night sometimes to check to see if I am balanced. I sometimes will get up in the night in a panic and run into things trying to test my balance in the dark (because i’m an idiot) and go to the bathroom. Meniere’s Disease haunts me.
So Sunday morning when I woke up feeling dizzy, I got up and sat on the floor for a while. Tears filling my eyes and pouring down my face as the familiar thoughts flooded my mind, is this going to go away? will I be able to drive to work tomorrow? If I drive to church, can I make it home? What if this doesn’t go away? What should I eat today? Should I eat today at all?
Meniere’s disease fuels my fear of food. I become afraid to eat. Afraid that maybe that fish has too much salt in it, since I bought it frozen… or maybe the peanut butter with apples is a bad idea because of the salt. I become a nibbler. I nibble on bananas and oranges and fruits. Afraid that anything else that has salt in it will make me retain fluid, increase the fluids in my inner ear, send my body over the edge, and I’ll never come back from it.
My life feels characterized by fear.
I’m tired of it. I’m so tired of it that it exhausts me.
I’m not only afraid of food. My fears are endless, my friends. I can write pages of them. I am afraid of everything. I’m afraid of failure in my job. I’m afraid to disagree with friends and family. I’m afraid to say no. I’m afraid of rejection. I am afraid.
I’m always afraid and Meniere’s disease is only a portion of it, but my most recent fear battle. It is in the moments of dizziness before I panic that fear grips my heart. It’s the moment I turn in my assignments for work that the cold hands of fear finds its way to my soul, because… What if my work report doesn’t measure up? It’s the seconds before I see my trainer come into the gym and I think I hope I exercise well today. I hope I can perform. I hope my body cooperates. I hope I don’t get dizzy. I can… I can.. I think I can. It’s the moment I say “yes” to a friend that I know I’m giving up my body’s need to rest that day, because what if I lose their friendship?
And I fear.
So today, I’m tired of fear. I woke up this morning afraid that my achilles tendon was too tight. Afraid that I am not going to be able to do the triathlon that I’ve worked so hard to train for. I got to the gym today afraid that I was not going to be able to exercise my fullest potential. Honestly, I didn’t because of my negative self-talk and my tired body and soul. I got to work today and dizziness hit me again. I gripped the edge of my desk in fear as tears slid down my face and the familiar fearful words come back again What if this doesn’t go away? (it did go away) What if I can’t live on my own anymore? What if I can’t keep my job.. i’m at work! What if… what if… what if..
I’m tired of my what ifs. I’m tired of my fear. I’m tired of my self-doubt. I’m tired of my fear of failure.
We all fear. We all fail. We all doubt ourselves, but some people overcome because they decide to.
And today, I want to overcome. I will overcome. I am overcoming. (an action verb…. overcoming)
I am an overcomer, because I have decided.