All doctors and nurses, at some point either in their education or as they begin to practice, will experience a profound fear of morbidity and mortality. This usually happens fairly early in their training, at the point in which they begin to realize how many horrible ways there are to get sick and die. I’ll never forget when I was in nursing school, one of my instructors saying to me (about my sick patients) – “Always remember, you are not them.” The thing is, the longer you live, eventually you will be become them, however (hopefully) temporarily. But it is always a fear that is just below the surface.
With me it usually only surfaces when I am under the weather or otherwise compromised in some way.
It is scary as fuck – you have to stop your mind from running away like a train out of control and free-associating worst case scenarios for you and your loved ones. Stroke and Alzheimer’s strike the greatest fear in me – unfortunately, I have personal experience with both, so I’ve seen the devastating results up close. These are my doomsday scenarios of choice.
So what do I do to combat this useless anxiety?
For me this works better than Benzos – I don’t know how it works, I just know it does. Because worrying about having a stroke or Alzheimer’s is just about the most useless, dysfunctional activity ever. It’s ok to think about these things in the context of “what can I do to prevent them,” but to just imagine it happening to you or a loved one is an exercise in useless anxiety of the highest order. It’s on the same level as worrying about a nuclear weapon – there’s virtually nothing you can do to prevent it, so you’re just wasting precious time you’re never going to get back.
Take a deep breath and live in the moment you have right now. It’s all you’ve really got.
What a glorious gift it is.