Most nights, just before bedtime, I get hit with a rush of anxiety about the future. How will I take care of myself? How will I support myself financially? What if I can never resurrect the tatters of my career? Then I climb into bed, the meds take over, and off to sleep I go.
While this nightly wave of anxiety might be exaggerated, it’s a reflection of some very real concerns that I have. I deliberately choose not to think about the future if I can avoid it, and focus on the present and whatever I’m able to do now. Except trying not to look at the big bad wolf of the future doesn’t make it go away, and it pops up in the evening to remind me that it’s still there.
I’ve gotten used to it sufficiently that I can shift my mind back away and not give it too much pre-bed airtime. I wish it would stop, but I don’t think it will. I have no certainty. I have no safety net. I have no resilience to handle setbacks. All I can do is just exist each day. Perhaps that would be a good thing if it was about mindfulness and that kind of thing, and maybe there is an element of that, but when it comes down to it, it’s really just one more form of avoidance.
A few years ago I never would’ve imagined that I’d be having this kind of fear stop by to pay me a visit each night. I felt stable and certain looking towards the future. I didn’t consider that my illness might shift from episodic to constant. So many things I could never have guessed.
And yet here I am, with the big bad wolf hiding in the closet, peeking out at me with his menacing stare. He is a companion on this journey through invisible illness. Perhaps someday he’ll devour me, ripping me to shreds to match my little red riding hood.