One of the things my doctor has suggested to help me deal with my health anxiety is that, every single day, I write down three positive/happy things that have happened that day.
His theory is that people who suffer from health anxiety (or generalised anxiety disorder, which I also have: my brain is a fun, fun, place to be, people!) have a tendency to be fairly negative in general: to worry about every little thing, and to zero in on the bad or upsetting things that happen, instead of looking for the positives.
Now, I’m not a doctor (and to be perfectly honest with you, there have been times when I’ve wondered if HE’S one, either: mostly that one time I told him I thought I might be having a miscarriage, and he showed me a picture of a cartoon snake, which, he informed me, he’d had to pay $1 for on a stock photo site, but which he felt had been worth it, because it it WAS a very cute snake, didn’t I agree? But I digress…), so I have absolutely no idea whether this idea is a good one or not, but I also know that, well, that DOES sound like me, doesn’t it? I mean, I DO have a very ‘glass-half-full’ approach to life: it’s always been one of my biggest faults. I DO have a tendency to focus more on the bad things than the good ones. And I DO also have a stack of really great notebooks I’ve been looking for an excuse to use, so I figured I might as well give it a go. Well, it’s not like it can do me any harm, is it?
The doctor gave me a couple of rules for this exercise:
- I must write down three happy things every day.
- I must not repeat any of these things: so, for instance, I can’t just write “I’m grateful for my health, my family and Christian Louboutin” every day, and be done with it.
Er, he also told me I didn’t need to share my ‘3 Things’ with anyone, but at that point I was just like, “So… I write things down… but then I DON’T share them with the internet? THE HELL IS THE POINT OF THAT?!”
Blogging: it’s a hard habit to break. Possibly even harder than health anxiety, but I guess we’ll find out, won’t we?
Anyway, shortly after my miscarriage, Terry and I decided we would try to put some of this theory into practise. We immediately broke two of the rules because 1) We didn’t bother writing any of it down, and b) We told each other about our ‘Three Things’ every day. Some days it helped, and made me feel like there were still good things in the world, even although it was hard for me to see them right then; other days I’d struggle so much to come up with even ONE happy thing that it would end up being something like, “Well, I thought I’d burnt the toast this morning, but it turned out to be just really hard and borderline inedible, rather than totally carcinogenic, so I’m calling it a win…” And when the high-point in your day is a slice of only slightly burnt toast… well, that’s NOT quite so encouraging, is it?
Despite this, I’ve decided to try again with the whole ‘three things a day’ project. After the euphoria of Tuesday’s good blood results, I’ve actually been feeling quite ill most of the week (probably due to the methotrexate I’ve had…), and I’m also feeling quite nervous about tomorrow’s blood draw, which could just put me right back where I started, health and anxiety-wise. Reflecting on some positive things, rather than dwelling on those negative ones, however, is, quite literally, what the doctor ordered, so the plan is that every day I’ll write down my three happy things, and then, once a week, I’ll publish the list here. I’m calling this ‘Three Things Friday’, even although there will (often) be MORE than three things: partly because the main point of the exercise is for it to be three things per day, but mostly because, let’s be honest, it sounds better.
(Also, some weeks I might not share every single point, purely for privacy/laziness reasons, so who knows how many ACTUAL happy things there will be each week? And who really cares, either?)
I re-started this on Tuesday, so here’s the list to date…
TUESDAY DECEMBER 13th
01. Got good news from the blood draw that morning, and basically felt like Wonder Woman or something for the rest of the day.
02. While we were sitting in Costa Coffee, waiting for That Call with the blood results, I moved my chair aside to make way for an elderly gentleman with a walking frame. As he passed me, he said, ‘Thank you: and, by the way, congratulations on having such beautiful hair!” My hair hadn’t been washed for 3 days at that point, and is long overdue a trim, so I’m sure he was just being kind, but a small act of kindness is all it takes sometimes, no?
03. My parents had bought Terry and I this awesome Yankee Candle Advent Calendar (which gives you a festive-scented tea light every day), plus a gorgeous tea-light holder to go with it. As anyone who knows me is aware, I have a bit of a Yankee candle obsession, so when we got back from the hospital, we filled up the holder, lit all the lights, and the house was filled with the scent of Christmas. We haven’t bothered putting up the tree, or any other decorations this year, what with everything that’s been going on, so this will probably have to suffice for now. Oh, and if you’re thinking I’m too old to have an advent calendar, especially one bought by my parents, well, I will just storm off to my room now, slam the door and shout, “WHY DO YOU HATE ME SO MUCH? I DIDN’T ASK TO BE BORN, YOU KNOW!” into my pillow, while playing all of my favourite emo music on repeat. SO THERE.
WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 14th
01. Our friend Douglas popped round in the morning, with a card and some movies, as he knows we’re essentially house-bound right now, other than the hospital visits etc. When I went to answer the door, I was actually expecting it to be a delivery courier, coming to collect one of the many pieces of comfort shopping I’d indulged in over the last few weeks, and I was so sure that’s who it would be that not only did it take me a good few seconds to recognise Douglas, I ALMOST handed him a parcel to deliver, too: whoops! Sorry, Douglas!
02. In the afternoon, we went round to Terry’s mum’s, for dinner with the family. I’ve seen Terry’s mum a few times since this whole health saga started, and the rest of the family have also been awesome, and have kept in touch every day, but this was the first time we’d all been able to get together for a few weeks, and it was also my first non-hospital-related excursion in weeks, so it was just really nice to catch up with everyone, and do something ‘normal’ for a change. Also, my mother-in-law has the house in full-on ‘Christmas’ mode now, which makes up for our complete lack of decoration, I think!
03. In the evening, I had a hilarious text conversation with my friend Irene. Irene and I have been close since high school, and although we rarely get to see each other these days, it’s one of those friendships where you can not see each other for years, but then just pick up exactly where you left off, which is nice. My friends and family all obviously know about what’s been going on in our lives lately, and while I was worried that it might cause awkwardness at first, everyone has been so amazingly supportive, and I actually feel it’s brought me closer to a lot of people, which is never a bad thing.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15th
01. Today (or yesterday, by the time you read this…) is the 11th anniversary of Terry’s kidney transplant. This is the first year we won’t be doing anything to celebrate, as I’m just not feeling well enough, but, purely by coincidence, Terry’s brother, John, who donated the kidney, got the results of his own health check-up today (kidney donors need regular monitoring, as they obviously only have one kidney now, too…), and everything was looking good, which was the best news we could have had.
02. Whenever I’m feeling anxious or ill, I find that reading is the only thing that really distracts me. Unfortunately, ever since I had my miscarriage, I’ve found that almost every book I try to read turns out to have either a miscarriage plot, or some other scary medical situation in it, which obviously does the opposite of distracting me! Because of that, I’ve spent the past couple of weeks re-reading the Harry Potter series, and I actually feel like I should write J.K. Rowling a personal note of thanks or something, because I seriously don’t know how I’d have coped without it. I’m now up to ‘Deathly Hallows’, so it’s not exactly cheerful reading, obviously, but it’s absorbing, I love it, and I’ve learned that no matter what happens to you in life, there’s a Dumbledore quote to make you feel better, so there’s that, too,
03. I hit a new Instagram milestone today: 11,600 followers, which I realise is nothing compared to some people (And I’m almost definitely not going to meet that end-of-year target I set myself), but given that I’ve barely even thought about Instagram this month, let alone updated it, I’m going to call it a win.