Be Well

An Anniversary that Wasn’t

Halloween was always a fun time in my house. As the youngest I always had help compiling a clever Halloween costume. In high school the marching band dressed up for the game before Halloween, the last game of the year becoming extra festive. .

Once I met Ryan in college  I was set for a lifetime full of original and unexpected couples costumes. Cue the fall of 2007, which I originally wrote about here. Long story short, the week of Halloween I contracted pneumonia and whooping cough, missed dressing up as a pirate, and spent the week before Thanksgiving in the hospital.

Anniversaries are significant. We acknowledge birthdays, marriages, the day you met that special someone, the day a loved one passed away, and other momentous occasions. For years, the weeks approaching Halloween were extremely anxiety inducing. The anniversary of things changing, the tipping point of when I became “sick”. I did not know at the time I would from there forward consider myself chronically ill. I did not know the changes it would bring to my life.

In 2017 after some intense Cognitive Behavior Therapy that got me into a healthy daily routine, I began Eye Movement Desentisization and Reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR is a type of psychotherapy that involves bilateral stimulation (eye movement, tactile, and audio) while recalling distressing images and thoughts. Through this process you take notice of how your body feels, and while allowing yourself to follow these images and feelings you can become to find them less distressing.

It sounds a little scary right? At first I thought, “oh this does not sound good” but I wanted to give it a shot, the evidence backed it up. I started small, certainly not with Halloween 2007, but before the season changed we had got there. I processed, I felt puke-y, I cried a little, and then I settled.

For 10 years I dreaded the changing of the season. I begrudgingly “celebrated” that date with intense fear, anxiety, and questions. Was I going to get sick again? Was a cold going to turn into something I couldn’t recover from?

Once I processed my memories from 2007 and addressed my anxiety, these feelings, fears, and thoughts eased up. Last fall I sailed through my regular routine I had set earlier in the year, and enjoyed the season. There was no Halloween costume, but that is much more related to the busyness of life and obligations than any anxiety that may be holding me back.

This year, it wasn’t until a memory popped up on Facebook of the day that I actually went to urgent care that I even realized what time of year it was, at least in relation to my health. The week passed and I went about my business, not even feeling compelled to commemorate it with a status update or tweet. This year, there wasn’t an anniversary.

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