Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Fear Factor

I realized what HIV is for me, it's the sounding board that intensifies all my fears. Yesterday I went to P.'s house while he's away to watch a DVD, but ended up watching a documentary on people with OCD and anxiety. I never gave much thought to OCD, and while I acknowledged that I suffer from anxiety many times, I never have the patience for, say, people with AIDS anxiety who compulsively ask questions on the web forums, questions which I feel stigmatize me, by reinforcing unlikely ways of transmition. I always want to tell these people, "shut the hell up and go find yourself a shrink!". There are people who take numerous tests after minimal or zero risk and are still not satisfied they are negative; there are people who come up with all sorts of bizzare imaginary scenarios that seem to be taken from a cheap 90s "ebola" horror movie. All sorts of wierdos crop up... and on the other hand, people, mostly gay men, with very real risks through downright dodgy sexual practices. NOT that I think HIV is a gay disease or punishment for any kind of sex, and NOT that I think that it wouldn't spread otherwise (just look at me). I wrote about it in the aidsmeds forum, actually, I should find that post and copy it here.
My own way of dealing with anxiety has always been to go headfirst into the thing that scares me, which is of course something that leads both to precrastination and to a worsening of the anxiety. Watching these people on TV last night with their endless cleansing and disinfection rituals, their terror of bacteria, their disintegrating relationships (they were all married, oddly enough), I realized how much of that there is in me, actually. There was a woman who hasn't touched her husband or child in 3 years, and was walking around the house in rubber gloves while picking things via a piece of kitchen roll. There was the guy who chained his foot to the bed so that he will be certain that he hasn't sleptwalked and committed a crime. Of course I have never done anything of the sort, but how much irrational thought, how rampant my imagination runs sometimes (sometimes...? all the time!) with scenarios of doom and gloom. What a powerful enemy-from-within the human mind is...
As I type this I am wearing my blading gear. I have been so afraid of rollerblading again. I have always been afraid of it, that's why I was doing it in the first place. I am going to go for just a short spin in the area near my place. The last time I tried it, my brother was here. I put the blades on, wobbled unsteadily as though I've never done this in my life, and felt such distress that I removed them saying I can't do this. But today I made a blading appointment with K., who is really experienced, so I need to get the feel of the road before I meet him. And that's also a way of controlling anxiety. I know that when I have to speak in public later this year, it will be a challenge (I was going to write "I'd be nervous as hell", but I'm trying out a different viewpoint). That's why I'm already preparing, whereas P. when he has to do something like that, goes the other extreme and does everything in the very last minute. I mean, when I had to go to Venice, I took a whole day off (admittedly I just got my period, but still) just to pack. Isn't that compulsive? And what about my eating, which was fairly pronounced this weekend, isn't that a way of soothing the anxiety, a devious way like addiction, which turns into a monster that constantly needs to be nurtured, on top of the existing anxiety?

I will be off now then...

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