(Or The Voice)
You find me today in a mild state of self-loathing. The reason?
I live a five-minute drive away from where I work – which works out as a 7-8 minute walk. The walk is pleasant and gives me time to decompress and listen to 1 or 2 songs on headphones on the return home. Aside from this, the little bit of exercise in the morning seems to fire-up my brain and makes me sharper and better at my job.
The drive to work entails driving round winding residential streets at rush hour. These streets are narrowed by people parking on both sides of the road, and many other drivers use them as a kind-of ‘rabbit run’ or short-cut.
So the level of tension that builds up on the DRIVE to work is infinitely higher than the tension caused by walking – the same is true of the return journey. Plus the price of petrol is shocking and this drive isn’t economical.
So why do I find it so difficult to walk?
Every day entails a series of checks and measures, the main one of which is, “have I been to the toilet?”
As I have MS, and we’re told that “bladder control problems occur in at least 80% of people with Multiple Sclerosis”, I’m guessing you know that I’ll have at least TRIED several times.
And that’s without even talking about THE OTHER toilet issue which can pop up (or out) – apologies if you’re eating your lunch while reading this.
After all the required checks have been carried out (with at least one last try on the toilet), I can sometimes get to work (more or less) on time.
But today, like many other days, the checks and measures went on for SO LONG that I caved in and drove – and yes, the perfectly rational thought “well, I could’ve walked in by this time” flashed through my mind, just like it always does.
The walk into work has become A THING, and one which I tried to deal with through my Cognitive Behavioral Therapy sessions a couple of years back. I still hear the voice of my therapist telling me all the things which I KNOW anyway when I’m doing my ridiculous checks. And I know that the walk into work has innumerable benefits over driving.
Searching for a snappy title to this blog earlier today, I came across this articlewhich mentions the “nocebo” effect:
You have probably heard about the “placebo effect,” which is a phenomenon whereby a treatment (even a sugar pill) has a positive effect on a symptom or illness, mostly because the person taking it believes in it. Guess what? It works in the opposite way, too. Called the “nocebo effect,” if you believe… there is no way you will feel good enough to leave the house that day, there is a very good likelihood that you are going to be right.
The voice of my (borderline irrational?) worries gets louder each day – but running alongside that is the line “Use It Or Lose It”. While I’m still able to walk, I SHOULD be walking as often as possible – it makes me feel better, healthier, and smarter.
And the voice inside my head makes me feel worthless, pathetic, and stupid. So why do I choose to listen to that voice over all the things I know to be true?
How well do people around you understand MS?