If you listen to a problem when it whispers, then you will never need to hear it roar.
I went to the VA hospital yesterday for my initial exam. I was supposed to do this over a year ago but I kept putting it off. I have an aversion to doing the right thing sometimes. Part of it is because of my introversion and minor social anxiety, I hate talking on the phone or going new places or bothering people.
I am undecided on whether the internet has helped or hurt this aspect of my life. On one hand, I can accomplish many things online with automated systems like order a pizza, a blood test, or schedule a sewage inspection by the city. This helps me get things done that I need or want done. But it also means that on the rare occasion when I actually need to call someone or visit a place in person I have no practice and am practically paralyzed. I want to take dance classes or get a massage or try a new yoga studio, but if I have to actually call the business for details then I just never do it. I’m even currently still paying a monthly fee to a gym that I am no longer visiting because canceling involves going down there in person and giving them bad news.
Anyway, that isn’t really what I planned on talking about. I just wanted to give you some background that explains why it took me 18-months before my initial physical exam at the VA hospital, despite having some mental and physical health problems that should be addressed. My body and mind have been whispering that I need to get things checked out but I kept pushing it down until that whisper became a scream, and now I wonder if the time I’ve waited was too long.
My body has had a few problems recently related to my military service. When I was on a training exercise in Lousiana my unit jumped in to a simulated warzone to spend a few days on mission. The paratrooper behind me went out of the C-130 wrong and sent me into a bad spin. As a result, I ended up landing very poorly and I lost consciousness and injured my left knee and hip. I thought this injury was in the past but after working with my personal trainer I’ve come to realize that I still have hip and knee problems. Part of me knew that these issues were coming up, but I just ignored them and hoped they would go away.
I have the same experience with my mental health. I thought my PTSD was under control but a few months ago I broke down in front of my partner. I found myself sobbing in the fetal position while my mind relived the lives and deaths of people I knew. It was a crashing wave that I couldn’t stop (and maybe didn’t want to stop). But after the wave subsided I figured I had everything under control and just went back to my normal life… even when my mind was yelling at me I tried to ignore the problem.
This is a common theme in my life, to ignore problems that whisper at me until they reach the point of yelling. Ignoring the trickle until it turns into a flood.
I was in a job in LA that I was not a good fit and that was contributing to my unhappiness, but I stayed until I hit a breaking point. I should have tried to do more to make the job work well for me and then cut ties when I knew it wasn’t possible.
I have been in relationships that weren’t compatible but I stayed in them because I didn’t want to admit the problems. I didn’t seek a therapist or admit defeat, instead I stayed until we hated each other. I lost the opportunity for a lifetime friend because I didn’t listen to the whispers of problems we had.
I’ve had car and bike and computer problems that I ignored because I wanted them to pass. A creaking sound in my bike crank, a check-engine light on my car, a slow start-up on my computer… all things that may cost a little bit of money to fix if I would have addressed them early become catastrophic and require replacement if I ignore them long enough.
So often, I’ve ignored problems and as a result, lost moments of my life that I’d never get back. Every day in a bad job or bad relationship is one that I won’t have in a good job or good relationship. Every dollar spent on repairing a problem that cascaded because I ignored it early on is a dollar I won’t have to adventure with my partner or it is an hour that I’ll have to spend working to make up for that cost.
My body, my mind, my relationships, my jobs, my possessions are all subject to entropy. They are going to wear down and possibly break, and if I love them and I love my life then I need to address these problems as soon as possible, while they are manageable. I am sometimes afraid of what I’ll find when I tear open the hood and see what the source of those whispers are…
- is it cancer?
- am I doomed to mental health issues my whole life?
- is my partnership no longer compatible?
- is this job wrong for me?
- is my car breaking?
It seems better to ignore it and remain ignorant, but that won’t make my problems go away, it’ll only make them scream until I take notice, and then it might really be too late.
Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail about life in general?
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Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”