I watched Birdbox the other night
It’s a post apocalyptic film that is more unsettling than scary
The characters apparently ‘see’ something that is so troubling, distressing or terrifying that it makes them kill themselves instantaneously
The only way to prevent this
Is to be blindfolded effectively eliminating the chance to ‘see’ anything and that in and of itself is probably the scariest aspect of the film
The characters flee to a safe place which happens to be a home for the blind
Although in the book
This sanctuary is comprised of people who have voluntarily blinded themselves
Which I must say
Is a far creepier ending than the somewhat optimistic one the movie left us with
This movie left me with a lot of thoughts
Two of my fears just happen to be the end of the world and going blind
The former because of a weird experience I had with magic mushrooms when I was something like 16 years old
And the latter
Well that’s pretty self explanatory
What the movie gets so right though
Is capturing the fear of the unknown
Seeing the monsters always takes out some of the scare factor
Leaving them hidden
Allows us, as the watcher to assume the worst
Creating our own separate and distinct versions of the scariest creatures possible
And then this got me thinking about Multiple Sclerosis
Because these days, what doesn’t?
That very reason
The unknown is why people with MS tend to have high rates of anxiety and depression
When we are left to conjure up visions of our futures
We think of worst case scenarios
Each of us coming up with what would be the most horrific outcomes possible
Based on our individualized dreams, aspirations, loves, passions and etc
So how do we move forward?
When there is no way to accurately predict the future
Or even an adequate idea of what you want your future to look like
Even with scientific facts and doctors and MRIs
Several years ago, after a particularly bad period in my life filled with panic attacks
I attended a cognitive behavioural therapy group for panic and anxiety sufferers
One of the techniques they taught us to cope with our panic/anxiety
Was the use of exposures
Another was challenging negative self talk
At the time, I was struggling with my panic attacks occurring when I felt trapped
So I did my exposures in locked closets and on long subway rides through tunnels
I challenged all of the ‘I am going crazy’ and ‘I am a failure’ negative self talk
And replaced it with things like ‘I’m experiencing a panic attack, not going crazy’ and ‘having a panic attack does NOT make me a failure.’
The 14 week program was probably the biggest reason why my anxiety for the next several years was manageable
Until Multiple Sclerosis came along with its lesions and inflamed optic nerves and steroids
And literally upended my entire world
But what if I could use similar techniques to cope with MS?
Like my anxiety, it’s not going away and is a part of who I am
What if I imagined the worst case scenarios of MS? Like really felt and experienced what it would be like
What if I challenged all of the painful thoughts that float in my head so many more times a day than I care to count?
Would it make this more bearable?
What if I accepted the unknown future and made a promise to myself that I could still bitch and hate and moan about it but ultimately roll with it and move on?
What if I accepted that I can’t finish my Bachelor of Social Work?
What if I accepted that I probably won’t be able to work full time?
What if I accepted that I will likely continue to struggle with my vision and the pain it brings?
What if I accepted that I will never have the life that I thought I would? That I hoped I would?
Would I then be able to finally end the chapter on all of that?
That chapter which has been left on a permanent ‘to be continued’
Which feels more like a permanent hostage situation
So what if I could erase that last line
And start a new fucking book
With all of my ‘defects’
With all of my broken pieces
With all of my changed dreams
Could I burn that old book filled with my past and all of my hopes for a future that isn’t really mine anymore?
Could I do it and just start over?
Not knowing what the ending will look like
Not knowing what will fill the table of contents
Knowing that a piece of me will burn with it
I have a tattoo I got years ago which reads ‘Tabula Rasa’ which translates into ‘Blank Slate’
I got that because I liked the idea of being able to start over
At any given time in our lives
To stop the story
And start something new
I think it’s been somewhat of a motto for me
When I didn’t like school or work
I called it
And started anew
So maybe that’s where I’ll start this new year with
My tabula rasa
My slightly broken