Denial. Hello old friend. I thought we’d parted ways amicably a while ago and yet, here you are again, stroking my hair, telling me it will all be ok if I just trust you.
Denial. Every one of us is denying something for sure! It’s a thing that we humans have the capability of adopting into our daily practice. It’s all around us! We witness it everywhere. Whether it’s about ourselves, our loved ones or the state of the planet as a few examples, denial is part of our human experience, as a coping mechanism, I would suspect. A conscious or unconscious act we do to trick ourselves into believing something in our reality is or is not happening.
I have been in denial most of my life about one thing or another. In my younger years, my denial was more conscious. There was shit going on that I didn’t want to see so I went about my life as if it wasn’t happening. At the time, it was a perfect way to avoid dealing with the situations presenting themselves to me.
As I have aged and become a bit wiser, denial seems to creep in subconsciously to situations, like the ones I’m about to share with you.
I have sensitive ears and I know I can’t wear crappy earrings or my lymph nodes will blow up, but I do because those earrings are pretty goddamn cool and boy do they look good on me so in this case, Denial = Infection.
Or this one…
Dating that person even though there are hundreds of red flags to tell me to run for the hills. In this case, Denial = Heartache.
In my experience there are three particular things that have ripped me OUT of a state of denial.
Love, Health and Death.
I haven’t experienced that much physical death of others around me, I feel very grateful for that as I have been able to nurture current relationships and attempt to completely let go of past ones that didn’t serve me by having live conversations with people. The part about death that has ripped me out of denial is the death of parts of myself that I can no longer support and nurture as I have outgrown their purpose. When this happens, it’s pretty hard to stay in denial because you or parts of you become numb and you land at a cross roads not knowing which way to turn. When this happens for me, I am forced to deal with myself.
Over the years, I have been in a few significant intimate relationships that I believed, with the help of my old mate denial, were good for me. Only to be abruptly shaken awake by heartache and abuse. Eventually, the struggle of those relationships became overpowering, the truth of the experience showed it’s real face and I was forced to rise up from my place of complacency and head for the door.
I read somewhere recently, there are different forms of denial. It made me think about which part of denial I am currently dancing with regarding my Epilepsy diagnosis because it seems I have been on the denial dancefloor with this condition from the moment I had the first bolt of electricity misfire in my head.
The initial denial when I was symptomatic and oblivious at 15 years old, was to just hide it, cover it up, tell no one and hope it would go away. Pretty blatant denial but at the time I told myself it was safer to not share it with anyone.
Next part of that journey in my 20’s was being diagnosed and needing to let people know that I had Epilepsy. I was taking the medicine’s I was prescribed and was very unhappy about the condition and the side effects of the drugs. I reclused as a by-product of this and didn’t nurture many friendships from my past life before Epilepsy for some reason. This denial was more of a denial of self. I had given up on myself, lost my self-worth, didn’t trust my brain and surrendered to letting “experts” tell me how to run my show for the next 7 years.
Next stage was ‘waking up from the haze’, taking myself off all meds and working through what my triggers were. I turned my back on allopathic medicine and deeply mistrusted doctors who made me feel I needed to be accountable to them so they could “help” me. I didn’t see this as helping me. This period of denial had me believing I could “cure” myself completely through alternative methods without any assistance from the “experts”. In this scenario, I was denying science and the part it plays in the functioning of my body and in particular, my brain.
The recent years have been about managing the seizures through choices and personal responsibility. This stage, I was convinced had no denial in it, but on reflection, denial has always been there and still is. It became evident to me yesterday when I had a two yearly check up with my neurologist. All I needed was for him to sign my car registration forms to let Vic Roads know that I’m ok to drive. He checked some information with me to make sure it was all up to date and when he started relaying back to me the information about my current situation that I had told him over the years, it was false. I had lied to him to protect my freedom.
In a split second I had to make a decision, do I continue being in denial of what’s going on and hide the truth, or do I come clean. I had led him to believe I was seizure free since 2014 (it’s now 2021), when in fact I have had one seizure a year for the past three years.
To me, that’s nothing, I’m actually totally wrapped about that! It doesn’t concern me that I had one seizure in the grand scheme of things. It’s normal to have human emotions come up and need to process them, even if it does end up in a grand mal seizure, which I hate by the way, but I prefer having a random seizure (which is never random as I get plenty of warning), to feeling sedated for 364 other days of the year in order to supress that emotion and not deal with it.
The reason I came clean, I’m going to be really honest and say, is because I am having a total hip replacement in 3 weeks. This is unchartered territory for Nora (I named my brain) and me. I have no idea how my brain will respond to this experience and felt that I owed it to myself to start asking questions about the potentials of having a seizure after surgery. My surgeon said that If I dislocate the prosthetic in the first 6 months, it could be really bad for me. FUCK.
I had it all under control. I chuckle even writing that. I had it under control. Control is wearing me down. Having epilepsy wears me down. The most unpredictable organ in the body, the brain, under control. HA! I love having epilepsy for the growth, understanding, empathy and patience it has brought into my world but I fucking despise having to be in control all the time about the “what if’s”.
The perfect polarity.
I don’t call it denial these days, I call it protection. There is still so much stigma out there that I feel I need to protect myself. I understand myself. I am all I have. I have to protect myself. I am hurting no other by protecting myself, but it is hard to live a life where you need to bend the truth to be accepted in some areas of society.