Every now and then I can’t resist a bit of somatizing. It usually occurs when I fall into a pattern of catastrophizing. Catastrophizing is when I start to get afraid that something normal is way worse than it really is. This is my time of year for catastrophizing. Somatizing always takes my mind off of it.
The trick is to keep it under control and not let it get out of hand and become something real to worry about. It’s also contagious. If I start somatizing, next thing I know my household is complaining about something. Pretty soon, the vet has to be called for the dogs; the husband coughs and gets into bed with what he claims is “the flu”; My daughter, feeling tired, races to 24-hour emergency care for a mono test; and my son comes home from Jujitsu with what appears to be a broken nose. Fortunately, he showed himself to be more mentally healthy than me because when I declared his nose broken, he declared me crazy, and went to sleep dragging a bag of frozen peas I insisted he carry to bed with him. Come to think of it, I wonder where he stashed those peas once he ditched them in his room.
I come from a heritage of somatizing rooted in catastrophe. My maternal grandmother died at 54, a victim of genetically linked breast and ovarian cancers. My mother planned her own death for her first 54 years. Living past 54 was a shock. At 70, when my mother was finally diagnosed with breast cancer, albeit non-genetic, she called me urgently. The moment we had all been waiting for had arrived.
“You must go to my doctor immediately. You should have a double mastectomy.” She said into the phone.
I had to stop and think. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and I was supposed to get a double mastectomy?
This conversation occurred outside my children’s’ elementary school.
“I have to go,” I said. “I am late.” And by go, I meant really go. Go away from the wish-fulfillment of bad things happening, go away from crazy thinking. Go away from the sickening idea that I should mutilate my perfectly healthy body because my mother had cancer.
However, it is true that somatizing is contagious. I try to limit my hyper focus on illness to my dogs. My
10-year-old poodle is in a stroller because his legs hurt, the 8-month-old cockapoo is getting ear drops for her ear infection which is most likely caused by food allergies, the 12-year-old havanese is on Melatonin for her mood disorder because it relaxes her, and the 2-year-old shitzu bichon is on a very restricted diet for his food allergies
The good news is that my husband seems healthy and my kids are largely avoiding me and my raccoon-looking eyes.
Takeaway – Dig deeper than the normal narrative.
Recipe – Tea and Toast – Pampering without Pain
My Grandmother’s mother was a Russian who read Pushkin and drank her tea with Cherry preserves
When I don’t feel well, I drink hot water with the juice of a half lemon and 1 teaspoon of cherry preserves. I love the bite of cherry soaked in the lemon water. For me, it’s better than tea.
For the toast, one slice of Caraway seeded rye bread slightly toasted with melted salted butter is heaven.