published Friday, March 9th, 2012

Leber: Taking a vacation from Crazytown

Love & Other Indoor Sports

I made a mindful, rational decision last week. As a result, I want a ticker-tape parade, a cookie, a medal and a chest to pin it on. Please and thank you.

Here's what happened: I decided to have a litany of medical tests based on minor symptoms and major anxiety. I've made no secret of my health-related paranoia, in part to let other whacktarts such as myself know that you are not alone.

After a lot of soul-searching, fretting, research and talking to friends and family, I decided to make a conscientious effort to actually fix the problem through medically supervised lifestyle adjustment and stress management.

This is a big decision for me. I've said it before: I'm a worrier. I don't imagine a doctor tells many patients, "I wish you were less vigilant about your health," but mine has said those exact words to me. So when I went to (another) doctor and said, "I've changed my mind. I want to work to fix the problem and manage this situation, and I want you to help me do it," it felt like a turning point for me. In fact, in the several days since I made the choice to accept that these problems are almost certainly something I can solve and are not being caused by some alien parasite that will send me to an early grave, I've actually found myself feeling better physically.

Hearing my doctor say the words, "I think you've made a wise choice, and I completely support your decision," helped, too. Actually, it made me feel really good.

My choice to not be a crazy woman, for now (trust me, she'll be back), benefits not only me but also the people around me.

When I am in whacktart mode, there are others who are affected: my friends, who must contend with my moodiness and who, blessedly, have yet to tell me to go jump off a cliff; my family, who, like me, often can't help worrying and must fear for my lost marbles; and my boyfriend, who gets to contend with a woman who won't let him touch her because she "hurts" constantly.

He has stresses of his own, ones that are more real and more immediate than my latest trek to Hypochondria Heights, and while my wonderful, loving man does everything in his power to soothe my beleaguered soul, the situation doesn't exactly help either one of us.

Let me get comfortable in my armchair for a minute before I dole out this particular unlicensed psychological insight: Crazy begets crazy. It's like a cold sore. If you have one sane person and one whacktart, you are far more likely to end up with two nuts than you are a pair of levelheaded, normal folks.

Oh, this isn't to say that a loving friend or partner can't pull someone out of a rough or dark place. Of course he can. Still, it's a far, far easier task if the nutjob is willing to try to not be such a lunatic, at least for a bit.

Is this some sort of grand epiphany? No. Is it news? No. But it might just be one of those little life lessons that some of us need to be reminded of once in a while.

Contact Holly Leber at hleber@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6391. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/hollyleber. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/leber.holly.

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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