The Unknowns of Life

“Faith is, above all, openness; an act of trust in the unknown.”

- Alan Watts

I love inspirational quotes. I love to see them in beautiful writing or combined with a picture that captures the essence of the words. Reading a quote can often offer a new perspective or idea to my own set of thoughts that can motivate further ideas in me or back up the ideas I already have. They are snippets of encouragement that are often the pick-me-up needed to encourage me throughout my day.

When I read the quote from Alan Watts I am drawn to two things. The first is the fact that grammatically it is two separate thoughts. The first part describes faith as openness. The second half speaks to trusting the unknown.

The second thing I am drawn to is the fact that as two separate thoughts, the words have meaning but as soon as they are combined they become an incredibly powerful process. I am a strong believer who must have both faith and trust in order to walk through something unknown.

A trust fall is a perfect example of how faith, trust and the unknown work together. A trust fall is a team-building exercise in which a person intentionally falls, trusting that the members of the group will catch them. There are different variations of the exercise.

I participated in a trust fall at an annual team building event through my employer. In the exercise I was to fall off the edge of a picnic table with the expectation that my coworkers would catch me. Coming into the exercise I was overwhelmed with the unknowns. What if my coworkers dropped me? What if I got hurt? What if I wasn’t brave enough to fall? The exercise required me to have faith in the process. Although I couldn’t see the outcome, I needed to have faith that the exercise would have a positive outcome.

Trust is the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

I needed to trust my coworkers. Without faith and trust I wouldn’t have been able to go through with the exercise because there were so many unknowns for me. With faith and trust, I was able to fall and my coworkers caught me.

My chronic illness journey has been the biggest trust fall exercise in my entire life. It has been the most difficult thing I have ever experienced. It has been full of so many unknowns and there have been many times I didn’t know if I would ever make it out of the darkness that I was experiencing.

By far, the most challenging time for me was during the time I was living undiagnosed. When I am asked when it was that I first became ill I can quickly rattle off a timeframe that is much closer to the present. My illness actually started many years earlier but progressed very slowly. The only reason I am able to point to a specific moment is because I experienced an event that documented the “start” of my illness. I woke up like any other normal day, got ready to go to work and walked out the door.

While driving I suddenly became extremely dizzy and felt like the blood was quickly draining from the top of my head down to my feet. I knew that I was going to faint and thankfully was able to stop the car. I thought I had experienced a stroke so I immediately went to my doctor. My chronic illness journey had begun.

My undiagnosed life was full of so many emotions. I feel like my illness exploded, and I was filled with fear, anxiety, depression, anger, guilt and frustration. I was incapacitated and homebound. I grieved the loss of who I once was.

From what I know now, I don’t believe my diagnosis process was anything out of the ordinary but at the moment it was extremely overwhelming. One day we will have a full body scanner that can diagnose any disease in a matter of minutes, but until then I had to go through the process. I have eight doctors and they all worked together as a team. I endured endless tests, scans and procedures. The process felt hopeless and was financially draining.

After two years filled with unknowns, my autonomic neurologist at the Mayo Clinic ordered a simple skin biopsy and my diagnosis of Autonomic Small Fiber Neuropathy, POTS and Ross Syndrome was officially made.

I hated everything about living in my undiagnosed life but I am truly thankful for it now. I have come out on the other side of the biggest unknown in my life knowing that there isn’t anything that I can’t do. It is beyond my illness and it is powerful!

Personal Reflection

Describe your undiagnosed life. How long did it last and what did you learn from it?

Community Question

How do you respond to things that are unknown?

Please comment below

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