Jack of Many Trades

A Place Called Vertigo

Originally posted: 2012-12-27

My official vertigo diagnosis is Benign Positional Vertigo, which is one of those catch-all diagnoses that means "You have these symptoms but we don't know why." The only medication I've ever been prescribed for it was something to fight off the nausea, and I don't bother with that much anymore.

Only two things have ever really helped. The first was figuring out that half the problems I was having came from full-bore panic attacks triggered with the vertigo. Meditation and chanting for Kuan Yin helped me get that under control so that most of the time I can keep the anxiety down to a dull roar, or dial it back there when it does flare up.

The other is, essentially, sucking it up. Positional vertigo means that certain movements or angles trigger it. The only real way to encourage a reduction in symptoms is to practice exactly those movements and angles until my inner ear re-adapts to them.

I am fortunate in that I've never had a chronic illness that impacted my daily life that I couldn't improve by working at it. When my bronchitis comes up, I use my inhaler and my breathing exercises. I tilt my head, knowing the sensation of motion is steadily decreasing. I work on my exposures and my CBT, and my OCD tends to recede. And the stuff I can't affect, well, I don't have to deal with it every day.

I think it's very easy for me, then, to fall into a philosophy that the only way out is through. I just keep walking, and for me that works.

For someone with a chronic pain condition, this might not be the case. (Maybe I'll ask Amber to write a companion post.) For someone with a degenerative condition, or my cousin with stage four cancer, I wouldn't dare presume to give advice. It's one thing for me to tell myself to buck the hell up, and another thing entirely for someone else to tell me that.

Just something to keep in mind...