You know how I feel about catastrophizing (here, here and here). It's that terrible term used to belittle the concerns of people with chronic illness and chronic pain. When you’re in the middle of an intense flare, it’s a fairly normal response to wonder if it’ll ever end, yet medical professionals define it as viewing the situation is worse than it really is. Oh, sure. They’re not the ones in the middle of the pain.
Anyway! To establish a contrast, I’d like to offer up the following moment between me and The Boy that exemplifies true catastrophizing.
He and I like to daydream about places we’d like to go. We won’t actually go anywhere — he doesn’t have the travel bug and I can’t travel. At the moment. I have high hopes for being able to do so again in the future. This past weekend, we were talking about cabins in the woods and then he mentioned a hotel in the Grand Canyon that has a suite underground, in a cavern. He explained that you’d be getting down at the end of the day and spend the night. When I wondered how you’d leave again, he stated that there was a call button by the elevator so the staff can send the elevator down for you.
The Boy repeats the information.
Me (somewhat panicked): “what if there is a nuclear war?”
The Boy: “???”
Me: “or an asteroid strike?”
The Boy: “um….”
Me: “how would we get out??”
The Boy: “erm, I think maybe if there’d been a nuclear war, getting out would not be our biggest worry…”
Me: “so, we'd just stay there. And starve?”
The Boy: “pretty much. What with the nuclear war and all.”
Me: “but isn’t there another way to get out? What if the elevator doesn’t work? Are you just doomed to stay until someone remembers you’re there? What if you want to leave in the middle of the night??”
The Boy: “…”
Me: “did I mention I’m slightly claustrophobic? I need an escape route! We can't go if there's no escape route!!”
And this is when The Boy put his head in his hands and whimpered quietly. He does that sometimes. I've no idea why.