Life with Vertigo, Anxiety and an irrational fear of Odd Numbers

Being normal is so overrated anyway, right?

Among other things, I have several “problems” that contribute to my “intricate personality”, some of which include:

vertigonoun; a sensation of whirling and loss of balance, associated particularly with looking down from a great height, or caused by disease affecting the inner ear or the vestibular nerve; giddiness.

anxietynoun; a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.

disparnumerophobia; noun; the fear of odd numbers.

Vertigo, probably made most famous by the Alfred Hitchcock film Vertigo, is more common than one would think; however, with people like me, it happens a whole lot easier than to someone who will only experience the feeling of vertigo when looking down from a great height. That one strong feeling of dizziness and nausea someone may experience when sitting in a ferris wheel is exactly how I feel when looking down a set of steps or when sitting on a children’s rollercoaster.

Anxiety is also more common than one would imagine. My anxiety stems from a lack of control which has thus made me become a major control freak. If I can’t predict the outcome of a situation or I don’t know what’s going to happen, I’m set off. I was even reduced to a panic attack watching game two of State of Origin this year because I was unsure of the outcome. If I once had control over a situation and had that control taken away from me, you can bet your bottom dollar I will be reduced to a panic attack.

Finally, disparnumerophobia, or the fear of odd numbers, is also more common. It’s become a “thing” on Facebook to not have TV volumes on odd numbers, but my fear stretches even further than that; if I press the button at the lights, I’ll have to press it an even amount of times otherwise I fear lightning will strike me. Even when I’m eating, I count how many times I chew and how many times I swallow in case of the odd-numbered-lightning strike. Someone who doesn’t have disparnumerophobia may think it is a funny concept, but it actually takes control of my life more than you’d think.

Singularly, having each of these is a slight problem, but put them all together and you’ve got yourself a very different life.

So... high... but I want to pay attention!

So… high… but I want to pay attention!

Let me paint a picture for you. I was lucky enough to receive tickets to attend the Super Rugby grand final this year at ANZ Stadium. Waratahs v Crusaders, the latter of which being my second team in Super Rugby. Plus, these tickets were free. Sounds like fun, right? Well, little did I know that these tickets were very, very, very high up. I didn’t have a problem with the seats being far back, it was just the height that got to me.

Walking up the stairs to get to the seats was probably the most harrowing experience I’ve had in recent years. I struggled to do a simple exercise like walking up stairs. I had to grip onto the rail for dear life and take the steps one at a time for fear that I might tumble down the stairs and roll off into a pit of death, and screaming Waratahs fans.

I look down at my ticket… it’s an odd numbered seat. Suddenly, my anxiety kicks in and I’m thinking about all the bad things that’ll happen in the world because I have to sit on an odd numbered seat.

I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I literally can’t do this.

Luckily, there was pretty much no one at the back and I got to sit wherever, which included sitting down on an even numbered seat. Life was all good.

Until I looked down at the field and my vertigo returned after a short break. I begun to think about all the ways I could tumble down the rows in front of me and eventually roll onto the field in a bloody heap. So much so that I could barely pay attention to the Super Rugby final being played in front of me.

Having these “problems” for lack of a better word have made my life a bit less cruisey than a life without them, but I think they make me what I am. I am a strong-willed spitfire pot of sass because I’ve had to deal with my crippling fear of heights and odd numbers and the fact that I overthink everything.

In a sense, I don’t regret having these minor issues or resent having them. In fact, I think I’m embracing them and am learning to deal with it better than most. Because I’m a strong independent men who only needs chocolate in the world.

– by Noah La’ulu

(If you or someone you know is dealing with anxiety and it is becoming uncontrollable, please seek support immediately. Check Beyond Blue for addition details)

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