I met a woman in the gym locker room and we started chatting while we both dressed after our workouts. She swims every single day. She looks amazing. I had overheard her tell another woman that she was scared of taking the medicine – a blood thinner – she’d been prescribed for a heart condition. So, much to her doctor’s dismay, she wasn’t taking it. Depression had set in. She was worried about the side effects, the inevitability of aging, the prospect of having to take the medicine forever and many other things. She was an awfulizer if I’ve ever met one. And I have met one. All I have to do is look in the mirror to see one of the world’s best awfulizers.
If you’ve never heard the term awfulizer before, it means someone who views any situation from the perspective of everything that could possibly go wrong. That used to be me. But I’m in awfulizer recovery now. So I tried to help the woman.
“What could happen if you don’t take the medicine?” I asked her.
“I could have a stroke,” she said.
“Hmm. Have a stroke or take a little pill every day. I think I’d take the pill,” I said.
“Who doesn’t? But without modern medicine I would have been dead over a decade ago,” I told her, explaining my cancer diagnosis and treatment. “During every chemotherapy treatment I received I would lay there thanking the drugs, the scientists who had come up with the drugs, the companies that distributed the drugs, the nurses that injected the drugs into my port-o-cath, and the cancer center that provided great care during a scary time. It’s amazing how freeing and uplifting it was. My fear decreased dramatically.”
She stopped combing her hair and took a step closer to me, listening intently.
“Perhaps you need to change your thinking about taking medicine to feeling grateful that there is medication available that will help you continue to lead a healthy, active life. When you take that little pill every morning, you can think, thank you, and then go on about your day,” I said.
“I hadn’t thought about it like that,” she said. “Maybe I could do that.”
After a few more minutes in which we discussed the potential side effects and how she might deal with them she had not only decided to start taking the medicine but also to go to a party that night that she was dreading because she is single. Without a date, she didn’t feel comfortable going. But suddenly she felt like maybe she could go. She told me I was an inspiration and “so precious” and that I made her day by talking to her. And that made my day.
Always remember that gratitude trumps fear. And women’s locker rooms are great incubators of gratitude.