The invisible enemy

The sensation of tiny trickles of water running through random spots in my body. A foreign enemy squatting on my property. Invisible intruders invading my skin. All these thoughts rushed through my head as I lay awake in bed, unable to sleep due to the itching and crawling sensations. I woke up the next morning feel like I had a massive hangover, perhaps from the lack of sleep and/or my body’s reaction to these pesky intruders. I walked over to my laptop in my sullen state and began to read about dust mites, bed bugs, fleas and all other sorts of lovely creatures that feed on our bodies when we’re most vulnerable during the night. I read hundreds of stories on forums about people being driven mad by these invisible nightmares, some even being pushed to the point of contemplating suicide after having tried a plethora of methods to fight the invasion without success. The measures used by many to battle the infestation seemed extreme: daily washing of bedsheets and vacuuming, application of pesticides like permethrin, daily baths, storing clothes in airtight bags for a few days to suffocate the bugs, and on and on. That’s a lot of work, and I wondered to myself how so many people could put in so much effort. The answer was simple since the cost of not putting in the work meant sleepless nights, unpleasant allergies, and overwhelming depression from being exploited by invisible enemies.

I began to tackle my enemies. Regular vacuuming, washing, and bathing. After 3 days of this, I was still having sleepless nights filled with bugs who were partying all night on my skin. The battle seemed impossible to win. Throughout the ordeal, I kept asking myself “how could this happen to me?” and was assigning blame to the person whose fault I thought it was for gifting it to me. Gradually, a sudden sense acceptance washed over me as I began to realistically consider if the battle was indeed impossible. What if the energy I was spending worrying about this pest was worse than their actual effects? What if these pests embodied the very thing I’m terrified of, which is losing control of my health and body? I began to realize how much I took my health and sleep for granted, and felt humbled that such a tiny microscopic organism could send my world into turmoil. I slept well that day.

Our fear of an outcome is usually much worse than the actual outcome itself. Jamie Foxx routinely asks his kids, “”What’s on the other side of fear? Nothing.” A very simple and easy to understand concept, but something very hard to implement if we never challenge our fears. I’m grateful to have encountered these bugs because they challenged me.