Do You Have a Need For Speed?

Louisa Leontiades Illness, Vile Depths

It’s been two years we’ve lived on our paradise island off the west coast of Sweden. It’s the longest I have lived anywhere.

Like so many other fellow humans, I have a passion to create and explore novelty. It forges new neural pathways in my brain and pushes me to new heights and new experiences. From Manchester to Cyprus, France, Ireland, Germany Italy and Sweden I’ve dipped my toes into different cultures, different professions and different relationships. From polyamory to parenthood I’ve dabbled in the greatest psychological challenges life has to offer until I can literally feel my evolution at a cellular level.

And now with illness nipping at my heels, I feel ~ in the words of Maya Angelou ~ that the need for change once more is bulldozing a road down the center of my mind. When I feel threatened, I shake things up. I have been known to change almost for change’s sake. Because when I predict that a certain path in life is leading to danger, it’s better to do something… rather than nothing. To face it head on. To create your own destiny.

Contrary to most people I don’t find change difficult; but I find not changing excrutiating. The uncertainty and the waiting torments me. Because I have watched people around me stay stuck in situations which have, if not killed them physically, killed them emotionally. My relative in her dead-end marriage. My friend in her dead-end job. They wait for change to happen. They wait for change to rescue them. Whereas I make a pre-emptive strike. My risks are fairly calculated and although I never know for sure what will happen, I do know that whatever happens will change the increasingly unmanageable situation in which I currently find myself.

It’s a sign, I said. A sign that I have to change my life. My eating. My career. Everything.

Maybe it isn’t. he replied. Maybe it’s a sign of nothing. They’ll take out the tumour and you’ll feel that life is perfectly alright. You don’t know what will happen.

No. I said doggedly. I must change. No more computer jobs. No more start ups. No more executive career. And I’m thinking of going vegan.

Just for the hell of it. But of course I justified it with ethical concerns (because it made me feel better). The desire for drastic change wasn’t a good enough, or selfless enough, reason.

But why not just wait and see? he said. Focus on your health first. Let your body do its thing. And then take stock afterwards.

But I don’t want to be one of those people that ignored the signs and then die in 5 years. I said.

Your life will change after the operation. He said. Isn’t that enough?

I heard him. But then as he proposed a way which didn’t entail drastic change, I started to cry. I felt like he took away my opportunity to change… and like a junkie with her fix, I am addicted to it.

Change is my way of adapting to my environment. It’s my way of living life to its fullest. It enables me to escape sticky situations. Tap into ever greater resources. Getting qualifications and a fine career was supposed to give me limitless possibilities, in the form of money, in the form of challenge, in the form of excitement.

But now, following my professional path of three business degrees and high finance career which ~ according to some health professionals ~ have contributed to my state of health, I’m trapped again. So my first instinct is to precipitate change. To change my career into a non-career. Something I can leave at 5pm. Something that doesn’t have me scrambling for contracts and worrying about my monthly income. Something different enough, ‘changeful’ enough, that it will appease my conscience and my need for change and let me say to myself ~

Yes. I have made all the change that can be expected of me in order to reduce my stressful lifestyle.

I am proud of my ability to cope with change. Changes that others evade, I embrace. But the sad truth is that it might be my addiction to change which has triggered my illness. Change addiction manifests itself in an addiction to challenge, an addiction to partying and an addiction to exploration. It’s part and parcel of personalities like Steve Jobs, JFK, Mark Twain. And mine. Change is an addiction which can lead to utter fulfilment. But as proven time and again, it’s also an addiction which can easily result in an early grave.