Worry. Worry worry worry.

Found an unpublished draft when I was going though old posts. I wrote this a couple of weeks ago:

I fell asleep last night worrying that my lack of nervous breakdown over not seeing S over the weekend means I’ve fallen out of love with him. Ignoring the obvious signs that I’m utterly batshit-crazy over the guy, I decided that because I wasn’t weeping into my pillow, it must mean that somehow, overnight, my love for him has died.

Sometimes it’s like another part of myself takes over, pokes me and says, “Hey! You know the way you weren’t worrying about anything? Now you are!”. I set myself up to get upset for no reason at all, and it’s frustrating beyond belief when I start imagining that my relationship with S is doomed, because there’s very little sense or reason to any of it.

I’m not as bad as I was with O; not by a long way. Still, sometimes I do worry that I may be without S one day, or that he might in some way betray me. The thought crushes me, and I don’t seem able to entirely banish that worry from the back of my mind.

I sometimes even worry that I’m not worrying enough. Or worry because I’m worried; so something must be wrong. I’m not half as anxious as I used to be (thanks to cipralex and beta-blockers) but the fear still lurks in the background at all times. It’s still there, just muffled by chemicals.

I also worry that worrying is normal, and I’m treating something natural like it’s the enemy. I know my flight vs. fight response is broken, and I panic rather than make a useful move whenever something stressful happens. My reaction to panic is to calm myself with anything which will numb my feelings, which continues the whole addiction cycle. Is that a normal reaction? There’s no doubt that worry and fear has caused a lot of problems in my life, making me react dangerously to situations and get myself into emotional states I can’t control, and I can’t quite see that as being the way everyone else reacts.

I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has told me to just stop worrying, and live in the present. I’ve tried – god knows I’ve tried – but all I can often see is a gaping chasm where my future should be, a dark place full of uncertainty, and it scares me. I can’t help but think about it, and thinking naturally leads to panicking.

A few years ago, I was a permanent nervous wreck. Speaking to strangers was out of the question, and I spent most of my time squashed up against a wall, trying to avoid conversation in case I said something stupid. Speaking on the telephone simply didn’t happen, and I never answered the door or knocked on someone else’s. Somebody else would have to pay for me in shops, because dealing with the whole process of speaking to staff and counting money out sent me into a panic attack. I couldn’t function.

I’m a million miles away from that now. I still struggle with worrying and panic attacks, but the medication has them mostly under some sort of control. If I miss a few doses, I’m back to hovering over the phone in case someone texts me and refusing to communicate.

It’s strange to know that, under this chemical mask, I’m still a nervous wreck incapable of reacting rationally to small problems. I’ve been this way for so long that I can’t ever see a time when that anxiety will be gone for good. It’s a part of who I am; the panic has become ingrained into my personality.

38 Comments

  1. I worry that I’m a failure–as a writer, friend, sibling, student, chemist, human being, etc. I can’t shake the feeling that I’m lacking in some fundamental way.

    The real kick in the nuts is that I have no idea how to do better. I mean, I don’t really have any evidence of failure (and therefore no way to plan for improvement)…just this constant feeling of not being good enough. And a sickening fear that the rest of the world will suddenly see me for the pathetic, useless waste of DNA I really am.

    So, I stay busy with school, work, events, writing…anything to keep my mind occupied. A constant whirlwind of activity, all so I won’t have to think about the failure that is Jacqui.

  2. I think trying to mute the panic response (or any uncomfortable emotion) is a normal response. Being aware of it is huge though! It takes a lot of self awareness to get to the place where you realize what you’re doing while you are trying to disassociate from those negative emotions. Congratulate yourself for how far you’ve come!

  3. I use to be afraid that depression, anxiety, and worry would be a permanent way of life for me. I couldn’t imagine how to function without it. In fact, I feared I COULDN’T handle life without depression. Eventually, I decided to just let it be. I focused on dealing with my “issues,” on healing in any way that I could. And if the medicine was helping me to function during that time, then good. Considering the fact that I hated–and still hate–medicine, I found a way to accept it. Then I just worked on getting through the day, the week, the month, etc. Then one day I looked back, and realized how long it had been since the last time I had a panic attack.

    I still wonder how I’ll be once I come off these meds. I still worry about worrying. I guess it’s a part of being human and wishing that we had some kind of control over every aspect of our fate….

  4. It’s difficult to choose to “like” a post that expresses something so raw and painful. However, I “like” it because I can identify – not necessarily with the constant anxiety, specifically, but with my own constant companions – and I appreciate the clarity and honesty in what you wrote. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I smiled reading this as I empathise with some of it. I’m worried bec I’m not worried or I’m worried bec I’m worried. Both seem logical when you’re thinking them but when you write them down not so logical, but hey, we might be the only logical ones!

  6. try and be patient with yourself. You are reacting more normal to to situations than you use to. If in doubt. Just look how far you have come and have faith that i nthe future you can look back and see that you have come even farther. I can relate. I tend to handle negative worries that way too. It is a way to thwart a panic attack.

  7. Q: How do you eat an elephant?
    A: One mouthful at a time.

    Same could be said of life – we can only live one moment at a time. Yes, we can spend these moments thinking and planning, which is good, because we need to be able to look both forwards and back (I mean, if you’re eating an elephant, you’re going to be planning several meals, and you’re also going to think about what meals you’ve had because you’ve learnt from what works, what tastes good and what you want to avoid – such as the green wobbly bit) but essentially, what is really, totally and completely important is NOW. To quote a song which was put together by a couple of local (to Chester) literary & musical genius folks, “live for today but remember tomorrow”.

    I think I took that metaphor and completely stretched it and abused it. However, I choose to not give a damn about the fact that right now the grammar police are probably wanting to hunt me down, and I will give the argument that I did it with an attempt to be humorous.

    Some people are better at living in “now” than others. I’m not completely there, but I’ve taken the time to think about what I think and why I think some of the things I do, and to be able to look at myself quite a lot. It reads like this is something you’re doing through your blogging here, and as others have said, one day, you’ll look back and congratulate yourself on how much you have changed in the way you’re able to deal with things. But you have to start with baby steps. If thinking about the week is too much, think about the day. If that’s too much, hell, just think about the afternoon, or the next hour. And although I’m off to join a religious order in just over a week, I also have this crazy black hole for the future. I can see me being happy there but I can’t visualise my living there until I actually do it, which is why I have to go and give it a go.

  8. Sending love, my friend. My advice this time is the same as before. S. knows that you have had bad relationships in the past, so he isn’t going to be shocked. So think about telling him how you feel, and spend some time talking together about ways to calm those fears. He loves you, and you love him — and I can tell you, worrying that you are falling out of love is not so uncommon a thought. I’d bet the two of you will find the answer. 8-)

  9. I’m not going to pretend I know what this is like but I am completely on board with how an illness consumes who we are.
    As much as I swear to myself I’ll not let one more thing have an edge, yet when it happens, because they always do, I fall apart over the “Just one more damn thing!” (where I am this week)

    My husband says if I don’t have something to worry over I’ll event something. You would think in all his esteemed wisdom He’d know just how insulting this is. It’s not funny, it’s real.

  10. Pingback: Why worry too much? « HOW TO MAN UP

  11. Pingback: When should a parent worry? « Katherine Gordy Levine

  12. Pingback: Why worry too much?

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