I’ve never been very good at spontaneity. There’s always far too much planning involved–what are we doing, when are we doing it, how much money is required, who is driving?
Every minute of the day there is a constant chatter going on in my head of what may happen at some point in the future. That may mean one minute from now, one hour, one day, or one year. The thought may be completely realistic–what happens when my puppy poops…or completely bizarre and unlikely–what happens when my puppy poops and I step in it and slip and fall in front of all the neighbors and I break my tailbone and my puppy gets away and gets hit by a car.
Yes, that really is a thought that my brain just had.
Until anxiety took over my life, these thoughts were just contingency plans. Sometimes prefights in my head. If she says this, I’ll say this. If not, then I’ll go this other direction. If the teacher calls on me, here is what I’ll do. Constant diligence and preparation for every single moment of every single day.
I still do this, I can’t help it. My husband says I fight with him more in my head than I do in real life. And I often see problems at work before they become huge because I am so obsessed with finding every detail in its rightful place.
But more and more, my “contingency” plans are more “doomsday” plans. Every time I want to walk down the stairs, I imagine myself falling down them. Or when I think about getting up from the couch, I imagine hitting my teeth on the desk. I always think my boss is going to fire me when he emails, calls, or texts. Every plane that flies overhead is obviously going to crash into my apartment building. And yes, I might even slip on my new puppy’s poop.
The brain chatter is constant and terrifying.
That is Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
Having an injury or being sick is even worse. I clearly have bone cancer or multiple sclerosis. When I have a migraine, it’s a tumor. When I wrote this, I was awake in the middle of the night because I had laryngitis and couldn’t sleep because of all things it could be, even though it really was just a bad bacterial infection.
The other night I had a panic attack because we were locked out of our home and I thought we were going to have to sleep in the car.
I know all of these things are ridiculous, but they are also all extremely real to me.
These are just the every day things. There are bigger things too–Donald Trump terrifies me, so does war, and many others. Sane Haley thinks it’s all bullshit, but if you ever see me zoning out with a terrified look on my face…pour me some tea, take my hand, and show me your bunker.
Update 2/23/2017–It is interesting to look back on this post a year later with a new diagnosis of OCD. Everything about this makes so much more sense now. The fears are still real and huge, but now I know that they are called obsessions, and while that may not make them exactly easier to deal with, at least I have a name for them. There really is two parts of me–the obsessive part that has these awful scary thoughts, and the other section of me that looks at these obsessions and knows that they make no sense.
Also, Donald Trump IS ACTUALLY PRESIDENT. That isn’t just something my brain made up, unfortunately. So maybe we might actually need that bunker, for real.