So…. I’ve been thinking again while listening to “The Worry Trick” audiobook by David A. Carbonell PhD. I got this book accidentally – I was browsing Facebook as you do and on my news feed it came up with a free trial of Audible application. It came up with that book as an offer so I tried it.
The book definitely has some good points. I’ve been bookmarking the most important bits and I’m going to listen to it again and write it all down. But I think it described perfectly well how anxiety feels. And it feels strange. I’ve been trying to think when my anxiety started. The author suggests we are born with genetic predisposition or even in-born anxiety. And it is more likely to show itself if one of the parents have anxiety. I think I’ve always been somehow anxious but I thought it was shyness. I had many complexes too so put it towards that. I was always scared of things, like driving for example. I was petrified of driving. But some of the things I overcame.
The difference between a bit of stress and anxiety is how it feels. It paralyses you. It starts with a thought (usually with the “what if”. or something like that) and then it follows with a scenario. The problem is that the scenario seems very realistic. It in facts FEELS realistic. In fact, to me it feels like prediction. For most of my life I actually believed I had the ability to intuitively predict bad events. Now… did I really? Or did I have the feelings of anxiety (without realising what it was) and then I believed it was a prediction? intuition?
If we follow with an example. I get anxious about many things – mainly the seizures which seemed to be the biggest trigger for me ever. They freaked me out. The whole situation went out of control completely. So sometimes I get the feeling that what if Graham has a seizure? And then any justification follows: as it happened before at this time, in the evening, on Sunday etc etc. Then I’d try to argue with myself and say but it’s been such a long time, there was a trigger (chemo) or malnutrition after the surgery, blah blah blah, but the anxiety always wins with two answers: either: the first seizure happened before the chemo OR just because nothing is happening now does not mean it won’t happen again. So, after the little silly conversation with myslef in my head I get more and more scared. I then can SEE and FEEL it happening. In fact, the feelings are soooooooo strong that I can literally be almost 100% that the next thing will happen is the seizure. I can literally feel it happening. I can’t find words which would describe how REAL the feeling is. And the more I think the more I’m scared and then it can lead to a panic.
I don’t particularly like talking about it or even imagine it. But another suggestion in the book was that you can’t “unlearn” anxiety when it’s not there. So in a way – it’s like watching horror movie. The more you watch it – the less scary it becomes….
Yes, have used the word “unlearn” as I don’t agree with fighting with anxiety. Or even overcoming. I now after reading a bit of the book start thinking that it’s something my brain learnt.
It’s not just seizures which trigger me. That’s the biggest trigger. But even before it all happen I can clearly recall the evenings when I had a feeling that something bad is about to happen. That’s’ such a common feeling to me. I actually have to say that writing this has completely unsettled me. I feel very anxious at the moment and scared that I’m going to bring the bad thinking to happen by talking about them. But anyway, the prediction of bad thing. I can’t tell you what exactly bad is supposed to happen but I know it is bad.
And that leads directly to feeling dark, and gloom and depressed. And lonely. I feel sooo lovely when I’m anxious. Everybody’s life seems so perfect. Happy. And full. But not mine. I can’t relax since last year, even when things are fine they are not fully fine – at the back of my head the anxiety is awake. I think that what has mainly changed since the seizures, cancer and chemo. That the anxiety does not go to sleep. It sometimes is more silent and sometimes it screams but it is awake at the back of my head all the time.
But I am determined to find a way to make it sleep again. To unlearn the patterns. I just thought I’d explore first what I am standing against before I tackle it. I started from a suggestion in the book to get a pack of Tic Tac (or anything like that which is countable) and each time a “what if”thought comes to your mind – eat (or throw away) one of the sweets. This is to teach yourself to notice how many times the thoughts happen. I only say that I bought 18g packet of TicTacs with 37 sweets in it… and I just went to Tesco to get some more. I’m supposed to do this exercise for a week at least….. I started this afternoon (after school run) so let say 4pm and now is 9pm and I have 26 sweets left. 5 hours 10 thoughts. And I haven’t even counted the anxious feeling I had writing this post. And it can be anything. It can be even change of the place to sit. I usually sit on the sofa but I’m not sitting at the table and part of me keeps whispering in my head that maybe if I change the seat the seizure will happen. How ridiculous is that?? I can see it is ridiculous, I can be embarrassed it is ridiculous. But I’m still scared 😦 Among everything else – it is very tiring to feel anxious.