Today’s dispatch comes to you from what feels like the coldest place on earth. I know it isn’t, but that doesn’t really help me to feel any warmer. Luckily, I plan to clean my whole house from top to bottom today, so I’m sure I’ll warm up pretty quickly. I don’t intend to read, at all, oh no! *turns page very, very quietly*

Today, I’m going to talk a little about worry, and worrying. Perhaps you’ve already realised, if you’re a regular reader, that these daily offerings are written by a worrywart. I am fully aware that I worry about everything, and it’s not something I like about myself. I wonder, sometimes, what the point of worrying is, and why I do it. Being anxious about things that have a direct impact on my life might make some sort of sense, perhaps, but I also worry about things that have nothing to do with me, at all. I can’t help myself.

But, the moon COULD crash into the earth! It COULD!

But, the moon COULD crash into the earth! It COULD!

Today’s anxiety freakout is centred around my husband, and his trip to work. He has to make a long journey this morning, across the country, and the roads are icy in places. This means, of course, that I’m sitting here with a face like a prune, waiting for him to phone and tell me he’s all right. This is despite the fact that my husband is an excellent driver, who is more than capable of handling the car on bad or icy roads, and that he has often driven in bad conditions without any trouble. I know all this, but I’m still here, sweating (metaphorically) with worry. I hate that I do this. Me being worried isn’t going to help my husband’s driving. In fact, because he knows I’m worried, it might make his drive more difficult – which would be, of course, the direct opposite of what I want.

Whatever small logic there is in me being worried about something that directly affects my loved ones, there is no logic whatsoever in me being worried about things like the global political situation, war zones, extinction of the polar bear (and numerous other species), whether my very existence offends people, whether anybody reads anymore… the list just goes on and on. I’ve always been an anxious type, constantly afraid of causing anyone else any trouble; I’ve struggled with my fear of making phone calls for many years now, for instance. I worry so much that I’m going to disturb the person I’m calling that I argue myself out of calling them. How completely ridiculous is that? I can’t believe I even wrote it, but it’s the truth. I used to be afraid of knocking on doors, too, particularly when I was in college and I was faced with the imposing door to a professor’s office. I had a horrible fear of the professor within just reaching a pivotal point in something they were writing, and my knock shattering their concentration, derailing their train of thought, destroying their career and ruining their life. I wish I was joking.

I’m sure there’s a name for this sort of anxiety – the sort where you worry about one thing, which spirals out into another and another, until you’re left with a situation so ridiculous that it couldn’t possibly happen. Yet you’re still worrying about it. It’s like the butterfly effect, or something – the idea that a knock on a door could cost someone their career seems similar to the idea that a butterfly waggling its nose will result in the destruction of half the world, or whatever it is. I wonder, sometimes, if I’m so anxiety-prone because I’m lucky enough to live in a place where I don’t have a huge amount to worry about, in real terms. I live in a country without extreme weather (most of the time!) or scary insects (another worry favourite); I’m not rich, but I know I’m not facing starvation or homelessness. Well, not in the immediate future, at least. I suppose I can’t help it if my brain is wired toward anxiety, but this might explain why some of the things I worry about are so bizarre (like the moon crashing into the earth, or Yellowstone National Park blowing up, or nuclear war). I’d like to think all this anxiety is the result of having an active imagination. That makes me feel a bit better about it!

I’m hoping the fact that I’m aware of my own irrationality will help me to overcome it. Keeping it locked up inside doesn’t really help, because it usually makes my worry more acute – I need an outlet for it. But ideally an outlet that doesn’t upset my family, of course!

Oh, no. Now I’m going to start worrying about making people worry about me worrying…

vicious circle

3 thoughts on “Worrywart

  1. Kate

    It’s like reading about myself *rubs eyes in disbelief*

    I sought help with a counsellor. Three things helped me to get some perspective on my anxiety:
    1) The 1-100 scale of importance – 1 being a paper-cut and 100 being the death of a loved one. Whatever is concerning you, you place on that scale. With these two parameters it is often surprising how low you find yourself rating certain worries, (What if they don’t like me? What if I fail? What if I’m over dressed?)
    2) Imagining my best friend in my shoes. (I love you, their loss. You won’t and if you do I’ll still love you. You’ll look fantastic)
    3) Pairing more serious scenarios with likelihoods of occurrence can help a little too.

    And finally, a question – Are you able to change what worries you? If ‘No’ then why worry? If ‘Yes’, then why worry?

    I still worry, it’s in my nature, but this helped me. 😀

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Seriously, the most helpful thing I’ve ever read. Thank you!

      I’ll never think about anything again without applying the 1-100 scale to it. The best friend thing is brilliant – I’d never dream of telling my best friend/s the things I tell myself. Weird, that.

      P.S. My husband arrived to work safely. I knew he would, but the worry didn’t listen to my rational mind. 😀

      1. Kate

        It’s fascinating how anxiety can completely circumvent rational thought. Fascinating and slightly debilitating 😛 My hubby travels a lot for work, long distances on horrible roads, it’s the hardest worry to quash.
        My life must be wonderful for me to be worrying about it so much… wait… I might be onto something there 🙂

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