Sunday, April 8, 2012

I Would Tell You About My Anxiety, But I'm Afraid To...

For many years now, it's been clear to me that I am more anxious than the average person. My close friends and family tell me all the time that my worries are not "normal" worries. My anxiety issues first became apparent with an increasingly debilitating fear of flying. This was a true problem when you consider that for 13 years, I worked full time at home for a company headquartered 300 miles away. Thus I was required to fly--often. It's my suspicion that juggling two full-time jobs and two kids for more than five years contributed to my anxiety disorder. I was living in constant fear of dropping one of the many balls I kept constantly in the air. People would say to me all the time, "I don't know how you do all that you do." I've decided my engine was fueled by worry. I used to have these images in my head of one of my kids sitting on a dark curb waiting for a ride that wasn't coming because Mom finally dropped one of the most important balls (this actually happened to one of my friends, so see, it CAN happen). I once BOLTED out of my house and literally FLEW George Jeston-style in the car to pick up my daughter, heart pounding, mouth dry, white knuckles, the whole nine yards. Only to realize, halfway through this crazy jaunt, that I would arrive more than an hour early--not 20 minutes late as I had feared. This was the result of a simple time-telling error that could happen to anyone, I said. Not true, my family assured me. This could only happen to you, they said. My kids have known for some time that Mom is a little crazy around the edges. This has never been more apparent since my daughter started driving, sending my anxiety into the red zone.

Coupled with my anxiety is an out-of-control superstitious streak. Trust me when I tell you, these two things make for a problematic combination. The superstition I can't help--I'm Irish, for crying out loud! I remember when I was a kid and my parents were leaving on a trip to London. My mom broke the mirror on their medicine cabinet, leading my father to rant for an hour, "If my father was alive, we'd be canceling this trip." So it's not my fault! I come by that part naturally. We are leaving on a rather ambitious vacation this week, and I went out of my way to avoid flying on Friday the 13th. I mean, come on, I have enough issues with flying without adding Friday the 13th to the mix. That's just unnecessary roughness! I woke with a start in the middle of the night recently, freaking out that instead we'd be flying over the North Atlantic on the anniversary of the Titanic disaster. My son disabused me of that notion (I was off by a few days), but not before I had a somewhat sleepless night imagining a second epic disaster occurring in April of '12. I can hear you all mumbling, "This chick is a mess." Trust me, I know!

I had a friend once who was as much of a mess as I am. We bonded over our disaster planning capabilities. I lived in Jacksonville, Florida at the time and a truck had recently driven off the Buckman Bridge. We spent countless hours dissecting that event and preparing for the possibility of it happening to us. How, we wondered, would we get two kids in car seats out of the car before it sank? Let me just say that had it happened to either of us, we were ready--readier than most people would ever be. For her birthday one year, I gave her the Worst Case Scenario Handbook, a gift that she said proved how well I knew her. She said it was one of the best gifts she'd ever gotten, until a week or so later when she called to blame me for a sleepless night because the book was full of horrors she'd never thought of. Needless to say, I didn't read much beyond "How to Survive an Alligator Attack," since that had real relevance when I was living in Florida.

It was my luck in life to give birth to two kids who aren't afraid of anything. They love to fly--the rougher the flight the happier they are (freaks). They love roller coasters and those carnival rides that look to be held together by duct tape. So while they are hurtling through the air on the tilt-a-whirl, I'm on the ground popping the Xanax, preparing for imminent disaster and praying for their safe delivery back to Earth. We were at the beach during a tropical storm two years ago and their father allowed them to BODY SURF in the crushing waves. I mean, SERIOUSLY? As they had some of the best fun of their young lives, I very nearly required electric-shock therapy to get past the trauma of watching my babies be pummeled by furious surf. Did I mention their father is also a fearless freak? Both my kids have expressed interest in skydiving, rock climbing, hang gliding, mountain climbing and other extreme sports that I am better off not knowing about. My response to those interests is always the same, "You'll have plenty of time to do all that when I'm gone." They ask if I have a time table for my departure so they can prepare for the "fun years." LOL! Brats!

It's been brought to my attention that I might benefit from anxiety medication. I have some. I'm too afraid to take it.

Am I alone in being an anxious freak show? Please tell me I'm not!

14 comments:

Mommy Wis(h)dom said...

No you aren't alone. I live in fear of being judged by others, especially other Mothers. I just know they are making lists of all the way my kids or I don't stack up. AT the parent pick up area I stand alone and try to look too busy, to...whatever so I'm not forced to talk with them. Forced..ha! More like jealous that I wasn't apart of their group.

Just so you know though I have an alarm that goes off on my phone a half an hour efore I have to pick up my son, just in case. (insert eye roll) We all carry the crazies with us in some form or another. : )

JenM said...

Marie, it's amazing that you manage to accomplish as much as you do under those circumstances. So many people who have this problem tend to just refuse to get out of bed, or to leave their house! I've got no magic cure for you, but you should pat yourself on the back a bit for "feeling the fear and doing it anyway" instead of tearing yourself down for not being able to get over the "crazy" thoughts.

You know, everyone's got stuff going on in their heads that tries to hold them back. You are definitely not alone.

Marie Force said...

Good to know it's not just me! I know that feeling of thinking you don't stack up with the other moms. I stopped caring about that years ago. When you're working two full time jobs (one of them following a dream/passion), you've got better things to do than worry about all the ways you and your kids don't stack up. I promise you they are most likely not worth the bother anyway.

Christi Barth said...

It's not just you! I'm so afraid of flying that I give myself stress-induced illnesses for 3 weeks before and after a flight - ergo, I don't fly anymore. Am about to drive to RT Convention in Chicago from Maryland w/my patient husband. I've tried yoga, meditation, you name it - but the worries still creep through. Every headache must be a brain tumor. If my husband is 5 minutes late, he must be dead on the side of the road. Any time you want someone to worry with, let me know.

Vanessa Kelly said...

Marie, you sound just like my dh, Randy! He also won't travel on Friday the 13th, and he carefully plans for any and all disasters to befall us at any moment. The fact that I have some of the same vibe makes for an interesting life! But I think there's something to the fact that very anxious people can also be very productive. We're always planning, planning, planning, and hyper-vigilant to our environment.

Marie Force said...

Christi,
I've been thinking about hypnosis to deal with the flying. Unfortunately, I can't drive to Spain, otherwise I would. I have to go to California later this year, so there's a lot of flying in my future. If I had my druthers, I'd never fly again.

Vanessa,
WOW, that sounds like me. I should've worked for FEMA with my disaster-planning skills. I am LOLing at the idea of TWO disaster-planners in the same marriage. My DH ignores my doom prophecies and goes on with his carefree life. He will live to be 102 with his low blood pressure!

Judy L. from Raleigh NC said...

I think, left unchecked, your fears will only intensify and lead to unhappiness for the whole family. One of my sisters, surrounded by enablers, refused to drive a car for the last 20 years of her life, and I'm sure that had she not died she would have become agoraphobic. Please see a shrink.

Marie Force said...

Judy,
Sorry about your sister!

Karen Lawson said...

My son aptly named by "fears" PMS - Paranoid Mother Syndrome. There wasn't a road I couldn't visualize my children wrecked on, a cliff I couldn't see myself being flung from, or a bridge that didn't collapse as I was driving over it. The good news was - when faced with actual horrifying situations (childhood cancer and near-death car accidents for two different daughters), I held up! I was a pillar of strength. I think we have these fears and think about them so much so when something really bad happens, we have already faced so many different fears, we are able to deal. You ARE able to get on the plane - you might not like it, but you will get on it. And your kids sound pretty normal to me so apparently you haven't sent them to permanent counseling. I like to think that we are normal - how horrible to not worry about those you love!

Tammy J. Palmer said...

So nice to know I'm not the only one with neurotic worries. My major one has always been that one of my kids will be in a car accident. Every time I read about another traffic fatality, I feel sick with worry. Then there's the 'what will they think?' worry. I never have told my Mother-in-law about the erotic romance I had published under a pen name. Just told her yesterday that I'm writing romance at all. No matter how many times I tell myself 'it doesn't matter what others think' believing it is another matter.

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chicagogirl1968 said...

You are definitely not alone. Medication may not be a bad idea at least initially until you can change the thinking process contributes to your anxiety. Which if you are not experiencing the anxiety, is not as impossible as it may sound. There is a great book by Dr. David Burn called Feeling Good. It teaches you how to use cognitive therapy to deal with the anxiety.
I agree with JenM's comment about how amazing you are to have accomplished so much while dealing with the anxiety. As you can tell by all the comments there are a lot of us who struggle with anxiety. Hang in there and know you are not alone.

Marie Force said...

Thank you all very much for making me feel less alone with my crazy anxiety! It's good to know that I am not the only one sitting around preparing for doomsday. We'll have to hold cyber hands on Dec. 21. Either the world is going to end or Snooky is going to have a baby. We're all in this together! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Marie! I just found your website and blog. Congratulations on your successful authorship - I knew that you would do it! Am I the crazy anxious friend from Jax??? Ha ha ha! I still fear the Buckman! Hope that the Forces are all well.... No way to catch up on this small space, but email me. (bobbyandmargaret@aol.com)