Intrusive Thoughts

Every once in awhile Josh and I go through an exercise where I state all of the things I’m scared of or worried about. It usually takes awhile (because that’s my secret, I’m always worried) but at the end I’m usually laughing. When I say things out loud that in my brain are “RED ALERT STATUS, THIS FOR SURE WILL HAPPEN OR IS ALREADY HAPPENING” they sometimes lose some power over me and I realize that they are a bit ridiculous. Of course, saying things out loud isn’t a magical sure for anxiety and depression; if it was I wouldn’t be anxious anymore. But it makes things slightly better for me and helps me fight my bad-brain, so I’ll keep doing it.

A by-no-means-exhaustive list of some of the things I’ve been anxious about lately:

I’m worried that I never have had and never will have any interesting ideas ever. Very dramatic, I know. I’ve been thinking about this one, and I think it’s connected to a childhood fear that by the time I grew up every possible combination of words would be already written by others and there would be nothing left for me.

I’m constantly anxious about school. I often tell Josh that I am probably going to fail my courses, and by extension my degree, and that all of my professors think I don’t belong in the MLIS program. I got one of my grades back already for this semester and got an A- in the class, and instead of easing my anxiety it just made me think, “I don’t deserve this mark, it must be a mistake.”

I’m worried that I don’t deserve to go to a massage therapist, and I feel guilty when I go, because I’ve never had a back injury. It doesn’t matter that sometimes it’s painful to lie down/sit/stand, that my shoulders are regularly very painful, that my hips are always sore, that it hurts to put any kind of direct pressure on my IT bands, or that I often have three-day long tension headaches.

I’m scared that people don’t actually like me, they are just tolerating my presence. (You’re well acquainted with this long-standing fear of mine.) I’m pretty sure this fear is never going to go away, I’m learning to ignore it, but ignoring intrusive thoughts is hard to do when things in general are stressful.

I’m often worried that I’ve inadvertently hurt or upset Josh. Fortunately we’ve established a precedent in our relationship where when I start feeling like I’ve hurt him I just ask him if that’s the case, and he assures me either way. I’m so grateful for the truth, every time.

I’m constantly in dread of money. Have I spent too much? Do we have enough? Am I needlessly extravagant? Are we going to be poor and will it be my fault? Am I wasteful? We’re destitute, aren’t we? Should I be learning to hunt and gather?

I’ve been anxious about my reading habits the past couple of years; I feel like I must be a hypocrite if I talk about loving reading and then don’t actually read a lot. My anxiety tells me that I am a faker and a liar if I tell people I love books and reading, because I’ve read a below-average number of books lately.

To conclude this cheery post, I am anxious about saying I have anxiety. I haven’t been formally diagnosed, and what if I’m just an anxiety-poser? What if my thoughts patterns are normal and I’m just blowing them out of proportion?

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