Sometimes after a feed, I lie in bed at night, around 4am and thoughts start to trickle through my head. I cannot exactly control them, even though I try not to think about it. I call them my little gifts from anxiety, keeping me in check to make sure I am still on my toes. Ohhhhhh anxiety, you are so awfully thoughtful…
Sometimes I will be lying in bed and I imagine the things I will have to do the next day. Go to a doctors appointment, for example. My mind is always racing. I will begin to daydream (or night dream) about the things I have to do. I will be strolling on over to the doctors and all of a sudden I imagine a truck missing a light and hitting us. I imagine the pram slips from my hand and rolls onto the road. I imagine my son letting go of my hand and someone running by and picking him up and kidnapping him. I quickly shake my head and say to myself ‘stop it!’. I snap back to reality and then imagine my daughter whose breathing has quietened, has actually stopped breathing. I then imagine having to organize her funeral.
This is Catastrophising.
Pretty farked up hey?
When you have no sleep, these thoughts intensify. Sometimes I am driving and think to myself, I am so tired, maybe I will just fall asleep and I won’t know. Am I even awake now? I then start slapping my face because I am worried that I am driving and I am asleep and I don’t know. I imagine I am like a scene in the Simpsons where Homer is so tired he falls asleep and thinks he is awake and driving around in dream land. Gotta love Homer.
I’ve never exactly mentioned this to anyone before, but after a night of solid catastrophising, I wondered, do other mothers or people think this? Or is just me?
I am so overwhelmed with love for my children, that I often think, this is too much of a good thing, SOMETHING must go wrong. It has to. It always does. So I imagine the worst possible scenarios and tell myself, I can’t live in denial, it CAN happen to me. I’d say some of this is normal, and I’d say some of it is a mixture of anxiety and depression.
Sometimes I sadly imagine I am in one of the articles I read about, and I see my sons little face smiling in a picture with the ugly headline, “Luca was a happy boy, UNTIL HE GOT THE COMMON COLD”… “Luca was playing outside, until he was taken away by a giant bird” … “A mother of two found herself without children when she crossed the road to the doctors and let go of her pram” … “Children left abandoned when truck hits mother” I see their little faces smiling into the camera. Sometimes my daughter, who is 4 months, cries a little too hard, and I already envision my trip to emergency. – You get it…
I don’t stop at my children, I think about it with my husband, if he doesn’t answer his phone, he is dead. If my friends don’t respond to my text, they don’t like me. If a cashier says something in a ‘tone’ that I have perceived to be negative, its because they are judging me in their mind.
Its funny because, to look at me, you would have absolutely no idea any of this is going on. I am as always the perfect clown and happy-as-larry. I wouldn’t discuss this with anyone. It makes me look crazy no? But everyone is crazy, just some are better at hiding it than others, and now that I have started to write, there is nothing left to hide anymore.
The ironic part of all of this is, I have studied psychology, and now study social work, which goes into depth about these little brain twitches. Upon deep reflection into this I have come to realise that, I automatically assume I am not allowed to be happy, that as soon as things go well, that it’ll all come crashing down and I will be hit by a truck. (Metaphorically and not so metaphorically.)
I don’t know where I learned it, as I never paid attention all that well in school, I only took what I needed, but as people, as mothers, we are afraid to experience happiness. We are afraid to say we deserve happiness, so we catastrophise so that when and IF things go badly, we are ready for it, and our little brains can’t say “see, I told you so.” It is silly, I know. You know it’s silly, but yet we still do it. It is flight or fight, except our brains are doing both before we are even in that situation.
Prepare for the worst
hope for the best
imagine the most outrageous thing that can happen to you.
Rinse and repeat.
This is my brain.
Ok, so how do I stop it? You ask…? (I’ve had a lot of coffee today so I am acting as if I am writing like I am Carrie from sex in the city, except instead of cocktails and ciggies, I have instant coffee and a low carb chocolate bar…sigh)
I dare you, (and myself) to stop it. Now I don’t mean stop thinking it, because that is impossible. I mean stop the truck, stop the pram, stop the bird, and get a flu shot. Imagine yourself when you get so deep into these stupid thoughts that the truck rolled over twice and hit no one, and the driver came out and gave you some sugarfree lowfat fudge (it exists, I swear). Imagine the pram had a reverse button that when you blinked it activated and the pram found its way back to you, imagine there are no articles where you will see your beautiful child’s face because the cold won’t turn out to be something ugly, and the doctor you go to see for your child’s cold will cure it with a lollypop. The next time you feel scared and you begin to imagine these things, say, ‘I am afraid, and I am vulnerable, and that is okay.‘
Tell yourself you deserve joy, you deserve happy thoughts. You deserve to live in the moment and not experience this anxiety. Tell Catastrophising to go F off, and while it’s there, take anxiety with it.
Peas and love people, peas and love. x