128. The door to anxiety

Friday January 29 2021

The usual morning rush today, not because I’m a bad planner, but because I swing to the self-destructive side of things to bring such drama upon myself. Sure, it’s a personality trait worthy of a robust counseling session, but that’s not going to get me to work on time today, now is it?

Why is it there’s always that One More Thing before I can confidently close the door and get on my way? Is the curling iron unplugged and coffee pot off? Both have automatic shut-offs, but there’s a wiggly spot in my head that tells me these small appliances could short out without my due diligence. I’ve gotta find two socks that match, if only in color scheme. Same with shirt and pants, but with lower expectations. And of course, I have to hand out those last couple of cookies to my dogs that we exchange for me leaving them for the day.

I don’t know what made this morning different. Maybe it was the frantic last minute checks around the house, but it was probably how I propped the back door open with my work bag while I did so. I’m about eight minutes into my drive when that shitty part of my brain says, “Hey, don’t panic or anything, but did you actually close the back door?”

Oh, FFS. Good morning, Anxiety. So, we’ve decided to go full frontal today? Of course, I don’t remember actually closing the door, an act I’ve done every day without fail so far. It makes total sense that I closed both the storm door and the back door. And performed the obligatory doorknob jiggle to ensure the locking mechanism was engaged. I don’t have to remember doing this task to know that it happened.

“Sure,” says that voice. “You always do. Except for the One Time You Don’t. No worries, though. What’s the worst that could happen?”

The worst thing? You mean the unthinkable stuff, like my dogs get out and something happens to them? Shit, now I’m about fifteen minutes into my commute, the half-way point. Do I submit to this delusional anxiety attack and turn around or continue on my way to be a responsible adult with for-real obligations.

This is the second time this month I’ve battled these high level anxiety-driven doubts. The other time involved whether I closed the garage door. As much as I try to tamp down these worries by distracting myself with grounding thoughts, the underlying anxiety is a smoldering fire in my stomach throughout the day.

This isn’t healthy, I know. I’m not even sure how absurdly abnormal it is. But what I do know is that it’s a very personal thing that I don’t share easily. Yet here we are.

For anyone else dealing with these kind of thoughts, I want you to know it’s ok to not be ok.

Find your trigger and give it a side-step. Social media is a monster, talk radio being just as as bad. For some, we have friends or family taking a deep dive into certain conspiracy theories. For me, it was all these things added to being overwhelmed by the usual detritus involved in adulting.

Look for the balance, because it’s out there somewhere, but never at the extreme ends of the spectrum of things. Let’s say you have one foot in a bucket of ice water, the other in scalding. On average, are you comfortable? Nonsense, you’d be messed up, feeling unstable, and have wet socks for no good reason.

These are weird times. And whatever’s been tossed at us so far, we’ve not only survived, but are stronger from the experience of it.

Seriously.

I’ve got this. You do too. We’ll be ok.

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