One of the ways that anxiety manifests for me, is the fear created when I imagine the worst case scenario that could happen when facing a situation. It feels all-encompassing. There is no relief from its control. This morning, all of my distraction techniques, grounding methods, and even my prescribed “emergency” medications haven’t helped ease its grip over me.
It feels like I’m in some invisible tug-of-war between reality, and anxiety related scenarios… Anxiety is winning!
Here are some of the issues causing my anxiety…
Scenario 1: My abusive ex-husband will be in town this weekend for a special event.
Reality tells me that he will obey the Protection Order that I have against him, and will not approach the house.
Anxiety shows me (in great detail), all of potential scenarios where he will come to the house… He might want to show the people he’s with, where he lived with the “fruit-loop”… He might want to see if I still live here… He might be curious as to what the house now looks like…
Within my mind, the anxiety scenario becomes bigger, and badder. I see him driving up and sitting outside in the car. I see him standing at the door. I hear the taunts that I know he can throw at me. I see him in the house. I see him hurting me.
My imagination weaves abuses from the past into the potential scenario, making them seem all to real. It becomes more and more difficult to reality check what my imagination is creating; and anxiety hits in wave, after wave.
Scenario 2: Next month I have to present at a weekend conference in another town. There will be several people going from work – including the co-worker who has sexually harassed me on a couple of occasions. Everyone from work will be staying in the same hotel.
Reality tells me that my presentation will be fine – it’s a small conference, and the topic of my presentation is interesting. The co-worker will not do anything to harass me at the conference.
Anxiety tells me that the presentation will be a total disaster. The person following me in the program, is my former bullying boss, and she will take great delight in telling everyone how bad my talk was, before starting into her own presentation. I will lose all of the respect that my former team leader has for me, and the audience will try, but fail, to smother their derisive laughter during my presentation.
It also tells me, that I’ll be harassed by my co-worker in a more direct way. It will evolve from verbal harassment, to physical. I won’t be able to stop it, and I’ll end up dissociating in a strange town with no access to my usual support network. I’ll end up self-injuring, badly.
Again, my imagination weaves images that I’ve seen in the media, or my own experiences, into the scenario. It becomes bigger, and badder than any known reality.
Scenario 3: I’m going back to my home-town for my birthday.
Reality tells me that it’s only for a couple of days, and everything will be fine. It might be a shock to return there, and possibly disorienting; but, it will be fine as long as I remember the skills I’ve picked up in distraction and grounding. It’s all about staying in the present.
Anxiety tells me that I’ll be swamped with memories. My mother will invade my space by going through my possessions – I have proof that she has done so during her latest visit. I’ll be forced to interact with my sister, and my sister-in-law… both people I would rather avoid. I’ll be overwhelmed, and end up self-injuring.
I know that my fears are driving these anxiety scenarios… fear of failure, being hurt, humiliation, and being seen. At times, I can step back from those fears, and reality check them; but, at the moment, they are all I see. I was hoping that by writing this out, they might ease their grip over me… that I could intellectualise the scenarios, and put the fears into the boxes on the shelves in my mind. If there was only one of the scenarios happening, I would try to feel the emotions, and ease them that way. But, with all three, it feels too big…
The first scenario was talked about with Allison this week; but it was more a process of giving voice to the fears, rather than establishing any action plans. I’m going into the weekend anxiety filled, and unable to remain grounded. I’m experiencing derealisation, and panic attacks. Yet, I’m sitting here at work, as if I’m fine…
I’ll be fine… I always am.