Anxiety vrs reality

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.


10 thoughts on “Anxiety vrs reality

  1. I can absolutely understand why your mind would go through these scenarios. You’ve been through very scary situations in real life so it’s not like you can say “Everything in life is always peachy!” Is it possible to turn these scenarios into ways to think about healthy ways that you could handle things if something negative did happen?

    Personally I think that you’re going to do great with your presentation. You’re a professional and you know what you’re talking about. I believe that you can put the A-hole who’s harassing you back in his place. I believe that your ex isn’t stupid enough to come near the house but if he did, you have the resources to get rid of him like calling the police and letting them take his sorry ass to jail. I beileve that you can make boundaries about who you see on your birthday.

    This reminds me of a time I went through where I considered all the ways I could be tortured by someone. It’s awful and I think that having several events coming up is naturally increasing your anxiety. One thing at a time, one situation at a time. Deep breaths and don’t forget to lean on your friends because we’re all here.

    • Hi CI,

      Thanks for the vote of confidence in my abilities 🙂

      I have to keep on thinking that the reality scenarios are going to be what eventuates. I know that the anxiety ones are based on my fears, but they seem far too real at times.

      I managed to get through last night, and today, with the help of some friends – yourself included (thank you!). I went and took some photos, which helped to calm me for awhile… the anxiety is starting to build, because I know that there’s a concert tonight, so he’ll be drinking…

      As you said in a tweet, the chances of him caring anything about me are so low, they’re negligible. He’s the sort of person who needs someone, so odds are he’s found someone else. I just hope they are fairing better than I did.

      Thanks again…

      • I’m glad that you had support. 🙂 I think it’s good to use various methods, including social media, to stay connected to each other.

        I assume that this particular event is over? Are you able to check that off the list with a “Whew”?

  2. CG,

    Please prioritize your safety, and *feelings* of safety this weekend. It is difficult to think of you dissociating, panicking and in terror during this weekend. I know that the more anxious you’ve gotten, the more your plans might be just to hunker down, versus more flexible ones like getting out of town. Please do consider whatever options seem possible.

    Please take care … you have a lot of friends out here who want the best for you and want you to feel ok.


    • Hi Michael,

      Thanks for your support 🙂

      As I mentioned to CI, I’ve had a pretty good day… distractions everywhere, and very little awareness of what is going on in town. The noise has started to increase a little bit, but it’s not too bad. It helped that I was playing a computer game for most of the afternoon, so the sound of me killing monsters drowned out everything else!

      In fact, I think I need to get back to monster destruction, as the whole anxiety thing is starting to ramp up…

      Take care,

  3. I’ll add to the votes of confidence in you CG. I have this same “tug of war” in my head, yet usually rationality does NOT win. I hope the monsters didn’t ramp up too much this weekend and you were able to fight their ‘evil’ thoughts and do something nice with yourself. Safely, of course.

    Much love to you.

  4. Pingback: Path to self-destruction | Scattered pieces

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