Friday, November 18, 2011

When the Worry Takes Over

I think it is natural for some people to worry over things, such as making it to work on time or if your child will have a good day at school. Some people who are facing daily struggles or health issues have even bigger worries, not knowing how long they or a loved one may live.

As a sufferer of OCD and anxiety, I can say that I have faced too many times when the worry seems to take over my entire life. When a person with OCD becomes worried, that worry usually turns into an obsession. It is like a thick cloud of fog begins to cloud that person's mind, and all that person can think about is the specific thing he or she is worrying over. This usually results (but not always) in the person performing compulsive acts to rid themselves of the unwanted thoughts. Some people with OCD worry that they may hit someone with their car, others worry about death or contamination.

I have come a long way in my battle with OCD, and I have stayed on top of my worry for quite some time. However, just today, I found myself battling the worry once again. I helped my son put on his coat and backpack, then walked him to the door (his dad was going to drive him to the bus stop). As he walked out the door I said, "I love you. Have a good day at school." He stopped and turned, and replied, "I love you with all my heart." Moments like this are so rare for me, because my son has his own mental health issues and often does not express love. I cherish these moments. Yet, as he walked away all I could feel was a deep feeling of worry brewing inside of me. What if something happened to him? What if I never heard those sweet words again? What if that was the last thing I will ever hear my son say?

Worry persists in my mind, engulfing my entire thought process until my mind can only focus on that particular worry. While it is normal to have brief moments of feeling worried, my anxiety turns obsessive and begins to control me. I had to walk back in the house, take a deep breath, and re-channel my energy onto something else. I hope I will always remember the smile on my son's face and the sound of his young voice when he spoke those words to me. However, I do not want those sweet memories being overshadowed with my obsession and constant anxiety.

In life, things happen, both good and bad. People are dealt unimaginable blows when they face tragedies and illnesses. As a constant worrier, I know that you cannot let these thoughts consume your life--always waiting for the other shoe to drop. You miss out on too much when the worry takes over, and you miss out on the simple, special things that happen in everyday life. You may not pursue goals or you may give up on new projects, because you always worry that you will fail. You may never try anything new or avoid going on a trip, because you worry over what terrible thing may happen.

I have been there, and the worry still lives within me, and makes itself known every once and a while. However, I am trying to overcome it every day. I can no longer let these feelings of worry take over my life. I have come to far. I put my faith in God, myself, and my family that I can make it through each day, and fully experience my life--without living in a constant state of panic and anxiety. Living like that is not really living at all.
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