Last night was, admittedly, a little rough for me. I’m getting over a nasty cold, which always plays hell with my moods, but the day as a whole went pretty well. But around bedtime, I sort of…crumbled. Those old feelings of guilt and worry and nonspecific “bad” began to surface and I lost it for a while.
It should come as no surprise, especially to long-time readers of this blog, that I tend to be a worrier. But here’s the kicker–I don’t worry about bad things happening to me; rather, I worry incessantly about bad things happening to the people I care about.
So, after allowing myself an hour or so to cry and attempt to calm down on my own (I’m finding that the Cross Stitch World app on Facebook is particularly calming) to no avail, I took some lorazepam and settled in for some good old-fashioned Googling. It took a while to find what I was looking for, mostly because I was too jittery and anxious to think clearly enough to come up with the proper search terms, but once I did (“anxiety about bad things happening to loved ones” was particularly fruitful), I stumbled upon a treasure trove of forum posts written by people just like me. And they all had one thing in common: early loss of a loved one, usually a parent, very early in life.
Without revealing too much out of respect for her privacy, my mother was absent from my life from the time I was six years old until I was nineteen. We had contact through letters and the occasional phone call, but the sense of loss I felt was intense. Instead, I was raised by one aunt, my grandmother, and my grandmother’s sister.
I was particularly close to my great-aunt, Muriel (whose name I took as my middle name during my recent name change), and she passed away in 2010 after a long struggle with dementia and congestive heart failure. She moved in with us when I was fourteen after she had a valve replacement and her mental state began to decline; therefore, I witnessed the brutality of dementia over the next six years, when she was moved into a nursing home following my grandmother’s stroke.
I had never lost anyone so close to me in such a final way before. And because of the PTSD, I have an extremely hard time getting close to others on a meaningful, truly intimate level. I’ve discovered that this is the root of my excessive worry.
After giving myself ample time to process what I had read on the forums, comforted by the knowledge that I’m not alone in my struggle, I checked out a few Buddhist-oriented websites that also came up during my search. Most of what I read dealt with giving up the “illusion of control,” something that didn’t particularly make me feel better but did provide some good food for thought. As someone living with C-PTSD, I don’t do well with the unknown because the main reason I’ve survived as long as I have is because I am constantly planning five, six, seven steps in advance. I need to have a plan. I need to know what is going to happen and if I don’t, extreme discomfort sets in. If this discomfort is ignored, it builds into outright anxiety and, well, I end up in situations like the one I was in last night.
The good news about all of this is that I’ve made a note to myself to be more mindful and to really try to stay “in the moment” and enjoy the present instead of worrying so much about the future. I have also identified one of the main things I need to address in therapy–I’m currently in-between therapists since I’m moving in about a month and a half, but plan on finding one as soon as we’re in the Baltimore area.
Readers, can any of you relate? What has worked for you, either in terms of distraction or realizations?