Anxiety, like free-radicals, floats around my body looking for something to tether itself to.
This is one of the minor side-effects of the thyroid medication I’m now on. I resisted the urge to put quotation marks around the minor, because although irritating I guess in the grand scheme of things it is minor.
It took me a couple of days to realize that the restlessness I was told I might feel I was identifying as anxiety. And to me anxiety has to have a source, so I kept pulling stuff out of my closet of anxieties, examining them carefully, trying them on in front of my worrying at 5am for no reason mirror, wondering if this worry made me look fat, if that one was too threadbare, maybe the other one that one had faded too much in the wash, or if I’d hung on to this one long enough that it might be considered retro and therefore cool again.
I was fretting about fretting.
And all in an effort to and make some sense out of what I was feeling.
It was a big relief to realize that what I was feeling was biological and chemical, and not a feeling attached to anything specific. But it’s a strange thing to be telling yourself:
I know I FEEL anxious, but I’m not actually anxious about any THING, I’m just FEELING anxious.
A feeling without a cause. Weird.
At least I had the benefit of knowing (or at least realizing based on prior warnings) that that’s what was going on. But it got me to thinking…
My daughter can be a bit obsessive. She goes through phases where certain thoughts, ideas, or behaviours repeat themselves. We have dealt with them in the past by unravelling the trigger thought. For example: when she was obsessively worried about her safety after our neighbours were burgled, we taught her relaxation techniques and thought patterns that addressed her nighttime fearsfears. “I’m safe. My parents are home. The doors are already locked.”
But I’m starting to wonder if perhaps we should also be dealing with it on a more mechanical level. We need to teach her that her brain has a tendency to focus on one thing. And that when she finds herself (ah, there’s the rub, realizing that she’s doing it) thinking the same thoughts over and over again, to realize it’s not the thought that’s the problem. The problem is that the brain has gotten itself stuck in a tape loop (ah, there’s rub #2, will she know what a tape is?). Well, however, we describe it (the page keeps refreshing itself, reading the same page in the book over and over again), she needs to learn to deal with obsessiveness itself, not what the obsession has attached itself to. Just like I needed to recognize and deal with my free-floating anxiety on its own, and not try to attach that anxiety to an external source.
Woah. Had to give my head a shake there. Grasping on to that concept is like trying to read upside down. It takes a while for the eyes to adjust.
Just another little mind-bender from the friendly folk here at Tentative Equinox.
So, what I’d like for comments. I would like to know if anyone else out there (I’m talking to you there looking at these words on your screen) has dealt or is dealing with this issue in themselves or their loved ones? Do tell. I’m curious to know if the mechanical approach I’m describing here has worked for anyone. Did you try something else that did (or didn’t) work?
Remember, our goal here is to get these diagnosed kids to lose their diagnosis. And the more we share our experiences and knowledge, the quicker we can get through this labryinth. You with me on this?