So about a year ago I wrote a blog post about my fear of other people getting sick.
Nothing scares me more than knowing someone else feels nauseated. If I am in the same room with that person, I leave and get as far away as possible. I am serious. I get weak in the knees, I feel drained of blood, my heart pounds, I breathe shallowly, and all I want to do is run away! Far away! Sometimes just hearing (or reading) that someone else feels sick, or has already been sick, is enough to trigger my anxiety.
I have always prided myself on being able to do the hard work, and to go to those painful places, but this is something else completely. While I want to “get over it” I am afraid of the process that will allow me to do so. I know that in some cases, therapists believe that gradual exposure to the actual feared object or situation is the key. I am not sure I can do that.
I also know that there must be something else driving this anxiety because the level of fear I feel is irrational. Do I want to know what it is?
Over the spring and summer, my anxiety, overall, seemed to lessen. But in the past couple of months it has reared its ugly head and it feels worse!
Is there a seasonal connection? I know that depression and anxiety are linked, and perhaps with the winter months approaching I am dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Is it because, lately, so many people have been talking about having stomach bugs, or their kids having them?
Is it because Tim is traveling a lot? I am terrified that he’ll catch a bug…and then I will. And why is that so bad?
Is it because I recently had to deal with a traditionally stressful event?
And then I had a bit of an ah-ha moment, which, instead of making me feel better, just made it worse: because I am not able to numb myself with food and/or wine, I am REALLY feeling my feelings! When I say “not able” what I mean is that, if I eat (or drink) too much (and the definition of “too much” has changed a lot in the past year) I have a reaction that makes the anxiety even worse! So I have just traded one fear for another? And it’s not that I want to numb myself with food or wine, but I do want to numb myself. Or somehow make it so that I can avoid/deny any situation that brings about the anxiety.
At the suggestion of a friend, I bought The Phobia & Anxiety Workbook because I really do want to work this out. When I am in the throes of panic, I worry that I may get to the point of never wanting to leave my house. So far, I haven’t gotten close to that point, but I can imagine it. And that’s just not acceptable.
So even though I don’t abuse food any more, and I continue to lose weight, the journey is not over! And as scary as it feels right now, addressing this anxiety will be a significant part of the trip.