Thursday, September 25, 2008

Isn't there ANYTHING for worrywarts?

It's no secret. I worry. I worry a lot. Also? I'm a big what-if-er.

I think I've always been a worrier. When I was a little girl, I used to pray hard every night before bed that my parents wouldn't die. Morbid, no? As I got older my worries were typical for my age. Would I ever get a boyfriend? (I did.) Will my skin ever clear up? (It did. Thank you, Proactiv.) What if I don't get into my first choice for college? (I did.) What if I DO? (I hated it.) What am I supposed to do with the rest of my life? (Still trying to figure that one out.) Am I marrying the right guy? (Pretty sure I did.)

Peanut butter just made me gag. Last time that happened was when I was pregnant with Savannah. Those damn tests better have been accurate!

But I digress.

Where was I? Ah yes. Worrying. An art form I've perfected. My worrying didn't hit OCD levels, though, until I had a pulmonary embolism 5 years ago. Then it hit a high, and drugs and CBT didn't do a damn thing for it.

I have a mysterious health issue right now. It scares me. I sought out a new neurologist, and was directed to a man who appears to be the best, in the best practice. I only wish I started out with him. He seems to have an idea of what may be going on. He's running extensive tests - bloodwork and MRIs of the head and spine. Where the other neurologist was only hearing "headaches" and automatically jumped to the conclusion of migraines, this man took nearly 2 hours on our first visit going over my total health history and wanted to know every nook and cranny of my current symptoms. At the end of our visit, he took my hand in his, looked me in the eye, and said, "I don't want you to worry. We'll figure this out." He's got a few suspicions of what this all might be, and while it wouldn't be great news, I am beyond confident that this doctor will take care of me and help me to live a long and healthy life, long enough to hopefully see my babies have babies.

What about when it comes to your babies, though? When is it okay to worry? How much worry is okay? My Nat? He's tired. He's tired a lot, despite his solid night's sleep and 3-4 hour nap. He occasionally has swollen lymph nodes in his neck. We've had him checked by his doctor who wasn't concerned at the time but wanted to keep an eye on him to make sure they don't change. But it's hard for me not to go....there. I know that growing is a tiresome process. Kids get tired. But I know what excessive tiredness and swollen nodes could mean, and it's hard for me not to get into a panic. Hubs gets annoyed with my worries and then makes "promises" that things will be okay. I'd go on, but he reads this blog and I don't have the energy to fight. But it's on blah days like this, though, that I wish I had some real-live girlfriends to sit and chat with, to cry with for a few minutes, and then help me put my happy face on and pretend like I don't have a worry in the world. I've gotten pretty good at doing that lately.

I hope I don't pass my worries onto my children. I'd never forgive myself.


Misty said...

I'd sit with you. I actually need that right now too. I am going to see a counselor soon for PPD. It's not typical PPD though. The baby is the only thing that cheers me up. I am terrified of my husband going back to work on Monday and I feel like I am going to have an anxiety attack.


I don't know what medical mystery your doctor is helping you with but I wish you all the best. It's good to hear you have a healthcare professional that makes you feel secure and confident.

Samantha said...

I would talk with you too. I am sorry you have so much to worry about. I hope you figure out what is wrong with you and that it will be something you will be able to control easily. I also hope Nat is OK. I always fear that my kids have died in their sleep when they have slept in.

I will be thinking of you!!

Dr Beverly Potter said...

Wonder what a “worrywart” is and if you truly are one?

The job of worry is to anticipate danger before it arises and identify possible perils, to come up with ways to lessen the risks, and to rehearse what you plan to do. Worrywarts get stuck in identifying danger as they immerse themselves in the dread associated with the threat, which may be real or, more likely, imagined. They spin out an endless loop of melodrama, blowing everything out of proportion. "What if I have a heart attack?" "What if there is an earthquake?" "What if someone breaks in when I'm asleep?"
While worrywarts insist worrying is helpful, little is solved. Stuck in thinking ruts, they stop living in the here and now--the present moment. Worrywarting is torment--a kind of self-imposed purgatory that makes you feel bad, stresses you out, and wastes precious moments of your life.
Worse yet, worry begets more worry, setting into motion a vicious circle of frightening thoughts and anxious response. It is self-perpetuating, pushing into greater anxiety and more worry. Allowed to continue unchecked, chronic worry can evolve into panic attacks and, in extreme cases, agoraphobia, which is a paralyzing fear of having a panic attack, especially in public. It can be so severe that, in the worst cases, the sufferer can't leave home. Sometimes panic attacks can be so extreme that the worry-victim thinks he or she is having a heat attack and is rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.

Trying to stop worry is usually futile. Instead, we need to become “smart worriers”. Smart worriers do the work of worry and then they soothe themselves to get back to balance. Smart worriers designating a time and place to worry in order to contain it. After the worry session they employ one of the below techniques to back to balance.

I’ve identified 21 ways to soothe yourself and worry smart.

1. Evaluate the cost of the worry
2. Take a deep breath
3. Relax your muscles.
4. Distract yourself.
5. Take a walk.
6. Smile and laugh.
7. Say a little prayer.
8. Find the joy.
9. Avoid caffeine.
10. Shoulds to preferences.
11. Count worry beads.
12. Eat a sweet.
13. Take a warm bath.
14. Imagine a happy ending.
15. Do a good deed.
16. Joke about the worry.
17. Rock yourself.
18. Count your blessings.
19. Make a list.
20. Practice under-reacting.
21. Watch a funny movie.

For more information about smart worry and other self-management techniques, visit my site at

Knick Knack Paddy Whack, Throw This Mom a Bone said...

Hugs honey...wish we lived closer so we could hang out. :(

Matter Of Fact Mommy said...

wow, you even got The Worry Doctor to comment on this post!


i am not a worrier. don't get me wrong, occasionally i sit and think about all the things you worry about in your post. but then i get past it. i distract myself just by changing my course of thought... sometimes, depending on hormone levels, etc., this is a harder exercise, but distraction is a great thing. now, when you're alone in the house taking care of 2 babies, any sort of 'distraction' is virtually impossible...

i'm not helping.

wish you lived closer. 'cause then we could go for a jog or something. or a glass of wine. or a bottle of vodka. or, heaven forbid, a SMOKE.

hugs! you'll get through this and you'll be fine. even though that's not what you want to hear, i'm saying it.

McKenzie said...

Thanks to all of you who said you wished you lived closer. As lame is it sounds, it means a lot to me.

Misty - I'm sorry you're dealing with a wacky form of PPD. Wishing I could do something to make you feel better. You know you can e-mail anytime if you want to vent. If it's related to having two young kids, chances are I'll be able to say that I understand and really mean it. Hugs to you. It's tough, but hang in there and be sure to take care of yourself!

Samantha - Thank you!

The Worry Doctor - Where did you come from? Are you really a doctor? Thanks for pimping your website on my blog. I'm sure if I pull out my books from grad school I'll find something similar to what you wrote.

Heather - Thank you! But if you lived closer I'd be calling you every 5 minutes for advice, because you are the mother of all mothers.

MOFM - I want to friend you on Facebook. Thank you. :) I wonder if The Worry Doctor would like your blog? In fact, I think you should blog about her list of 21 things. I'd totally have a glass of wine with you. Vodka has the tendency to make me want to get naked.