Archives for Weather Anxiety
Last night before bed, I found myself putzing around on my iPhone on my living room floor. It's a nightly thing: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit. Rinse and repeat if I'm still not sleepy. But I was caught off guard while scrolling mindlessly through my Facebook news feed -- suddenly, I felt the floor shake. Always on high alert, I jumped. What was that? After a moment or two of frozen uncertainty, I audibly exhaled when I realized the source of the shaking: a heavy diesel truck, barreling down my street.
I love my blog readers. (Hey, that's you!) I read each and every one of your comments -- even though I don't always reply to each one. Your comments are very meaningful to me -- I empathize with your stories of shared suffering and shared recovery. I truly love reading them -- they make me feel far less alone! One recent comment on my blog post called "The Post-Holiday Slump: The Presence Of An Absence", became a bit "stickier" than most -- and I found myself thinking about it quite a bit over the past 24 hours. The blog post was about how January and February basically suck and feel super dreary in comparison to the brightness and happiness of the Christmas season. Putting away the tree and the lights creates a weird void in not only my living room (where the tree stood), but also in my gut. The commenter pointed out my lack of positivity.
(If you missed the first three parts of this story, click here, then here , and then here.) The scene: a small road off of a two-lane state highway in the woods. The cell phone coverage: first none, then a single bar. My panic state: full blown. I was laying down in my car, following the EMT-in-training's instructions to avoid sitting up or moving around, and I was scared nearly to death. I shook, I gasped for air, and I palpitated. I hated every single second that slowly and dreadfully crawled by. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't even conjure up the energy or the clarity of mind to reach for my Ten Rules for Coping With Panic worksheet that lives in my wallet. I was in the middle of nowhere, I was stuck, and I couldn't escape without help. Not only was I about to receive medical help, but I'd had to call my husband and ask him to drive 40 miles to be with me. Ugh. Failure. The word kept repeating in my head: failure failure failure.
Okay. I've admitted that I'm nervous. When I think of the possibility of losing power for a few hours, I get butterflies (bad ones) in my belly. Especially if the power goes out at night. The thought of losing power for a day? Very stressful. Will my food be okay? How will I cook without my electric oven and stove? Losing power for two days? Extremely stressful. Will all of my food go bad? Will I be hungry? Will my apartment get too cold? I can surely bundle up and stay warm, but my pet parrot is, uh, a tropical bird. He likes warmth. I can't exactly cuddle with him under the down comforter. Three days? Ugh. Let's not even talk about it. This is a great time to discuss the concept of "what if" thinking. All too often, we get caught up in thoughts about future events or activities that haven't occurred yet -- and may not even occur. My therapist's motto? Focus on the "what is", not the "what if". But...but what about when you're in the direct path of a hurricane!?
It's like any normal Sunday evening at home, really. The clothes dryer is humming hypnotically. My husband is playing a video game and occasionally shouting stuff like "Get the sniper!" and "He's shooting an orb!" into the headset that he uses to talk to other players. My pet parrot is all fluffed up and happily beak-crunching beneath his electric heating lamp. And I'm putzing around on the internet, as usual, oscillating between Twitter and Facebook. But I'll admit it: I've got a little twinge of nervousness in my gut. After all, if Hurricane Sandy hits Central Pennsylvania hard, then I'm sure tomorrow evening in my apartment will look quite different from tonight. No internet. No heating lamp. No video games. No appliances.
(Note: this is the third post in a short three-part series about my upcoming nuptials.) Not exactly the best talent to brag about, eh? Sigh. At least I recognize it for what it is. I guess that's the first step toward undoing this bad habit...but, admittedly, I've been stuck on this first step for quite a long time now: The first step to dealing with Catastrophizing is to recognize when you’re doing it. The sooner you do this, the quicker you’ll be able to start focusing on stopping it. It may be helpful to start recording your negative thoughts to yourself on a pad of paper or little journal (or your PDA or such) that you carry with you at all times. [Source] Or recording them on my blog...an entire laundry list of them, all related to my wedding, all related to a single day in time! So, here I am, trying to both acknowledge the above Things That Can Go Wrong and transform them into Things That Can-But-Probably-Won't Go Wrong...but my mind isn't having it.
(Note: this is the second post in a short three-part series about my upcoming nuptials.) Only a few days left, and I'm still ruminating about everything that could go wrong on the big day. Let's see how many of my worries I could formulate into a list or two: THINGS THAT CAN GO WRONG: CEREMONY It will rain all over my outdoor wedding. It'll be so humid that I'll feel sick and unable to breathe. I'll get panicky during the ceremony, feel the need to sit down, but be unable to. I'll trip while walking down the aisle. Some crucial part of my dress will snap off. I'll cry and find myself unable to stop. I'll pass out at the altar. I'll throw up at the altar. Everyone will be looking at me when I throw up and then pass out at the altar. MORE THINGS THAT CAN GO WRONG: RECEPTION
(Note: this is the first post in a short three-part series about my upcoming nuptials.) I'm getting married in eight days. (Ahhhh! I'm getting married in EIGHT DAYS!) Am I excited? Of course. Am I nervous? YES YES A THOUSAND TIMES YES. (And I know that was an incomplete sentence and poor grammar to boot. But when we get nervous, proper writing convention gets gently nudged aside.) I mean, there's an entire laundry list of Things That Can Go Wrong...especially when my wedding is not only outdoors, but also practically in the woods and about 15 miles away from civilization. As a panicker, all three of the above factors generally scare the crap out of me.
(Missed the first half of this post? Check it out here.) I don't know why the sound of rain was (and to an extent, is) so painful and jarring to me -- I mean, to others, it's pleasurable. It's soothing. To me, I suppose it represents just another fake danger that us panickers so commonly concoct: the danger of eliminating access to the only truly "safe" place for me at my office -- the back patio. If I panicked at work in the rain, where would I go? I'd get drenched on the patio. And if I tried to escape to my car, I'd get drenched on the way there and transform into a miserable and soggy heap of humidity. And of course, if my car was warm and humid, I surely couldn't open the windows in the rain to cool off. So, the car wasn't an option. No patio; no car. What was left? Nothing, I concluded. There wasn't a single place I could go during a rainstorm and feel safe. There wasn't a single place in that damn office where I could allow my panicky feelings to de-escalate. I couldn't escape to a safe place, I felt. And of course, just knowing that I didn't have a safe place available made the panic strike more harshly. It went something like this: Sound of rain. Fear of not having a safe place just in case I were to panic. Rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, dizziness, shaking. Panic.
As I write this, a thunderstorm is rolling in. Through the window to the left of my desk, I can see that my usually bright green backyard has taken on a sunken gray hue to match the dark clouds above. If I were still 9 years old, this is where I'd grab a Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark book and start reading. Or, if I was feeling creative that day, maybe I'd grab some paper and markers and draw each of the lightning strikes I saw. (I actually did this on a consistent basis for awhile and then compiled each drawing into a book called "LIGHTNING WATCH!" with a construction-paper cover. Yep. I wore [and still wear] my "nerd" hat proudly, thank-you-very-much.) But I'm nearly two decades older now and I can no longer remember why on earth I thought adding fear (Scary Stories) to fear (thunderstorm) was a good idea. I suppose I was a high sensation seeker...and "was" is certainly the operative word here.