Some people get ‘too worried’ about too many things. The list of things which gets such over-anxious folks, well, over-anxious, seems endless to others. Even if there are just 957 items (and counting) on the ‘List of Worries’, those around such palpitating folks prefer saying ‘you have to worry about EVERYTHING?’ It isn’t everything we worry about, but truth be told we do worry about a lot!
We? Okay then. Time to own up, confess and also confide. I am the over-anxious kind, but because there is comfort in numbers, let me use ‘we’ instead.
We like the usualness of the everyday. We are low-maintenance that way. A routine sans ‘interruptions’ is good for our hearts’ health. Interruptions? They come in all sizes, and the XS ones are present even in the normal day-to-day. For instance, those to do with timing. Waking up 10 minutes after the alarm sends us into a tizzy. No, we are not sure we are late but we worry that we can be because 10 minutes of usual get-the-house-folk-ready time has been lost. We berate ourselves, beat the coffee harder, bathe like standing on live coals and generally go scurrying about the house like rats. Worrying rats! ‘We are all going to be late!’ While we do that, those around us go about, or certainly seem to go about, at a shamefully languid pace, staring at the rampaging monster frothing at the mouth. ‘Can’t you do your potty fast? You are late!’ Needless to mention, by the time the bye-byes happen, usually still at the O’clock, even the sweat droplets on the nose are fatigued from the work-out. They simply want to drip away.
This worry to do with keeping time extends to bus depots, railway platforms and airport terminals too. On an average, we reach our places of departure an hour in advance; that is after spinning like a crazy top while preparing for the trips. All lists crossed out two times over. Our bags packed for WW III. Our pockets worried full of peanuts in case a dinosaur blocks our car en route. And anxiety tucked in the top pocket, with the tickets. By the time it’s departure time, we have moved ourselves so much we don’t even realize the train is moving. And then ‘Do you think it will be raining there? We haven’t kept an umbrella!’ That's a size M for the rest of the journey.
Then there are the Size L interruptions. Like exams! As teenagers the gut takes the kick. As adults, Lomotil becomes your best buddy. Anxiety for scoring well makes your hands shake, your hand-writing drunk and your examiner impatient, and thus often plummeting your scores. (Not for me though. I was always above average!) Vicious circle. Invoke your favourite gods, chew your nails, wear your lucky shirt, do what you may. With eyes stuck on the clock and mind on the consequences, you lose all control on your nerves. And bladder, if it’s Physics, Class XII, Board. Similar to your wedding day, cold feet included!
But some of us have not felt The Anxiety till our kids fall ill. Sneezes to infections, flu to grazed knees, weird worst-case scenarios drawn from Google or Biology books make traumatic appearances in our over-anxious eyes. Perhaps, this is why I confide today …
My son got the tummy bug a week back and has been languishing at home, with no appetite for food or fun. His parents have been doing what is needed, but it is his mother who has been doing more than what is needed. Or in other words, what is generally considered 'not needed'. I have been poring over poop and pee, pressing his tummy to generate reactions, putting each morsel in his mouth with shaky hands (Will it stay? Why won’t it? WHEN WILL IT?), touching his forehead every 30 minutes and making lists of questions to ask the doctor on the next visit. Obviously, my over-anxious behavior is generating reactions. My son’s response to ‘How do you feel?’ has gone from ‘I feel fine’ to ‘Fine!!’ My husband with his well of patience has, as usual, asked me to not worry for ‘how will it help?’ about 899 times and is now metamorphosed into his quiet helpless presence around me, passing ORS, indulging the kid with Battle Ship, sending SMSes from office and generally trying to be helpful.
But what helps an over-anxious person? Can something?
If it is a man they call him a birch-rod ‘disciplinarian’ and if it’s a woman on the go she’s got to be a reactive ‘menopausal’! Our worrying and worried persons are seen as child-like, predictable and unreasonable and our often shed tears common and thus needing no one’s hankerchiefs. All our worries are either unfounded or balderdash. Our very presence itself is believed to add to the grim (to us!) situation rather than take away from it. Even the doctors must be whispering under their breaths ‘Here she comes again!’ readying their best placating methods for the child’s mother’s child-within.
We over-anxious kinds sound like awful people to be around. Don’t we?
But you know, it is equally awful to be this kind too. Pretty painfully awful. Taxing! That too to be punctual, or concerned! Oh, helplessness!! To not be able to control your disorderly heartbeat even if it’s about bringing the house to order in the mornings. To not be able to not sweat when the ticket screams a departure time. To keep the hands from shaking while entering the exam halls. To not be able to fully-freely enjoy your own weddings, parties, farewells and book launches because ‘what if…?’ To not panic when the kid pukes. To not cry when he does it again...Yes, EVERYTHING! GRR!
What helps an over-anxious person not feed on worry? Can something?
Hm. No one’s answered that satisfactorily yet. But of course, if you’ve read this and you worry for my BP, you’re welcome to gift me a weekend at the spa in the hills or fly me for a solo beach holiday.