I worry a lot and some days almost everyone and everything can get me going. If I am feeling a bit down and my husband or children are late my imagination takes over about all the problems they could have encountered on the way home. If my cleaning lady doesn’t arrive on the dot as she usually does I decide she’s found another job and didn’t want to tell me to my face. If I don’t hear from a friend for a while, I think he or she might be fed up with me or upset by something I said when we last met. I also worry when I come back to work from my holiday that there will be someone new at my desk and I’ll be out of the door.
The key thing is that the majority of people who know me, sometimes quite well, don’t have any idea that I am such a wreck. I keep it all inside and just occasionally confide in my husband what I am really thinking. He has a very positive outlook on life and tries to jolly me out of my anxieties but occasionally I can tell he is fed up with me going on again that there is a disaster waiting around the corner.
I often think it all goes back to me feeling I had to walk on eggshells at home as I never knew what mood my mother would be in. Is that a possibility? Also could you give me some helpful hints on how to manage this anxiety? I definitely don’t want to see a psychiatrist.
You are obviously worried about lots of things that might go wrong but you are not alone.
Some people are natural worriers but it seems yours stems from growing up with a moody unpredictable mother and as a result you can feel tense about other people in your life. You also sound as if you lack confidence. Yet despite all of this you have got a job that you enjoy, you have friends, got married and created a family that you love. These are all things to congratulate yourself about, but they are also what you fear losing.
You are doing well to manage your feelings so that your friends and family are not aware of what is happening under the surface yet you also realise that it is time to tackle your worries. Having a caring husband is very helpful and he will need to support you on your journey, but fear cannot be jollied away. It needs to be carefully considered.
If you wish to try this on your own there are several steps that you can take. Start with the obvious ones such as having as good a sleep, diet and exercise pattern as you can. Teach yourself some calming breathing techniques and learn how to do systematic muscle relaxation. There are several guides to these in the web. Practice these as often as you can.
You can then start to make a note of your worries and when they occur. Is there a pattern to these? Can you rate the strength of them say on a five point scale? Can you also rate how reasonable/likely each one of them is? Can you think of other alternative thoughts such as if a friend does not reply to an email immediately could there be different reason other than them being fed up with you? Perhaps they are busy.
Try combining all of these techniques when you start to feel worried. Breathe, relax and ask yourself if the thought is likely to be true. Give it time and you will find that you can slowly face your fears and relax as they fade.
You might like to talk some of this over with a trusted friend or join an on-line peer support group.
There are a number of useful books such as in the Overcoming series: