Worrying is like a rocking chair, it will keep you very busy, but it gets you nowhere

Growing up I knew I was always worried. When I got older I learned my feeling of constant worry was called anxiety. When I saw my therapist and told her my symptoms, she said people with my level anxiety usually aren’t able to be a contributing member of society, they usually are too worried get out of bed to live life. They are destroyed by their real and imagined fears.  Apparently she was surprised that I get up each morning.

I never knew I had a choice.

If you have 6 toes on your left foot and never see anyone else’s feet, you’ll never know you’re different from anyone else.

I’ve always been worried. I don’t know how to be different than who I am. I guess my anxiety is paired with the exact perfect amount of perfectionism and work ethic. If I don’t go to school/work and do my best, I worry that someone will do better than me. And I can’t lose at ANYTHING.

If I lose, I will demand a rematch over and over until I win (without interruption, if possible).  (just ask my mom how many times I played Pente against her while I was growing up…similar to tic-tac-toe)

The worst time I remember was after I was sick, I was so worried about going on a trip to the cities with my sister. I was worried about getting sick and being away from the hospital, I was away from my support system (Josh), and I’m not a big fan of big cities or people in general.

My anxiety level rose to unmanageable amount, and if it hadn’t been for my sister, I would have gotten in my car and driven 2 hours home. Jess forced me to dinner (paired with 2 shots of tequila) and then some beer later. I had so much fun.  Looking back, I am amazed that I would have allowed my imagined fears to steal away a fun weekend with my sister.

I learned if I don’t face my fears and sometimes jump off the bridge (with the correct supports…tequila and beer), my fears will control me and my life instead of the other way around.  Even if that means someone is behind me, and shoves me off.

The question then…is that nature or nurture?

I am fascinated by this.

As a teacher, when I met a child’s parents I understood how true it is when they say…”the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

There are interesting cases where twins were raised in 2 different environments and ended up with crazy same lives as adults.  Yet 2 siblings raised in the same house can be so different you’re surprised they share anything (DNA or parents…hi Jessica).

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This is my thumb after I picked it. Yes it hurt/hurts but after I pick I can BREATHE and so the only thing that kept me from picking more was wrapping Kleenex around it because the urge is so strong.

I have been learning a lot recently about obsessive compulsive disorder.  Until recently I thought it was being crazy clean or locking the door 7 times.

It has been in the past couple months that I realize OCD comes in many different forms.  I pick at my skin.  I started by picking at my feet and I would pick off the skin until they bled.  Now I stopped doing that, however now I pick at my fingers.  It relieves the anxiety.  Picking at your skin is a form of OCD.

I also have idiosyncrasies that I thought were just me.  I can’t walk on grates in the sidewalk.  I will walk around them or jump over them if I have to.  I am convinced that as soon as I step onto them they will break and I will plummet to my death.

I understand logically the grate isn’t going to break and picking at my fingers isn’t going to help me get a job or magically make money appear in our bank account.  However, for the second I’m doing it, I feel better…no worries.

From my history of addiction to narcotic pain pills and the history of alcoholism in my family, I also have always been really interested in the disease of addiction (drug, alcohol, tobacco, insert any other one here).

Is my picking because of my genes (nature)?  Did I have an addiction to narcotic pain medication because I went through a traumatic event when my baby was just brand new (nurture)?

Interesting to think about…but in the end I think the only answer (that makes sense to me) is does it matter? Whether it is nature or nurture that makes me who I am, I’m still just me and I’m probably always going to be worried (right now I’m worried about if you’re reading this and you’re not worried, because if you don’t worry then something bad might happen…so I’ll worry about your not worrying)!!

My opinion (based in my life experience and shit I make up that makes sense to me) is that each person needs to have coping mechanisms and in our genes we have a certain switch whether is be OCD or an alcoholic or a rageoholic and when we are in an environment when that switch is flipped, it turns on that particular coping mechanism.

I think about it this way…if you enter a dark room and never flip the switch for the lights, it will always be dark.  I believe some people have an OCD switch or an heroin addiction switch that never gets flipped.

And then there are those that are flipped and then they need to figure out a better way to cope than the way their brain is telling them to.  The important distinction is just because you have a natural tendency to be one way and are in the right environment to trigger that, doesn’t mean you have to accept that as your fate.  You can make better choices.

I believe if we teach kids and adults coping mechanisms and healthy ways to deal with stress, trauma, and life they can utilize those instead of dealing with life with their most basic instinct, that is more than likely harmful for them.

There are events that happen in our life that we have no control over.  We have control over how we react AND the choices we make from then on.  Even if our coping mechanism is picking at our fingers, it’s our responsibility to figure out knitting is a great substitute and do that instead.  It’s our responsibility to acknowledge when we begin lying to our husbands about how many narcotic pain pills we are taking because we know where that path leads.

It’s MUCH easier said than done (goodness I know this!) but if we need to wage the war against our genes or environment so we can live our lives DESPITE circumstances.

Do I still pick my fingers…yep.  But I also am working hard NOT to and I’m not letting it control my life.

For today, I have won the battle and I get to enjoy my son and my husband and I shall worry about tomorrow tomorrow (at least in theory).  It’s something to strive for each day (for me at least)…

Get your Spin Cycle on.  The hostess with the mostest is Sprite’s Keeper.

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8 Responses to Worrying is like a rocking chair, it will keep you very busy, but it gets you nowhere

  1. Vince says:

    You sound a lot like my younger son. You sure you don’t have Asperger’s? Do you obsess on certain subjects for periods of time? Does it make you crazy when people mess with your routine? Do you need to get your point across even when its obvious the conversation has moved on?

    My son does a lot of these things. Not that there’s some cure or anything, but it helps to understand why you are the way you are. Just a thought.

  2. Whoa, you have no idea how close you are to a paper I had submitted back in college. Based on one of Edgar Allen Poe’s stories, we were told to write about why the public in those more innocent days, liked his stories so much even though they were macabre. I wrote that I believed that everyone read his plots of normal people going insane and killer crazy and enjoyed them because everyone has that capability in them to do wrong or act morally wrong. Most of us just don’t act on it because our immoral “switch” is not turned on.
    The teacher told me to seek help for my obvious mental state.
    I submitted that same paper a few years later when I took a different version of the class in a different school. Got an A. (First teacher was a bitch, but that’s my side of it.)
    I tend to be a worrier by nature, but John has helped me not to stress the small stuff so much (nurture) and I don’t flip out over ruined dinner or last minute changed plans anymore. Okay, I try not to.
    You’re linked!
    Sprite’s Keeper recently posted..The AftermathMy Profile

  3. Denise says:

    Guess what, I wrote a long comment, didn’t save it and lost it. And then here I am writing it for the second time, and it showed me how much I don’t… worry. And then… I thought of your words. That you are or would be worried because you think your friends/readers won’t worry about things… and at least one did, I did worry. I got worried (mmhh… I don’t know) because some people say I don’t worry. I do, but I confess I’m really so laid-back sometimes… that I believe it annoys some people.
    Kate, I love your posts, because they make me think. Sometimes I don’t even know about some feelings I could/should have, or could/should remember… sometimes I don’t even know I had them in me… so your posts trigger questions that are really important to me.
    This post now did. Again, another post that did. And I like(d) it!
    It’s important to discover who we are, to question, to analyze. You do trigger this and I think it’s so positive!
    And now comes the main part, I think. The positive things you do. You will tell me that you think you need to change these habits that you don’t like. Like picking at your fingers. Well, I agree with you if YOU want to change because you don’t like them. And then you will change, it’s just a matter of time.
    I just want you to know, but I think you do, or, at least, I hope you do, that no matter how much you worry, just don’t worry about one thing: the love and admiration you have from family and friends. You are so cool, so brilliant, and you make such a difference in your friends’ lives, that please, just for a night, don’t worry… you make a difference in my life, for sure!
    Denise recently posted..Patrick Cox court shoesMy Profile

  4. CaJoh says:

    So often we try to solve other people’s problems by thinking that they are the result of nurture. We try to tell people to snap out of it thinking that it will be easy for them, but in actuality it is very very difficult for them to change. It is hard to say if the brain is hardwired to think this way, or if there is a way to rethink and break the cycle.
    CaJoh recently posted..Take Me BackMy Profile

  5. Kate says:

    CaJoh-
    Yes, yes, yes!! Agree with you 1,000%!
    :) Kate

  6. Kate says:

    Vince-
    LOL…maybe I do have Asperger’s. I told my husband and so I kept saying…it’s because I have Asperger’s. I hope that’s not offensive to you. I have worked with Autistic children as well as quite a few who are classified as having Asperger’s. From my observations and what I know about it, I don’t have it. At least with the kids I worked with, social norms were a huge problem as these students often had a hard time making friends and picking up on social cues, I don’t have that problem. But who knows?? As you say, there’s no cure or medication (is there medication?), but understanding is such a powerful tool.
    I do know one thing for CERTAIN…kids that are on the Autism spectrum are blessed by God to have parents such as you and your wife and each of those kids deserves that. Your son is blessed. I can’t imagine the struggles that you go through on a daily basis with understanding and providing unending love and support!
    :) Kate

  7. Kate says:

    Jen-
    Agree, agree, agree!!! I’m pretty sure you deserved the A…some teacher’s just can’t see genius when it’s right in front of them!
    I also think that people can be in the situation (having their light switch flipped–or the environment) but if it’s not wired…then nothing’s going to happen. For example if 2 people are mugged, one can find healthy coping mechanisms and the other turns to alcohol. Very interesting though…
    :) Kate

  8. Kate says:

    Denise-
    Don’t you HATE when that happens? It happened to me so many times that I started copying all my comments before posting them in case they got lost because I have been known to write a book for a comment! You are always so nice to me and put a smile on my face…whether or not I deserve it is another thing…but I accept it with a humble thank you and I know knowing you has been a bright and wonderful thing in my world!
    :) Kate

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