Worry, Anxiety, and Fear

I wonder sometimes if people really know the difference between the three…

Fear is an emotion based upon the belief that someone or something is likely to cause pain. Worry is a state of anxiety and uncertainty over actual or potential problems. Anxiety is a feeling of nervousness, or unease, usually when something presents with an uncertain outcome.

Why the lesson is Psych 101? Well it’s not easy to assign the appropriate emotion to what you’re feeling; myself included. At my most recent therapy session, I expressed my feelings about being sick. I kept using the phrase “I’m afraid…” but I don’t think I used the ‘right’ words when I was talking, so I felt the need to clarify.

Fear: This may sound like total bullshit to a lot of people, but the truth is; I’m not afraid of much. One of the most common fears is death; but for whatever reason, death doesn’t scare me. I kind of view death the same way I view having surgery; something unpleasant will happen but there’s a ‘solution’ on the other side. Every time I’ve gone into surgery, I’m not afraid because I know that I’ll be asleep during the procedure and when I wake up, whatever ‘problem’ I was having is now fixed. I feel the same about death; I don’t feel like it’s the end game, so therefore, what is there to be afraid of? I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone but me.

I’ve come to realize that my only true fear is happiness. Pretty fucked up right? For as long as I can remember, any time anything ‘good’ has happened to me, something ‘bad’ always happens and I end up hurt. If it isn’t me in the situation, I’m in the background watching it happen to someone I love and care about. This applies to familial, platonic, and romantic relationships. Nine times out of ten, when I get to a place where the waters are calm, and I can feel myself being genuinely happy, the rug comes right out from under me. What’s worse; eight out of ten times, I’m the one doing the damage. I’ve talked before about my charming ability to ruin any and everything in my path. That usually happens when ‘things’ start to mellow, and the skies are clear. My therapist says it’s a learned behavior based on childhood experiences. I’m one of those people that loathes blaming their issues on their childhood, but in some cases, such as this one, she’s right. I’ve never seen or experienced true and unspoiled happiness. Fear of the unknown I suppose.

Worry: I worry about EVERYTHING. I border on pessimistic, although I prefer to see myself as a realist. I worry that my disease will continue to rapidly progress. I worry that I’ll never be able to have the job I worked my ass off in college and graduate school to one day get. I worry that I may never be able to hold down a full-time job period. I worry that I’m not an adequate mother to Ava. I worry that one day she’ll wake up and resent me for not being able to do all the things a ‘typical and normal’ mom should do. I worry that one day I may act on the occasional suicidal ideations I have and do something stupid to end my life before my fight is truly gone. I worry that I won’t live long enough to see Ava graduate from high school (and hopefully college). I worry that she’ll have nothing ‘borrowed’ from me on her wedding day. I worry that when I’m gone, my husband won’t allow himself to find love again (despite my insistence on the issue). I worry about all the chances I missed because I didn’t have ‘the balls’ the to follow through. I worry that I wasted the years I was given. I worry that I might waste away the years I have left.

Anxiety: Every single time something doesn’t feel right with my body, the anxiety kicks into over drive. Every time I walk into any doctor’s office, I need to have an Ativan or two in my system just to keep my hands from shaking (more than they already do, thank you Gabapentin). Every blood test brings anxiety and makes me a wreck until the results come in (and usually continues even after they come in). Late night trips to the E.R. used to bring anxiety, but now it’s the bills that stem from the visits that make me anxious. I’m anxious to do my monthly blood test this month because it’s like the 4th quarter with 10 seconds on the clock and I don’t know who’s going to gain control of the ball. (Little off season football reference for y’all. Go Giants!) I’m anxious to see if my CRP level is within the normal range or not. I’m anxious to see what my Rheumatologist will suggest if they’re still too high. Overall, everything about my disease makes my anxious.

As you can see, I live every day is a constant state of worry and anxiety. I take that back, I’m not really living, I’m just existing. Waiting. Holding on to what little hope I have. Mustering up every bit of energy I have to fight through another day. Another week. Another year…



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