I’m walking home after a day of work. It’s a typical day, and nothing out of the ordinary has happened. My mind replays the day at work; I wonder what’s for dinner at home. I wonder how my son’s day was? Did he have fun at school? I picture him playing on the playground. I see him running on the field with his friends. He veers off to the tree line, and suddenly he is snatched up around his waist, and a hand roughly covers his mouth. He is dragged into the trees and out of sight. Someone has kidnapped my child! I immediately feel sick to my stomach.
What the hell was that I wonder? I shiver and continue walking wondering why I would think of such a horrible situation. Why of all things, would that pass through my mind? I have an unnerving sense of something terrible to come that I can’t explain. I need to get it together and think of something positive.
I think of my son again, and I picture taking him for a walk after we have dinner. We are coming to a stop sign when he suddenly darts out onto the road and is run over by a car killing him instantly. Again I feel sick in my stomach. I have an ominous feeling and can’t figure out why. It terrifies me that I am having these thoughts? Is it a warning? Was I crazy? I couldn’t understand what was happening!
These thoughts were irrational, but they felt vividly real at the moment. For no reason, I would often get a sense of something horrible about to happen and would picture the events in my mind. It seemed I had no control over these thoughts and as you can imagine I began to feel the feelings you would feel if these horrible things had happened. Imagine reliving your child’s death over and over again and the effects of this. I was a mess inside my mind!
I would have these thoughts without warning. Laying in bed trying to sleep and getting hit with these type of ideas was devastating. I would end up sweating with fear and unable to sleep. I simply couldn’t understand why I was doing this to myself. It made no sense to think these thoughts, and yet it felt like I was powerless to stop it.
Previously diagnosed with depression, I made a doctor’s appointment and came to learn that I had anxiety as well. The feelings associated with the thoughts I was having were panic attacks. Chances are if you are having similar thoughts in your mind, you too suffer from anxiety. You likely feel like you are losing your mind and you may not want to talk about these ruminations or feelings. I can understand that. It is paramount though that you can recognize what is happening to you, so you can learn how to deal with it.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary has this definition of anxiety:
medical : an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it
What causes anxiety? As with many mental health disorders, it appears there is not a known cause. It was incredibly frustrating not to understand why it happened to me. However, what I found, was that I was able to overcome it with some strategies which I will talk about in part 2!