Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Doc Worries

Here's me on Sunday morning, slight daze, 6:05, padding into the kitchen in old powder-blue terrycloth bathrobe, red slippers, can't explain the color. It's hard to sleep on Saturday nights if you've rested all day Saturday.

F.D. has made the coffee and am grateful for that, could smell it on the way downstairs. He's checking weather on teev.

F.D. What's wrong? You look worried.

Me: No, not worried.

F.D. You look worried.

Me: Worried. As in worried I'll fall asleep on one of my patients since i'm scheduled way too heavy, unless i drink a lot of THIS, of course, which i worry it will somehow give me cancer or a UTI or who knows what, in any case could make sleep difficult tonight. (deep breath) Worried we'll get killed in a car accident on the ice on the way over to work and by the way, why will the black ice not melt? Worried i over-stepped when one of our friends asked me for advice and i stupidly gave it to her; am also worried that i'll give the kids this virus that's coming back when we go there on Purim and that everyone will be mad at me. I'm worried that you look nothing like that Rubin guy on American Idol and your costume won't work. Worried i'll never get to cleaning up my mother's kitchen before she gets home and she'll be upset that there's a speck of dirt on her floor and that i made a serious mess watering the plants, and then she'll clean the floor and complain about her neuropathy and it'll be my fault i never got Helen in there to clean or did it myself because, after all, Helen will break her stuff dusting, i'm worried Blue The Fish will die. More?

F.D. That's enough, what time do you want to leave?

So the question is, At what age does a girl just become her mother, a guy his father, giving into the natural human condition of obsessive worrying? Is there a study on this? Is this a natural condition?

I'll answer all of the above.

No idea.

But. There's worrying and there's worrying, and there's variability, meaning every kind of worrying in between. Let's relabel (a great family therapy intervention, fools NO ONE) and say:

Where there's worry, there's motivation.

Yes! That's what we'll say, because it's true. Worrying is a GOOD thing. Fear, for sure, probably keeps us alive altogether, that whole fight or flight thing. But that's not exactly worry, really. Fight or flight happens when a guy jumps out of an alley and sticks a gun in your back and you fight or take flight. That's instinct as it should be.

Which leads us to post-traumatic stress, way worse than mere worry, and neither are the same as the abandonment anxieties or those simple fears like the fear of exposure we've been talking, i.e.,

If I don't get out of here they'll notice that
I'm wearing winter white in the summer, or I haven't combed my hair. Or: Yikes, I have no socks on.

Fear of exposure IS worry, but it's not necessarily conscious, we're not always aware of it. Worry is conscious anxiety. Take the worry of checking, for example:

I'll bet I left the oven on and now I'm fifteen minutes from home and if I turn around I'll be late, crud! I'm going to burn down the whole house! Had better go home and check, even if I will lose my job for being late again. It's still worth it!

And then again, checking, although it's anticipatory anxiety, isn't only anticipatory anxiety, it's not going to let up once the real anxiety sets in. This can really mess you up.

So much to worry about.

But worry does motivate people to do good things, right, I mean, who would study for school if it weren't the worry for grades? We do so many things ONLY because we worry. I see this as a Global Worry Problem.

Perhaps to reduce Global Worry, we should have a National Worry Day. Everyone spends the WHOLE DAY worrying. We get it out of our system. Can you imagine the energy?
This makes sense, seriously.

I am taking suggestions but leaning towards Thursday, November, 29,2007, the first National Worry Day. It'll be after Thanksgiving and people are already a little more worried than usual, yet it's not too late in the week to ruin the weekend, being a Thursday, giving us Friday to recover from the stress of having to worry. I just don't know.

What do you say?

Yes, this is a paradox, having a day during which you HAVE to worry. You can't worry if you have to worry. No one can make you worry, even you. In therapy I have you do this even if it's NOT National Worry Day. Go ahead, just worry, it's okay.

And yet, we should do it, the National Worry Day holiday. I mean it. Blog/politic burst worry out of this world as we know it.

Of course there will be a carnival*. Who wants to host the carnival?

*A carnival is a special blog on which
the blog host links readers to other bloggers who have all tried, with no success whatsoever, to write about the same theme. Ours would be National Worry Day, of course.

Fine, fine. I can do it. But what if it doesn't turn out well, what then?

Copyright 2007, TherapyDoc


Holly Schwendiman said...

Sounds good to me! My challenge is in moving from those many "I've thought about it a hundred times" to actually just doing it the one time it would take....like dusting for instance...ROFL

Holly's Corner

Anonymous said...

"There's a lot of things to think about, but nothing to worry about - Matt Koepke

Worry just creates stress, which makes you sick, which gives you more to worry about. Worry is a vicious cycle which has no positive gain.

Anonymous said...

A collective blog effort? Pity. I was hoping you meant games and rides like Whac-a-Worry, the Fearless Wheel, Uninsured Bumper Cars, or a Hy-Striker bell based on blood pressure. (Just say NO to the USPS-sponsored Shooting Gallery.)

therapydoc said...

Holly: Hi, how are you? Get to work, would you, come on, what HAVE you been doing?

therapydoc said...

Mark: So the system, or feedback loop is

Worry to Stress to Sick to Worry to Stress to Sick to Worry

That means we can intervene anywhere, the advantage of a feedback loop. GREAT.

Mark means that you don't have to work on worrying alone. To reduce worry you can also reduce stress or sick.

So Mark, you can write on this for that carnival we'll do in November, okay?

therapydoc said...

J: You are in charge of these rides for the carnival. I think pictures are going to be helpful.

Anonymous said...

Sounds good, I am up for it!

No worries!

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

My mother and her best friend worries a lot. One of them asked the other if she could go to sleep and the other one could worry for them while they are asleep lol. It's a good system. If one always could worry for us than we don't have to do the worrying:).

therapydoc said...

It's true! There's a similar phenomenon with twins under a year old (okay, under 30 years old). One has to be crying at all times. They KNOW this. It's work, but one will pick up the slack and start to cry when the other stops crying. They call this parental character building. Mine recently told me that they learned this technique from a manual I took home from the hospital along with the Huggies diaper samples. Crazy.

awannabe said...

Google brought me here. I was searching for a post on ACoA's, but can't find it. Anyhow, your blog looks interesting and I will add a link for it on my main blog http://awannabewriter.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

I laughed outloud at the last lines:

"Fine, fine. I can do it. But what if it doesn't turn out well, what then?"

Life's one worry after another, seems. Nice entry. Enjoyed it a lot. I probably would have missed it if it not been for polliwog's Carnival of Good Stuff.

Anonymous said...

Great, great stuff! I am such a fan of yours. You have a wicked sense of humor. Love the Worry Day idea.

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