Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Mind Is A Dangerous Neighborhood

Look how small and vulnerable my dog is! 
I've posted a lot about my issues with ADHD, autism and depression, but I don't post much about anxiety.  I think anxiety tends to take a back seat... if everything else is going smoothly, I can deal with the anxiety, and if everything else isn't going smoothly, I have bigger fish to fry. 

But at night, when I am lying in bed unable to sleep (because I had a cold and slept all day on the couch) my anxieties come to surface. They run around in circles and taunt me in the dark. 

A lot of my anxieties tend to center around my Small Dog, Lily. I don't worry as much about Trixie, because she is bigger and just doesn't seem so vulnerable. But there are so  many things that could go wrong for Lily... so many things just waiting to happen to a Small Dog! For instance, coyotes could come into my backyard and get her... or they could accost us while we are taking a walk, and snatch her from my arms. Or, if I move to Oregon, it could be cougars! Even owls, eagles, and other birds of pray, have been known to snatch small dogs. (Those small dogs probably were much smaller than Lily, who is about 19 pounds now, but still!) I worry that there could be a tornado that wrecks my whole house, and she could get buried in the rubble. Or a fire could burn the house down, and she could die from smoke inhalation. Or someone could break into my house and steal her and use her as a bait dog. 

Two summers ago, in a neighboring town, a family went on vacation. They left their small dog at home, but had a neighbor coming in and out to feed the dog, let him out, etc. During that time, the mother's ex-boyfriend broke into the house and stole thousands of dollars worth of jewelry. Maybe because the dog was barking at him, or maybe because the guy was a sick and twisted asshole, he put the dog in the convection oven and turned it on. When the family got home, they couldn't find their dog anywhere in the house. The worst part is, the family member who finally found the dog, still in the oven, was a nine-year-old child. And that story is horrid, for itself. But with my anxiety, I still freak out over it, thinking, that could have been Lily! Evil people clearly exist, and they could possibly come to my house and kill my dog in a torturous way. 

Or she could be swimming in an ocean, and drown, or a shark could get her. Not that I would ever let my Small Dog swim in an ocean. Not that she'd even want to. But what if I asked someone else to babysit her, and they let her swim in an ocean? 

Or we could move to Florida, and an alligator could eat her. Or she could be playing in the backyard, and see a rattle snake, and get bitten by it. Or she could fall down the stairs. I know someone whose small dog tried to jump up onto a chair, and somehow fell on his back and died instantly. How could that happen? But it did... and it could happen to me. 

I also am somewhat of a hypochondriac. I worry that I will get a painful disease that will leave me hospitalized for the rest of my life. I could get MS. I could get AIDS. I could get lupus. Maybe I have congestive heart failure. Maybe I have lung cancer. Maybe I have a brain tumor... I do have weird achiness in the back of my head a lot. Maybe I'm going to have a stroke. Or I could just get into a terrible car accident. Or I could get early onset Alzheimer's. Or I could fall down the basement stairs and break my neck. (That is probably the most real possibility... I've come close to falling from the top step a bunch of times, but luckily caught my balance!) 

The thing is, all of these things are possible, but not very likely. But because they are possible, in my mind they are just looming over me, waiting to happen. 

People tell me that, if you think about something too much, you could actually cause it to happen, by manifesting it. But to me, it feels like almost the opposite is true. If you worry about something, it somehow lessens the chance of it happen. I remember trying this at home as a very young child. I would think about some random scary occurrence. I remember thinking, "What if a chicken runs in here and starts pecking me" (At age 5, that was a scary thought to me.) Then I would wait for a moment. When a chicken did not run into the room and start pecking me, that proved that, by worrying about something in advance, I could keep it from happening. Not that we, or anyone living anywhere near us in our suburban Chicago town, had chickens. 

The scary things that did happen were things it never occurred to me to worry about. Like the time the neighbor left his lawn mower on while he was talking to my dad, and suddenly the lawn mower started driving around on it's own. I was already terrified of lawn mowers because of their loud noise, so watching it start moving on it's own was super freaky! Or the time when large, hairy bugs were crawling all over the windows of my mom's car. I am pretty sure that really happened, even though it sounds like a nightmare!

I don't walk around perseverating on these possibilities all the time. That would probably drive me insane. But sometimes it is hard to go to work and leave my dogs home alone. I often say a prayer as I go down my driveway... "Please let my dogs be okay, and please let me be okay, and please let us all be back together here in a few hours, safe and sound." 

Does anyone else experience this? Or am I the only cuckoo one? 


  1. Totally normal for anxiety actually. And worrying about something specific and then having it not happen while not worrying about something that does happen makes total statistical sense. The likelihood of anything happening is miniscule. So choose one of those and it won't happen. But the one that will happen isn't as likely to have been chosen. But finding a way to deal with it is the more key part - I like the idea of a prayer to keep things safe. It's worked so far, right?

  2. I think all of us have our own irrational fears/worries. I have anxiety issues too and when I was younger I'd barter with the Universe - "If I do this this many times my mom will be safe today." "If I wait one hour to eat this piece of candy the school bus won't get in an accident." etc. I haven't been that bad in a long time. If I think about it enough I'll go back to it which is annoying. I can't fathom the burden of your worries though. :( If you tell yourself that you get what you give as you're saying your prayers maybe that logic could counter all of the negative "what if's" that pop up. ?


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