Anxiety. A small word with a huge impact.
I am going to give you a tiny glimpse into my over active thinking. This takes place all day, every day. Internally I argue with myself non stop, it's exhausting. It's not that I have voices in my head as such, it's more that I have two thought processes that run simultaneously, my 'Rational Brain' and my 'Irrational Brain' …and they really don't get on at all!
We all have some degree of anxiety, if for example you saw a small child standing on a high, narrow wall, your anxiety would most likely kick in. It's a normal reaction to potential danger. But I have unwillingly stepped it up a notch, I don't just realise there's a danger, I see every single thing that may go wrong playing like a movie in my head in glorious technicolour. Instead of just briefly picturing that child falling from the wall as most people will do, I will see the fear etched on their face as they lose their balance, I will feel their panic as they realise they cannot stop the inevitable, I will clearly visualise every scrape on the way down and the broken leg sticking out at an abnormal angle upon landing. Usually I don't stop there, the film reel continues playing, with the parent getting a phone call that their child is injured, complications at the hospital....this usually continues long after the situation is resolved.
Even so, I can excuse myself reacting that way in a genuinely dangerous situation, my 'Rational Brain' will usually keep it's mouth shut. Although extreme in my case, this is what anxiety is for, to alert us to danger, to help keep us safe. The internal back and forth really begins when something as simple as changing a lightbulb requires a full health and safety assessment. Are the chair legs sturdy, maybe I should tighten them and if I lose my balance what could I fall against, how would I fall, in which direction? Again the film starts playing, I run through every possible scenario (except the one where I simply change the bulb with no issues) and usually end with my children finding me comatose, or worse on the floor.
On occasion I have paused at the top of the stairs, seeing myself falling to a crumpled mess at the bottom. Simply considering getting on a bus means visualising an accident, often one where a lorry crashes into the side I am sitting on and pins me to the seat in front, where I can only sit and wait to die. I don't take many buses.
But it's not all bad news, 'Rational Brain' eventually jumps in like a preppy super hero, explaining in a calm way that I have walked up and down those stairs a million times before with no issues. "But that doesn't mean there'll be no issue THIS time," 'Irrational' argues back.
And 'Irrational' is absolutely right, there's never any guarantees, being aware of potential danger in every situation however safe it may seem, may have saved me from multiple accidents in my lifetime, I will never know for sure and this is why it has taken me years to even consider living a life without it's constant input.
It's been a friend to me, an annoying friend for sure, one that has limited, drained and tortured...but one that has most likely protected me in a world full of unseen dangers.
In September I start CBT, I explained to them at my assessment that I am terrified to be without my anxiety, what if I start making stupid, rash decisions that put me in danger. They reassured me that 'Irrational' would always be with me, everyone has one, but they will help me manage it, turn down the volume so I can hear 'Rational' more clearly.
Until then I shall continue to play devil's advocate to my own thoughts.