When the Irrational Overpowers the Rational

As I’ve said before, I suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder…This causes me to have panic attacks. Crying, rocking, wringing hands, irrational thoughts, and the feeling of impending doom…Complete and utter terror inside my brain. It’s something I can’t explain to others in a way they will understand. I don’t understand it myself…

Last night, my husband went to walk the dog. He was gone for a lot longer than he usually is. Turns out he just had a couple more rings to close on his Apple Watch so he wanted to walk a bit more but was that what came to my mind when he didn’t show up in a timely manner? Absolutely not. My mind immediately went to him being mugged. We live in a suburb of Orlando so it’s totally possible, right? Boy, would the mugger be disappointed when he got inside my husband’s pockets (ha! I do have some sense of humor left)!

My mother and I were sitting in the living room while I waited for my husband to come back up to the apartment, or should I say, while I panicked. My mom could not figure out why I was so panicky. She kept telling me, “He’s probably talking to his mom on the phone. He does that quite often.” All the while all I could say was, “Or he’s being mugged or something. He’s been gone a long time!”

While I sat on the couch crying, wringing my hands, I couldn’t explain it to my mother in a way she could understand that no matter how many other theories she gives me as to why he’s not back, I can’t help but think of the bad.

You see, it’s not that I want to think of the bad. I’d actually like nothing more than to have the kind of reaction my mother did. I’d like nothing more than for me to have a rational reaction to these types of situations. I’d love for the rational to overpower the irrational. Unfortunately, no matter how many times I try to tell myself he’s probably just talking to his mother or trying to get a little extra exercise, I can’t help but return to the worst case scenario. Believe me, I try. I try so hard to be rational. That’s the thing about Generalized Anxiety Disorder…The irrational often overtakes the rational. It’s a disorder, a mental disorder. One I wish I did not have to deal with. One I wish I didn’t have to explain to people because truthfully, people don’t get it. Unless you suffer from this disorder you can’t fully ever understand.

Last night, my mom tried to talk some rationality into me and it only made me more upset. Not because I wanted to believe the bad things I was thinking (because believe me when I say I wanted nothing more than to have a normal reaction and not have that conversation at all) but because it brought to light my disorder. Put it right on display for all to see. As much as I wanted to explain to my mother that yes I realize he probably is fine, it doesn’t make me stop thinking about all the horrible scenarios.

I pictured my husband being mugged, shot, and stabbed. It’s not that I wanted to picture those things. Those things terrified me so of course I wanted to think of anything else but the irrational took over. That’s the nature of GAD. The worst case scenario takes precedence over any other thoughts. I wish it wasn’t so but it is.

What I wish (I’m sure anyone else suffering from GAD feels the same) more than anything is that instead of being told “That doesn’t make sense,” “That’s irrational thinking,” etc., is “it’s going to be okay,” “What can I do to help you?” Don’t try to fix me (that’s what my therapist and psychiatrist is for) but instead comfort me and offer help. Don’t tell me what to do but rather ask what you can do to help me. More than anything try to UNDERSTAND me.

Try to understand me and what’s going on inside my head. When I am having a difficult time I may not be capable of seeing things from your point of view. Instead, try to see things from my point of view. Only then will you be able to understand why a longer than usual walk turns into hand wringing and sobbing.

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