Today at our meeting we spoke about the difference between hypothetical worries and current worries. Current worries are when you worry about something that is currently happening, for example, when you're driving around a car park and can't find a space, so you might start to think 'What if I can't find a space?'. A hypothetical worry is when you worry about something that hasn't happened and might never happen. For me, pretty much all of my worries are hypothetical. You might think that hypothetical worries are dismissed more easily, because they have no substance - there really is nothing to worry about.
However, hypothetical worries can land you in the same state as a current worry. Whatever your worry, as a sufferer of anxiety it is bound to escalate to uncontrollable peaks, and that is why it is important to get help to manage it.
Here is one of my constant worries that I went through a couple of weeks ago.
Tony is a really good dog. He will come to you when you shout for him, whether in the house or on a walk, and he always asks when he wants something, ie. if you drop food on the floor, he will only eat it if you say yes. If you say no he will leave it. Which is very good considering he's always pestering you (and dribbling!) when you eat your dinner. Plus he knows loads of tricks like barking on command. He's a very clever dog!
However, my worrying means that I can't go out for walks with him, and struggle to leave him while he's in the garden. I tend to panic about him getting stolen, running off, running in the road etc. When he's in the garden I worry that he will find a hole in a fence, run into another garden and run into the street. Then I worry that he will get lost and be taken or run over. This is a worry I tend to have ever day, whenever he is outside.
The other day my Dad went to the shop and took Tony with him. For some reason, they seemed to be taking ages. I was thinking about Tony being left outside the shop. Then a thought popped into my head: 'what if somebody unhooked his lead from the lamppost and stole him?'. I began to worry. It could easily happen, and we don't live in the best of areas. Don't be silly, I thought.
A few minutes later and they still weren't home. They'd been gone ages. I could imagine Dad walking the streets trying to find Tony. Dad doesn't have a phone so I can't text him to find out where they are. Don't worry, I thought, there's probably a queue.
Ten minutes passed and they still weren't home. They'd been out for 40 minutes, at the local shops!
'Where's Dad gone?' I ask Mum. 'They've been gone a while.' I try to ask as casually as possible, so she doesn't know how worried I am.
'Oh I don't know Tash,' she says, completely unphased.
By this point I was really panicking. I was hot and sweaty, and I was literally shaking with nerves. I was imagining Dad being attacked while he was out, with Tony either running about lost and scared, or having been stolen and scared. It was one of the two.
I sat on the edge of the sofa, unable to sit still. I had images running through my mind of Dad and Tony being hurt. Run-over, lost, attacked... I was so scared I was considering putting my shoes on and going to find them. I began to feel sick at the thought of what had happened to them.
Then a key turned in the lock. In came Dad, with Tony and and arm full of shopping. I went to take care of some of the bags.
'What took you so long?' I asked.
'Oh I decided to get us a takeaway...'