Help me overcome debilitating anxiety about the health and well-being of people I love
January 25, 2012 7:35 AM Subscribe
For over a decade I have been worrying on a daily basis about the health and well-being of people I love, to a debilitating degree. Can you suggest any tactics to address it?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
For example, if a loved one is having a health issue, or fails to respond to a phone call, my mind leaps directly to the worst possible scenario. I have vivid images and scenes in my head of possible futures: wistful conversations, heartbreak and loss. These images occupy my mind constantly, causing me be unhappy and sometimes act erratically (in the past, OCD-type behavior, although that hasn't happened for a long time).
Worse, I manage to inject sadness into happy moments by telling myself of some impending doom, and imagining myself looking back on those moments as "happier times… before it all went wrong".
I've noticed that this cycle seems to be associated to guilt; that is, if I feel guilty about how I have acted with someone, e.g. after an argument, I often then worry about their well-being. I've also seen that it intensifies when I hear that others are suffering bad times.
The catch is that I'm very aware this cycle is counter-productive. I know my mind is playing games; I observe it latching onto everyday events and weaving them into horror stories. I know that it wants to KNOW, and that for my mind, even a false vision of the future is better than it not knowing at all. I also know shit happens, people get sick and die, and everyone else lives through it. Despite this, I don't feel strong enough to stop this reflex.
Background: Male, mid-thirties, creative person. Did CBT a few years back, which helped with other issues. Happy childhood but mother a worry-bag, father a controller. Otherwise fine career and life wise.
MeFi, have you been here? Do you know short-term coping tactics for this, to help me simply ACCEPT that bad stuff happens, and cultivate a healthy approach to life?