“For worry casts shadows of mountainous size….”
I am pretty sure that all people worry. Even the ones that don’t seem to be or don’t admit it. Especially parents, because we have this extra element to be responsible for.
Worry and anxiety are really two different things. Anxiety takes over, you have no control over it, it escalates and it’s all consuming. I have never felt it but I know people very close to me who have experienced it to varying degrees and found counselling, CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and medication have all helped. I can’t fully understand it because I haven’t experienced it, but I try. It does make me frustrated that there is a stigma towards anxiety when frankly I think the pace of modern day living, combined with (real or perceived) expectations and pressures, of work and parenthood, have a lot to answer for.
I have a feeling that people don’t think I am a worrier, mostly because it is usually not the day to day things that play on my mind, and maybe because I don’t really talk much about my worries to lots of people. Of course I do worry, I'm human. We all do. I would't say I am a general worrier though, it's specific! I did a fairly standard level of worrying during the baby stage of my children. We are all different but my way of combatting potential sources of worries is to read and research as much as I can. If I understand and prepare, then I don't worry.
BUT the main worries I have, I think are irrational. No, that’s not the right word. They are disproportionate, because the level at which I worry about them is far far beyond the relative risk presented. Again, I think all parents have these sorts of worries too.
So, here goes, i’m going to put it out there and share what I call my disproportionate worries. They are, in no particular order:
- Ticks carrying Lymes Disease.
- Abduction and/or abuse of my child.
So you see, they are sensible things to be conscious of (I think!). But these things pop into my head as a worry more than they should.
I don't know where my Tick worry came from originally, because until very recently I had never even seen one, save for in photos on the internet, and of course the risk of contracting Lymes disease is extremely small. Nevertheless for years I have had a tick twister tool in my first aid kit for the children (Amazon link below, I emplore you to buy one if you haven't got one already - correct removal is vital). I check my kids over for Ticks in the bath at night if they have been playing outside, and feel sick just at the thought of finding one. Curiously, I don't expend worry energy on this affecting myself or my husband, yet we are at just as much risk!
Last summer my fears came true when I found this disgusting little Tick with its head buried in my son's skin. I kept it together to remove the tick with the twister tool, but I felt physically sick and my head went to the nightmare scenario. Doctors' advice received and I watched him like a hawk for the following month.
Batteries, specifically (but not exclusively) button batteries, being ingested strikes fear into my heart. Toys (rare these days) without screwed on battery compartments go straight in the bin. I thought there would be a time pretty soon when I could worry about this less, and then my friends 6 year old daughter swallowed one followed by a tense time in hospital to see if she would be ok (she was lucky).
I watch far too many crime series to have my child abduction worries in proportion (I wish I had never heard about that child who was taken, head shaved and t-shirt changed in a matter of seconds at a theme park...or was that an urban legend? In my mind the distinction matters little), and my pre-children line of work also made the prevalence of abuse seem more than it is.
When we were young my sister had a little card with this poem on that my parent's bought her. I loved it then and still do now. Here it is:
Don’t worry, Don’t worry. It’ll be alright. Step out of the darkness and walk into the light.
For worry casts shadows of mountainous size,
enshrouding our mole hills in fearful disguise.
Will the birds sing tomorrow? Will the sun reappear? All the worry to millions won’t hasten them here.
See the oceans still rumble, the rivers still flow. The tall trees still murmur where cool breezes blow.
And the message they whisper cuts clear through the night, ‘Don’t worry, Don’t worry, it’ll be alright!’
I think this poem is really relevant for our routine worries. And normalising always helps. But whilst I read this back I am conscious that there is no point telling someone not to worry if they have anxiety, as that's not going to be of any help at all. They should be encouraged to see a Doctor, and really be honest with how they are feeling.
Do you have any "disproportionate worries" like me? Have you struggled with Anxiety - what helped/helps? Do share below, as I can guarantee that someone else will read it and nod along and feel a little better because you did.