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My Catastrophic Thoughts May Be Illogical, but Don't Call Me Dramatic

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I can’t breathe. I wish I could. There are days I wish my chest didn’t ache and my heart wasn’t running wild circles around the lawn. It seems like not that long ago I felt “normal.” I could do the things other people did and I wouldn’t feel so out of place. Laughter and smiles came easily then, and the tears came without the threat of losing it all.

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Yet, here I sit, not able to breathe. The anxiety holding my chest hostage while the catastrophic thoughts hold me hostage.

My husband went to counseling today. He didn’t just go to any counselor; he went to see my counselor. They talked about me, hence the panic and anxiety.

Yes, I did give them permission to talk about me, but that was on a day I was doing really great. I even urged him to go see her to help him understand where I was and how he could help me. But that was then, and this is now.

Now I’m in a panic and have been since yesterday. I can’t breathe, my arms are like jello and my legs are throbbing with pain. I spent part of last night in the dark closet, trying to get the anxiety that comes with these thoughts under control. Most people might just be concerned about two people meeting to talk about them, or they might be a little bit worried, but my thoughts are a little bit darker and harder.

I have catastrophic thoughts. Simply put, it means I always think the worst thing will happen, and thanks to my past and events such as Hurricane Harvey, my catastrophic thoughts have been validated at times.

Living with catastrophic thoughts means panicking is easy. When I leave my kids home alone sometimes, I’ll have a thought of someone breaking in and hurting them. I think that’s a somewhat common thought with a lot of parents, catastrophic thoughts or not, but I always seem to take it a step further. Many times I’ll picture graphic images of what will happen that will make me worry or obsess over if they are truly safe or not.

Catastrophic thoughts mean I’ll put off doing things. A simple bank transaction in my head might lead to bankruptcy. Or signing my kids up for little league might lead to child protective services (CPS) being called on us for random reasons that don’t make logical sense.

Catastrophic thoughts mean I go above and beyond to keep myself and my family safe and taken care of.

Two years ago, my catastrophic thoughts told me our town was going to flood, food would be scarce and our town would suffer. Then, it came true thanks to Hurricane Harvey. Any catastrophic thought I can look back on and see might have happened in some way in the past, only grows stronger in my head. Afraid my husband is going to leave me for something simple like spending too much one time at the grocery store? I know in the past my dad left, so why wouldn’t my husband? Having a full-blown meltdown because I have a new doctor’s visit planned that I think might come with horrible news? I remember that dentist appointment that resulted in the bill for $20,000.

I always think the worst is going to happen, and sometimes it does. 

So if that’s the case, why can’t I breathe today? Because in this space where I know my husband is going to see my counselor, I’ve already come up with a worst-case scenario and I’m bracing for impact.

In my head, they’re betraying me. Together, my husband and counselor are going to come up with reasons I will never get better and they will develop a plan against me. Maybe they’ve decided together I can no longer take care of myself as I fight severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and they’re going to court to take away my rights. Logically, I know that’s not true. Logically, I know they are both for me and working together to help me, but I can’t help but wait for the other shoe to fall.

I didn’t talk to my husband this morning before he left for his appointment. As of right now, I’m planning on canceling my appointment for tomorrow with my counselor. I’m hurt and I’m angry, but it doesn’t make sense. I gave them my permission. I asked him to meet with her, but now my head has me convinced nothing but terror awaits me. In my head, trust has been broken. Catastrophic thoughts rarely ever make sense. 

The thoughts seem like foolishness to others, but to me, they’re real and they bring pain and panic with them. In fact, most people don’t know I think like that because I hide it. In the past when I’ve given a hint of the thoughts to someone else, they accuse me of being dramatic or overthinking things. But this is how I think. This is real. This makes it hard to breathe.

And I hope tonight my marriage won’t fall apart because he had one appointment with my counselor. Don’t tell me it’s nonsense. To me, it’s real and it makes this life harder.

Unsplash image by Jon Chambers

Originally published: November 7, 2019
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