Happy Thoughts: I’ll Worry About That Later

Happy Thoughts: I’ll Worry About That Later

As someone who suffers from the wonderful mental illness called anxiety, I have a hard time figuring out what things I should worry about now and what I should worry about later. Often I end up choosing things that I should worry about now for the later portion of my brain. Which, because of my overwhelming fear of failure and a deep-rooted need to succeed, it is a little bit of a problem. I am pushing things that should be dealt with now to the back of my mind and bringing things that won’t be a problem for a while to the forefront. This causes me to ask the question, “why am I like this?”

The reason is not because I’m terrible at time management and was never taught how to correctly schedule things, although that does play a large part in the problem. The reason is that my anxiety causes me to focus on the small, unimportant issues in my life instead of things that actually matter. For example: I have a tendency to worry about having money to spend on gas that week instead of thinking about having money for rent. I worry about small things, like laundry and what people think of me rather that worrying about how I am going to afford food this month. To be honest, I tend to push back all of the negative possibilities into a little corner in the back of my mind where they sit and fester.

Which is bad, I know. Especially when those thoughts come uninvited and punch me in the face in the middle of the night, just as I’m dozing off into a deep sleep. Nighttime is the time when my anxiety likes to play catch-up. My mind brings up a list of everything I have done throughout the day and then I begin to analyze. I analyze conversations, questions I asked in class, homework that I worked on. I then go through my schedule for the next day. Only then will I be able to go to sleep.

So I guess the question is this: how do I combat these thoughts? I kill them. That’s right, I murder them. If I think of a mistake that happened in the past and is something I tend to dwell on, I imagine taking a gun and shooting it down. I know it is a kind of violent way to get rid of intrusive thoughts, but it works for me. Sometimes, instead of shooting them, I change the channel. I turn on the static and switch to an entirely different, and safe, thought. Oh, I’m thinking about something I said to a teacher my sophomore year of high school? Nope, surprise, I’m thinking about puppies now. Lots of cute puppies with little neckties for collars. Maybe some cats mixed in, you get the picture.

Instead of just “not thinking about it” like so many have suggested to me, I just kill it. If it’s dead then it can’t come back, right?