Every so often, I look up the symptoms of my mental health disorders. Usually, I do it if it’s been long enough that I can’t remember the last time I did it. Sometimes I get lost and end up in a DSM wasteland (that’s the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders), but I try not to get too deep into it because I am not a mental health professional.
Anyway, I was doing this last week when I decided I hadn’t checked out the symptoms of GAD in a bit. Generalized Anxiety Disorder, aka GAD, affects 3.1% of the entire U.S. population, so it’s not like it’s an entirely foreign disorder. But since everyone is different, certain symptoms of GAD can impact people more than others. For me, it would be the ‘excessive anxiety and worry’ symptom that strikes time and again.
I worry. A lot. Does it matter about what? I used to think so. I used to think that I could only worry about important things, or big events, pressures at work or in my personal life, stuff like that. But my worry is equal opportunity. Objectivity is irrelevant. What’s ‘important’ is out the window. Because at the root of all of this worry is one constant thought – something is wrong. Not only is something wrong but whatever that thing is, I can’t fix it.
There are obvious negatives to this, but the only one that really frustrates me is that it makes it difficult to prioritize the things I worry about. If I face two unique situations with the same level of fear and anxiety, how different are they? Which one should I focus on more? This is where understanding rational and irrational fears can come in handy.
It’s important to know how to distinguish between rational and irrational fear, but it’s just as important that you believe yourself when you distinguish them and understand why. I’ve lied my way through therapy before by saying that I understand why one of my worries is irrational, while I rationalize it in my head. Once again, objectivity doesn’t help much here. Starting to differentiate between rational and irrational fears is where things began to look up for me. I won’t pretend they solved everything, but they certainly improved the situation.
I always feel like something is wrong. Is there always something wrong? To me, there is. Will it be that way forever? I don’t know. But right now, being able to continue doing things, despite that nagging feeling, is more important than getting rid of it altogether. It’s not the loftiest of goals, but it is something – and ‘something’ can often be enough.