A friend reaches out to invite me and my family to her house for a cook out this weekend. She mentions a few other friends that will be there that I know. I recognize the names she mentions and instantly look forward to the gathering. Without hesitation I respond “Sounds great! What can I bring?”
This sounds like your typical acceptance to an invitation. However, the minute I respond my anxiety and excitement start to battle. Here is where my mind goes and why:
Excitement: This will be fun!
Anxiety: Wait a second! She just mentioned several other people that are coming to the party, that means she didn’t invite you with the first round of invites. She probably only invited you because you can almost see her house from yours and she didn’t want you to feel left out. Maybe another of your friends asked her to invite you, out of pity. She invited you last because she wasn’t sure if she wanted to invite you at all. It might be because she thinks your annoying or too loud or too crass.
Keeping score? This is exactly how my thought process went.
Anxiety: 6 and counting
Why did this happen? My anxious brain turns to worst case scenario anytime a self-reflection takes place. Anxiety is a beast that takes on so many forms and oozes out in diverse ways. I have recently discovered how much it affects my thought processes. Understanding that anxiety raises hell in my head creating unwanted chaos, has helped me weed through my cracked way of thinking. I can’t STOP my brain from doing this, at least not yet. I CAN remind myself that anxiety is trying to take over, it’s causing some irrational thinking that will lead to nothing positive. I CAN choose to ignore it.
The thoughts will come like a wave crashing inward. Instead of letting it rise and rise, I now let the wave recede. I recognize the thought for what it is, intrusive and negative, and then release it. The waves may come in sequence and for a duration of time, but I strive to let them continue to roll away each moment they surface.
I hope you find some peace with mental illness. As James says: Always keep fighting.