Imagine the Worst
I know this seems wrong--like it would produce even more anxiety. But imagining the worst can actually relieve the fear that’s triggering an obsession. For example, when I was hospitalized the second time for severe depression, I was petrified that I would never be able to work again, to write again, to contribute anything to society. Done. Let me get into my nightgown and bury myself somewhere. I was literally shaking with anxiety I was so scared of what my illness could do to me. I called my friend Mike and rattled off to him all my fears.
“Uh huh,” he said. “So what?”
“What do you mean, ‘So what’? My life as I know it might be over,” I explained.
“Yeah, and so what?” he said. “You can’t write. No biggie. You can’t work. No biggie. You have your family who loves you and accepts you. You have Vickie and I who love you and accept you. Stay home and watch ‘Oprah’ all day. I don’t care. You’d still have people in your life who love you.”
You know what? He was right. I went there in my mind: to the worst case scenario...me on disability, hospitalized a few times a year, unable to do so much of what I did before. And there I was. Still standing. With a full life. A different life, yes, but a life. And I was okay. Really okay. I felt such freedom in that moment.