You think it’s going to be okay. You’re sure that, once the big moment has passed, the stressful situation is over, the test is taken, you’ll be just peachy. You’ll stop worrying, stop being anxious, stop checking. You’ll go back to being your chirpy self, nice to people, looking on the bright side of life. You’ll have rode the dragon through the the fiery cave and survived, ready to be a hero. Or yourself again, at the very least. Normal, quiet, okay.
But damn it doesn’t work like that. Misplaced anxiety and overzealous worry regularly take being nervous about one thing and allow it to permeate every other part of your life. It’s not long before they’ve set up camp and are wearing your best pyjamas.
It goes a little something like this: Item A, the biggish thing of the moment, causes you to feel a little stressed. It’s kind of important and taking up a bit of your time. You’re worried about it, which is basically reasonable on a small scale. Then, you start to think about Item A on your to-do list when doing Items B, C, and D. You get distracted, not able to do them properly, and end up worrying about them too.
It’s a fairly straightforward progression. Before you know it, your originally low key and understandable nerves about that thing at work or with the bank leaves you unable to leave the house quickly, worrying about the fridge being closed or whether or not you paid the gas bill. (Which, as it goes, is paid by direct debit.)
Everything you try and do is done in a haze of troubling thoughts and intrusions of worry; it’s like being under water, you can hear sounds, but not make anything out clearly.
So, at this point, you might be thinking this isn’t great -which it isn’t- but at least you can take comfort in the fact that when the taxes are finally done or the big meeting has passed, you’ll be okay. Right?
Like anything in excess, you end up with a hangover. A real stinker of a hangover. Like the headache after one beer too many, a tummy ache after too many sweets or split ends after too many turns with the curling iron, it doesn’t go away the minute you stop. You have to ride the storm. And there’s no paracetamol or hair-repair cream to speed up the recovery process.
And very much like a hangover, even when you know the worst is over, you know the main event has passed, you’re left with the sense of humiliation, feeling embarrassed for getting so stressed. You fail to remember what made you act that way in the first place, worried about what people think if you, regretting being such a pain to be around. There we go. Worried again.
And so the loop begins. The hangover you didn’t even have any fun getting. The hair of the dog is yet more worry. And when it eventually passes, and a few days or weeks down the line, someone offers you sugary treats destined to give you a stomach cramp, you just can’t help yourself from digging in that bag. And sadly, this one takes more than just willpower to beat.