Catastrophizing

I went to my therapist today and learned a term: catastrophizing. It’s basically taking a scenario and think of the worst ever possibilities that could come out of it. You’re driving today? A car might hit you and you become paraplegic for life! You’re sitting in your house? An earthquake might happen and you will lose your house and your loved ones! You got a scratched cornea? You’ll be blind forever! You’re getting surgery in a month? You’ll lose a lot of blood and get a blood transfusion and then get HIV from that! Etc. Etc.

I have been doing this catastrophizing nonstop for the past few months. Probably have been doing it most of my life, which is why I have anxiety issues. (I still avoid driving because I feel like every time I’m on the road I could die any second from people crashing into me). I worry about my husband dying from whatever and since I’m a non-published writer who’s been out of work for about 5 years I’ll just be penniless and homeless and die, and I think about this constantly. (Including right now as I’m writing this.) It’s no way to live but it’s how I live, you know? I told my husband this when he drove me back from the session and he was like, wow, that sounds horrific. That’s what you think about all day? Yep. That is.

So my therapist recommended two things for me to do. One is to just lie down on the bed for 30 min and do nothing. Listen to some yoga music, make sure to turn off every single distraction – like turn the phone off, not on vibrate, or put it in another room entirely. Make sure to relax completely but don’t fall asleep. The second is to write down everything that you’re freaking out about and, get this, freak out at maximum about it for 10 min. I was like what wouldn’t that just put in me in the emergency room from a panic attack and he was like, no, because you’re in control of the freaking out. Panic attacks happen when you feel like you’re losing control. And I have to do these two things every day, because it’s like exercising your body. You have to learn how to relax and it’s not going to cure you immediately. Theoretically these two things would take away some of the heat so I’ll stop catastrophizing so much. We’ll see I guess. I’m a bit skeptical, but I guess it can’t hurt.

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