A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Living with anxiety..

Posted by Pepper on April 9, 2016

Some months ago, Mint came home and told me he was planning a trek to Sikkim with his colleagues. A 9 day trek that would take them through the Himalayan range. Typically in such situations, my initial reaction is to lose it and ask him to cut it out. Because I am by nature an extremely anxious person. The first thought that enters my head is: what if something goes wrong? Why expose yourself to dangers that can easily be avoided? How will I get by the days living with such intense worry?

Unfortunately, other than being an anxious person, I am also a fairly rational person and realise my own line of thought is at times quite ridiculous. I find it hard to justify my fears to my own self, let alone to Mint. Other than knowing the odds of something fatal happening were very low, I also knew living a life completely devoid of risks isn’t a possibility. And of course, we also have all those theories about space and letting your partner live their own life and blah. So this time when he told me about the trek, I said nothing. When he told me he was Β booking his flight tickets, I said nothing. I remained silent as he went about making all his travel arrangements. He booked his accommodation, purchased the gear he would need be needing for his trek. It was all finalised.

And then two days before he was to leave, I broke down. I realised he would be going through completely uncivilized terrain and passing through settlements with no electricity. There would be no mobile coverage. The thought of remaining disconnected for days together when he was in the wild made me feel sick. I threw a fit and asked him to cancel his trip. He looked at me with disbelief when I said it. I was asking him to cancel a trip that he had booked over 3 months in advance, one that he was highly looking forward to, was fully paid for and would result in a complete loss. Yes, I repeated what I had just said. Don’t go.

He negotiated with me for a while, requested me not worry. When I would not budge, he agreed to cancel it. As usual, I didn’t know what it was that would make me happy. The thought of him going was killing me with worry. The thought of him not going was killing me with guilt. After a lot of turmoil, I turned around and asked him to go. Only to back out a day before he was to leave and create another scene. I screamed, accused him of not caring about me, being the most inconsiderate partner and so on. I knew I was being unreasonable but who is to stop me at such times? He was back to asking me if he should cancel his trip and I was back to saying no and then hating him for going.

We decided to have a good heart to heart on the evening before he was to leave. What exactly was my worry, he wanted to know. I thought for a few minutes, and then blurted out. I was worried he would die. There, I said it. Of course, he laughed and told me he was going for a trek, not on a war. Before you laugh at me, let me tell you anxiety is not rational. And it sucks that most people with anxiety realise how irrational their fears are. We had a good long discussion and he acknowledged my fears instead of dismissing or ridiculing them. Somehow that conversation put me at ease. I felt better after a long time and was able to let him leave on a cheerful note the next morning.

It took him two flights and a 7 hour car journey that went over the ghats to reach the place from where he was to start trekking. He called me the next morning before beginning his trek. I reminded him again that I expected to hear from him at least once in every 24 hours. If there was no mobile coverage in the area, he was to find a landline. He told me knew how worried I was and that was worrying him and making him uneasy. He wasn’t able to put his mind at rest knowing my condition. I promised him again that I would try to not worry.

And just like that, I lost all contact with him after that conversation. I waited for night to set in. Maybe he would call when they stopped for the day. He didn’t. I convinced myself to pull through the night. When I hadn’t heard from him by the next morning either, I was in a state of extreme panic. What could have gone wrong? I knew he would be making all possible attempts to call. So then, why couldn’t he? His phone was switched off.

One day stretched into another. By the end of the second day, I was sure I would not survive anymore. I kept calling him every 3 minutes, knowing very well that it wouldn’t help. I was trying so hard to not imagine the worst. What if something had happened to him? How would that impact me? Please God, make sure he is alive and well. I prayed with all my heart.

I was feeling physically sick by day 3. If something has happened to him and he is no more, maybe I will really not survive myself. How bloody fortunate I was to have met him in my life. Maybe I was so fortunate that it had to be short lived? He is the best thing to have happened to me. What if I have to spend the rest of my life without him? Oh my God! We have a massive loan that I will never be able to take care of single handedly. Well, I will sell the house immediately. But oh, what if I am unable to sell the house because the market prices are too low? The loan will not disappear. I will be ruined. I will be all alone. I will die too. Oh God. Stop! Stop! Stop!

On day 4 I decided I hate him. How could he subject me to this anguish for the sake of his own pleasures? He knows that I would be dying every minute. People who have partners with anxiety should try to curtail their lives and desires to an extent. Yes, this was his fault. I will never talk to him. Oh wait, I will not talk to him only after I know he is alive and well. Please God, just let me hear from him once.

He called finally on the 5th day. This time I thought I would die of relief. I had no words to tell him the kind of hell I had been to. Like I should have guessed, he could not call for all those days because he had absolutely no means to do so. No mobile network or coverage, no access to landlines. Nothing. I hated him for going to a place like that. These adventures are meant for people who are free and footloose. People who have no responsibilities and can live their lives with glee and abandonment. Not for people with massive loans and wives who suffer from anxiety disorders.

When I had calmed down though, I knew the biggest lesson was for me. I have always known my anxiety makes me deviate from my sense of logic. It begins to exercise a deep level of control over my every day life. For example, I still panic when my dad comes home two hours late and we aren’t able to get through to him. When other people would attribute it to heavy traffic and a phone that has run out of charge, my mind embarks on a journey of it’s own. What if he was in a accident? What if his phone was stolen? What if something terrible happened? How will we get through it?

I read in an article that having anxiety is like having a brain with a faulty alarm system wired into it. The alarm goes off in your head even when there is no real need for it to, even when there is no sense of danger. And then you spend your time freaking out knowing well that there is no reason to freak out, but being unable to stop yourself from freaking out. It’s like wanting to stop the blaring alarm that is causing a heart attack and driving you nuts but you just don’ know where the ‘dismiss’ button lies.

I know coping with anxiety has always been one of the biggest challenges of my life. But this whole episode has taught me that this isn’t a sustainable way to live. I will always be exposed to situations that have more questions than answers. But every time I face a question, I cannot let myself assume the worst answer, not even in my subconscious. I have promised myself I am going to try to be a more secure person. I know it will be a long journey, but the first step is making myself believe that I can do it.

45 Responses to “Living with anxiety..”

  1. I am not sure i am an anxious person but i do have a vivid imagination and think up a lot of what if situations. But then also i come up with solutions for ny situation! I have finally decided that whatever it is – i think i have it in me to deal with it!

    • Pepper said

      I am not an anxious person in general. Most of my anxiety is caused by the fear of losing my loved ones.. and I don’t think I feel equipped to deal with that. I think that is the crux of my problem,,

  2. I totally understand your state. I am pretty much the same, always paranoid and anxious which is not very helpful either for me or for people around me. I hope I can also find ways to overcome this anxiety. Just two weeks ago, I had to take a late night flight and my brother came to drop me off to the airport. I couldn’t relax for about two hours and a bit until I heard from my brother ( after my numerous WhatsApp msgs to him) that he had reached back home safe. My family found my fears and anxiety unreasonable but I couldnt help it, the anxious person that I am:-(.

    • Pepper said

      Totally know what you mean… sigh..But like I said, this isn’t sustainable and does a lot of damage in the long run. We need to learn to take better control ..

  3. S said

    I am not aware of anxiety to this level. It may be there are it must surely be hard to deal with it. But you have to.
    Are you ok with him not being ok and restless at something he was looking forward to 3 months prior? Would he be really happy to cancel it for your sake however much he loves you? Would you in his place cancel the plan(safe or unsafe) so willingly with your best friends for his sake? May be you say ‘yes’ to the last 2 questions. But there is that innermost feeling someone can have “I wish I could go….”
    Going on a trek is not so life threatening. Believe me I have done it. People are a lot more simple at such places. They wont harm you. I reckon you too take a break like that once away from civilization and you realise you can survive without phones, laptops etc. About natural disasters how many do you hear every single day? So why would they happen that particular time? And trek routes for armatures are not so risky in the first place. They are just away from civilization or connectivity. Nothing like climbing a Mt.Everest! Its forest, nature and you yourself. And if you read The Secret you will learn to tame your thoughts. What we think we manifest. Even fear. So have good thoughts. You might have experienced of having seen this scene in a dream or somewhere. Look back to life did it not go the way you expected it most of the time? If it did not there were other better plans for you.
    Don’t be hard on the poor boy. We envy you πŸ˜‰ Tell him that you are willing to listen to his stories on his adventure and he will so happily tell you!
    You will grow old to ripe age together! Be positive! πŸ™‚

    • Pepper said

      I’m not sure I know how to reply to your comment.. πŸ™‚ All I will say is, you know nothing about anxiety at all. So maybe you should read up ..

      Also try and read my post again. You’ve missed the most important part..

  4. Vani said

    I can so relate to it.. and I too am unable to cope with it 😦

  5. Shweta said

    For the umpteenth time…. “This is soooo me”

  6. D said

    O my God..Are you me???? It seems like I was reading my story…! I am an equally if not a more anxious person. Since it is a comment I will refrain from telling my stories, but just one advice sister- Pls start doing something about it, like meditation etc. I started having headaches off late because of this. I have seen 3 neurologists, and two brain MRIs. Over thinking has actually started affecting me physically. I am consciously training my mind to put a full stop whenever it starts running wildly after such anxiety induced attacks, which are pretty often in my case! Have started slight Yoga also. My dad has a very good advice for me- Leave some-things for God also. Trust Him. Things will be good, as they have been till now.

    • Pepper said

      I over think for most things but I don’t get so stressed out. I usually stress only when it comes to health and safety issues involving my loved ones..so I don’t have too many triggers on average
      Your anxiety sounds so intense! I totally agree. I am beginning to take to meditation very sincerely. My mom also tells me the same, to trust God. Things will be good like they have been.

  7. Srishty said

    oh, i hear you! i was finding it cute when i started reading, but i had tears in my eyes when i started comparing to my life situations due to anxiety!

  8. Nidhi said

    Hey, I read your post with great interest, I suffer from a bit of anxiety too so could relate (a bit) to what you wrote. What has really helped (helping) me is sessions with a psychiatrist/ life coach. The idea is to identify WHY the anxiety and then have specific action points. It might be worth a shot, ATB!

    • Pepper said

      I’m totally willing to talk to a therapist, though I pretty much know what my paranoia comes down to. My fear is losing my loved ones. THAT is the cause of all my anxiety. If I am able to feel confident about coping with that, then I think most of my anxiety would dissolve..

  9. parijatshukla2014 said

    ” Theory of space and providing your partner…blah” provided me first lolllzzz of the day πŸ™‚ :).
    While we all tend to have irrational fears at times its good that we have awareness that these are really irrational fears even if they give real worries…
    By the way i hope the trip was enjoyable πŸ™‚

    • Pepper said

      The awareness of your fears being irrational can be both good and bad. Good for obvious reasons, but bad because it makes you feel really stupid..

  10. Smita said

    a big tight hug!!!!

    Like I have said before I love the way you are totally honest about yourself. You know your anxiety is sometimes unfounded and you have no qualms in accepting it. But you need to go to next step…during such times keep yourself so busy that you don’t think about the things that are affecting you. You need to fight this!

  11. I could see myself in this post!

    The human brain tends to always assume the worst. I wish it didn’t do that. If i were in your place, i would’ve reacted the exact same way. I have also realized that our fears only increase with age. Because with age, we know what we stand to lose. There was a time i used ride on roller coasters with complete ease. But now, my brain will conjure up these images of the coaster collapsing right when im on it, because, what will my parents go through? Is a roller coaster ride worth all the pain? Naah, let me just side on the side and watch others ride. I get antsy if dad takes my scooty to go anywhere. Big, reckless trucks and buses will take over my imagination. It’s scary. There was this crazy time when i insisted on sleeping with mom when dad was away for work, because, just in case something happens, atleast ill know and not be fast asleep in the next room. The fear of losing the people we love, make us paranoid i suppose. And ive no clue how to fix it.

    • Pepper said

      When my grandmom used to come to stay with us, I used to go watch her during her afternoon naps just to make sure she is breathing. I confessed to a friend and turned out she did exactly the same. It is very hard to not worry about your loved ones.. I envy people who live freely, with no fears..

  12. Boiling said

    Uff I am stressed reading your post. It is an insight into the mind of an anxious mind. You can do it – the worst monsters are the ones we create in our head!

    • Pepper said

      Totally agree with that last line!

      • Boiling said

        Sorry, I did not finish the comment because i had to run for a meeting.

        I used to have this sad state of mind for a very long time (about 10 years ago) and years later when I looked back,I realized wth?! My life was good and the only thing that kept me from enjoying it was the monsters in my head. I have been in worse shit later but never felt very sad the way I used to feel even when things were good.

        Now, when shit hits the fan, I always remind myself of the years I wasted feeling sad when my life was good and how it was so not worth it. When I go through stuff I wrote years ago, I cannot believe I was in so much pain and I don’t want to replicate that ever again. Something that helps me remind myself to be positive and upbeat now.

        Maybe, writing down your thoughts when you are anxious – every single crazy worry thought or recording on your phone if you prefer talking would help. Perhaps when you look back (like rereading or listening) a few weeks later, it could shock you to see how much worry or pressure you are subjecting yourself to needlessly. Don’t wait for years to look back!

        I am no doctor but could this contribute to your fast heartbeat?

        Another option could be to look at a minimum non addictive dose of drug for anxiety purposes. I learnt about it here: http://www.thejoyjunkie.com/102/

        • Pepper said

          The thing is, I am an extremely happy person at most times. I don’t think I have wasted any part of my life being sad. Definitely not without solid reason. And even during times of distress, I am able to pick myself up. But this fear of losing my loved ones that I live with, I just wish it would go. My life would be so much more free. I think since I realise it, I am going to take very conscious effort to change myself..

          You are right, I am fairly certain this causes the heart rate to shoot up. I know this whole problem is affecting me physically too now. So I just have to take charge and fix things. Btw, on that front at least there has been some progress and the heart rate is in normal range. Phew.

          I could look at drugs, but I honestly think until I learn to face my fears, nothing will help. The drugs will only suppress my anxiety, not eliminate it.

          • Boiling said

            I think being aware and working on it helps a lot. The ‘being sad’ part was for me. Awareness of how it affected the quality of my life helps me avoid it like nothing else.

            Maybe being aware of how anxiety affects your life would help you. Perhaps you could read this blog post and wonder how stressful worrying is.

            Don’t worry, everyone has their own weird fears, I certainly have mine.

            • Pepper said

              I know. Anxiety has affected my life in many negatives ways. And I agree, being aware of that helps you change it! I also think writing about it here makes me feel one step closer to getting to my goal of completely being anxiety free.

    • Boiling said

      I saw this on Scoopwhoop and immediately though of you! – https://www.behance.net/gallery/40136853/Acknowledge-Anxiety

  13. Guess what Pepper, I could have written this post. I dont know how you survived for those five days without getting a call from Mint, I can so imagine how hard it must have been for you. I start to panic the minute I am not able to reach my loved ones and my brain works exactly the same way as yours.. all these what if-s start appearing infront of me and soon, I turn into this crazy person. You are right. People with anxious partners should curtain their desires πŸ˜€
    The other day I was back from office early and wanted to know when would S be back home. He very clearly told me that he would be home early (by at least 2 hrs). I kept waiting and waiting for him. Neither did he come nor his phone was reachable. It was almost an hour past his usual time and my anxiety knew no bounds. I kept calling his phone every two minutes. My thoughts were clouded and cant even put in words my thought process, that day. When he finally did reach home, I punched him multiple times for not checking the time or the phone and then hugged him tightly. Sigh. So, I know how hard it is. Stay in there, Mint should be back home in a couple of days!

    • Pepper said

      Mint is back now, GB. I can’t tell you the relief I felt on holding him. It is like I never wanted to let him go out of my sight again..

      Anxiety is a horrible thing. I am trying to desperately get rid of it. I hope you are able to as well. There is no point worrying about things that may never happen..I hope we learn this soon!

  14. Nitya said

    My mom is like this. I grew up believing that if my dad wasnt home within the appointed hour, it meant calamity had struck. I used to pace up and down with her, look outside the window every 10 mins for him. Worrying worrying worrying. Always worrying. Till i began dating Kar. And moved away. And began to think for myself. It was a hard process and am still trying to get away from it. But i have been told it is something i have to learn to manage. It is doable but it never goes away. Pep, I suggest trying to talk to someone about this. Because it will only grow from here after you bring a kid into your lives. Hugs, child. Big tight hugs.

    • Pepper said

      You are right. I shudder to think of how I will cope with a child in the picture. You’ve no idea how much I freak out when little things happen to my friends’ kids. Even a nasty fever and I will be worrying myself to death. Far more than the concerned parents at times.

      It scares me to think of how I will cope with my fears with my old child. I know I can’t worry beyond a point. Kids fall sick. Kids have small accidents. It is all a part of growing up. I need to become emotionally stronger before a baby comes!

  15. I overthink and I stress out, but I don’t think I get this anxious. I have become a bit of a daredevil off late and I just think God will take care of it. Not everything is in my hands, and may as well do what I want without, of course, being foolhardy.
    I definitely have started to get anxiety about my parents but they have a big hand in keeping my fears down and keeping me at ease. It may have to do with my dad’s mentor-like personality. My mom’s very mercurial. I would totally expect a post like yours if she wrote. So maybe I am half of each.

    • Pepper said

      Like I said, I ONLY get anxiety about my sister, parents and Mint. And ONLY about their health and safety. Nothing else really bothers me. And I can say with some confidence that anxiety is not caused by environmental factors, because both my parents are very strong and the complete opposite of anxious. As far as Mint goes, he is a Buddha, so unaffected by turbulence of any kind. That leaves only me. I also think some past experience where I watched a friend suffer from cancer and pass away affected me very deeply and brought about some changes in my personality.

      Ultimately, I think I just have to learn to face my fears. Some of them are inevitable…

      • I am incredibly jealous of Mint’s zen like state. He has to pass on the secret!
        Yep, some fears are and will be inevitable. But we will cross the bridge when we have to. You know what’s up with your anxiety and are aware of the challenges. One big step is already done. Sab theek ho hi jayega.

  16. MR said

    I was like that at the beginning a bit. but now I’m ok i know its inevitable, i dont want to lose loved ones but it will. . as long as they live an do all they desire im ok. I think πŸ™‚ but again its my loved ones who worry since i m the one taking off :- (

  17. My first feeling reading Mint’s trip and plans was to be quite jealous about the amazing opportunity .. being able to do this. I thought your reaction would be more in the lines of – ” I wanna come too! take me!!” πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    Jokes apart, this post gave me a serious sense of how life of a person suffering from anxiety issues could be. It is really scary..
    When the alarm goes off in my head ( for real reasons in few cases), I hate what it does to my body and mind..until I can breathe normal again.
    To have a faulty alarm system like that would be ..very painful!

    Is there no way to overcome this Pepper? There sure must be, no? Please do whatever you can to get over or get-in-control of this, especially before a baby is in your lives.
    I know you can do it if you set your mind to it!

    Psst: Need more on Mints adventure. Send me pics pls πŸ™‚

    • Pepper said

      Thanks AHK! The faulty alarm system is just awful.
      I am sure there is a way to overcome it. I just have to face my fears. And honestly, I fear the inevitable. I am so scared of losing my loved ones, but at the back of my mind i KNOW nobody is immortal. It will happen some day. I will deal with it then, I don’t want to live with such paranoia. Hopefully, my rational side will triumph πŸ™‚

      Mint had lots of fun! Will send you pics on whatsapp πŸ™‚

  18. purple prose said

    One thing that was suggested by my therapist as a tool to help with anxiety attacks is making lists. So basically, make a list of things you’re worried about when you’re relatively calm, and when you feel the anxiety increasing, go over that list and see if any of those things have actually happened.

    This helped me quite a bit, maybe it would be useful to you as well?

    • Pepper said

      There is only one thing I am worried about : losing my loved ones. Nothing else. And logically I know that is something nobody can escape. I think in my case I have to make myself feel strong enough to deal with whatever life throws my way..

      Even writing this has helped a lot. Made me question my fears and take steps to wipe them out. I think that is a start πŸ™‚

  19. My Era said

    I am just like you. I over-think and gradually allow worries to blow up in my mind in matter of minutes. It is a painful state to be in but, I’m wired that way that distraction doesn’t help a bit. So glad Mint had a safe trip πŸ™‚

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