The World Has Gone Mad

By Michelle Lemme

I’m definitely superstitious.  When I was a child (and even into adulthood) I was, without a doubt, convinced that if I did not say my prayers, and include virtually all of my loved ones AND “all the people in the world who are suffering”, something bad would happen (or at the very least, nothing good would happen) and I would be directly responsible.  Talk about guilt (I could never suffer enough to compare with those caught up in the atrocities taking place all over the world) and anxiety.   Even now, when my sister emails me these crazy “send this to __ people or ___________ will or won’t happen”, I go mental.  I mean WTF, why does she send me these things?  Rationally I know that something happening as a result of not forwarding an email is absurd.  And yet, I am compelled to send those darn things on, just to be on the safe side.  The only way that I can delete these emails, without any risk, is if I don’t actually open them! I should probably mention that avoidancecoping by not having to cope, is one of my fallback behaviors, I have always believed, “ignorance is bliss”.   It’s one of the ways that I manage my interactions with one of my daughters.  To save my sanity I seriously limit the number and type of questions that I ask her so I may guide our conversations and stay is safe waters.

The horrors of the world at large, and the constant barrage of news, overwhelm me with feelings of  hopelessness and guilt. It is simply too much to bear; seeing all of the tragedies play out all over the world.  My mind simply cannot comprehend the atrocities that are happening all over the globe.  How is anyone supposed to cope with all of the anguish and despair?    At this point in my recovery, I feel that I cannot risk exposure to even one more “issue” that could trigger the anxiety /guilt cycle which I have only just started to have some control over.   Instead of “owning” all of the problems in the world, I have been trying to embrace the adage of “Think Global, Act Local”.  Before I spiral out of control when I am overwhelmed by all of the news, I ask myself whether or not I have the ability to impact or change the situation.  If I don’t, I make a note to let the issue go, at least emotionally.  If I can take action, I take it.

I am working diligently to be mindful and “live in the moment”; for the most part, I’m failing miserably.  I stopped taking Abilify and started a new job about a month ago, which means I am a massive ball of anxiety.  The nagging, persistent, sick to your stomach, can’t breathe kind of anxiety.Anxiety that comes with that persistent, pervasive feeling of dread, knowing, with absolute certainty that something “bad” might happen at any moment.  I can’t get any relief, not even my tried and true breathing helps.   Sometimes, if I stop long enough to force myself to put things into perspective, I will grasp that my anxiety is something that I can control.  The trouble is that putting things into perspective usually doesn’t have a lasting effect.

I’m fairly certain that no one “chooses” to be anxious.  There is nothing fun about anxiety or having a chronically distracted, racing mind that simply won’t shut off.   I often wonder where the 3 months of treatment has gotten me.   Honestly, treatment did give me tools to help me live with my anxiety, I simply have not incorporated any of them into my daily life, I haven’t made using the tools a habit, not even breathing.   I know I should get my binder out and review all of the really good information that was provided at each class.   Perhaps looking over the notes I took will be the impetus I need to get back on track.  I certainly hope so, living this way is mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting.