Today I wanted to touch on a subject that I have struggled with for years. That issue is the connection, or lack thereof, with the people we love. This problem is not just between you and your significant other, but also between you and your sibling, parent(s), friends or even your dog.
As I have mentioned many times in the past our anxiety disorders tend to make us selfish worrymites that only think about our disturbing thoughts or symptoms and how they are affecting us. During this worry time we exclude others from our lives and seem reclusive. There are also times when we shut others out and it is not something we always do on purpose, but then again there are times when we would rather be alone because we just don’t feel like anyone else gets it (complicated right). Unfortunately as you’re busy building problems and taking them apart brick by brick you stop tending to your relationships.
Not paying attention to the proper people in the proper way is something that creates all kinds of problems. The problems become very apparent when you’re “sober” and not filled with anxiety. You have a couple of good days and people then hit you with questions like “what was wrong with you” or “your so selfish and I can’t believe you don’t pay any attention to fill in the blank”. At this point you may become defensive and say “Who? Me?” You think that everyone else is crazy until you stop and reflect.
This happened to me just a few days ago. In fact when it hit me I was working on this blog. My wife was trying to entertain our two year old son and every time she passed my office she would glare at me as if to say “man you really suck right now”. And I really could not fault her either because I had been growing distant from the family slowly but surely for a long time. Especially now that I am very dedicated to this blog and the distribution of good information for people that I feel need it. Like all of us I work long hours at an office then come home and pour another three hours into my research and writing. Overtime my wife has developed a real dislike of what she thinks are silly preoccupations.
My wife has given me looks in the past that say “get over it” and she has even said that she doesn’t know how to help me with this anxiety business. However at no time have I ever assumed or believed that she loved me any less just because she didn’t “get” my anxiety disorder. Not everyone is going to understand you or how you feel, but that should not be connected to how you feel or act toward those you love. The truth is sometimes you will have to force yourself to not fall into the self pity trap that we so often canon ball into.
But what is important to note here though is not the normal animosity that emerges from time to time, but the fact that our anxiety and constant nervous tension makes it real easy to disappear into our own mental corner. So if at all possible do what I have been doing and make time for those you love. You may not be working on any particular project, but whatever it is keeping you in deep thought drop it for a little every now and then. Just the other day I came home from work and picked up my son and took him to the park straight away. I didn’t have dinner or even change from my office rags. We went to the park and played in the sand for awhile and even though he can’t talk we had a great time.
The point is that you should try to not neglect those you love simply because you don’t feel good. Call your mom, brother or sister even if you don’t feel like it and make the effort to talk to them and show them you care. In the process you’ll be helping to strengthen your relationship but also provide your brain with a different form of distraction. It is so easy for us all to just lock everyone out because they just don’t understand the amount and sheer duration of our suffering. But believe me allowing anxiety to steal your joy and your love relationships is too much. Don’t let it slip away and try to be cognizant of other people and how they feel. None of us has enough time to do what we really want to do and at the same time many of us are too sad to even try to do what we like. Either way we have to find a way through the haze of anxious thought and feeling and reconnect with those we love. I will be making more regular attempts to do this and I hope you do too.