Hi, I’m Erica – wife, mother of two grown-ups and two fur babies, ex-teacher, author, , over-thinker, obsessive (at times), and Olympic class worrier.
Last year, 2016, my seemingly normal life changed radically.
I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder.
I have always been a worrier. My mother used to tell people I was “highly strung” (whatever that means). I have always been a control freak too, which was actually useful in a career as a teacher. But I had never thought of myself as having any sort of disorder. I worried about things – sure – but that was normal, wasn’t it? Doesn’t everyone worry?
In February, 2016, my husband and I were enjoying a holiday on Queensland’s Gold Coast. We spent some time – okay, a lot of time – discussing retirement. I had already retired from full time teaching to concentrate on writing my books and My Darling had decided that he was going to retire in January 2017 when he would be entitled to certain payouts from his company.
We came to the decision that we would like to move to Tasmania. How lovely! We trolled the real estate sites and couldn’t find the style of house we would like so we designed our own. Again – how lovely! My mind was tuned into the idea of starting the whole project in twelve months time. All was well.
Then – in the last week of March, my husband came home from work and announced that he had been offered a really good redundancy package and he was going to retire immediately.
Pow! Just like that!
Within weeks we had visited Tasmania, bought a block of land, consulted builders, put our home in Queensland on the market, and started packing, selling or donating stuff. Hubby was so excited about the new adventure. I was excited too, but at the same time, my whole world was imploding. This wasn’t what my mind had scheduled. Everything was happening too fast.
On a second visit to Tasmania to touch base with the builders, I noticed that I was having trouble with my vision. I was seeing two of everything. Each eye was working perfectly, but together they were not co-operating.
A neuro-opthamologist with the sensitivity of a brick did a cursory inspection of my eyes and informed me it could a brain tumour or lesion, multiple sclerosis, thyroid issues, auto-immune disease, motor neurone disease or maybe a blood clot in the brain. Eek!
An MRI showed that all was normal in my brain, as did a battery of blood tests. Doctor Sensitivity leaned back in his chair and said, “Looks like it is just stress. You need to calm down.’
Anyone who is prone to worrying knows that being told to calm down does NOT help you to calm down.
Twelve months later I am learning to be myself – slowly – one step at a time. I have realised that I have lived a half a century worrying about whether I was doing what everyone wanted or expected me to do and, in the process, caused myself damage.
I am learning what makes my life seem ordered and calm – what makes me feel at peace.
I am allowing myself to Think about things – to consider my options – to plan my actions.
I am allowing myself to Obsess a little over things that I love and enjoy.
I am working on techniques that help me Breathe through the panicky times, to relax and calm myself.
With Think, Obsess, Breathe I am sharing my journey and the things that give me a sense of achievement and peace.