I worry a lot. My mind is full of various scenarios of how things will turn out and I always ask myself “what if this happens?”
Most of the time, all the negative scenarios I’ve imagined in my head, are not the end result of what actually transpires. My therapist keeps telling me to stop projecting or trying to complete my story before it actually happens, because most times I’m wrong!
When I was in college, I experienced a lot of worry. I worried about missing classes, not being successful at various tests, but mostly about contracting an STD from my college age promiscuous behavior. It’s common in untreated bipolar disorder to behave like this unfortunately. The slut demons from my past still bother me today sometimes, but I’m grateful those days are behind me.
Due to my promiscuity, I decided to get tested for HIV while in school in my 20’s. For someone without a mood disorder, which is triggered by stress, this would be stressful but probably wouldn’t cause a complete meltdown. For me, waiting for the results and contemplating all the “what if” scenarios in my head, caused an actual full blown manic episode. I stopped sleeping entirely, began having racing thoughts and speech, couldn’t sit still for the life of me, spent way more money then I should, and smoked a lot of weed. Yes, drugs are also a commonly used substance when bipolar, especially while in a manic episode.
The manic episode, triggered by my worry, put me in the hospital, in the behavioral health unit, for 10 days. I got the test results, which were negative thank God, but the damage to my mood, brain chemistry and behavior was already done and couldn’t be stopped. Worry is strong! So strong, that it caused a mental breakdown. For me, worry = anxiety and anxiety = mania. If I had attempted to stay calm and not overthink the anticipated results, maybe the manic episode wouldn’t have happened.
If this scenario happened now, I would probably talk to my therapist, close friends and probably write about it. The outcome may have been different. At the time, I didn’t have the coping skills I have now, so I didn’t have the tools necessary to manage my worry, anxiety and fear of the unknown.
Honestly, it takes a lot of unnecessary energy and effort on my part to come up with all these imagined scenarios, and causes me anxiety. I have to remember that what will be, will be and to focus on the present. I also have to continue to do the things which keep me stable mentally and emotionally. Less worry makes for a more peaceful mind, eliminates a lot of anxiety and is more calming for my body.