The word that entirely encapsulates my life, dictates my actions and controls my decisions. It is this:
(verb gerund or present participle: catastrophising)
view or present a situation as considerably worse than it actually is.
At first I thought, oh that’s because of the time I went optimistically alone to be told I had MS. But actually, I think I have always expected the worst. When I was small, shapes in the dark were definitely a threat. When I stayed alone in the house when I was eighteen, every sound was a man in a mask, climbing up the stairs to murder me. Never a harmless cartoon burglar. Always a cold-blooded killer.
It’s not just me though; I do have a memory of my mum telling me not to share my health concerns with my granny as she’d have me dead and buried and I knew a friend who planned her husband’s funeral when he was late home from his run.
It hasn’t stopped either. It mainly involves my family. I even check my dog’s still breathing sometimes.
Every day, many times a day, I catastrophise. And it is exhausting
So far, most of the time, I have been proven wrong. My husband has not been mown down by a lorry on his bicycle. My son has not suffered a life-changing injury whilst playing rugby. My daughter has not been abducted on her five minute walk from school. My dog lives on.
The only thing that might break this cycle of paranoid terror is calm, rational thought. And the expectation that, whatever happens, everything will be ok.
If only we could wake up in the morning and expect good things to happen. Maybe, just sometimes, they will. Let’s stop with this catastrophizing and start expecting good things. Life is so much easier to bear when you set out with hope.
And a little bit of sense.