The Blue Chicken or the Anxiety Egg?

Which came first? DownloadedFile

It’s the proverbial question.

Did my anxiety beget my depression?  Or am I worried how things will turn out because of my depression?

Worry-wort.  My own worst enemy.  Always running things through my head.  So sensitive.  Beating a dead horse.  All of these are terms used to describe me at one time or another.

I do have a tendency to perseverate.  I can’t let things go.  I worry them like a dog with a bone that is impervious to bite marks.  It’s not productive.  It’s not reassuring.  It’s a form of torment actually.

In college, after my roommate had left for the weekend, I would lie on my top bunk and stare out the window, wondering why I couldn’t go out and round up new friends as easily as everyone else seemed to be doing.  I would watch the sun set, thinking how alone I was.

As August neared its end one year, I bought a thin volume entitled, Why Are You Worrying?  As the cashier plugged my purchase into the register, he asked, “Are you a teacher?’  He said he’d bought the same book at the start of a school year once too.  While he may have bought the book for the same reasons I did, no self-help book could help me turn off the worry.  I triangulated every possible scenario in the classroom; how I would put out fires, cut off conflicts at the knees before they stood up, squash rebellion before it started.  But you can’t plan for every permutation.  The very nature of education is the X factor.

And this nervous nature – is that what plunged me into depression when life became so overwhelming as a mother of three?  I couldn’t control anything, didn’t understand and couldn’t fix the feelings I was having, and felt really crappy as a result.

Or is it viewing life through the dark glasses of depression that makes me see the shadows of worry in every corner?

It’s all tumbled together in the dryer at the highest setting anyway.

The only ‘good’ thing about all of it is that what I thought was a flaw on my part, a weakness, an inability to achieve, connect, push myself, believe in myself, is really anxiety.  I’m not this wimpy, pathetic, sad sack.  I have an excuse!  A reason, a rationalization, a disease.  Good for me!

So chicken or egg – it’s all part of the cycle of life.  All I can do is try not to get scrambled.

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12 Comments

  1. Oh hun, that’s me there. I analyze things to a point of crazy. And I have always been like that. I used to cry thinking about what would happen if my mom died, and I still dream about failing my exams (10yrs after university). I realized now that I’ve always had anxiety, its in my genes and that’s who I am. Depression on the other had to do with the crash that I got when I couldn’t control things around me. As my doctor put it, the perfect Patty has a very high chance of depression than people who are more accepting of situations. You and I, were cut from the same cloth. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. You are perfect as you are.

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    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  May 23, 2013

      Perfect Patty – ha! Now I have another thing to roll into the anxiety/depression debate! It is true, though. I often have unrealistic expectations, which almost guarantees bad feelings, right? Glad I’m not alone. I like the idea that we’re cut from the same cloth. That’s a comforting image – even if I can’t yet say I’m perfect.

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  2. I was very much like you and know many people like you; exquisitely sensitive, living in a word where their dendrites hang out; while others seemingly don’t even register a blip on their personal Richter scale at any event. there is a wisdom to all things, you and you will find your groove. Mine was Baha’i prayers, fellowship; very very good therapy, and going through grit. Serving others which you do; being kind to yourself might be nice; we all beat ourselves up; part of the Western culture I don’t know; but you are delightfully human and a very good writer; love e

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    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  May 23, 2013

      “Living in a world where [my] dendrites hang out” I LOVE this. I may make it my motto! There is some sort of block going on with me, something that, even amidst the anxiety, never used to be. I suspect it has something to do with quieting the mind. Thank you for your insights. I would call myself lucky to call you a kindred spirit.

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  3. supposed to be living in a world – I do that; i’m almost 75; read my blog; http://sorrygnat.wordpress.com; you’ll catch a kindred soul at moments.

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  4. Ahh…how well I relate to this Jennifer. The mind whirling with constant worry and anxiety to the point of mental exhaustion. You write it about so succinctly and beautifully as ever.

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    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  May 24, 2013

      Mental exhaustion. Funny how this flip-flops with physical exhaustion – yet sometimes they both gang up on you! So I guess it’s a common phenomenon, but I wouldn’t mind being alone if I could ditch it!

      Thank you for your kind words!

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  5. Sorry about the mixed up words above…my laptop is doing crazy things at the moment causing the cursor to jump about all over the place deleting where I don’t want it deleted just as I sent the comment!

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  6. I wonder if there is a link between teaching and perfection; education and depression; over-analyzing and anxiety.

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    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  May 25, 2013

      Ha! I would say so! Wish I knew that a decade or more ago! Would be interesting to see if research has been done on the subject. Most likely, there has been.

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      • Do you still teach now?

        Maybe you could lead a research team? On second thought, it’d probably just drive you bonkers. 🙂

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      • Jennifer Butler Basile

         /  May 26, 2013

        I could certainly be one of the case studies! In retrospect anyway as I don’t currently teach.

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