A night in the life of Anxiety Brain

I literally cannot remember a time in my life that I wasn’t completely anxious all the time. I mean, I’m medicated (and have been for 22 years), and have a bunch of tools to use thanks to cognitive behavioral therapy, so it’s tolerable, but my brain is still an anxious brain. All the time.

Here is how my brain works:

Last week, our neighbor’s cat died in our yard.

I know.

Here’s the story:

Matthew discovered a dead cat in our yard. He texted me at work and was like, Um, what do I do? I suggested he call animal control to see if they could remove it. It didn’t have tags or a collar and we didn’t know what to do. But as I thought about it, I thought, Hmm, I only know one neighborhood cat that I sometimes see out. I texted Matthew. Is it gray? It was. Check if it’s the across-the-street neighbors’. Naturally, at 1 pm, no one was home. I told him to hold off on animal control until we talked to the neighbors. If it was their cat, I wanted them to know and not just have us say, Well, some gray cat was here, dead, but now it’s gone. Maybe it was yours? We’ll never know.


Anyway. Matthew was on a conference call when Callum got home from school. Before Matthew could stop him, Callum went out to play and found the cat. I pulled in to find him sobbing in the driveway. I also pulled in directly behind the neighbor. So, I went across the street to have literally my first ever conversation with these people. Long story short, it was their cat. It looks like it just curled up and died–nothing appears to have attacked it etc. So at least it was peaceful, right? But that’s not much help.

So. I have pet death on my mind. That night, Billy starts acting funny. He’s crying to himself nonstop. He is a grumbling, grunty old man, but he doesn’t cry. He cried for HOURS. He kept me up until 3 a.m crying. Around 1 a.m, I thought, Holy shit, my dog is totally dying. Animals know. He’s dying. I’m in bed with him and he’s dying. Edward is snuggling him SO HARD right now because he knows his brother is dying. I can’t sleep because what if I do and Billy dies and then I’m in bed with my dead dog and I missed being there for him and so on times infinity.

Next round of thoughts: Billy will be dead by morning. Do I tell Callum Billy died and then he has to stay home and miss his field trip or do I tell him after? Wait, that will scar him forever, keeping it from him. God. Do I have to go to work? I’ll be a wreck. Plus, we have to take Billy to the vet to be cremated. Oh my god, what will Edward do without his brother? How will any of us go on? Why is life so terrible? What is the point of all this, anyway? We’re just completely insignificant specks of dust on a planet in one of one hundred billion galaxies. Everything is meaningless (this, oddly enough, is the thought that always calms me).

Billy didn’t die. Obviously. He stopped crying, slept, and was his usual wild and weird self in the morning.

My brain will take any thought and follow it all the way through to its most horrible conclusion. I do not have passing thoughts. I just have thoughts that pile up and wait to be fully explored so I can completely uncover all of the horrors that might be waiting for me. There are no happy endings. There is no “maybe everything will be okay.” There is only CATASTROPHIC THINKING! OBSESSIVE RUMINATION! That’s my brain’s specialty. Neat, huh?

This is why I sleep listening to television shows on my phone all night long–so if I wake up, I already have some other chatter in the background to grasp onto rather than the first stupid thought that leaps into my brain. Nighttime is Anxiety Brain’s favorite time to come out and play. It’s the perfect free time to really dig deep into exploring all the terrible things that could happen in life. And they’ll certainly happen if I don’t worry REALLY HARD about them. This will either keep them from happening or at the very least prepare me to deal with their eventuality.

I like my brain for all the nice things it allows me to do and think and create. But I don’t like that it can take a really innocuous thing, like my dog crying, and three minutes later have me very seriously thinking about where I will keep his ashes.

What I wouldn’t give to be able to pluck my brain out at night and send it through some sort of cleaner that scrubbed away all this kind of garbage while I slept unbothered. Someone get on inventing that.

My life motto.