Monday, May 7, 2012

"You need to get worried"

This is the worst possible sentence to EVER say to someone who has an anxiety disorder.  Please, mister, I am already worrying.  I am an Olympic Athlete at worrying. What I need to do is chill out so that I can WORK.

Guess what my boss loves to say to me every 3 or 4 months?  Yes.  He tells me that I need to ramp it up, that I need to start worrying, that I need to work like a maniac.  Ummm... I am already slightly manic.  I don't think increasing that is going to make it better.

Let me explain: Most people know the performance bell curve.

When you are not worried at all you do horribly. Your anxiety starts, you start performing a little better.  You eventually reach an optimal worry/performance peak.( I think this picture is VERY generous with the optimal performance zone.  I am pretty sure mine is much smaller than that. )
Then you start to crash out.  Your anxiety makes you start making stupid little mistakes.  Mistakes you may or may not catch that, over time, will result in failure.  Not only failure of what you are trying to do, but also personal burn out.  Sleeping for an obscene amount of time.  Stress eating, or not being able to eat at all.  The delightful "nervous stomach". Inconsolable crying or other fun emotional swings. This is the right side of the optimal bell curve.  It is a horrible neighborhood with mean kids and where the old people yell at you about everything.   Trick or treating here blows.
I live just to the right of "optimal".  If I want optimal, I have to chill out and relax. Which is a counterintuitive thing to do in a world full of people who live left of optimal. Most people have to work up, get worried, get excited! CHANT! YELL! CHEER! BRING DOWN THE HOUSE!  Football pre-game would not be near as exciting if you had two teams meditating to soft, eastern style music with water features in the locker room.
But that is my life. You want me excited and optimally functional, do not, for the love of God, give me some scary pep talk.  I don't need to be pepped up.  I need to be talked down off a ledge.  You know those people they send in to get jumpers to come down?  THAT is how you need to talk to me.
And please, please DO NOT tell me that I need to worry more than I already do.

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