What’s there to worry about?

My life has been so fraught with problems. Okay, I’m bipolar; maybe saying so is a little silly. Then again, there have been issues unrelated to the illness. There have been screw ups at work. I’ve had car trouble that left me stranded, and either paying for repair or even buying a new car. How am I going to do that on my pay? Then there are job layoffs. In today’s economy that could happen at any time. There have been so many issues in the past, and so many problems to come.

There’s so much to worry about.

You know that feeling you get when something bad happens at work? It may not be something you’ve done that you know about, but there’s no question that something is wrong. Os of course, you immediately start to worry about what you’ve done, feeling sure it’s your fault. Then the worry starts. What if I get written up? I’m going to have a hard time paying my bills if I get suspended for a few days. How am I going to survive if I lose my job?

My car is over 14 years old. It has to be just a matter of time before it completely dies. I’ve already had to spend a ton of money keeping it running; I’ve replaced the radiator, repaired a broken strut, replaced a broken windshield and have had it in the shop four times to get the air conditioner working. In fact, I now have a completely new air conditioning system as all the parts are new. So what’s next?

I’m having a great time with my girlfriend. We’re not about to get married or anything (God forbid!) but I look forward to spending time with her almost every day. I’ve had so many failed relationships in the past, when will this one end? I was really worried this weekend. She had spent the weekend out of town with her family. I knew she would be occupied, but still I didn’t like not hearing from her but just a few times. She told me before she left that she would call me when she was on her way home so we could ‘catch up’. (Like we’ve been apart for SO long) Then there was an incident with her roommate. Well, she’s not really a roommate, but she does rent a room my girlfriend has over her garage. She does have house privileges though to do laundry and such, and for whatever reason, she can’t remember to turn off the lights and lock the door when she leaves. She’s been asked over and over to make sure, and had her key to the back door (which is closest to her room) taken away as that door gets left open most often. So during the weekend I stopped by the house to check on things as she had requested. The roommate was out somewhere, and sure enough, the back door was not only unlocked, but was left wide open! No one there at all, and the air conditioner running wide open trying to cool the entire county!  There is a key on the inside of the door, so apparently she used that to go back to her room. So I took that key, and hid it away. I figured that if she couldn’t even open the door, she couldn’t leave it unlocked. Then, there was a confrontation. It was not five minutes later roommie came to me to ask about the key, and for me to get it back to her. I said no. Not ugly or rude, I just told her that I’d found the door open, and I knew my girlfriend has asked her, repeatedly, not to use that door. Not to mention, she is involved in a rather ugly divorce, and there’s no telling what her ex husband would do if he came by and found the door open. That was that. I wasn’t going to give her the key. Needless to say, she was not happy with that at all.

But I digress. It’s the day my girlfriend is due home. She always leaves early in the morning, and gets home by 3:00pm at the very latest. I texted her first thing and asked that she please call me when she got on the road. I wanted to tell her about the confrontation with her roommate before she got home and walked into a mess. Noon passes, and not a word. Then it’s 1:00pm. Now it’s 2:00pm At 3:00pm, I was convinced that either something had happened to her on the way, or that she was upset with me, or she just didn’t want to talk. Now my imagination is running wild. I did have the problem with the roommate, and it would be safe to assume that she had called as soon as I had left. The two of them have been friends for 30 or more years; of course she’s going to take her side over mine. I’m not only worried, but the later it got the more I was hurt. Does she not care enough to even send me a text to let me know she’s okay? I couldn’t believe that she could be so inconsiderate. I even started thinking that the entire relationship was over.

Wow. That’s a big problem.

You know what thought? She called me at 4:30pm to tell me that there had been an electrical emergency in her house, and she was just now getting on the road. The second words out of her mouth were how much she missed me, and she couldn’t wait to get home to me. Then she said she had talked to her roommate, and she thanked me for taking care of it the way I did.

And that’s the way it usually goes.

Out of all the things I’ve worried about over the years have never really happened. Or if they did happen, I’ve been able to figure out a way to cope. In fact, the things I’ve fretted about the most that have come to pass usually end up leaving me better off. Every job I’ve ever lost has ended up in an even better job. Even now; I don’t really love what I’m doing, and it’s at a much lower level than I’ve been in decades. But for now, it’s perfect for me. It’s a little stressful, but the stress comes from the overwhelming volume of work, not from having so much personal responsibility. And at the end of the day I leave it all behind. You can’t do that when you are the top dog.

My car is old, but it’s a Volvo, and it only has 180k miles on it. I’ve had Volvos in the past that have given me almost 500k before they had to be gotten rid of. And if it dies I have no doubt I’ll figure out how to get new transportation. I’ll never be homeless. I live next door to my best friend, and he’s already taken me in once when I was in trouble, and I have no doubt he’d take me in again if I needed it.

I’m 53 years old. I am confident that no matter what happens, I can cope. Why do I worry about so many things? It is human nature I think. But I realized a while ago that there’s no reason to be concerned about what might happen. It’s not a bad idea to consider scenarios and have a plan A and B on how to respond. Even doing that however can be a waste of time. Very few things that have happened is resolved the way I planned. But they were all resolved, or I wouldn’t be here now. Not worrying doesn’t mean being irresponsible; it means that you trust yourself to take care of whatever might happen.

Being bipolar adds to the complexity just a bit. There are times of great irresponsibility. Depression can completely immobilize you, and create a world of hurt that eventually has to be cleaned up. It’s just another facet of life though. The mania episodes end and the depressions fade. And instead of worrying about it, I am proactively dealing with it by staying in treatment and maintaining my medications. I can survive.

There are enough real problems that happen in life, I don’t have the energy to waste on the ‘what if’s’ and imagined catastrophes. I’ve made it this far in spite of all the things that life has thrown at me. And I know that I have the skills, education and experience to continue to do so. So really, what is there to worry about?  It’s going to be okay.

No worries…

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