Friday, September 28, 2018

What's your worry score?

If I rated the level of anxious thoughts rattling around in my head on an average day, it would be a 1, minor annoyance, occasional twinge. ( I'm comparing them to the ten point pain scale.)  In the weeks after my husband's cancer diagnosis it skyrocketed to 7, difficult to concentrate, couldn't sleep. I would have called that level torment. 

Worry Score level 9 - panicked, frozen

Recent what-ifs sounded like this: 

1.   What if my alarm doesn’t go off? 

2.   If I don’t take a sleep-aid I’ll never get to sleep. (So I took one, and slept well until 3:15 then woke up every 30 minutes until the alarm DID go off.)

3.   6:30 a.m., ten minutes before the bus is due, I am waiting. Should I have checked the website a fifth time in case they have posted an updated list of which juror numbers must attend? 

4.   I am wearing white pants, I’d better take a plastic bag to sit on the bus bench. 

5.   I wonder: Will the bus be on time? At 6:40 a.m. I consider it might have been early and I missed it.  Or, perhaps I’m confused and I should be at the bus stop across the street going the other direction? So I holler across the street at the man waiting in that bus stop and double check which direction he is headed. My bus arrives at 6:43. But the driver is new. She might drive too slowly. 

6.   I have to transfer buses, and then walk to the courthouse. What if I am late? Will some official scold me? I prepare an answer in my head. And rehearse it. 

7.   I take a photo of the security line inside of the courthouse to prove I arrived at 7:50 a.m. in case said official does demand an explanation for my tardiness. 

8.   I get through security and join two or three hundred other people assembled for the session. Do I have to go to the restroom? What if I miss something important? I wait. 

9.   Will my phone battery last for the day? I put it on airplane mode. I don’t use it. 

10.  After a welcome and pep talk by a judge we watch a high-school type civics video about our duty. Then we are told to please remain in our seats until our numbers are called, but I can’t wait. I join twenty other women in line outside of the restroom. When I am two people away from the front of the line we hear the announcement from the auditorium to take our seats. The woman ahead of me expresses her panic which I share. “I can’t wait!” The official voice assures us she will recall any numbers who have not responded at the end of her list. 

11.  I dig through my bag for my jury summons. I clutch it because I don’t think I can remember those four digits in the right order. I repeat them to myself over and over, “5510, 5510, 5510” while she calls numbers. 

12.  What if I get on a long trial? I will have to cancel tutoring on Tuesday, Willow childcare on Wednesday, no music group on Thursday. I try to stop the catastrophizing.

13.  When called, my group of potential jurors is at least forty people. Is this a felony case, requiring a jury of twelve? That could go on all week! But we are dismissed.

14. I check my watch. I have an hour until my return bus. So I piddle around while I walk the eight blocks to the first bus stop. I’m unsure I read the schedule correctly. I take the first bus. I get off and walk to my transfer stop. I sit on the second bench. I check my phone (no longer in airplane mode) and I’m pretty sure I have misread the schedule. I could have caught the right bus if I had not been leisurely. 

15.  Now I will sit on the shady bench and hope no driver in the very close and fast traffic does not veer off the road and kill or maim me. I cannot decide which is worse. 

16.  When the bus comes I double check with the driver that he is going all of the way to my stop. Assured, I get on and finally quit worrying.  

Whew! Sixteen distinct points of worry. I think that makes me more than a worrywart, more than a fussbudget, probably a basket case. Maybe a level six. But I did not hyperventilate or cry at any time, so I should get by without meds. 
But only during the day. Still need them at night. 

Can anybody relate? Let me know so I can take solace in a sisterhood of angst.