January 2, 2021 at 7:02 pm #372094
Hello TinyBuddha community,
I’m a volunteer paramedic. I often see a lot of sick unwell people, I’ve seen death, I’ve heard the cries and the wails of family members mourning for their loss. I’ve taken patients to hospital and wished them well and turned around to go to my next job.
When I have my uniform on, I feel like a different person, I’m a medical professional and whilst I see a lot of this stuff, it almost feels like I have a barrier. The emotion doesn’t really get to me and I keep it separate.
However, over the last few years, I’ve realised the same cannot be said with my family. I completely lose all logic and rational thinking and I sink into a spiralling negative thinking and prediction line of thought every time a family member is remotely unwell.
It started with my mother a few years back, when she had a straight forward infection that needed a bit of treatment. A case I’ve seen numerous times as a volunteer paramedic, I knew exactly what would happen and how it would be treated. Yet, I completely lost myself. I freaked out, I panicked, I asked irrational questions I knew the answers to myself, and I could not stop obsessing about it until my mother had recovered. The same happened when my dad was hospitalised.
Yes, I understand why medical staff cannot treat family, this makes sense. However, I’m scaring myself. I jump straight to the worst case scenario and I complete immobilise myself with thoughts that I cannot stop. I google answers religiously and I find myself doubting the things doctors say to me – even though it would be the same advice I’d give to my patients.
My wife very recently had a swollen lymph node and is on antibiotics. I completely broke down. I cried and cried and couldn’t sleep at the thought ‘what if it is cancer?’ and my head fills images of a world without her. My brain runs continuously on all the different diagnosis even though I know it takes a few days for the meds to work and see what happens from there.
I can see a pattern in my mind. I perhaps fear the lost of a loved one so much that I fill with fear and it completely consumes me. Death is the only thing in our lives for sure. Yet somehow I have realised the death of the loved one, even just the thought, completely crushes me. I tear up as I write this sentence as thoughts run away again.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
TJanuary 2, 2021 at 7:41 pm #372095
Thank you for being a volunteer paramedic. I am not there to perhaps personally benefit from your volunteer work, but I appreciate the work you do to help other people who personally benefit from your volunteer work. Thank you!
“I completely lose all logic and rational thinking and I sink into a spiraling negative thinking and prediction line of thought every time a family member is remotely unwell… It started with my mother.. I completely lost myself. I freaked out. I panicked”- it’s because the one who panicked is the child in you, afraid to lose his mother, afraid of being left alone, unfed, unsheltered, unprotected and therefore… left to die.
As we age, we remain the children that we were because physiologically, we shed our skin, but we don’t shed our brains- the neurons of our brain remember and re-experienced our childhood.
“My wife very recently had a swollen lymph node.. I completely broke down. I cried and cried and couldn’t sleep.. and my head fills images of a world without her… I perhaps fear the loss of a loved one… the death of a loved one, even just the thought, completely crushes me. I tear up as I write this sentence”-
– attachment to Mother => attachment to Wife.
What to do with the fear, Tony, the fear that we share- the fear of losing the ones we love, being left alone; how does one accept the certainty of death of everyone we know and of ourselves?
I will be back to the computer in about 11 hours from now.
anitaJanuary 2, 2021 at 11:56 pm #372100
Glad you are still around helping people here in this community. Nice to hear from you once again!
I hear what you said, ‘attachment’. Certainly after you said this, I can recall many times in my childhood where I have felt this attachment and a fear of loss/abandonment. It makes sense that such childhood memories are still stored in our sub conscious. And my wife, is so dear to me that I guess will follow the same pathway in the brain.
But you ask the million dollar, how do we accept the certainty of death?
I guess it is the thing that death brings, loss, never being able to see, hear, talk, be with, etc. with this someone. I remember going through some really rough times years ago with my break up. That wasn’t death, but that was loss. Maybe it is a similar concept?
I have been thinking, and I think in life, our struggles comes from fighting what we cannot change. If we can truly accept whatever it is, our lives would be so much calmer. Isn’t that what monks and so many other concepts in religion teach?
But easily said than done, we can’t avoid or change death and loss. There isn’t a single gathering or party that doesn’t eventually come to an end. We think back to good times and memorable events or childhood memories that would never happen again as we all grow up and move on. Isn’t that loss or ‘death’ already in our lives? Yet we cope?January 3, 2021 at 9:48 am #372126
Thank you for your kind words.
November 2015, you wrote: “A couple of months ago, I met this girl… A little over a week ago, I managed to get myself into a downwind spiral of negative thoughts that I couldn’t get myself out of. This freaked me out about what if I lost her, she didn’t like me back and so on… I was feeling helplessly needy, needing her texts, phone calls”.
March 2016: “When my ex from 4 years ago messaged me to wish me happy birthday.. all of a sudden I felt like I have a safety net.. Like I’m hopeful for someone to love me”.
January 2020: “I completely lose all logic and rational thinking and I sink into a spiraling negative thinking and prediction line of thought every time a family member is remotely unwell. It started with my mother a few years back… I completely lost myself. I freaked out, I panicked… The same happened when my dad was hospitalised… My wife very recently had a swollen lymph node.. I completely broke down. I cried and cried and couldn’t sleep.. my head fills images of a world without her…
“I can see a pattern in my mind. I perhaps fear the loss of a loved one so much that I fill with fear and it completely consumes me… the death of the loved one, even just the thought, completely crushes me.. I can recall many times in my childhood where I have felt this attachment and a fear of loss/ abandonment… I remember going through some really rough times years ago with my breakup. That wasn’t death, but that was loss. Maybe it is a similar concept?”
– the concept may be Separation Anxiety from which you suffered as a child and as an adult.
According to healhtline. com/ health/ separation anxiety in adults, “Separation anxiety isn’t only seen in children. It can also be seen in adults. Adults with separation anxiety have extreme fear that bad things will happen to important people in their lives… People with this disorder may be socially withdrawn, or show extreme sadness or difficulty concentrating when away from loved ones… common symptoms include: .. *difficulty sleeping away from a loved one for fear that something will happen to them *depression or anxiety attacks related to (separation)”.
Another website, exploring your mind. com/ separation anxiety disorder in adults, reads: “The number one characteristic of separation anxiety disorder in adults is excessive worrying about being alone… Separation anxiety can stem from childhood. More specifically, it can be related to the individual’s first bonds of attachment… The likelihood that you’ll develop separation anxiety disorder as an adult is much higher if you were diagnosed with separation anxiety disorder as a child”.
Another website the ravive. com/ therapedia/ separation anxiety disorder, reads that according to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition), symptoms of the disorder are: “*Unusual distress at the discussion or experience of being parted from their attachment figure *Excessive fears that harm will befall their attachment person *Persistent worry of an unexpected event that could lead to separation from the attachment figure *Refusal to leave the attachment figure *Excessive fear of being alone *Nightmares about separation *Anxiety about sleeping and being separated from the attachment figure *Physical complaints when separation is immanent…
“It may lead to impairment in the ability to complete housework, personal and social impairment, and work problems. People with separation anxiety are more likely to have another anxiety disorder or mood disorder”.
What do you think?
anitaJanuary 4, 2021 at 12:48 am #372160
It is interesting that you dug up my past posts, I recall them, however, cannot believe the similarity in words I used to describe myself. It seems this insecure overthinking habit hasn’t changed too much at all.
Certainly the signs for Separation Anxiety is relatable. I think there are a few that I exhibit. And when I think back right to my childhood I can recall times as a child where I exhibited them.
Like when my mother would go out grocery shopping without me, I’d often wait in the lounge looking outside waiting for her to come home. I also recall thoughts where I’d wonder what if something bad had happened, like an accident?
My parents and I immigrated to another country when I was 4. I remember when my grandpa was sick with cancer, I would often travel back home with my mother. Except one time, when my dad picked me up after school and I realised my mother had secretly flown back without me. She was gone for a month, and being a mummy’s boy, that certainly was extremely challenging.
So certainly reading what you wrote about separation anxiety, I do feel relatable to some of the points.
TJanuary 4, 2021 at 6:19 am #372162
“when my mother would go out grocery shopping without me, I’d often wait in the lounge looking outside waiting for her to come home.. wonder(ing) what if something bad had happened, like an accident… when my grandpa was sick with cancer, I would often travel back home with my mother. Except one time, when my dad picked me up after school and I realised my mother had secretly flown back without me”-
– she decided to travel alone to visit her ailing father, but she kept it a secret from you because she wanted to avoid witnessing your anxious expressions and behaviors over her leaving, something that she experienced many times before.
Way before that event you were already anxious about separating from your mother. Of the two parents, seems like your mother was your main attachment figure. Your attachment to her was disrupted by many events leading to your separation anxiety disorder: maybe (these are only possibilities) she repeatedly went shopping or whatnot, leaving you all alone in the home for long periods of time (a half an hour can seem like a short time for an adult, but for a young boy left alone, it feels like a forever); maybe she was depressed and from time to time made comments such as wanting to leave and go back to the home country alone; maybe she repeatedly got angry at you, telling you that you are a bad, or a difficult boy, and that she may give you away, etc., etc.
Maybe your father fueled your anxiety as well, maybe the family immigrating to another country when you were 4 severely disrupted your feeling of being safely attached: maybe your parents left the home country by themselves, leaving you behind to join them later; maybe they were so busy with the move that they left you alone- emotionally, if not physically- for too long.
Looking into how your separation anxiety in childhood was formed can help, together with applying emotional regulation skills, to lessen this anxiety in adulthood, over time. This may require some quality psychotherapy, but you can start the process here, if you want to.
In adulthood, whenever you felt emotional attachment to a woman- that attachment fueled the separation anxiety, and any time you thought or imagined a cause for separation, any time she expressed something about separating from you, the anxiety was at its peak. It is interesting, how this anxiety is not an indication of a quality of a relationship, but an indication that you formed an emotional attachment to this or that woman.
Lessening your separation anxiety will make it possible for you to focus on and relax into the quality of the relationship you are currently in.
anitaJanuary 5, 2021 at 6:48 pm #372242
Thank you for your insights. I think I need to go do some research and reading on ‘separation anxiety’ and some self help methods as a starting point.January 5, 2021 at 7:37 pm #372252
You are welcome. I hope that your reading on separation anxiety is helpful to you. Post again anytime you wish to post.