Worry Spirals

Have you ever experienced a worry spiral?

It can last a few minutes or a few hours.

For me, it was several days.

Last Friday, I woke up with an itchy nose and couldn’t stop sneezing. By Saturday afternoon, I was experiencing throat sensitivity, chills and fatigue. Although my symptoms felt like the onset of a cold, I panicked.

I thought about people who had few symptoms that were now fighting for their lives or had passed due to coronavirus. I thought about hospitals’ morgues overflowing.

Cue the spiral.

What if I have it? Do I need to get tested? I don’t want to die. I can’t leave my family. They can’t afford a funeral. I can’t abandon my sister. I’m not finished with life I’m just getting started.

These dark thoughts led to paranoia. I was afraid to fall asleep.

I don’t have the coronavirus. I just need more rest and suffer from pollen allergies.

When I discussed it with my therapist, she recommended I recite what’s happening around me to be present. For example, “It’s 11:40 pm EST April 23, 2020. I’m laying in my bed with the lights out. I should be sleep but am typing this post. I can breathe. I am resting my head on my pillow. It’s relatively quiet. I hear my father snoring in the next room.”

Being present can break worry spirals. For specific strategies, check out this Shine article.

How do you manage your worry spirals?

Overcoming My Fear

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was listed in my YouTube feed shortly after Diahann Carroll passed. Initially, I was hesitant to watch the film. I knew it was about Maya Angelou’s childhood and took place in the 1930’s/1940’s. However, I was afraid of witnessing sexual assault and lynchings.

My first thought was, “I don’t want to watch our [Black] trauma. I don’t want to see our [Black] murders or violations.”

I knew both Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan was alive and well. I knew Black Southerners were living in constant fear. I didn’t want to go to that place mentally or emotionally. 

But I decided to watch because I could learn something. If I acknowledged the challenges the protagonist faced and kept an open mind to identify her triumphs, there was joy to be seen. As an avid reader, writer and public speaker, I wanted to learn how Marguerite found her voice. In addition, I wanted to support Angelou’s literature and legacy.

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Where Did Your Dreams Go?

Her and I are very connected. We both have kindness, affection, love and compassion in our hearts. We believe that all our dreams are possible. Our imaginations have been running wild for decades. We are dreamers doing what’s necessary for our dreams to come to life. Our parents never said our dreams were impossible.

We were curious and unafraid to ask, “Mommy, what is that? What does it do? Why does it work that way? Why can’t it work this way?”

We asked for what we wanted. My Barbie bake oven. My Bratz collection. We didn’t know many limits nor did we live by them.

What happened between our adolescence and adulthood? 

Somewhere in our transformation from childhood to a grown-up, we forgot that curiosity and vivid imagination. Some people postponed their dreams including myself. We settled into our typical 9-to-5 schedule.

Continue reading “Where Did Your Dreams Go?”