I know, this sounds like the oxymoron of the century, but hear me out – all will be revealed…
For want of a better introduction, I’m going to start with a mini English lesson, with a little help from the good old dictionary and its friend the thesaurus.
The word “careless” is defined as: “not giving sufficient attention or thought to avoiding harm or errors”. In other words, you’re being reckless, not worrying about the consequences.
However, when you’re worrying the opposite of this is true. Some might say you’re even overthinking avoiding harm or errors. Weirdly enough, a “worry” can also be called a “care”. The implication here is that a worrier is, by definition, not “care-less”.
Tied in semantic knots yet? Me too.
As I write this, I’m realising that the purpose of this blog is twofold. Firstly, it’s about my experience with anxiety and mental health (although I appreciate that this isn’t all that clear yet!). Secondly, as you can see, it’s basically my brain dump of the semantical* thoughts that have been going on in my head for the past three months of train journeys – commuting is a dangerous thing…
The idea for this blog popped into my head on one of my more reflective train journeys to work. And by that, I mean, I didn’t nod off.
Basically, the past few years have seen me in and out of various doctors, hospitals and medical tests with an ever-changing list of complaints.
Without going into major detail here, it turns out that there is, physically, very little wrong with me. Nonetheless, whatever symptoms I had felt very real, painful and uncomfortable and there is one root cause to all of this.
I’m sure loads of people will be familiar with the feeling of being told that, whatever their symptoms, it’s likely down to stress. This is pretty much what each and every doctor/ nurse/ health professional said to me right before they gave me a pamphlet for group CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy).
Anyone who’s suffered anxiety, or a panic attack will know that it’s a profoundly physical experience – even if it’s something going on in the brain that’s causing it. Basically, a fun cocktail of hormones, electricity and catastrophic thinking all have a big old impact on the way our whole body works.
As someone who suffers with generalised anxiety disorder and panic attacks, I have a long history of worrying about nothing (and sometimes something). What I also have a long history of is not being able to manage this very well. Which builds up into a long list of physical symptoms that cause even more worry.
And it’s this that’s the careless part of my worrying. I’m literally posing myself a physical risk, or at least causing myself physical discomfort. Even when I’m worrying about my own happiness, I’m simultaneously doing everything I can to make myself more uncomfortable.
To try and wrap up my convoluted point, I’ll just say this: worrying is over-caring and over-caring implies excess. Anything in excess is bad and negative. This means that the negative outweighs the positive and instead of caring in a productive way, you’re paralysing your brain into finding any way out, making you stressed and anxious and physically unwell. And that’s just careless.
*Disclaimer: I know this isn’t really a word.