3am Anxiety and Expectancy Theory

Note to self: Remember to take your meds. 3am panics can be great writing material, but you will be miserable the next day.

It’s a strange thing to wake up feeling like someone just knocked the wind out of you, then realizing you are breathing normally, your brain just wants to torment you.

First I went through the social anxiety list. Mulling over every single personal interaction I’ve had in the last week or so to see how well I can weather the punches I throw at myself. Did I say something stupid? Did I forget something important? Should I have spoken up when someone said something that annoyed me? Would speaking up have changed anything? Was I really annoyed enough to speak up knowing there’s always the possibility of an unknown and possibly unseemly reaction?

Things that keep me up in the wee hours of the morning: Expectancy Theory.

Or more simplified effort vs reward. Is the effort I put in to a thing (idea, relationship, activity) worth the level of satisfaction and/or the reward for that effort.

This probably happened because of a discussion I had about how much I love cheese and how much I dislike booty dimples, but my love for cheese is greater than my desire to work out. 

Unfortunately, this little life-choice brain-game I do can keep me awake for hours exploring the infinite possibilities of all of the things I want to do, all of the people I could possibly develop friendships with, and all the activity that doesn’t involve being on my couch with puppies and my entertainment of choice, the effort it takes to achieve them, and then accounting for variables such as lengthy depressive episodes, catastrophic events, and unknown unknowns.

My brain at night

My brain at night

Last night it felt like hours and hours had gone by and my brain just wouldn’t stop. Like I was on the edge of a cliff and repeating over and over and over again the things I needed to do to keep from letting go.

I need to let go.

Letting go is necessary. Difficult, but necessary. It’s infuriating to realize my default setting is to think my way through everything, but I feel unable to take action. Every new thought is a new muscle tensed, every new possibility is another jaw clench. Then I realize my entire body is trembling and I will never get back to sleep.

It took immense concentration, but slowly, deliberately, I consciously relaxed every muscle in my body starting with my toes, I breathed deeply, I reminded myself it’s okay to let go, I’ll only fall asleep, not into a great chasm of helpless despair…only sleep, it’s okay. Wiggle toes, relax jaw, stretch shoulders, breathe, let go, fall.


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