We are discussing her son's increasing anxiety since almost ingesting something he was allergic to. While he was in no actual danger, it is clear from her tone that the worry has become as big and as real as the allergy itself.
I nod because I know that anxiety resides in the gray zones, the fertile imagination that brings you from almost to that's it in less than five seconds. While it is great to be cautious, especially in cases of allergies, living in that space of fear does not help. I have often lived there and still visit occasionally. While only last week, during a follow up eye examination for eye pressure, did I let my mind escape again. In a matter of seconds, I had gone from being a healthy and sighted woman to imagining the last people I would want to see. I felt overwhelmed by feelings of gratitude and loss by how much I would miss seeing the beauty of the world around me. The mind is good at playing tricks, and by now I know my mind well. Even better, I know how to talk myself down from this worry edge and wind my way back emotionally.
Whether or not the reality is based on facts or fictions, the feelings are the same and the worry is the same. It can be overwhelming and all-consuming. So how do we bring ourselves back to the present? To emotional safety? To a place where we don't jump from one to a hundred in three seconds?
With solid feet and a good parachute.
And if you're curious, it turns out I have particularly thick corneas to add to my particularly fertile imagination...