As someone who has been prone to overthinking, negativity and anxiety from a young age, combined with a penchant for daydreaming, I guess it’s only natural that my imagination would sometimes feel like more of a curse than a blessing.
Having a vivid imagination is a beautiful thing, but if it’s combined with a negative outlook and poor mental health, it can become a whip to beat yourself with.
I’ve lost count of the friends and loved ones who I’ve lost – whose funerals I’ve attended and sobbed over – all in the alternative dystopian reality inside my head, pieced together when a friend is late to a meeting; doesn’t message back immediately; or means so much to me that I start to panic about what I’d do without them. The more I love those around me, the more I worry that I’ll lose them.
Even as I’ve grown into my anxiety, this is something that hasn’t really gone away – I’m just better at rationalising that I have to live in reality, and that if something terrible does ever happen, I’ll deal with it then. What other choice do I have?
One thing that has changed over the years, is that some of my disaster scenarios, while still disastrous, are now rather uplifting too. When I notice this, it makes me laugh – because it feels like progress, in my own, rather weird way.
A week or so ago, I was driving to a Jiu Jitsu class. It was pitch black darkness and the windy country road had no street lights. It was raining. Basically, it was the setting for every car crash in any movie, ever. Naturally, my brain fell right into its unconscious habit of imagining myself in a horrific car accident. Before I knew it, I’d been airlifted to hospital and was being told that they’d have to amputate a leg. The horror!
But wait… I wasn’t actually horrified. The story didn’t end there.
I saw myself, immediately after the accident, being genuinely grateful to be alive. In the months that followed, I was back teaching at school, and training at Jiu Jitsu. I was determined to inspire those around me and prove that happiness is a choice that anyone can choose to make, regardless of their circumstances. It was a story of survival and triumph against the odds.
I just have to chuckle at myself. I’ve said before that I’m an optimist trapped in a pessimists body, and there’s no greater proof than this. Even in my most heroic and uplifting of daydreams, I’ve had to lose a limb in a horrific car accident!
Still. It’s progress. A positive disaster scenario is distinctly better than a disaster scenario.
There’s no reason behind my sharing this today, other than it’s not something that I really see being talked about. I’d be really interested to hear if other people have experienced similar things…