What Me Worry?

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"You're such a worrier," my family told me for years. It was true. I worried about everything from losing my car keys to being swept away by a tsunami.

I was a worrier, but not anymore. Today I'm a person who has GAD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder. People with GAD anticipate disaster and always expect the worst.

For years the only available treatment for worriers was being told, "Stop worrying!" But I couldn't. Now mental health professionals have created an action plan for people with GAD. I enrolled in my health care provider's class, designed to help us think more positively and worry less. The instructor encouraged us to worry in a structured way. We schedule a half-hour every day for worrying, completing a form for each worry: what the fear is, such as potential illness, the odds of it happening, backed up with facts and evidence, and a game plan should it happen.

I soon began to worry less constantly, knowing that at a set time I could worry for half an hour. As I did the analysis to complete my forms, the odds of my worst fears coming true were shown to be very low. And I saw that if a worry did materialize, with a good game plan I could handle it. In short, analysis showed that it was all less catastrophic than I thought. I began to worry less and sleep and feel better, a trend that continues.

I'm happy to view myself now as a capable person who has GAD. I really like this new description a lot. The thing is, if I'm a worrier, what can I do? It's who I am. But if I have a disorder, especially one for which an effective treatment technique exists, then by George, I can do something about it.


With a Perspective, I'm Pat Torello.

Pat Torello does her worrying from her home in the East Bay.