Friday, November 25, 2011

There's always something to worry about, but . . .

For the past few months, I’ve been working on “staying in the moment” instead of steeping myself in the past or worrying about the future.
The medications I’m on help, but they are not enough. I have to actively work on it, too, I’ve learned.
My efforts have included different forms of meditation, reciting poetry I love, self-talk and making mandalas.
The results have been mixed.
I have made headway in one area. One of the symptoms of OCD I manifest to different degrees is that I don’t think I should relax until everything is right. As I’ve written before, it’s not perfection I’m after, but feeling right.
I now can sometimes focus on my breath or mantra even when I am in the midst of anxious and racing thoughts. I just keep breathing or focusing on the words or sounds after reminding myself, repeatedly, that I can worry later.
It doesn’t always work, and I have to pull myself from my wandering thoughts time and again. It’s a start, though.
But isn’t it so much easier to deal with the everyday or familiar anxieties than it is with a new one?
We learned today that our 15-year-old cat, Samantha (Sam), has the beginnings of chronic renal insufficiency. That’s what eventually killed our two older cats, Waddles and Thunder Cat.
My husband and I stood in the examining room at the vet’s office, hearing the same things we’ve heard before. Try to get her to eat a renal diet. Watch her for certain signs and symptoms. Bring her back for more blood work.
We carried Sam back home, both of us quiet.
I started wondering how soon the kidney problems would start to noticeably affect Sam’s quality of life.
I pulled out Waddles’ medical records to find out when she was first diagnosed: Aug. 7, 2007. She lived for a little over four years after that. She was older than Sam when diagnosed.
Thunder Cat was diagnosed in December 2008 and died Feb. 12, 2009. He was also older than Sam is now. His disease seemed to progress quickly, though kidney disease can be silently present for a long time.
I started to worry (to myself, not out loud, because I didn’t want to upset my husband more than he was) about how long Sam would live, how long before she would fade away like her siblings. I was tense and depressed, fearing what was to come.
But some of what I learned from Waddles started to come back.
Enjoy the time we have with Sam. Don’t upset her with my anxiety and tears. Focus on her today and appreciate her.
If I waited to do those things until I felt “right” about her illness, I would never be able to do it, because it will never be right. There is no cure for chronic renal insufficiency. You can try to slow it down, but it’s never going to disappear.
It is so difficult to do the things I’m writing about, to focus on the time we have with Sam right now, while doing the things we can do to hopefully slow down the disease’s progress. I can only manage the “in the moment” attitude for short periods.
There’s always something to worry about, but I can try deal with the worry by being in the moment.
How do you best deal with your anxiety?


  1. What a beautiful cat Sam is! My kitty Max is also a tuxedo cat and he's such a sweetheart.

    How do I deal with anxiety? Sometimes I don't do well at all. Other days I can work through it, since I know from past experience, it can't last forever. And just knowing that can make it fade faster.

    But in a situation like yours, something that's long term? I think your best option is what you're working on: the living in the moment piece.

  2. Thank you for your comments, Ann. What you said about anxiety over something short term sounds like it could relate to me too--perhaps I can remind myself that even though the situation is long term, the times of intense anxiety don't have to be.

  3. "As I've written before - it's not perfection that I'm after - it's feeling right". This really resonates with me. Though I know I have an element of perfectionism too - because the more "perfect" I am - the less chance that someone will reject me and confirm that I really am a big loser, unloveable etc. I guess those two really blurr together for me. I have a cat that is getting really old and I think starting with renal insufficiency too. I used to work in the vet industry and most cats develop kidney disease as they age. It's yucky though. :0(

  4. Pure O Canuck, Thank you for your comment. I have some perfectionism too, especially in my work, but I don't usually connect it to the feeling of rightness I'm looking for with OCD. But I do think it's related, at least in part, to my fear of rejection.

    I asked my vet if there was any way to prevent the kidney disease, and she said since they don't know what causes it, they can't say what would prevent it. You're right, it's yucky.

  5. Oh goodness. I am so sorry about your kitty :-(

    I have this "just right" stuff too. I have to remember to remind myself that things will never be "just right" and the more I try to make them that way, the more anxious I become.


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