“Don’t worry, be happy” does not compute

I don’t know if I can continue watching CNN. It’s my favorite news channel and I have it on all the time, but lately it’s causing me to experience spontaneous hysterical neurosis at least twice daily and I simply don’t have time for that nonsense. And wow, was that a mouthful or what?

Anyway, I don’t do anything spontaneously unless I can plan it in advance and as it stands right now, I don’t have an opening for another episode of raving lunacy until late next week, at the earliest.

I know the economy blows right now – I don’t need Wolf Blitzer reminding me every 83 seconds. Isn’t there a law against delivering the same bad news repeatedly, employing the same adjectives ad nauseam, in a mind numbing monotone, all while shifting your weight from one foot to the other every fifteen seconds? There should be. Who do I write to about that?

I am perfectly capable of freaking myself out on a daily basis and have been mistaken for a high strung chihuahua strung out on meth at one time or another so I don’t need a news anchor with the charisma of a doped up basset hound to constantly remind me how much the world sucks right now. If I hear him interrupt his guests so that he can interject the word “dire” one more time, I will jump into my TV screen, trample over the best political team on television and gladly box his ears, so help me God.

Maybe I’ll get lucky and run into Anderson Cooper on the set. Don’t you worry Anderson, you can tell me the economy is shitty every 83 seconds, anytime you want. Okay? Call me.

I admit it. I am a worry junkie. I seem to thrive on it. This comes as no surprise to anyone. I absolutely must worry about something and if I can’t find anything to worry about, that in and of itself is cause enough to panic.

I wish I could say that I haven’t always been that way, but that would be a lie and I don’t lie unless I think I can get away with it and anyone who knows me would call me on that whopper before I finish typing this sentence.

I think it stems from my birth. I had to share a womb with my brother and that caused me to worry that he would hog up all the room, which he did. Then I agonized about being overdue because even back then, I had a serious aversion to being late and I fretted about everything I was missing out on, all because Mom’s uterus didn’t have the common courtesy to be punctual. Then Tino decided he had had enough and he budged me and was pulled out first, leaving me to just sit there twiddling my tiny thumbs and waiting. When I was certain they had forgotten about me, I called out in despair “Hellllooooooo?” at which time the doctor pulled me out and I looked at him sternly and hollered “WAAAAAAHHHH” which, loosely translated, meant “What the hell took you so long? Are you a real doctor? Where’d you go to medical school? Can I see your diploma?” He took one look at me, pronounced me “tense” and sent me directly to the neonatal unit where I worried every ten minutes that someone would forget to come by and take me home.

Then there was the incident when Tino and I were little and he accidentally threw a boulder against my head and I stood there, crying, worrying if Mom would hear my howls before I bled out and ruined the grass.

And who could forget the time I flew to San Francisco by myself to visit my sister Elaine and had an unexpected visit from Aunt Flo while wearing white linen pants? I was forced to wrap my jacket around my waist and stand with my back to the corner in the airport while waiting for Elaine who was notoriously late which sucked because my flight had been twenty minutes early. I was drowning in stress sweat, worrying that (1) the toilet paper I had jammed into my underwear wasn’t up to the job; (2) Elaine had forgotten about me; (3) my luggage with my extra pair of pants was on route to Africa; and (4) holy mother of God, was that a drip?

There have been so many instances of frantic, panicked worry, both justified and groundless, throughout my forty-one years that there isn’t enough time left in my life to recount them all. Whew, right? Just suffice it to say that over the years, I have elevated the practice of worrying to an art form. My tombstone shall read “Here lies Andrea Chamberlain. Are you sure she’s dead? You checked? Twice? Are you sure?”

Luckily, my kids have not inherited my propensity to obsess. Actually, they haven’t inherited anything from me except astigmatism. How fair is that? Regardless, Helena’s only worry lately is that her ponytails were crooked this morning (I was finding it difficult to see over the yawn that was permanently affixed to my face) and Zoe’s only concern for the last year has been getting a Verizon phone with unlimited texting (don’t hold your breath, Zoe. Seriously. Stop it already. I’m a little fuzzy on my CPR so don’t come running to me if you pass out.)

Sometimes I don’t know how Nate can tolerate me and my anxiety, especially during this economic fiasco. Every single day, he comes home from work and I casually ask him “How was work?” and he responds “Fine” and I want to believe him, I truly do. But I can’t help myself from searching his face for any indication that his company went belly up within the past ten hours during which he was laid off, all of it coming on the heels of being diagnosed with a debilitating disease which will no longer be covered under our non-existent health insurance and which will surely bankrupt us in four months.

He can see the uncertainty in my face and he’ll repeat his answer of “Fine” until I’m convinced he’s being sincere and I’ll start to breathe again. This will last about a nanosecond and then I will immediately worry that he’s merely placating me because he doesn’t want to freak me out by going all Jack Nicholson on me and screaming YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH.

Feel free to send any sympathy cards to my attention and I’ll make sure to forward them to him.

Lately, Nate has tried a different approach with me because he knows that a simple “fine” is insufficient to stem the tidal wave of unfounded panic greeting him at the door in a t-shirt and flip flops. Now he comes in and without hesitation, walks right up to me, places his hands on my shoulders and repeats three times “I am not unemployed, I am not diseased, I am not dead,” at which point I smile and drop some spaghetti onto his plate.

I think I am physically incapable of unwinding. I simply don’t know how to relax, unless I mainline some muscle relaxtants and even then, my subconscious sleeps with one eye open, simply biding its time before screaming at the top of its lungs for my body to WAKE UP! YOU HAVEN’T WORRIED IN TEN MINUTES! OH MY GOD, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?

My doctor is very well aware that the only thing about my body that can be considered taut are my nerves and he suggested going the pharmaceutical route to take the edge off. When I balked at the suggestion, he assured me that I would not become a drug addict and wind up in restraints at some rehab clinic, that my inclination to worry and obsess, coupled with the fact that I am premenopausal, suggested that a mild anti depressant was warranted. Oh, that’s right. Premenopause. How could I have forgotten? Wonderful! Now I will busy myself by obsessing over my decaying reproductive organs and whether I should have them surgically removed or simply wait for them to fall out of me on their own accord. I’ll cover my hardwoods with a drop cloth, just in case.

As much as I love my doctor and trust his instincts, I declined the prescription because I hate taking medication. However, I just might find that I hate the compulsion to worry over the economy and the war and my family’s welfare even more, so I won’t completely shut the door on the possibility of drug intervention. If it allows me to spend more time enjoying life than obsessing over it, and stops me from jumping through expensive electronics and committing battery upon famous, boring people with irritating facial hair, it just might be the best course of action. For everyone involved.

In the meantime, however, I’m going to prescribe myself a good kick in Wolf’s ass, even if it is just in theory. That should make me feel a little bit better about the economy and then I can get back to digging up my back yard and burying jars filled with money.

Don’t worry, Anderson. Your ass is safe with me. Call me.

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14 thoughts on ““Don’t worry, be happy” does not compute”

  1. Avatar

    *giggles* You were in fine fettle tonight!

    a) The Economy: My husband works for a rural health care clinic. They barely managed to stay afloat… until Medicare, 3 months ago, declared that it was out of money and wouldn’t reimburse ANYTHING until the new fiscal year. Can you effin’ believe it? Then, the major insurance companies declared that since Medicare was doing it, they’d do it too! Needless to say, the clinic is on the verge of closing. How suck is that?!? I’d like to declare to the IRS that *I’m* out of money, and they can wait for their bloody taxes until *my* new fiscal year, which I can guarantee won’t start till about 3027. Or thereabouts.

    b) Perimenopause. Enter the raving maniac. *blink* From somebody who never noticed her period had started, half the time, I went to cuckoo-bitch-in-residence for a week before my period, a week during, and just about a week after. That doesn’t leave too much week-age left to conduct a semi-normal relationship with my family. By then they all have tendonitis in the Achilles region from tiptoeing so much.

    c) Anderson? You can call me, too… 😉 (uh, just during that one week, ok?)

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    “(4) holy mother of God, was that a drip?” BAWAHAHAHAHA!!!!! Seriously now Andy! You can add another worry to your list…that’s um…apprx. 4 keyboards and at LEAST 2 monitors now you owe me!!! Nate BETTER NOT become unemployed ‘fore that payback comes!! sigh….Jim is a news FANATIC, well that and the “History” channel. I am simply sick of it all and WAS worried bout it till I realized that I shouldn’t be!! We’re too poor to lose anything EXCEPT employment and honestly I won’t even allow myself to go there…I get the “fine” too when I ask….sigh.. Meds?? LOL! Well EffexorXR is my friend EXCEPT for the part where it’s not a generic yet and costs a mint literally and I’ve been out of it for a few days and am going through withdraws and, and, and…………………

    Luv ya kiddo:D and don’t worry bout THAT!! I’m quite sure I don’t love you love you but just luv you:D!!

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    Wonder what a “worrywart” is and if you truly are one? Find out by taking the quiz, “Am I a Worrywort” at .

    The job of worry is to anticipate danger before it arises and identify possible perils, to come up with ways to lessen the risks, and to rehearse what you plan to do. Worrywarts get stuck in identifying danger as they immerse themselves in the dread associated with the threat, which may be real or, more likely, imagined. They spin out an endless loop of melodrama, blowing everything out of proportion. “What if I have a heart attack?” “What if there is an earthquake?” “What if someone breaks in when I’m asleep?”
    While worrywarts insist worrying is helpful, little is solved. Stuck in thinking ruts, they stop living in the here and now–the present moment. Worrywarting is torment–a kind of self-imposed purgatory that makes you feel bad, stresses you out, and wastes precious moments of your life.
    Worse yet, worry begets more worry, setting into motion a vicious circle of frightening thoughts and anxious response. It is self-perpetuating, pushing into greater anxiety and more worry. Allowed to continue unchecked, chronic worry can evolve into panic attacks and, in extreme cases, agoraphobia, which is a paralyzing fear of having a panic attack, especially in public. It can be so severe that, in the worst cases, the sufferer can’t leave home. Sometimes panic attacks can be so extreme that the worry-victim thinks he or she is having a heat attack and is rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.

    Trying to stop worry is usually futile. Instead, we need to become “smart worriers”. Smart worriers do the work of worry and then they soothe themselves to get back to balance. Smart worriers designating a time and place to worry in order to contain it. After the worry session they employ one of the below techniques to back to balance.

    I’ve identified 21 ways to soothe yourself and worry smart.

    1. Evaluate the cost of the worry
    2. Take a deep breath
    3. Relax your muscles.
    4. Distract yourself.
    5. Take a walk.
    6. Smile and laugh.
    7. Say a little prayer.
    8. Find the joy.
    9. Avoid caffeine.
    10. Shoulds to preferences.
    11. Count worry beads.
    12. Eat a sweet.
    13. Take a warm bath.
    14. Imagine a happy ending.
    15. Do a good deed.
    16. Joke about the worry.
    17. Rock yourself.
    18. Count your blessings.
    19. Make a list.
    20. Practice under-reacting.
    21. Watch a funny movie.

    For more information about smart worry and other self-management techniques, visit my site.

  4. Avatar

    I am now 100% convinced. We are one person who just live in different states. Are you sure that your brother is your twin and not me? Yo Quiero Taco Bell says your fellow meth-head chihuahua.

  5. Avatar

    Okay, I was just reading the comments of the person above me. Watch a funny movie my ass. She’s obviously not well versed in years of worry-wart-itis.

  6. Avatar

    Ok, you seriously have a writing career, or stand-up comedian career somewhere in your future. I don’t know many people that can talk about their situations with such wit! Tell Wolf to step aside – we need some comedy relief!

  7. Avatar

    See, that’s why I gave up watching the news YEARS ago. There’s never any good news on TV. If it is truly important, I’ll hear about it through some other avenue. I have OCD and a General Anxiety Disorder, so yeah, I’m a worrier. I kinda felt weird about taking meds too, but my doctor asked me, if I was diabetic, would I refuse insulin because I didn’t like to take meds? I have the same thing – a chemical imbalance that is correctable!

    Thank goodness for smart doctors, drugs and therapy! 🙂

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    Holy crap, I am peeing my pants laughing over here. You are hilarious! I am so bookmarking your blog, right this minute. I should be getting the kids to bed, but instead I want to read right down your blog entries. Sign, no time right now.

    But I will be back. I will.

    Thanks for supporting a SITSta on my SITS day. You’re awesome!

  9. Avatar

    I think that’s the funniest post on worry I’ve ever read.

    In all seriousness, I just finished reading an awesome book on the subject: Running Scared by Ed Welch. I highly recommend it.

    Thanks for stopping by on my SITS day!

  10. Avatar

    “…irritating facial hair…”

    YES!!! Too funny. And who can take someone named “Wolf” “Blitzer” seriously to begin with?

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