You. Are. Alone.

Let me set the stage.

Yesterday, you were playing catch with your kids in the back yard. Your wife calls everyone in for dinner. As you walk into the house, you catch a glimpse of your favourite family photo on the wall in the kitchen. The sounds and the smells are vivid and inviting. You take your seat at the table and enjoy a meal and some quality time with your family. For us, the night was always capped off watching Steve Harvey on Family Feud on the TV in the kitchen.

Fast forward 36 hours and you’re on your in-law’s couch in their basement at 3:00 AM staring at the ceiling thinking to yourself, “Thank God we weren’t home when the fire started.” 

Your next thought, is “Now what?”

You have no idea who to call next or who’s going to call you. Do you go to work? or not? How are the kids handling the fire? Are they ok? Do they understand what’s happening? Is your wife ok? Who do I call next? Where will we stay? Can I work from there? How will the kids get to school? I have a deadline at work the I can’t miss, how can I do this? 

The questions don’t end. They never do. 

The uncertainty of all the questions leads to anxiety which fuels your desire to get shit under control. Your desire for control leads to thinking. Thinking leads to more questions and more uncertainty, more worry, even more anxiety and, eventually, you achieve what Dr. McGrory calls a state of pure hypervigilance. 

In this state of hypervigilance, every thought becomes top priority. Whether its call the adjuster, or finish your project at work, pick up dinner, clean the car, pay the mortgage, feed the cat. Where thoughts were once neatly ordered and prioritized, they’ve become a mess of random orders pecking your brain.    

There are many physiological manifestations of hypervigilance. For me, it was avoidance, eating (or not eating), drinking (ok, a lot of drinking), but perhaps the most damaging aberration was this new feeling that I was alone.  

If you got this far and think, “this guy is crazy!” Good for you! you’re safe.

If you can identify with this story, please don’t be too proud to ask for help! 

P.S. I almost called this post “Thinking makes you lonely”

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