Let me paraphrase this by saying I'm "quite young" as people want to say; just turned 21. But this is a question I've been thinking about for awhile and it's been bugging me.
I've been in a few relationships since I turned 14, and each has turned bad. The first one was toxic from start to finish and was a nightmare in every sense of the word. The second was with my first girlfriend, and it was the best relationship that I had. We were loving and honestly thought we might have a future together beyond high school. We hit college and by the second semester she left because she wanted to "have fun outside of a relationship" and would go on to study abroad.
My third relationship was exceptionally short-term; we broke up within a month after we decided we just didn't fit. The fourth turned sour after I left to study abroad myself and we just couldn't make it work. And all of this has made me wonder if I'm really fit for relationships.
I won't say I'm not an overprotective type; I'm a huge worry wart. I get it from my mother; both of us think the worst out of every situation and always freak when we don't hear from loved ones exactly when we're supposed to. Admittedly, this behavior's driven me to try and have my partners not go out and party or have fun because I'm worried something will happen to them (mugging, assault, rape etc.) and when I don't hear from them for long periods of time I suffer incredible anxiety attacks.
I'm just wondering if I should abandon relationships because of this. It might seem like a mountain out of a molehill situation, but to me it feels like something I can't change. I've tried to relax in relationships and be OK with everything, but I'm just always afraid I'll lose them, and it makes me a toxic person to be around when I can't handle the idea that they're possibly hurt or worse when they could just stay home and be safe. I know they should go out, enjoy life and so on, but I'm so afraid of that accident happening that whenever they do and I'm not around I just can't help but get mad at them for endangering themselves, even if I know the environment is generally safe!
I just can't really figure out what to do, and feel that giving up relationships would benefit people who WOULD want to date me in the future; save them the trouble of putting up with a paranoid ass who'd rather they wither away at home than take chances and go out and have fun.
* * *
Dear La V,
You are suffering from what psychologists call Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Instead of giving up any hope for a relationship, what you should do is find treatment for your GAD so that you can then go on to lead a more normal life that includes finding a loving partner.
There are a number of treatments for GAD, ranging from seeking a psychotherapist to prescriptions for Xanax and other medications. You don’t mention seeking treatment in your letter, so I am assuming you have not done so and probably should. There could be a subconscious or unconscious source for your anxiety that is best addressed by a trained therapist.
On top of such treatment, you should do whatever you can to reduce stress in your life. If you have an overly hectic schedule, review it and see what things you can cut out of the schedule to allow yourself some downtime. Also, make sure that you get 7-8 full hours of restful sleep a night. During the day, adopt an exercise routine. Exercise is an amazingly effective way to reduce stress. I recommend activities such as brisk walks, swimming, yoga, or tai chi.
Before doing this, you might also pay a visit to your family doctor. Are you, for instance, taking any medications? Medicines containing amphetamines, hormones, blood pressure meds, and asthma medications all have the potential for causing anxiety as a side effect. A general physical can also tell your doctor if you have any issues that might need addressing (high blood pressure, for instance, or diabetes, or you might have food allergies that can affect your mood).
Furthermore, there are things you can do about your diet to ease anxiety. Foods/nutrients that help ease anxiety include: food rich in B1 and B12 vitamins (beans, leafy greens, beef, pork, chicken, nuts, eggs, and fruits); carb-rich foods (beans, whole grain breads) have serotonin and lift your mood; omega-3 foods, such as fish, which have the added benefit of lowering your risk of heart disease; yogurt, soy, lentils, meats with high protein content. Foods to avoid include anything with aspartame (diet drinks and many other “diet” foods with this artificial sweetener) because aspartame is simply poison that can damage your nervous system, including your brain; caffeinated drinks are also a no-no; anything with a high sugar content (whether regular sugar or high fructose corn syrup; if you need to sweeten something, use honey, especially raw honey, or Stevia [Truvia®]); booze, tobacco, and illicit drugs should be avoided; artificial food coloring, too; processed foods of any kind, including stuff that is boxed, canned, or comes from a fast food place. Basically, the American diet is garbage and is making a lot of people physically, mentally, and emotionally ill.
There is a lot you can do for your GAD, so don’t throw up your hands in despair and believe you are stuck with it. Once you have that under control, you will be better able to enjoy a healthy relationship.
Leave a Reply.
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.