The worst of all possible worlds

The other day a friends was telling me a story and finished with "How could it get any worse than that?" Right away I rattled off a half a dozen gory ways it could indeed be worse. Horrified, she stopped my listing. While I was indeed trying to get a rise out of her, I also truly believe that it could be worse. It can always be worse. There are myriad ways it could be worse.

Today I was talking to a patient with fibromyalgia. In the middle of her recitation of her aches and pains she said "and I know you said it will just get worse." There I halted her. I told her that while she will have exacerbations, she will also have remissions. This is a stable disease. While it tends not to get better, it also does not tend to get worse over the long run. But her self-talk had led her to believe that she would just keep getting worse. I told her "On bad days tell yourself 'it has been this bad before. I have made it through days as bad as this. Tomorrow will probably be better.'"

Nathan has started biting himself again. He has bite marks on his hands, and now on his arms too. I hate self biting. But he is not biting other people. It could be worse. And, yes, he could start biting other people too. But he hasn't. And that is worry thought. Time wasted worrying. I always think that the things we worry about tend not to be the ones that come and bite us on the butt. The butt-biter events sneak up and surprise us because we could never imagine them coming. So why waste time on worry thoughts? I do my share of worrying, don't get me wrong. But I now I try to label 'these are worry thoughts.' I try not to make them my obsession. When I make them obsessive I start imagining 'This is the worst thing. This is how it will always be.' And I freak out. I lose control. I become the bad mom-the mom I never wanted to be.

Progress is measured over the long term. You know how, as your kids grow, you don't notice the growth until, GOLLY how did his pants get THAT short? Progress is measured like that. Suddenly, you realize, 'Whoa, when did he start being able to answer spontaneously instead of having to be given a yes/no question?'

It has been this bad before. I have made it through days as bad as this. Tomorrow will probably be better. I'll just keep telling myself that. I needed a mantra anyway.


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