Anxiety & Catastrophic Thinking – Therapy Diary, March 4, 2021

No therapy this week, but I had a bad night last night, and thought I would jot down a few notes.

We have always had cats, since before we got married, but the six-month-old brother & sister pair who showed up on our porch 15 months ago are unusual in how loving they are. The boy cat in particular glommed onto me from the first day, and spends a lot of his day following me around, lying on my lap, sitting next to me, and watching me.

He has some heart & asthma issues, but he also has bad dental hygiene. His teeth look like they belong to a 10-year old, not a two-year old, and he was overdue for a good cleaning. Our vet sedates cats for extensive dental work, and today was the day.

Last night, I stayed up late watching a really well-done science fiction-based TV series (Impulse) on Youtube. The subject matter of the series is very intense, including scenes of sexual assault & a young woman suffering from PTSD. I ended up falling asleep about two hours later than usual, & had a series of dreams inspired by the TV show. Then the dreams changed to anxiety dreams about my cat being at the vet. In the dream, I got a call from the vet that my cat had died during the procedure, and my grief was very strong. I was so disturbed that I woke part way up, became aware that I was dreaming, but couldn’t shake the fear & grief, which felt very real. I actually used some of the ideas I’ve read about to defuse the anxiety, paying attention to my breath & the texture of my bed sheets & pillow to re-ground myself in the reality that my cat was not dead, he was right downstairs.

I fell asleep again around 4 a.m., but the dreams shifted one more time, changing to worry that some recent incidents of forgetfulness that I’ve experienced were signs of some sort of oncoming dementia. In the dreams, I couldn’t do my work any longer, & lost my job, ending with my wife & I destitute & unable to keep our house.

I woke again at 5 a.m. & was able to calm down, although I can still feel the fear of losing my job. I fell asleep, but our older cat, who stays in our bedroom at night, started waking me up around 5:30 and by 6:30 I was awake for good.

I got the cat to the vet on time, & spent the day running around doing errands. It’s a gorgeous day, warm for the season, & after all the chores were done, I decided to take my motorcycle out for a short ride. Being out in the sun & wind, added to the very grounding activity of getting stuff done that needed doing, has really improved my mood. I’m not feeling exactly cheerful, but I no longer am worried that I’m about to lose my job.

Our cat got through the procedure well, and is back home, smooshing his face on everything and staying very close to me.

I’m exhausted, and expect that I’ll sleep a lot better tonight.

-=-

P.S. I forgot that I wanted to discuss how our love for our pets can get past our defenses. I’ve been emotionally locked down for years, but that rigid armor is no match for my cat being in danger.

Oh, and yes, I did sleep a lot better.

A motorcycle is shown parked next to a patch of grass. There are shrubs & a house in the background.

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