I don't think I used to be someone who worried a lot. In fact, I likely took more than my fair share of risks over the years. I wasn't afraid to try anything once.
I've noticed, particularly over the past few months although I suspect it's been a growing problem, that I have become incredibly cautious, paranoid even. It started as little things, some of which most people might identify with, but most of which were not "me." I started to worry about how I looked, what people must be saying about me, entering a room full of people that I knew well, but uncomfortable because I hadn't seen them in a while. I'd be certain I'd horribly offended someone or done something that someone perceives as awful. It wasn't anticipatory worry, which I think plagues a lot of people. Rather, the minute I was about to leave the bathroom, step out of the house, make a phone call or enter that room, I have an immediate and overwhelming sense of discomfort that doesn't ease for hours, days sometimes.
Over time, that somewhat normal, not uncommon anyway, self-consciousness became more pronounced. My fear over what people must think of me and say about me has spread from total strangers or at least mild acquaintances to people who are dearest to me. I've stopped having "real" conversations with many people. I have opinions on why that might be, but I hesitate to reveal them, ironically, out of fear of how they might be perceived.
Most recently, it's become bigger again. There was a time that I was so paranoid that if a car followed me on the highway for more than a few exits, I could become convinced that it was intentionally following me. Lately, that's manifested itself in that I don't like to let my children out of my sight. I don't like them to go to sleep without me being there and if they have to, I need to peak in and see each of their faces before I can comfortably go to sleep myself. I terrified of the idea of going away for a weekend without them, despite that I know that they would be in excellent care. I'm terrified to send them back to school. It's not that I think I take care of them so much better than anyone else, far from it. And it's not that I think something terrible is bound to happen. My logical mind remains intact. It's just a "fear" for no reason at all.
It almost feels like they're the last good thing left of me and if I blink too long, they might disappear too. Or worse, maybe they'll begin to see this version of me that I'm fighting so hard is just who I am. I don't want to believe that and I certainly don't want them to believe that. I don't even want the stranger on the street who has a two second interaction with me to believe that. Deep down, though, I think that's where this crippling fear is coming from. I think I believe it and the more time that goes by when I am not well, the easier it is to believe it.