Living with Depression and Anxiety? Maybe You Misunderstood the Assignment

by | Jul 29, 2013

How to live with depression and anxiety

“You mean I’ve been living with depression and anxiety to the max because I misunderstood the assignment? You’re kidding me, right? Buckets of misery for nothing?!”

Unfortunately, it looks that way : (  So here’s the story…

The boss called him in to her office. He bit, and learned she had an assignment for him. She asked him to prepare a presentation for the annual meeting, which was only a month away. Consumed with fear, his throat all but closed. But what could he do? The boss is the boss, so he accepted the assignment with that “good soldier” look upon his face. And out the door he marched.

Instead of heading for his office, he detoured to the parking lot and climbed into his car. Off on the highway he went for a primal scream session. He wanted nothing to do with the assignment. Now, he had no problem with putting the presentation together – that would be a cinch. It was the presenting part that placed him in chains.

“Are you kidding me? An hour in front of 500 people, no doubt making a total fool out of myself? Uh, no. No, no, no, no, no!”

Then it was on to facing 24/7 hell, as he had no doubt the anticipatory anxiety – and associated depression – would be staggering and fragmenting.

Fast forward. It was one week before the “execution” (equating to three weeks of torture), and the boss summoned him to her office. She wanted to take a look at the presentation so she could begin to get comfortable with it. She said she wanted to be “totally on” when she delivered it.

He said to himself, “What did she say? She wants to be ‘totally on…?’ Hmmm, that implies she’s giving the presentation.”

He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. He went for confirmation, asking what’s what. And what do you know? The boss was, indeed, going to face the throng – not him.

Yikes! Seems he misunderstood the assignment. And it cost him dearly – three weeks of 24/7 totally unnecessary pain and despair.

That’s the story, and I’m stickin’ to it. And it begs the question – how much 24/7 pain and despair are you subjecting yourself to because you’re misunderstanding assignments? I suppose we could put it this way – what portion of your anxiety and mood discomfort can be attributed to malfunctioning interpretation and reaction – what I refer to as “interpreaction.” And, of course, we’re talking “mis” and “over.”

Let’s work an example. When you leave the house (your safe place?) how much of the anxiety and mood misery you experience is generated by misunderstanding (misinterpreting) the assignment, and overreacting accordingly? Maybe you believe your assignment is to present some sort of defined public image – one that actually makes you very uncomfortable. So is it any wonder you’re soaked in anxiety and associated depression, even as you consider stepping foot out of the house?

I’d say you definitely misunderstood the assignment – or the assignment was inappropriate in the first place. But what might the assignment really have been? Any number of things, I suppose. How ’bout simply being yourself, contributing to someone’s well-being, and enjoying your day? Sound good?

There’s another angle here I’d like you to consider. Perhaps you’re enduring unnecessary suffering because you’re viewing your participation in life as nothing more than a series of assignments. Think about it. Has living life become nothing more than completing a series of tasks? I can sure understand how it could come to that, but is that really how you want to spend your remaining years on the planet? Hmmm.

Well, ’nuff said – I’m thinking you get the point. If you’re living with depression and anxiety, swirl around this assignment biz – and take a brutally honest inventory. Only then can you make life-sustaining adjustments.

Oh, our presentation guy? Well, he figured it all out. In fact, he asked the boss if he could present at next year’s meeting. She said, “Yes.” And he swears he’ll be “totally on.”

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  1. Avatar

    ” take a brutally honest inventory. Only then can you make life-sustaining adjustments.” in fact – sustaining the inventory process can be life changing. Help and peer support, if not the support of a mentor or coach, is really useful in this process. It is sometimes hard to get the same brain that gets yo into this mess to help you out of the mess- initially. So reach out and re-organize the closet of your mind!

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    Hi Bill,

    Unnecessary worry and anxiety is never fun, and so unneeded. It’s learning to control our emotions that is the challenge. I love these story because it points out so clearly why our anxiety and worry accomplishes nothing and are often because of a misunderstanding.

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    Thanks to Kyczy and Cathy for their comments!!!

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    I really love the idea of taking care of others and just having a nice day. That sounds so beautiful; thank you. My misunderstanding days are just so hard compared to that simplicity!

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      Well, I sure as heck know the simplicity of it all is often easier said than done. HOWEVER, it’s the goal, for sure. And I believe if we consistently keep it forward in our thinking, very good things will spontaneously begin to happen. Always appreciate your visit and participation, Patricia…

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    Donno exactly when or how it happened, but after suffering from years of stifling anxiety and post-crappy presentation depression, going to Toastmasters for a spell allowed me to arrive at your, “How ’bout simply being yourself, contributing to someone’s well-being, and enjoying your day? Sound good?” Is good and thanks for being sucha 360 guy, Bill.

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      Hey, Herby!
      Thank you for your visit and participation. Man, don’t I know all about stifling anxiety and post-“I blew it” blues! Though I didn’t go that route, Toastmasters sure seems to be a great idea. Bottom-line – progression through exposure (and warm support) is the only way out. Glad to have you as a Chipur reader/contributor…

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    I love your writing style, Bill!

    It is so true – so much of our crazies are due to our own interpretations and if we’d just take the time to clarify with direct questions – yowza – that’d make all a whole lot easier. And this line,” Perhaps you’re enduring unnecessary suffering because you’re viewing your participation in life as nothing more than a series of assignments.” You betcha! Loved the story ending, too!

    • Avatar

      Well, thank you for your visit and contribution, Lisa. And for your compliment on the ‘ole writing style. Very sweet. Yeah, no kidding, right? Wouldn’t it be awful if we wrapped up this life knowing all we did – and accomplished – was assignment/task based. Uh, no good! Peace, Lisa…


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