Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Rational Anxiety

Since I live in a small town, I rarely have to travel more than five miles to get anywhere.  (The houses of some rural friends excepted, and occasional trips to see people.) Things are generally within a few miles, or an hour away and I order it on the internet.

For a lot of reasons I am Very Anxious about driving.  Surely it's the thing most likely to kill me in an untimely fashion, right?

Naturally I went and looked it up.

The CDC keeps (of course) detailed statistics on cause of death.  In my current age group, the top causes are:

ICD Sub-Chapter
Click to restore original by-variable sort order
Move this column one place to the rightDeathsClick to sort by Deaths ascendingResults sorted by Deaths descending
Move this column one place to the rightMove this column one place to the leftPopulationClick to sort by Population ascendingClick to sort by Population descending
Move this column one place to the leftCrude Rate Per 100,000Click to sort by Crude Rate Per 100,000 ascendingClick to sort by Crude Rate Per 100,000 descending
C00-C97 (Malignant neoplasms)220,606684,278,75532.2
W00-X59 (Other external causes of accidental injury)150,496684,278,75522.0
X60-X84 (Intentional self-harm)105,989684,278,75515.5
I20-I25 (Ischaemic heart diseases)102,158684,278,75514.9
V01-V99 (Transport accidents)101,614684,278,75514.8
B20-B24 (Human immunodeficiency virus [HIV] disease)58,381684,278,7558.5
K70-K76 (Diseases of liver)55,410684,278,7558.1
I30-I51 (Other forms of heart disease)54,753684,278,7558.0
X85-Y09 (Assault)45,954684,278,7556.7
I60-I69 (Cerebrovascular diseases)34,259684,278,7555.0
E10-E14 (Diabetes mellitus)31,363684,278,7554.6
I10-I15 (Hypertensive diseases)28,675684,278,7554.2
F10-F19 (Mental and behavioural disorders due to psychoactive substance use)25,873684,278,7553.8

(Two thirds of the 'other external causes' are accidental drug overdoses.)

 (There are two deaths whose cause is listed as 'bitten by rat.'  I have so many questions.)

(And one death by alligator.)

I'm afraid of driving.  Since I rarely have to make long trips, for me it is an avoidable risk, so it feels like a better choice to not drive (due to some kind of cognitive bias- the one where the availability of a choice to do nothing makes it seem safer than doing something even if it's not so- incidentally one of the fallacies that leads people to not vaccinate.). I suppose my anxiety is semi-rational; the lack of regular exposure means I never get de-conditioned.

What's your irrational or semi-rational anxiety?  


  1. Anonymous8:11 AM

    Calling people on the phone. 100% irrational, but I will do whatever I can to avoid doing it. Pretty much the only time I'll voluntarily call someone, especially if it's someone I don't know, is if my husband convinces me that he'd like to do it far, far less, and then I'll do it for the virtuous feeling of lovingkindness it gets me.

    (And, of course, it usually goes fine, but I already said it wasn't rational.)

    1. That's me in a nutshell. Unfortunately 99% of the time, my husband convinces me he does hate calling more than I do. At least I get a glow of virtue I suppose...

    2. Also not a fan! I think my mother de-conditioned me by making me call people as a teenager. But still.

  2. Uh, how long you got?

    Flying is the biggie, though lately I've developed an amusing sideline in poisoning (food or medicine) and/or sudden-onset anaphylactic food allergies. Also heart attacks, pulmonary embolisms. You get one guess for the source of that one.

    Driving is wildly rational by my standards.

    1. Oh, my, how unpleasant for you. Maybe one day you'll progress to driving and rats. I think that might be an improvement!

    2. Although you're more likely to for of a heart attack than driving so maybe you're more rational than me.

  3. I am not an anxious person. When the crazy bad thoughts enter my head, I try to think about them rationally, take a deep breath, and let them go. Patrick, I think, has an irrational fear of terrorism. He'd prefer to avoid all tourist attractions and heavily populated areas. He doesn't like cities anyway, so it's not a big loss for him. I will be taking the children to tour NYC by myself this summer. We'll have a wonderful time.

    1. Haaah. It's true, you are not an anxious person! Except possibly about ill children.

      Terrorism is on the mortality list but muuuuuuch lower. 'Look, dear! You're far more likely to die of cancer in the next ten years!'

  4. I have a huge long list of these. I had to do CBT for text anxiety in graduate school.

    Most of the rest of my anxieties are completely irrational and come under the heading of "sympathetic magic" as in, if DH gets fixed, I am sure I will get into a car accident and die and he will remarry and want more kids.

  5. School buses. As in my kid getting on one next year. I am from a snowy place without bus monitors where there have been some horrific accidents, and even though statistically an accident like that is so rare, and I now live in a (usually) less snowy place with monitors who check under the wheels every single time (to the delight of the waiting commuters), I tear up with fear when I think about September and the school bus.
    PS: We have pet rats. I will be padlocking their cage at night now.

    1. Okay, why checking under the wheels? So confused. For kids?

      We live somewhere without buses and I kind of long for them! Though starting next year Bug will have a three-block walk to school.

      The rat bites- I mean, it must be a coding error or something! This is the 35-44 group. Maybe from secondarty infection? Or something? I don't even know.

    2. Yes...for kids. They drop their books, slip...don't think about it.

      A 3-block walk! I think that's perfect.

    3. Words cannot express how much I'm looking forward to shoving him out the front door. There's even a crossing guard! Half the walk is through a park!

  6. Anonymous4:20 PM

    Running out of toilet paper. My husband always asks why I'm buying so much of it. Very rational, that one.
    I can also relate very well to the phone call fear.
    On the more serious end, I worry about SB getting some rare complications from one of the many bugs she keeps picking up. Not likely, I know. But most twin pregnancies also have good outcomes... so I don't really trust "not likely" anymore.

    1. I fear my child getting a fucking vaccine preventable disease from the local wackaloons!

  7. Vomit (me and others) which is really convienent with 4 year olds. After going through some febrile seizures sick kids in general kind of scare me (like sick beyond a cold)
    Sometimes climate change and the future of the world - but that's not all that irrational I think.

  8. Driving. I'm fine with routes I go all the time, but pretty much hate it even then. Also, my children being run over by cars. Oh, wait, these are totally rational. Um, maybe ordering food to be delivered because then I'll have to answer the door to a PERSON.


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