Trying to explain my anxiety to someone who does not experience it on a regular basis can be an anxiety-inducing experience. I sometimes stumble on my words, not knowing how to accurately explain the experience and certainly not knowing how the other person will react. It’s even difficult for me to figure out my own anxieties: sometimes you just can’t explain what’s going on, except that something doesn’t feel right.
That’s why I often work things out in my head. It’s much easier to reconcile with myself than other people whose reactions I can’t control. I’m fortunate to have people in my life who are supportive and are empathetic listeners of my anxieties; but even though I know I can trust and find comfort in these individuals, I can always make an excuse for not asking them for help.
When you spend time in your own mind like I do, it can get pretty creative in terms of your thoughts. While I have a vivid imagination, I also have an equally long list of anxieties for the past, present, and future. Some of these anxieties are short term, meaning they are passing through never to return again. Many, however, are reoccurring, playing on loop in my mind when I least expect them.
I’m not in a relationship, nor have I been for almost 2 years. But regardless of my relationship status, I can without a doubt have anxiety about my figurative wedding. I worry about being the center of attention and being pulled in a number of directions. I can’t help but wonder who from my family will “cause a scene” because they’ve had too much to drink. I struggle to think about how I would react in stressful moments, and how those reactions my impact my figurative spouse. All these thoughts cause some sort of physical or mental discomfort, and I wish they didn’t, because I hope to one day find someone with whom I want to express my love to publically.
2. Going to the dentist.
Don’t ask me why the dentist specifically, but for as long as I could remember, I’ve had anxiety about going to the dentist. This could very well be rooted in my fear of needles and other sharp objects, but it’s much more than that. Now I know what you’re thinking: a lot of people don’t like going to the dentist. This may be true, but unlike some of those individuals, I get shortness of breath thinking about such an event. I hate the idea of finding out something might be wrong with me, or having to go under anesthesia and potentially not waking up.
3. Getting a vaccination.
Speaking of my fear of needles, I get immense anxiety just thinking about a doctor saying I need to have a shot. Don’t get me wrong: I believe in vaccinations and think they are crucial to disease prevention. But the actual thought of having to see a needle go into my body is excruciating; the thought alone makes me feel both mentally and physically numb. I once hid from my doctor as she attempted to give me a meningitis shot before college. Images race through my mind of the needle going into another part of my body unintended, or the needle being permanent stuck in my body.
4. The end of the world.
I instantly get distracted from any conversation if there is any discussion about meteors, nuclear bombs, or anything else that could cause life, as we know it to end. I think this is where my family should’ve recognized I had anxiety when I was younger. If there were a news report about the end of the world, or a movie about a major natural disaster, I would actually begin to hyperventilate and ask my parents a laundry list of questions. Mayan Calendar? I couldn’t sleep the night I found out about it. May 21, 2011? I made sure to spend time with my family in case it was the last time we’d be together. I know the likelihood of the world ending from these events is unlikely. But my anxiety causes me to obsess over them, because they are events that are out of my control, which freaks me out.