Allowing Anxiety to Derail Me Is the Worst Case Scenario

Of all the awful possibilities, what’s the worst possible thing that could happen to you today?

Now this is an interesting question during Mental Health Month. Some folks can provide a list of things that cause anxiety and others just have a general sense of dread.

Setting aside the loss of a loved one, the list can be somewhat spectacular – especially when items include things that actually have happened so could recur. The thing about managing anxiety is that your fear has some basis in reality,  but it is just not grounded in probability.

So I am afraid of being chased and bitten by a dog if I go for a walk especially with my own dog. I have been chased and bitten. My dog was bitten in his own yard. There are a few off leash dogs in our neighborhood. But the odds are very slim this would happen again. Still … I have to let my reason conquer my fear which is a lot of work. Fortunately, I have a big back yard and older dogs so we can play and exercise out there just fine to meet their needs. But that also keeps me from confronting my anxieties.

Ironically, my car has been vandalized twice in ten years while parked in our spots behind the house. Yet I have no hesitation about parking there or fear for my safety if I do so.  If I come home after dark, I do tend to park on the street where it is lit, but not because I’m anxious. Just because my logical mind wins that argument.

So today I have to drive to an appointment so there’s the car accident scenario. It is a new doctor so I’m a little apprehensive he’ll be a jag and/or oblivious. I worry my headache is coming back because of allergies and I’ll be curled up in a ball on the bed when I have work to do.

But the worst thing? That would be if anxiety got the best of me and I didn’t make it to see the showing of “Finding Vivian Maier” at The Harris. I really want to see the movie. Missing it for some practical reason wouldn’t bother me. But derailing myself would.

My best tools are to have a plan (rushing around is like feeding the anxiety-beast) and use some tools. So I have my 4:30 appt in the East End and have to fit in dinner and letting the dogs out before arriving at the Downtown theater at 8. That’s doable.

Oh, here’s some worst case scenario thought

  • I need to sit on the aisle b/c of said disability (various reasons to lengthy to explain here) So I have to arrive early or call ahead to request an accommodation. I loathe those conversations because I “feel” like I’m acting entitled or perceived as a scammer b/c my disability is hidden. I’ve internalized the disdain society holds for people with disabilities more than I ever imagined.
  • I’ll run into someone who I’d rather avoid.
  • After all my planning, the movie will sell-out.
  • The film is 90 minutes so we’ll be out on the street at 9:30. This makes me anxious because I’ll feel torn between wanting to do something post-movie (even coffee) and wanting to go home and savor the fact that I did it!

Obviously, this is not the worst thing that could happen today. Terrible tragic things strike people every day, but we know that and we find a way to exist and embrace life anyway. That’s a different thing than living with anxiety and I can absolutely put things in perspective when my back is against the wall. It was just a year ago or so that my father called me because they thought he might be having a stroke – he’s okay, it was something minor – and I cast my fears away to do was what needed.

I think living with anxiety erodes my resiliency much faster than for a typical person. So for every 2 or 3 positive experiences you have that build up your ability to not worry about things or reinforce your sense that you can manage them if they do, I need like 12 or 15 experiences. Or I have to consciously revisit those experiences which is one reason blogging can be a great tool as I search my archives for relevant links. I find this post from Christmas 2013 which reminds me how much my childhood friend Amy loves me.

I’m feeling a lot of anxiety about my current project – raising funds for ‘Cathy’s Closet’ to open a personal care products pantry at the local LGBTQ Community Center. I’m sort of stuck in terms of fundraising, but the number of product collections is growing so I’m nervous that we won’t be ready to manage the donations if we don’t raise the money needed for renovations and storage. Remembering that my friend sent me a dollar reassures me that I can figure this out.

Of course, you can help ease my mind with a donation of $10 or $25 to help out neighbors NOT be worried about things like having deodorant to wear to work or shampoo for their kids when money is tight.

Donation

The stigma of poverty is equally horrible and can have terrible consequences. Imagine having to ask someone for maxipads for your teenage daughter to be able to go to school? Would you even know who to ask? We want to change that through Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ Community Center – we want to create a dignified space where people can select the items they need (and prefer) without intrusive questions or judgment. This is my reason to believe – that dozens of people have stepped forward to organize and arrange collections.

So great news – while I was writing this post, my doctor’s office called to move my appointment ahead an hour which gives me more time to work with. I also called the theater to ask about accommodations and it was fine. And we figured out dinner plans. So sometimes you just need to have a plan.

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