Do you remember when you were a kid and you would find yourself excited about the smallest things? The sound of the ice cream man coming up the street sent you into fits. Forget about how over the moon you were the night before Christmas or the day of your birthday party.
I remember just lying in my bed and dreaming of how amazing it was going to be when I got everything I asked for.
Fast forward 30 years, and you don’t have a whole lot to be excited about anymore. Occasionally, the idea of spending a girl’s night out or having a date night with your significant other gets your spirits up. Mostly, you start to realize that you aren’t getting “excited” about normal things. Instead, the feelings that you used to describe as butterflies in your stomach now come at the most inappropriate times, and don’t make you feel any type of happiness.
If you’ve been dealing with it for years, you can probably recognize that it feels an awful lot like an anxiety attack. Yet, giving it a name doesn’t give you a reason for it. Suppose it’s Saturday, and you know Monday that you have to go see the dentist. You hate the dentist. He might be the nicest dentist you’ve ever met, but you’ve had more bad experiences than good with your teeth. Suddenly, you are overcome with what can only be characterized as terror. Your appointment isn’t even for a couple more days. What is going on?
Well, I recently discovered something. There’s a name for that, and it’s called Anticipatory Anxiety. I’m willing to bet that the crippling effects of this condition have kept you away from more appointments, gatherings, and events than you can count. So what exactly is it? I’ve done some research, and I feel the following definition puts it all together quite well.
Anticipatory Anxiety is apprehension about an event prior to its occurrence. For example, death, danger, or a poor evaluation by others. Often, this is accompanied by physiological symptoms such as rapid heart rate or muscle tension. It may also occur in Panic Disorder where an individual fears another panic attack. – Psychology Dictionary
Are you sitting there telling yourself that this all sounds very familiar? That was the same reaction I had. It’s difficult to determine whether this is good news or bad. Now that there’s a name for it, shouldn’t we be able to avoid it? Some people would lead us to believe that. However, I’ve been through episodes where I wasn’t even thinking about anything that could lead me to these feelings, but I got them anyway.
There have been times when I feel like I’m constantly being judged by the outside world. Especially when it comes to a particular diagnosis. I don’t want it to appear that I am just collecting conditions to use as an excuse later. I would prefer that people consider what this situation really is. I am trying to learn the most I can about my condition so that I can improve my quality of life. Being honest about what is plaguing me is certainly not trying to find an excuse out of my responsibilities or my life.
I resent anyone who would think otherwise. If I could snap my fingers and feel “normal”, I would do it in a heartbeat. I would hope that any of my true friends would know that. I certainly don’t sit around deciding that I don’t want to go somewhere or do something, so that day I will pretend to be suffering a panic attack.
What people need to know is that there is a physical as well as an emotional aspect to this horrible disease. While some of us may be better suited to control the symptoms at different times, there will be instances where we have no control over anything. That, in itself,is what scares me the most. Losing control over whatever tiny little bit of my life that I thought I could handle.
Every single day is a battle. Not every battle can be fought and won. I long for people to understand that.