Bipolar Disorder, Healthy Minds Canada, My Real Opinion

Anticipatory Anxiety

Why do you always anticipate? What are you worrying about? How do you know how you will feel?

Anxiety doesn’t always make sense. I don’t always know what causes prolonged periods of anxiety, but there are some times where I have “situational” anxiety because I am anticipating too much.

Every time I get an invitation for an event or learn this is an event or party I have to go to I start worrying and anticipating. Who will be there, what will I wear, what if I get a migraine, what if I can’t handle seeing people and of course, what if I’m anxious? What if, what if, what if????

I get anxious about the thought of being anxious. I experience anticipatory anxiety.

I know I can talk myself out of anxiety (though it takes a lot of effort), but I can just as easily talk myself into anxiety if I think about all the items on my never-ending to do list, about going to events and anything that involves change. It doesn’t take much these days.

So of course, being invited to 4 weddings that are taking place in the span of 8 weeks brought on panic attacks.

The first of these weddings was last weekend. My husband and I were part of the wedding party. I was feeling anxious leading up to it, because I had been feeling antisocial most of the summer and was not ready to interact with too many people and of course, the venue was a new environment. During the rehearsal a few days before, I was panicked because I thought the ceremony was going to be really long and I was worried about standing in front of so many people (since I hate when people “watch” me). You would think this would be easy for me, having already gone through my own wedding, but once a shy person, always a shy person. Of course, it was a nice wedding, everything was nice and I enjoyed it and of course so did the bride and groom.

We have other weddings and events to go to, and I know leading up to those events I will have a mini-war with my brain about how I am going to feel and I won’t feel okay until I get to the event, because that’s how it always is when I don’t know what to expect in unfamiliar environments, and that’s what anticipatory anxiety is.

I have to remind myself of how far I have come since my first panic attack over 13 years ago and all that I have been able to do. I have to. Going to an event for a few hours is only a temporary situation. If I try to enjoy myself and make the most of it, it will go by faster. I have to remember that I am stronger than I think I am!


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