One of the hurdles I face and strive to overcome on a regular basis is my anticipatory anxiety. This kind of anxiety builds up prior to my commitments, sometimes days and other times weeks and months in advance. When my anticipatory anxiety is particularly strong, it can be extremely difficult to leave the house and follow through with my day as planned.
The night before any commitment is when I especially struggle with my anticipatory anxiety. I try not to focus on the accumulating worry, but it makes itself known through the coldness of my hands, the tight pressure in my head, the fluctuating temperature of my body and the uneasiness of my stomach. I try to sleep, but I only manage to do so in an interrupted manner. I tend to wake up at one-hour intervals, my thoughts consumed with the next day’s event, wondering if I will be able to uphold my commitment or if I will need to cancel because of the way my anxiousness makes me feel.
I composed the following letter, addressing it to my anticipatory anxiety in recognition of the strong hold it has upon my life and my wish for it to work with me, not against me, as I go about my daily routine.
Dear Anticipatory Anxiety,
Why do you accompany every decision I make? Why do you cause me to second-guess myself? Why do you make it uncomfortable for me to go about my every day?
When I plan to spend time with a friend, you grow in intensity as the days approach our get-together. I so look forward to seeing my friend, but when I’m feeling nervous and tense because of you, I consider canceling my plans. I don’t want to miss out on shared moments with my friends. I know you are just looking out for me, but my friends are here for me too. My friends are an important part of my support system, and they make me feel safe and comforted by reminding me how much they care about me and how much they believe in me. Please believe in me too.
We are in this together and need to trust each other as you accompany me throughout my life. I want to be a team, where you help me to be perceptive of others’ needs and my own, and where I grow in acceptance of you, recognizing you are a part of me that contributes to who I am — a part I don’t need to be ashamed of anymore. I am humbly asking you to not be a hurdle I need to jump over. Help me keep running in the race, because I know I have the strength to do so and I don’t want to give up on myself.
Yearning to better understand you,
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Thinkstock photo via KatarzynaBialasiewicz