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Five Minutes of My Waiting Room Anxiety


I sit down at the seat in the corner the farthest away from people and check the time.

10:10 a.m. Five minutes until my appointment.

Loud noises. People chatting. Kids screaming. Phones ringing.

OK, breathe. You got this. It’s OK.

Hands shaking. Skin crawling. Leg bouncing. Snapping fingers.

There is no reason to be freaking out right now. It’s OK. You are OK.

Person stares at me. I stare at the floor. Leg bounces faster. Fists clench.

I am not OK. This is not OK. I can’t breathe.

I breathe faster. In through your nose, out through your mouth.  Just a little bit longer. I count my breaths. 1, 2, 3, 4. People are still staring.

Why are they staring at me?  

It’s because you are having an anxiety attack and your nervous tics are getting worse. They are noticing.

I play with my hair.

I hope my doctor thinks I’m doing good. I want to be. I think I am. What if they think I am not doing enough? Oh gosh, I have already been doing so much more, I don’t think I could do any more right now.

I count my breaths. 1, 2, 3, 4.

1, 2, 3, 4.

More people are staring. A kid runs past me screaming.

Headphones, music. I need music.

I put my headphones in and start the music playing. This turns the commotion into a low grumble of which I only catch a few words here and there. The mutters and screams ebb away as I devour the melody and words until it is all that fills my ears and thoughts.

Just block it out. You got this.

Leg bouncing. Kid screams. More people shuffling around. I count my leg bounces.

1, 2, 3, 4. 1, 2, 3, 4.

I pull my legs to my chest and rest my head on my knees.

I got this. I can do this. I really like this song. I wish I was just in my room right now where I could sing along to it at the top of my lungs. I wonder who sings it…

My anxiety slows a bit. My name is called, and I walk slowly but surely into my appointment and take out my headphones.

This is five minutes of my waiting room anxiety routine that happens every time I go in for an appointment, which is at the very least once a month. It doesn’t always look or feel the same but, in the most general sense, this is just about how it goes down. It sucks, and I definitely feel like a “freak.” But, it’s how I cope. I didn’t run — not to say it won’t ever happen in the future because it probably will. I stayed. I figured out what works for me, and I did it. It was hard to get to a place where I could even do this well, but I never gave up, and I hope you don’t either.

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Thinkstock photo via stock-eye