When Anxiety Tries to Cancel My Plans

I’m standing in front of the bathroom mirror. I lean close to put on a final coat of mascara. Soon, I’ll be pulling out of the driveway to meet a friend for frozen yogurt. Soon, I’ll be filling up a cup with swirling flavors and sprinkling on toppings. Soon, I’ll be sitting at a table — talking and laughing and smiling.

But at this moment, I’m looking at the reflection of my brown eyes in the bathroom mirror. And at this moment, with no warning, Anxiety bursts in. He crashes into my brain and turns my amiable image of the outing into a picture of disaster. Anxiety hides in the trenches and shoots machine guns of worries into all corners of my mind.

I pick up my brush. What if I show up and she isn’t there? I pull the bristles through my tangled hair. What if I got the time wrong? I put down the brush. What if she only agreed to hang out because she felt bad saying no? I turn on the sink. What if I say something silly? I run my hands under the cold water. What if she thinks I’m boring? I turn off the sink. What if.

I stare into the mirror once again. Oh yes, Anxiety is the king of what ifs. And he chose this day to knock down my defenses with a grand battalion. I wish I could plug my ears to block out his endless stream of worst-case scenarios, but Anxiety lives in my head — there’s no way to silence his voice. I am overpowered by his demanding presence, his machine gun of worries. Part of me knows his words are irrational, but Reason has been pushed out of my mind. Because when Anxiety visits, there’s no room for anyone else.

As I stand frozen in front of the bathroom mirror, I fall prey to Anxiety’s cunning ways. I listen to his list of worst-case scenarios and I cave in to his demands. He tells me to cancel my plans, so I do. Lucky for me, over the years, Anxiety has accumulated a long list of excuses: car troubles, migraines, family emergencies, injured pets, last-minute appointments. I take my pick and text my friend, “So sorry, I think I’m getting sick — rain check?”

I look back into the bathroom mirror. Anxiety seems to have won again. I add “frozen yogurt” to the rain check list of things I’ve had to miss due to my familiar visitor: birthday parties, lunch dates, shopping trips, field trips, sleepovers — it seems to go on forever. I wish that I could have told my friend the truth, but Anxiety makes that impossible. So, once again, I have allowed Anxiety to cancel my plans.

My hands clutch the sink with white knuckles as I glare at my reflection in the mirror. I feel the hot swords of Anger enter my mind — anger at Anxiety for always ruining everything, and anger at myself for always letting him. Time after time I tell myself: next time I’ll fight harder, next time I’ll push him away for good, next time I’ll show Anxiety who is boss. But next time comes and goes and comes again and I never seem to win.

As I glare into the mirror, I hate myself for letting Anxiety beat me every time. I hate myself for being so weak. But then, I step away from the mirror. I look around my room — at my calendar with dates scribbled in, my bookshelf with photo albums of memories, my list of rain checks to follow up on. Maybe Anxiety wasn’t winning. Because every time he showed up, I was eventually able to push him out — he never lasted forever. Anxiety may cancel my plans sometimes, but I keep making new ones.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Olela

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Anxiety

Royce White

How Anxiety Brought Me Closer to the Common Struggle

My introduction to anxiety was more of a crash course. At 16 years old, a friend’s lake house, two joints, vodka and Fresca would be the catalyst of my first full-blown panic attack. Like most people’s first panic attack, irregular breathing, heartbeat and thoughts continued to build until the nausea made me vomit. The out [...]
Full length girl. Black and white woman on blue background

How I Get Over a 'People Hangover' as Someone With Anxiety

Looking at me, talking to me and watching how I interact throughout the day, most wouldn’t believe I am someone with anxiety. The kind of anxiety that leaves me numb, but pained with an unsettling feeling of something being wrong. The kind of anxiety that leaves me in bed all day crying for no reason. [...]
Tea Party on the theme of Alice in Wonderland

When Anxiety Makes You Feel Like You're Constantly 'Falling Down the Rabbit Hole'

Sometimes I think my mind is a rabbit hole. Except, instead of bringing me to adventures with cheshire cats and unbirthday parties, it sends me tumbling into a pit of terror where I’m continually forced to battle with my own personally tailored Queen of Hearts. Perhaps you’ve heard of her. Her name is Anxiety. No matter where I [...]
illustration of a woman on the beach

Anxiety Is a Small Word, but a Big Feeling

Anxiety. A state of being anxious. A feeling of worry, nervousness or unease about a situation. It’s a small word that is defined so simply. Yet the feeling is anything but simple. The feeling is anything but small. Anxiety can be all encompassing. Anxiety is a heavy weight on your heart, dragging you down into [...]