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When Anxiety Starts Making Decisions for You

Many people see me as a confident and compassionate volunteer with a therapy dog who offers comfort and support to middle school students. What they and most people don’t know is that anxiety made me do it! After retiring, I needed to do something to fill my time and anxiety limited where and what I could do. Working with my service dog who is cross-trained as a therapy dog was a great option. It also helped that I could return to a school in which I had worked before, under a principal I knew and with some staff with whom I was familiar. My anxiety “made” the choice for me. This time it was a great one.

Other times, when my anxiety gets the upper hand and limits my choices, I feel the outcome is not as good. There are times when I’m invited to go places with my coworkers or friends. The thought of navigating traffic, a new venue, choosing from a menu, dealing with crowds and handling money is too overwhelming. My anxiety kicks in. I fumble through excuses in my head: I need to feed the dogs, my husband is expecting me, I forgot my debit card, I have a headache or I am not hungry. I never share the truth: I am saying no because I am anxious and scared.

Anxiety made me do it!

Family gatherings are so nerve-wracking. If family gathers at my home, I petrified we have not cleaned everything perfectly. (Oh, that pesky dog hair!) I worry about having wonderful decorations. I am concerned whether I have prepared a good meal to satisfy everyone and whether I look presentable and am able to make everyone comfortable and happy! If we choose to visit family, I worry about keeping names and relationships straight, making conversation and wondering how soon we can leave because I am genuinely uncomfortable making small talk for hours. I try to opt out as often as possible. Again, anxiety made me do it!

Going shopping or running errands away from our home produces major anxiety. I have difficulty driving away from the house and worry about accidents. I am uncomfortable in the store and cannot concentrate on the purchases I should make even if I have a list. Sometimes I will just abandon the basket and come home with nothing. Anxiety made me do it!

Anxiety is my silent, constant copilot that makes many of my decisions. Someday I hope to be the sole pilot. But right now much of the time, “Anxiety made me do it!”

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