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The Top 10 Things That Trigger My Anxiety

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I am asked a lot about what causes me anxiety. It is honestly tough for me to pinpoint, as I am sure it is with anyone who struggles with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or any other anxiety disorder.

Not to mention, this list seems to be ever-changing. What caused me anxiety a year ago is totally different today. It really just depends on what is going on in my life.

Also, just a disclaimer: this is my personal list. I am not a spokesperson for everyone with GAD. Everyone has different triggers. These happen to be mine!

1. Unexpected phone calls.

Most of the time, an unexpected phone call freaks me out and I typically let it go to voicemail. I am not sure why I hate unexpected phone calls so much, but I definitely prefer for someone to text me first and ask if they can give me a call. I will for sure pick up if that happens or I will say no because talking on the phone for me can be exhausting sometimes.

2. “We need to talk.”

This is literally the scariest thing ever because usually this is followed by bad news and/or hurt feelings. Anyone who knows me really well knows to not say this to me.

3. People ignoring me.

I mean, not only is it rude, but it makes me think the person or people hate me or are mad at me. Then I start overthinking about all the reasons why they could possibly be mad at me and it usually ends up in a panic attack and me just acting weird towards said person or people. There have also been a few times I have convinced myself that the person I am trying to contact is dead and that is why they are ignoring me.

4. Asking too many personal questions.

I absolutely hate being asked a ton of questions, which is why I was very nervous about going to therapy. I told my therapist I hate being asked question after question (which I usually just say “playing 20 questions”), so he asks me maybe two questions per therapy session. I think that is why he seems to ramble a lot, but truthfully I don’t mind. When people ask me too many questions, my answers begin to get short and it honestly makes me feel very overwhelmed and irritated. These feelings then become physical, typically resulting in a gastrointestinal upset, lashing out, crying or gagging.

5. Traveling to new places alone.

I feel like I am probably not alone in this. I know family members who don’t like traveling alone. I am OK with flying by myself but if I have to drive or do some sort of navigation in a new place, then I usually freak out. I try to combat this by planning out my route ahead of time, researching the area and leaving early just in case I make a wrong turn.

6. Being tailgated.

Back in 2015, my husband and I were in a car accident. We were rear-ended while stopped at an intersection and then we went partially underneath the truck in front of us. The truck had a hitch on it, which went all the way through the engine of our car, totaling it completely. Ever since then, I have hated being tailgated! It is rude and I always worry that if I have to brake suddenly, I will be rear-ended again.

7. People being persistent.

There isn’t anything wrong with being persistent. I am persistent. However, it can become extremely overwhelming when someone is persistent about something I cannot do or don’t want to do. It typically results in me blocking phone numbers that won’t stop calling me and ignoring people.

8. Long conversations.

I hate long conversations. Being social, whether it is with one person or many people, is absolutely exhausting for me. There is a reason why I drink coffee before going to a social event. If I spend one hour talking to someone, chances are by the end of that hour, I am not talking much and I just want to recharge by being alone and in a quiet place.

9. Standing up for myself.

This is something I am working on. I hate standing up for myself out of fear of creating drama or making people mad at me. Usually, I just pull away from the person who hurt me and will shut down whenever they are around or I completely avoid them. I am working on honesty currently and letting people know when I am not OK with something. I still have a lot of work to do and there are some people that I absolutely refuse to stand up for myself to, but maybe a year from now things will be better!

10. Last-minute changes to plans.

This typically involves someone adjusting the time when I am already ready to go, someone canceling last minute as I am arriving at the location, the location changing, the dress attire changing, things like that. I have learned to just take a deep breath and go with the flow, but my first reaction with things like this is anxiety. Then I take a step back and tell myself it is not the end of the world.

Unsplash photo via Camila Cordeiro

Originally published: March 9, 2018
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