In yesterdays post, The metaphorical staircase I explained that I have accepted a job and I’m due to start on Friday. This is a big deal for me as it will be my first real job since my anxiety led to me leaving work last summer. My emotions have been up and down since I accepted the job, so today I thought I would try to explain it more clearly. Welcome to the bane of my life, anticipatory anxiety!
Let me try to explain this as simply as possible. Next week you know something is going to happen that makes you feel nervous. For example you have an exam/are starting a new job/attending a social event, something that has you on edge. For the rest of the week running up to the event you think about it. You obsess over certain scenarios, what could go well and what could go wrong. Out of those two options, guess which one you think about the most? That’s right, what could go wrong.
You work yourself up, lose sleep, feel ill with worry, right up until the event. Then one of two things will happen:
- You go to the event and 90% of the time everything is fine. The exaggerated worries don’t happen, you enjoy yourself. If anything does go awry, it is quickly sorted and nowhere near as scary as you imagined. You think to yourself “See, everything was great! What was I worried about?”
- You work yourself up so badly that you find an excuse, a way out and you don’t go. You try to convince yourself it was the right thing to do but feel ashamed and cowardly.
This is anticipatory anxiety. Personally, the worst thing for me is that even though I know I have been in the situation before and know everything will be fine, I still worry for days or even weeks beforehand. It can be difficult to shake off and it is the main type of anxiety I suffer from.
The reason I bring this up is because I am experiencing it right now, I am anticipating starting my new job and anxiety is building. I know that when I go on Friday I will feel “in the moment” and chances are I’ll be absolutely fine. What I need to do now is stop myself from getting too worked up in the meantime. Sleep, rest and food are important and if I let my anxiety have an impact on those 3 things I put myself at a disadvantage on Friday.
I would love to hear your experiences. Do you suffer from anticipatory anxiety? Do you have any techniques that help you when it strikes? I am working on a couple of techniques and will share them soon if they are effective.
Bye for now,