There are so many relatable articles floating around Odyssey talking about how anxiety makes girls love differently, how strong those who suffer from anxiety are, and things that people with anxiety deal with. These all touch very important topics, but they are all very specific to either romance, strength, or just general facts about anxiety -- I want to talk about how anxiety has changed me. While other life events have shaped and molded me into the person I am today, anxiety turned my life upside down and my personality inside out. While I'm not the polar opposite of my old self, I'm certainly not even close to being the same.
1. I Can't Deal With Spontaneity
I used to like adventuring, and I still do, but I can no longer handle just taking off to a random location unexpectedly. I like my day to be planned as precisely as possible, and while I am flexible with things running late or ending early, I at least like to have a general idea of where I am going to be and at what time. This is probably very frustrating for a lot of people -- oftentimes I will have someone text me and ask to meet them somewhere right away for an undetermined amount of time, and chances are, I will say no. If it is a simple meeting for coffee or lunch, I've learned to just go with the flow; however, if it is something more long-term, such as an all-day adventure or an overnight trip, it just stresses me out too much. The worst thing about this side effect of my anxiety is that it not only upsets friends and family, but it frustrates me to no end! I cannot understand why my brain decides to send me into a panic attack at the mention of a spontaneous weekend trip when I used to live for that kind of thing.
2. I Need Constant Reassurance
I understand that a lot of people suffer from insecurities, and can probably relate to this to some extent, but it is definitely not the same thing. I have always been an insecure person, and loved to be told I was pretty, smart, etc., just to assure myself that the people around me still liked my presence. Now, it's no longer just a nice feeling -- it's a necessity. If I don't hear from a close friend for a day, if they don't use as many emojis in a text, or if they seem less happy than normal, I always assume the worst. In these scenarios, I will assume that the person suddenly hates me, that I did something terrible and they can no longer stand my presence. In a relationship I need to know that the person still loves me everyday, still finds me attractive, and still wants to be with me. In my leadership roles I need to know that my team respects me, that they think I'm doing my job to the best of my ability, and that I'm working hard. It is annoying and difficult to deal with, and I know that it makes me a high-maintenance person but I can't help it! This leads me to the next point...
3. I Always Think In Terms Of The Worst Case Scenario
I have never been one to really consider worst-case scenarios, and I still don't when it comes to planning things for my future; however, I always assume that something terrible has happened in the most ridiculous situations. Didn't text me back? Probably got into a car crash. Called me later than normal? Probably hiding something from me. Applied for a job and didn't hear back the next day? They probably already hired someone better. Cancelled our lunch plans unexpectedly? Grandma probably died.
It sounds silly, right? That's because it is. But I can't stop it! If I let myself think logically for a while, I will eventually calm down, but only after I've thrown myself into a few panic attacks and visualized every possible way you could have been killed or hurt.
4. I Hate Planning For The Future
This is a grey area of sorts -- I love thinking of all the cool opportunities I will have someday, and all the things that I would love to do! The real problem starts when I have to actually start planning. The process starts smoothly, I usually make a list or a spreadsheet with everything I need to do, but then it all goes downhill. I start to think about everything on that list and I start to panic... what do I do first? Are some of these time-sensitive? Which ones are necessities, and which ones aren't? Who should I go to for help? Can this even be done? From there I decide that there is too much to be done and I don't look at it again for a while.
This has forced me to learn some valuable planning skills and coping methods, but it is a serious pain to deal with. I used to love planning for the future, would color coded planners, use sticky-notes, etc.; but now I have to plan for how I am going to plan for something in order to do it right.
5. I Come Across As Cold And Uncaring
A lot of people like to think I'm an ice-princess -- I come off as being too cool to associate with other people, or cold to someone when they first meet me. In reality, I have always been this way; it takes me a while to warm up to someone but once I get to know a person, I will act like we are already best friends. Now it takes much longer to warm up to a person, and I often feel like a lot of my happy-go-lucky personality has faded. I'm definitely not as rain-clouds and doom as I was before I got my anxiety treated, but I've definitely lost a lot of my old pep.
This being said, I really do love getting to know people and making new friends -- in fact, I crave it. Unfortunately anxiety has made me overthink situations even more than I used to and as a result, making decent friendships is hard.