Really Early Or Really Late; Only People With Anxiety Will Understand
Having anxiety seems to be the one of the most unpredictable predictable conditions ever. You think you've figure out your triggers and your comfort zones and you do an excellent job at controlling your environment and predicting your episodes, when all of a sudden you're in one of those comfort zones and it starts to happen. Your limbs stiffen up. Your heart begins to race. Your stomach all of a sudden feels as though there are a million moths fluttering around in there and the only thing going through your head is "I need to go home. What excuse can I give to get myself out of here." This is all too common for people with anxiety.
I didn't always have anxiety. It began when I moved from my small hometown to a large city. Even though I was with family, I felt extremely alone and uncomfortable. I could manage this though. It got worse when I spent four years in a terribly abusive relationship. It just went downhill from there.
One of my hardest struggles, as I'm sure it's common with many people dealing with anxiety, is getting ready to go somewhere. It's like a red flag waving uncontrollably. No matter what I do, I'm either ready too early, or I arrive really late.
Being Ready Too Early
If you're talking to my mother, she'd say there's no such thing as being ready too early, but when it comes to anxiety, we're talking extremes. The moment I make plans to go somewhere, the real planning begins. I have to plan everything out in order to make myself more comfortable and confident in actually leaving the house. I plan the entire outfit, the jewelry, the shoes, the shade of eye shadow, how I plan to style my hair and even what time I will eat prior to going out so as not to ruin an appetite or if I need to fill up before I go. I try on my outfit several times before my final approval and make sure that it's an outfit I can feel secure in.
By the time the day comes for the outing, I'm so nervous that I begin to get ready in the morning, even if my plans aren't until evening time. This is when it really starts to get crazy. I put on my perfectly planned outfit and I am now ready to go and several hours early. I have nothing to do. I end up sitting on the couch, scared of moving. Terrified of smudging my make-up, of flattening my hair, of wrinkling my dress, of ruining everything I had perfectly planned out and now my comfort level is beginning to decrease.
This is where the mathematical calculations begin. I now begin to map out distances. First between my location and the destination. Then between my friends' locations and the destination. I have to figure out how much time it will take everyone to get to the destination so I can plan the exact minute that I need to leave the house in order to arrive at the destination the same time as someone else. I pray that if I leave at the precise moment, I might get lucky enough to actually meet a friend in the parking lot and be able to walk into the event together.
So it's now 2:00 and I don't have to leave the house until 5:38. Instead of being productive, I will sit carefully on the couch in anticipation for 5:38.
This is what anxiety does to me.
Being late starts off similar to being early in that everything will be planned ahead of time. But these late days, I'm feeling a little more confident therefore I begin the process of getting ready much later. In fact, I time it out so I don't give myself a lot of extra time. That's the first big mistake.
What ends up happening is that I get ready, with all my perfectly planned details and I'm ready to go at the exact moment I have timed myself to leave. Then I look in the full length mirror one last time. Suddenly, everything is wrong. The dress is too short, too long, too loose, too tight, the belt doesn't look right, my hair is higher on the right side, the silver earrings are a different silver than the buckle on my sandals, it's a compete disaster. I am a compete disaster.
Second mistake, instead of going with my first plan, I now decide to change my dress. This also means changing shoes, jewelry, watches, possibly my eye shadow hue. And when I'm finally feeling better and head downstairs to leave, I realize I have already changed my purse to match the first outfit and now I will have to change out my purse again. I needed to leave at 5:38. It is now 6:01.
This is what anxiety does to me.