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Am I developing anxiety?


Guest Obieland

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Guest Obieland

Sorry this is awfully long -- you don't actually have to read it all.

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I have very few responsibilities and only work part-time, teaching preschool. I also have AD/HD-inattentive type, so my natural state is floating along in the clouds... but this year I feel like I'm much more overwhelmed and stressy than my situation actually requires.

Things that make me feel overwhelmed so I avoid them (in no particular order):

- Cars. I'm 22 and I've completely avoided learning how to drive. I like riding in cars, I just don't like driving, or biking in the road when cars are whooshing by. I always felt completely awful behind the wheel, and haven't tried it again in a few years. (I think I'd be better with a super-skinny car, like my bicycle but with walls, even if that was actually less safe... man, I should get a moped. But I'm scared to spend the money on one.)

- Spending money. I avoid spending any money. I'm legitimately poor, but I don't need to avoid spending quite as hard as I do. My middle-class mom avoids spending her money too. When I was little, I'd pretend to edit it out where characters in books were spending money (especially poor characters, or especially large sums) -- it made me nervous vicariously. When my family went out to eat, they tried to give me permission but I'd still try to order as cheaply as possible, as though out of consideration. Even now, grocery shopping takes me a couple hours to purchase $30 of food, and I simply don't buy anything except groceries and rent.

But I'm not afraid of having no money, or the results of having no money. I'm not even nervous about losing money or having it stolen. I just feel very reluctant to spend it. (Maybe I'm scared of wanting things, or something?)

- Communicating through email and phones. It takes about a week or two to actually reach me. Sometimes I get defensively mad that people are calling me and making me nervous. I rarely answer, and I need to calm down for a few moments afterwards once I finally go through with it. I just checked my email for the first time in a week and a half, and there are hundreds of unread messages from when I'd refused to check before too. (I don't know *what* I was avoiding exactly by purposely not checking, but it felt big and overwhelming... and it's not just massive procrastination, I know what that's like and this isn't it.)

The overwhelming nature of phones and emails seem to get much bigger when I avoid them successfully, but it gets much better when I muscle through and check them successfully. Cars and money have yet to get better just from muscling through.

- Being about to talk to people. This is a recent thing, and it's quite mild so far. Once I can actually see people in front of me, I usually forget about most of my nervousness; I probably find the body language reassuring, or at least distracting. (thanks, AD/HD!) When I'm still feeling nervous, I have some strategies that help me.

Everyone thinks I'm utterly fearless. I've been a circus performer (yes, really. I do acro-balance on stilts), and I've juggled fire while wearing stilettos. I'm not really scared of people judging or hating me etc., and I'm doing pretty well in getting over my fear of hurting people. I think sometimes I'm scared that I'll do something wrong, or encounter something overwhelming, but the consequences of doing something wrong or being overwhelmed are not the focus of the fear.

If I'm developing anything at all, I think it's quite mild, so far... but I'm nervous about it, because I don't know how anxiety starts, and I don't want my stupid quirks to become a big scary thing, just a little, manageable scary thing, or better yet, nothing at all. Y'know?

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