I get anxious for a ton of different reasons, but one that just keeps happening (and will keep happening because this is the way life works) is when I don’t know what is going to happen somewhere that I have to go. Mostly when I’m going alone. When I don’t know what to expect or don’t know what I’ll be doing, it causes me a lot of anxiety.
I’ve been doing some physical therapy lately for my neck and back. It’s been really useful, but I rarely know what I’ll be doing on each visit. They rarely give me an idea of whether I’ll be learning new exercises (and thus have to be paying very close attention to learn the form and movement), or whether I’ll be getting some massage (effective but also means awkward conversation), or something else entirely (who knows what).
For things like doctor visits or physical therapy, where I’m there without my emotional support humans, I have to be “on” and be able to go with the flow. Since the beginning of COVID, I’ve gotten extra out of practice with that, and it requires heavy masking. I have to put on my “functional human” mask and my “I’m in public” mask and the “pay very close attention to something that might be a challenge” mask and my “interact with people I don’t know well” mask and my “advocate for myself” mask. Plus some others, depending on the situation.
It’s extra hard when my appointments are first thing in the morning, which they usually are (if appointments are in the afternoon, then I can never settle into my day because I’m trying hard to be productive while actively awaiting the afternoon appointment, so I prefer to get them over with earlier in the day). I like to know exactly what’s happening in a day, especially what’s happening first thing in the morning, so I can start my day with confidence and gain some momentum. If I don’t know how my first couple or few hours of the day are going to go in advance, what will happen and what *I* will do, it causes me anxiety.
So, while these physical therapy appointments have been extremely valuable (they always are), they’re also a big challenge to my feeling safe and secure, comfortable, and like I have my feet under me.
(Note to self: I need to get myself something like one of these sticks for some of my exercises. I’m currently using my childhood baton that’s missing an end! Not ideal.)
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