Monday, September 29, 2014

Anticipating the worst gets you nowhere

"A bit of autumn"

Every time I woke up Saturday night into Sunday morning, I thought about the upcoming Confrontation.

They won’t believe me.
I’m going to get upset.
I’m going to start crying.
If they can’t help me, I’m going to have to go probably a week without enough meds.
It’s going to be too hard.

I turned over and told myself that I couldn’t know then, in the middle of the night, lying in my bed, what would happen. It might not be so bad. I’d deal with it then.
I fell asleep.
Then I woke up again, and the fears would take over again.

I was experiencing classic anticipatory anxiety, where I was getting anxious about an upcoming event or interaction. I was feeling the anxiety as if I were in the middle of the situation, and the situation was going badly.
What was the Confrontation I dreaded?
A talk with the pharmacist at the local drugstore.

I hate confrontations. I have a lot of fear about people being angry at me or thinking ill of me. I have kept quiet and suffered the consequences of not speaking up, not asking for better service, not asking for what was rightfully mine.
I know at least some of this tendency is because of my intense anxiety.

The situation I faces was this: When I got my antidepressant refilled, I thought the bottle felt light. But the bottle was small and the pills were large, so it was hard for me to tell.
I pushed aside my worry. Surely, the pharmacy staff would have gotten it right.

On Saturday night, I really looked into the bottle, and I could see the bottom, with only six pills left. I checked the refill date, and it was just two weeks ago. There was no way that I started out with 60 pills.

I told Larry about it.
“They’ll think I’m lying to get some free pills,” I said.
I was also worried that they would think I was taking extra pills. That I was one of those “mental” people who couldn’t keep track of her meds.
Yep, I was self-stigmatizing too.

There was nothing concrete that Larry could do, of course. It was too late to go the pharmacy. I’d have to wait until the next day.
So I had the difficult night.

Morning came, and I got showered and dressed and drove to the pharmacy. It was just about seven minutes away, but I wanted it to be longer.
I walked into the store and asked to speak with the pharmacist on duty. She met me at the counter. I her my story.
“I don’t remember for sure if I started that prescription the day I got it. It may have been the following Monday or Tuesday. But I only have six pills left,” I said.
I was nervous. I talked faster than I usually do.
She looked at the bottle and said, “It looks like we probably gave you 30 instead of the 60. We’ll fix that.”
“I don’t have any way to prove that you didn’t give me the pills,” I said.
“That’s OK,” she said. “We believe you.”
And she put the extra pills into the bottle and apologized for shorting me.
And that was all.
No accusations. No rebuffs. No anger. No tears.
I felt the light-headed feeling I get after an anxious experience is over.

I had spent all that time worrying and creating stories with negative outcomes. I expected a bad experience, even though I knew I couldn’t know for certain what would happen.
In truth, the reality was not nearly as bad as I had anticipated. And it usually works out that way, if I’m honest.
Sure, we all have difficult interactions with others sometimes. And bad things happen to all of us. Maybe we had times when we expected good things and they never happened.
But there’s no need to worry about something that might not happen.
This seems to be a lesson that I have to learn over and over.

How about you—Do you ever experience anticipatory anxiety?


  1. Oh for sure, and just as it turned out for you, it wasn't as bad of a situation as I created in my mind.

    Now, I try really hard to remember that I have no control over what the response or reaction will be. I know myself well, and I know that I mean well and am as honest as I possibly can be ... the rest is up to them.

    Thinking of you :)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Who doesn't? We hear those voices and we try to ignore them but sometimes they seem louder than our own good sense and reason.

    My own personal motto is "Fully expect the universe to cooperate." It's my mantra and especially when things look like they may go wrong, I repeat it over and over. And sometimes they do. But more times they don't. I truly believe that MOST people want to listen and be fair. Some don't and we never know where we will find them. But most will reason and listen. I'm so glad you experience at the pharmacy worked out well -- it's a good to hold in your heart as a reminder for the future. (And a splendid pharmacist, I might add.)

  4. i have definitely done this (to myself) as well. my mother was a worrier and that was passed down to us kids.

  5. I do get anxious about things ahead of time. I do lose sleep over things. However I think that it may be somewhat unpleasant but normal human behavior. I was a teacher so often the next day's plan went through my head at night.

  6. Yes, that anticipatory anxiety seems to be tough to get rid of, but being aware of it, I think is so helpful. I struggle with that myself.

  7. i am not a worrier, i don't know why. but i do sympathize with your anixety in this situation. my son is a pharmacist, they have many legal and ethical standards to uphold. it can be hard for them as well but yours handled it beautifully, the way i hope my son would!! so happy it went well, there are lots of good, kind people left in the world!!!

  8. That's the sort of thing I would've been all worked up over too. I'm so glad that they believed you and fixed the problem!

  9. I'm really glad that everything worked out so well for you. I get horrible anticipatory anxiety, especially when I have to use the phone or talk to someone who is "higher" than me (like people of authority - doctors, etc). I went to the eye doctor Saturday and the WHOLE TIME it was pure anticipatory anxiety. Ugh.

  10. That would be a difficult confrontation. But I'm glad things turned out fine. I absolutely think about things like that at night myself.

  11. I have dealt with anticipatory anxiety a lot. It was so bad that I would feel sick to my stomach, diarrhea...

    Now I practice Mindfulness and try to out into place what I have learned through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It works most of the time.

  12. Oh anticipatory anxiety used to be the worst part of everything, I think. I've learned the same lessons. It really helps nothing, and it only makes today worse. Much, much worse. When I experience anticipatory anxiety now, I try to think rationally and make the decision to focus on the here and now instead. It does help. And yes, most of the time, when I was anxious about something ahead of time, it never turned out to be as bad as I thought. Sometimes, it even turned out to be something good!

  13. Sometimes. I've heard it said that 90% of what we worry about never happens. That leaves only 10% that does.

  14. Yes I sometimes have that anxiety. I tend to role play those anxious scenes in my head. It seems to sort of help me plan out different responses, etc.

  15. wow, that is a tough one. i am so happy/glad it worked out well. my hubby has a lot of this. pulls & pushes to know what is the proper way to go on. i don't as much as i did when i was younger. ( :

  16. Yes, anticipatory anxiety is one of my bigger struggles. In thr CBT program I did back i. 2003, i actually learned to look at the worst possible scenario, because most of the time it's so "out there" I end up laughing about it. However, one time I was refilling my thyroid med because of a similar mix-up, and the woman I spoke to obviously didn't believe me (does anyone abuse thyroid meds?), so I would probably be as nervous as you. Glad it came out okay.

  17. I know exactly what you're talking about! I can do that, too. Worry like crazy about how badly something might end...and then nothing bad happens at all and I'm so incredibly relieved and I just don't understand why I tortured myself with all those thoughts beforehand.
    I'm so happy for you she saw right away that they might have given you the wrong amount. I guess slowly starting to believe in ourselves is what'll help us deal with those situations better over time. Sounds so easy but I know it's so so difficult, I'm still learning, too.

  18. Oh Tina I am sorry this happened to you and caused you so much stress and worry. I have found as I get older that I HAVE WASTED A LOT OF TIME WORRYING ABOUT WHAT OTHERS MAY THINK OF ME AND MY ACTIONS. Let us try to get past that consuming and crippling thing shall we. You are not alone. HUGS B

  19. I blow things up in my head too. Sometimes I think that if I plan for the worst, it can only be better than that. So glad it went smoothly for you. They knew you were an honest customer. :-)

  20. I think we all spend entirely too much time worrying about things that never happen. Considering that 99% of what I worry will happen, never'd think I would learn to stop it. :)

  21. Oh, am I ever guilty of this, and it's never as bad as I made it out to be in my mind. A total waste of worry!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.