I put off seemingly small tasks for AGES if they involve any of my anxiety triggers. If it’s something that only affects me then I could put it off indefinitely because I often can deduce that the negative effect of avoiding the thing is less than the negative effect of doing the thing.
One of the things I was putting off in the beginning of the year was officially buying my Mom’s car from her. She officially stopped driving when she moved to Nashville temporarily while I cleaned out her condo. The plan was we were going to give her the amount to pay off the car (she had just bought used it but it had already been in one wreck, so there’s no way she could have sold it for enough to pay it off) and take ownership/insure it which would save her almost $600 a month. There was some confusion as to how I was supposed to handle the out-of-state title transfer/registration and I was given wrong information by a confused county employee which totally got me thinking the process was going to be harder than we thought and it started one of my major anxieties: MESSING UP RED TAPE.
I have this weird anxiety around accidentally breaking rules or doing things wrong and then getting reprimanded. I do a lot of research and try to ask questions to avoid this and that’s what I did with the car sale/transfer situation but then I was given bad information which I didn’t find out was bad until the beginning of March. So, I was already very anxious about this entire process when I finally showed up at the courthouse Friday, March 13th to get everything done. I had already put her car on my insurance and had the bill of sale and title in hand and was ready to go.
Except, they told me, my Mom had signed something on the title in the wrong place and so I would need to get this new affidavit they made me signed by her.
Here’s the funny thing: If I hadn’t done my typical thing where I overshare to workout my anxieties in that situation, I could have just forged it and turned around and come back. But I had babbled the entire time about my Mom moving here IN TWO DAYS and so I couldn’t really fake that I had her sign it in one hour.
So…no big deal…just wait until Monday.
I showed up Monday as they were wrapping caution tape around the doors and hanging up signs that said, “CLOSED INDEFINITELY.”
So we paid insurance on the car for two months and Monday the courthouse finally opened again. I knew the waits would be long so I decided to wait until yesterday when I was boarding my dog and could be gone for awhile. I was dreading going on Tuesday. I haven’t slept for days worrying about it.
I got there a little before 9am (hoping to let the 8:30 opening crowd thin out) and the line was already wrapping around the courthouse.
This experience was basically a winning Bingo card for Kim’s anxiety.
- Long lines. I don’t mind waiting, necessarily. I just don’t like lines. I am very weird in lines. There’s always weirdness with people approaching the line and not knowing what it’s for and confusion about where it should wrap as it extends and…I don’t know how to explain it…but long lines STRESS ME OUT. I find myself needing to be the line police to make sure everyone gets in the right line (I told at least 10 people they didn’t need to be in the line yesterday because it was only for registrations/tags) and the responsibility…THAT I TAKE ON MYSELF…is stressful.
- Pandemic. OBVIOUSLY that’s an anxiety trigger but not everyone in the line was keeping 6-feet away and I kept having to give the guy behind me the stink-eye but the guy behind him was the problem so I was giving him the stink-eye too and it was just STRESSING ME OUT. Also? They had signs saying you had to have a “face covering” to go inside but outside several people didn’t have masks.
- Trapped with grumpy strangers: Sometimes I can strike up a good conversation with a stranger if we’re in a happy situation but the registration line at the courthouse IS NOT THAT LINE. Everyone is anxious and stressed and I just kept waiting for someone to get really rude with someone and so if I heard anyone raise their voice I started panicking.
- Strange social norms: All of the “out there” during this time has new rules and not everyone knows them and so there’s all this weird social anxiety about how to talk to people and interact with people and it’s hard to hear people with masks on which makes my social anxieties even higher and so the experienced definitely set me on a social anxiety spiral.
- Bureaucracy/Protocols that I might be messing up: I had already tried to get instructions and TWICE I found out I was doing things wrong so I was NOT AT ALL CONFIDENT this was going to go smoothly yesterday. I was terrified I’d wait 2 hours in line only to find out I had done something wrong…again. It’s what I had been dreading for the 7 weeks the courthouse was closed and what I was dreading the entire 2 hours in line.
So…with my full Bingo card of Anxiety…I waited for 2 hours and…got it done. I had to use a lot of my training. The 5-senses reset, the breathing reset, I talked to myself a lot (vocalizing things helps me reset) and just hoped the 6-feet separation and the face mask hid that. I texted funny memes to my kids. I used ALL of my tools during that two hours.
Nothing bad happened, I did everything right, mission accomplished.
But the whole experience exhausted me SO MUCH and got me SO WOUND UP that I literally was unable to function for almost 2 hours afterwards. I had to eat lunch, then decompress/zone out to reboot my anxious system before I could give anything my attention. I was fried to say the least. I was more exhausted than I would have been if I had run for two hours instead. It was insane how much that whole experience affected my mind and body.
Anxiety disorders are no joke, y’all. I’m proud of myself for doing the thing although I have another similar thing on Thursday that also has to be done. Keep me in your thoughts.