The question makes me weary. It makes me know that he person asking has no clue what I go through some days. It makes me crawl in a nice private hole, preferably a warm and dark hole with plenty of chocolate nearby!
Anxiety disorder isn't so much about fear. Doesn't everybody get a little nervous when they are scheduled for a dentist exam? Not me! There's no "little" about it. My body goes into overdrive. I have sleepless nights filled with meaningless obsessive thoughts, perpetually clenched jaw, grumpiness, jumpiness, impulse control issues.
I know the dentist. He is a kind, gentle soft-spoken man. I know that he will not intentionally harm me even a little bit. I know that he will find lots of damage because I have not had a regular dentist since I was in high school, twenty years ago. He might scold me, but I'll survive the embarassment of that. He will undoubtedly schedule follow-up visits: a hassle, to be sure! I realize that none of this is worth the energy my body and mind put into it. It will happen, it is the best thing for me, and life will go on. Unfortunately I don't know what I'm scared of - why I "freak out" at the thought of the dentist. Why do I dread it so much that physical and emotional reactions have me practically immobilized? Why can't I find a shred of normalcy in my brain this morning?
I have worked very hard to hide my anxiety attacks from my daughter, but surely they do not go unnoticed. The last thing I want her to think is that this is normal or rational behavior. She enjoys doctor visits just as she would any other outing. I hope for her sake, this "disorder" is not in any way genetic.