feeling forever phobic.

S

Spider

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Oct 26, 2013
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Washington State, USA
Warning, long rambling rant, lol!

Long story, but I have pretty bad dental phobia and 2 years ago I moved cross country and needed to find a new dentist. My old dentist did pretty shoddy work, but I liked how “fast” he was so I stuck with him rather than find a better, slower, dentist. Because of my phobia, I’d much rather spend 5 minutes in a complete panic to get a crappy filling than 30 minutes in a complete panic to get a well placed filling. Ugh, I know :(

So I moved and I dragged my feet a bit, but then I made an appointment with a dentist in my new little town. There was a long list of things that needed to be repaired due to decay around fillings. In less than 2 years I’ve done 2 crowns, 3 cleanings and 4 or 5 fillings (mostly done one per visit). I have ONE more thing left and its a crown. This last appointment has been causing me SO much anxiety… surely I should be a pro by now but I’m really suffering with anxiety and fear.

The appointment is in 2 weeks and its all I can think about. If I cancel it, I’m afraid that I’ll feel like a failure for giving in to my anxiety. I’m afraid that I will never reschedule it. I have to get it done eventually, so delaying it isn’t helping me. I’m under a lot of stress right now so maybe I should cancel and reschedule for a less stressful time in my life. I have seasonal anxiety and September, October and November are my toughest months, so I think part of my increased anxiety is due to my seasonal issues. My kids are starting school next week and I’m stressed about that too. My daughter has a learning disability and is in special education and I always fear that she’ll have an uncaring teacher or be made fun of, etc. I have 2 school meetings coming up where I have to be assertive. I also have agoraphobia so all this “life stuff” is very hard for me. Just driving my kids to and from school is hard, but I push through and do it because I have no other choice. Its a 20 minute drive one way, so its a long way from my home, my “safe area”. All this is going through my head over and over and I’m feeling quite crazy for being so terrified of something that is literally only 1 or 2 hours of my life. All of this self scolding just makes me feel worse about myself. I don't know what to do

I just need to unload because no one else understands. Does anyone else ever feel like their dental phobia has worsened even after many successful appointments? I don’t expect to sing and dance on mornings that I have a dentist appointment, but I’d like to stop spending so much time dreading it!
 
nekoneko

nekoneko

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Hi Spider!
It's awesome that you made your appointment! I know it's hard now, but you'll feel so much better when you're done. It's great that you've got so much going for you already! Do your best to not cancel. You've made a great step forward, all you have to do is the follow through, and you'll feel so much better after.

It helps to forgive yourself. I struggle with this too, but would you scold yourself the same way you would scold a loved one? I do feel like my anxiety gets worse each time I have to get something done, even though I've had a lot of success and my dentist is wonderful. I think it might help to focus on the things that you do, and you do well, and before you know it, your appointment will be there and done! Are you able to bring a friend with you to the appointment? Maybe you can have a friend just drop you off so that you can ensure you are investing in yourself and your happiness. You're worth it!

Take care and best wishes
 
Sol

Sol

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Went through the same thing over the last couple of months. I've been seeing a dentist regularly for 6 years but I decided it was time to change. Knew it would be stressful but did not picture the anxiety coming on as strong as it did some days. Like a rogue wave that just hits you out of nowhere. The length of my journal is a good indicator of the amount of anxiety related to meeting a new dentist and self imposed pressure to make the change. A month long wait for the appointment and a few other curve balls did not help either.

I wont say all is bad, some things have improved for me from the last time I set up a new patient appointment. However, I understand the frustration with feeling like you have made progress only to have the anxiety rear its head again. Anxiety before appointments is the most difficult thing since we are so good at picturing the "bad" things. Try to be kind to yourself and don't beat yourself up about the anxiety (the anxiety will come and go but you are more resilient). The only advice I can give is try to stay busy, take time to do things you like doing, and think of the outcome (its the last bit of work needed right now and you will be glad its over).
 
S

Spider

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Oct 26, 2013
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Washington State, USA
thanks for the replies- I do feel somewhat better spilling it all out and then reading your responses :) I'm glad I'm not alone in this. So I've decided I will not cancel it... I need to get it done. Its rough because I always feel so accomplished when an appointment is over, but then the anxiety creeps back in for the next one. Perhaps I'll always be like this. nekoneko, I never thought of it that way- so I would never scold a loved one the way that I scold myself. I am actually quite mean to myself!

I do need to keep myself busy for the next few weeks. There are several big stressful things coming up this month with a dentist appointment thrown in there too, so having a craft project or something to sew may be a good brain relaxer.

Sol, I'll have to read your journal :)
 
Sol

Sol

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So I've decided I will not cancel it... I need to get it done. Its rough because I always feel so accomplished when an appointment is over, but then the anxiety creeps back in for the next one. Perhaps I'll always be like this.
Good to hear you are planning to keep the appointment. Hope the time files for you. The anxiety and feelings about this stuff can change over time so I hope you don't feel like you will always be stuck with the same amount of anxiety. It's a different process for everyone, fast or slow. I think if you reflect on it you will see improvements you have made, even if its gradual.
 
kitkat

kitkat

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Overall, my anxiety is nothing like it was 15 years ago but it still comes in waves. Some days I feel pretty unphased by appointments and other days I am more nervous. There does not seem to be much rhyme or reason to it in my case which makes it even more frustrating (the only trend I notice is that I get most anxious about fillings). I used to think that I should get less anxious with each appointment and would put pressure on myself to “make progress” in this way but I’ve learned to just roll with it and trust that if I’m nervous, my dentist can handle me.
 
Enarete

Enarete

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Dear Spider,

sorry to read how much you struggle right now. Having to have a crown done and that with a dentist you have only seen once before, that's something that would make most of us anxious!

Dental phobia getting worse despite many successful appointments.. It depends on how you define a successful appointment. Reading your post it sounds like you define it as "getting the work done". Sadly this is the huge misconception so many people and dentists live with. If I push myself through huge anxiety and allow an unkind dentist do the work, it will worse my anxiety. That's because anxiety doesn't care whether your teeth have gotten the work done, your anxiety only cares about how comfortable, taken care of and in charge you felt during the process. In this regard, pushing yourself through five minutes of terror is like treating your teeth without treating your anxiety. Once you have found a dentist who looks after your emotional state and makes efforts to make you feel comfortable and once you learn to look after yourself during an appointment, things start to get better. Sadly, it really doesn't work in any other way if you suffer from severe dental anxiety and even in this way things need some time to improve.

It sounds like you are pushing through a lot of things because of not having a choice currently and that's life sometimes. Sometimes there is no space and energy to deal with the dental anxiety slowly and gradually and sometimes people just need the work done and that's fine too. I think the most helpful question right now would be "what do you think would make the appointment easier for you?". As you mentioned, cancelling is not the right thing, as a phobic you should never cancel, only reschedule anyway, but maybe there is something that would help. Do you know what exactly it is that worries you regarding the crown? Would it be an idea to discuss those things with your dentist? Would agreeing on breaks be helpful? Would you like him to talk you through? Do you feel able to give your dentist a stop signal once you need a short break? There are many things that can be done. I am not a fan of meds, but sometimes, if you do not have many options, they are a good first aid. You can later still decide to get desensitized or start working differently with your dentist, but if you need the work urgently, getting any kind of sedation might be worth considering.

Last, but not least, as nekoneko mentioned, please do not feel crazy for having anxiety. If you would feel absolutely normal when thinking of a dental visit, it wouldn't be a phobia. You are doing an amazing job, with your dental stuff and also whith your kids and other stuff you are dealing with, so please, give yourself the credit for it.

All the best wishes, do keep us posted, feel free to vent at any time and hope your kids get a wonderful lovely teacher you all are happy with! :clover:
 
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