The recent fireworks have tormented one of my dogs. She cowers beneath the dining room table and refuses to come out until long after the last shell explodes. I wonder what she must think. She has never been exposed to gunfire or any other extreme source of noise. But the anxiety she exhibits is real.
There are things I’m afraid of that had no precursory event, like spiders. I don’t remember a spider ever harassing me in my youth, but to this day I get a chill when I see one. The fear may not be founded, but it’s real.
Anxiety is closely related to fear and it does not always have a specific cause, but I guarantee to the person experiencing it, it feels overwhelming, even paralyzing. There are times I have suffered a panic attack when I could not identify one specific cause. There may have been several worries on my mind that escalated into the general feeling of a loss of control. People who don’t suffer from anxiety have a hard time understanding it because they may not see an obvious trigger.
When Jenna comes out from under the table she looks embarrassed, if that’s possible for a dog. She’ll lower her head and come curl up on my lap. I comfort her for a while and tell her it’s okay. There is no shame in how someone feels. It’s how you manage the feeling that makes a difference for your mental health.