I have a sincere question for you, and if you have anxiety issues, I suspect you know why I ask this.
One of the best ways I think I’ve ever summarized anxiety – at least the really bad, crippling kind – was by describing it as a box. You live inside the box. And slowly, as the anxiety ramps up, it gets worse, and the box starts to compress. Little by little, it squeezes you in, trapping you and stopping you from doing things you previously enjoyed. Going out late at night. Living with spontaneity. And then you just find your life stuck inside this box, regimented by routines and a fear of fear that you don’t fully understand but absolutely cannot conquer.
Here’s my question: Is this you? Because it does feel like me.
As I’ve discussed previously, generally speaking, I feel like I live a life in recovery. That’s a bit of a complicated statement because I unquestionably still suffer from a series of anxiety and depression related issues. But I say it because I feel like I can lead a good life and a relatively happy one.
But, there’s no question about it: I lead a life that has been limited by anxiety.
Examples? I can’t stand surprises. I have to know where I’m going and what I’m doing. Open social situations – parties, etc – can be intimidating. Weird thing for a politician to write out, right?
I crave routine. I like to be doing X at this time and doing Y at this time. I’m obsessed with my calendar and my to-do list because they keep me on schedule and knowing what I am doing, something I crave and need.
Do I think I’m living in a box still? No. I don’t. But I do think there are some ceilings in my life. Some things which are limited by my anxiety.
Huh. This has been instructive to write. Might be something I want to bring up in therapy later because it’s not something I want to live with. I’d love to live with a bit more flexibility and spontaneity. I’d love to be able to go out places without…fear.
It’s a defense mechanism for me. A coping skill, one developed by the unfortunate reward your body gives out for avoiding the anxiety caused by anxiety-inducing situations. Repeat this pattern enough times and you have agoraphobia. No, that certainly isn’t me, but it is something I always feel like I have to watch out for because I am a natural homebody. I think this is a big part of why.
All of that being said, if you know what I’m talking about, if this writing strikes a chord with you, please comment below and let me know what you think. Does this sound familiar? How do you deal?