Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Don't Have Time For a Game Plan? Don't Back Down, But Be Yourself

I had a situation recently where I was asked out to lunch very last minute.

This is something that I don’t want to stop happening because I love to hang out with my friends and family. However because of the timing, I was unable to really prepare myself for any panic that could arise. I told myself on the drive over a few things I thought might help, but I was already a little flustered. As I was waiting to meet my friends, I could feel the anxiety come and felt immediately nauseous. It has been so long since I had felt this high of anxiety that I wasn’t sure what to do at first. I thought, “I need to get distracted.” So I went into a store and looked at jewelry that I wouldn’t mind owning. When I peeked out I saw they were there. We decided where to eat and as I was ordering the food I thought “I am going to throw up right here in line.” I wasn’t even hungry because I had eaten a late breakfast. This makes sense because that is a perfect trigger scenario for me. Had I been starving I doubt there would have been an issue at all, but when I feel like I have to perform and I don’t think I can, that’s when I panic. So I ordered a light lunch knowing I probably wouldn’t be able to eat any of it. We sat down and I snacked on a bag of chips and a drink. Never touched my sandwich. I left it in the to go bag. I tried to focus on the conversation at hand and a few times I could feel myself lingering on panicky thoughts. So I refocused on the conversation. I kept thinking of what I would say if they asked me why I wasn’t eating. When it briefly came up, I mentioned I wasn’t feeling well and left it at that. After all it was the truth.

So what did I learn? If you don’t have time to prepare for a potential Trigger Situation, then do whatever makes you feel the most comfortable. I could have force fed myself the sandwich but then I really think I would have been sick. I decided to listen to my body and save the food for when I felt hungry. Sure enough two hours later I was pretty starving and had a yummy sandwich waiting for me in the fridge.

We are not perfect. I don’t think I will ever be “cured”. I don’t know if I will ever master my panic attacks. I don't always have hours beforehand to fully prepare myself for events. But the best I can do is manage them as best I can. But when we don’t have time to even manage them, then the next best thing is to be yourself and not what you think others think you should be, love yourself for it, and do what feels the most comfortable while still facing your fears. My fear is what people will think of me if I don’t perform the way I think I should, specifically around food. The most comfortable thing would have been to not go at all and catch a movie with them later on or something not food related. But I went, survived, and best of all, got to see my loved ones. And that’s a small step in the right direction.

Positive Affirmation of the Day: I can take as small a step forward as I choose.

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Anonymous said...

This story sounds very similar. For me, the fear is in having time to think about going out to lunch. Most of the fear is sitting around waiting for the time to come, imaging all the bad things that might happen. I make myself so sick that most times eat very little if at all. Keep going, don't avoid.

Aimée said...

Anticipatory anxiety is the WORST! I am experiencing it now for a trip to Vegas I am going on this weekend. I am making myself sick over the possibility of getting sick! Makes no sense but it happens.

Thanks for the comment. It's great that you still go even though it is hard for you.

Molly said...

That is HUGE! So glad that you worked through it!
And think how well you are doing off the are a great example for me!
Take Care

Bookworm said...

I can totally relate to what you went through and everything you wrote in your blog post. Nausea is my worst symptom and it's so hard to deal with, especially when you don't have time to prepare yourself beforehand. Congratulations on making it through! And I love today's affirmation. *Thinking about you*

Robert said...

Every anxious episode that you cope with makes you stronger. Now that you are med free, you know it's YOU that's moving forward unaided!


Aimée said...

Thanks Robert and Molly! I don't think I do give myself enough credit for doing it without the meds. Thanks for the boost of confidence! And Anxiety and Me, thanks for the comment. I agree with you on the nausea. Its the scariest part!

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