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Anxiety


Endlessnight
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Hello. Because I have had so little control over my life I have become the kind of person that freaks out completely over the littlest change in things. For instance, if we have a guest visiting us it upsets me so much because it means I won't be able to do the things I usually do, which aren't much really - just watching tv or reading maybe. But it's the thought that I won't be able to do those things I do every day, even if it's only for one day, that makes me so upset. It's got to where I miss out on family occassions, gatherings or parties because I don't want anything in my daily habits to be changed so I won't stay up a little later than usual, etc. I won't do anything new, try anything new or different because it would mean a change in what I am used to. I dont know how to allow myself to try other things...how do I force myself to let go once in a while? To not be afraid of something different?

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I'm right there with you. I have to visit my Mom and extended family this weekend ( i love them all with all of my heart), and my fear of seeing them after some time is really getting to me... Its 5 days away! What is wrong with me??!! I really don't hang out with anyone or anything, I have managed to separate myself from others so much that I don't even have to worry about someone interrupting my 'safe' daily grind that I feel so comfortable with, but when something happens (unexpected visitor, holidays, phone calls) really anything to do with people, whether I know them or now, I freak. I want to learn to live in the now, I want to know how to stop being scared and start taking control and enjoying my life. Not forcing my way through it.

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Yup, I get to this point when very depressed, don't go out, don't see anyone, turn down all invitations, ignore the doorbell and phone, no-one to intrude into my safe little nest.

But there is a point at which safety gets overrated. We NEED interaction with others, we need variety and some newness in our lives, or our psyches wither and shrink and dry out and we feel worse and worse. Of course the difficulty is that we have to fight the urge to withdraw further and further just when all we want to do is withdraw! But if we keep retreating, then the less we handle, the less we want to handle and the more difficult it gets to handle, so we handle less and then get less able to handle things etc etc.

I'm a great fan of baby steps, because it makes things confront-able and do-able for me. I mentioned in my last session with my therapist that I had got into a bad habit of not seeing anyone anymore and only going out when I had to do errands and even putting them off too. (I have strong hermit tendencies and find f2f socialising tiresome!) So he set me some exercises to do (homework) starting small and building up, and then he said something interesting, which is going to help me a lot, I think. He said, "think of it as building your resilience to being with other people and and to what life throws at you."

I really liked that, it's a great and very motivating way to look at it! He also reminded me that keeping up the sociability would make the times when I could just withdraw into alone-time even sweeter. This is very true, there's nothing like plopping down to do what I really enjoy and want to do, in solitude, after fighting dragons all day.

Building resilience, I like that. And I like that I can work at it at a pace I can manage and steadily build up. I'll never be a social butterfly because it's not me. But I sure do desire resilience, that's a wonderful tool to have and worth striving for! (Instead of thinking "wish I didn't have to be here" I can think of how resilient I am becoming. :rolleyes: )

Just sharing this in case it helps...? (and remember: baby steps are fine.)

Edited by Luna-
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I enjoyed your post Luna and completely agree. I especially liked your note at the bottom, 'A ship in a harbour is safe. But that is not what ships are built for.'

I have taken that attitude since the beginning of the year. I too had closed down my life, trying to avoid pain I think. But eventually I did start feeling like I was shrinking and drying out and decided I needed to get into life again. So I look at my recent 'hermit' period as a time where I needed to replenish, think things through, and now I'm looking to get into living again. I think that taking baby steps is great approach as well. I have not plunged headlong this time, which is what I usually do... I'm taking things slow because I do not want to feel overwhelmed anymore. I can do anything as long as I don't pack everything into one day :rolleyes:, a traditional problem of mine...

Sometimes I have to force myself, and I often don't feel like doing whatever I've planned, but I am aware that I am trying to reengage into life and I need to push myself a little. My out is that I never put myself in a situation when I have to do it for too long... so I keep the social commitments short and I am aware that I am building up my 'resilience' as you say. I've noticed that it is helping me in feeling less lonely and generally more content.

It does take effort, but I figure if my 100 year old grandma could make the effort to continue to be involved in life, surely I can at half that age :-) Otherwise the future is not looking very exciting, and it will have been my own doing...

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Hi taybkc88. I'm so sorry your anxiety has made you disconnect from people, even people you love. Luna's advice seems to make sense to me...start with baby steps if you can. We DO need people in our lives no matter how much we tell ourselves we don't. We need change even though it upsets us sometimes. My anxiety is not actually from meeting people per se, it is from a change in my daily habits. I get along well with people usually although I am always wearing my mask, but when with people I find that after more than a couple of hours I start to feel the need to head back to my room and my tv and pc. I hate answering the phone because it is something out of the ordinary when it rings and I hate anything out of the ordinary happening, it upsets me. I wish I knew how to live in the NOW as you said. I know what you mean. It's like you can't live in the now, can't enjoy the moment because you are too busy being worried and anxious to get back to the safe daily routine of nothing. I hope you will be able to concentrate on the good side of visiting with your Mom and family. The fact that you love them very much will be an incentive to take those first steps, to help you to push yourself I hope. Here I am trying to give you advice when I was the one that started this thread because of my own anxiety about change! Thing is I know what Luna and Symora have said is right though knowing something is right doesn't make it any easier to do, does it? I hope with all my heart that you and I might both be able to take those baby steps towards living in the now.

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=) I can't tell you how much your responses mean to me! This is honestly the 1st time in my life that I can say I feel like others truly understand how I am feeling. Sure, some people try to understand me, but not that many have ever personally experienced such intense emotions. You guys have really put things into perspective, it seems much simpler than I have convinced myself that it is going to be. I had a falling out with my only close girlfriends about 2 years ago, and now that I am engaged, it is so easy to basically go into hiding. With family out of state, no one really knows to be concerned, they assume I am out and about enjoying life. It has been almost 2 years now since I have actively engaged in a social circle. When I had roommates, I had no choice but to be around friends and parties, etc. but now I feel trapped inside of myself at times. I'm def. in hermit-mode, but it's time to break free.

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