Apologies for the absence as of late. What with the job hunting and Dan’s thirtieth birthday I’ve been a busy bee!
I’m delighted to announce that I have a new job and I’m so excited to start 🙂 – I’m also delighted about Dan’s birthday, but you know…
The new job feels like such a huge achievement. For all those who read my blog regularly, you’ll know that interviews are one of my key triggers. I had my first major panic attack during one… and subsequently ran out of the room (long story). Seriously, the very word ‘interview’ makes my stomach jolt!
Let me put this into context, I haven’t had what I would call a serious/formal interview in over a year, which for me is problematic because I like to keep on top of my triggers.
So beforehand I knew that things were going to be rough… and boy was I right! The journey to the venue was a blur of the following:
Thoughts: “You can’t do this, you’re not ready” – “you’re going to humiliate yourself”
Emotions: TERROR, dread, panic, anxious
- The heart palpitations of a hummingbird on speed
- Difficulty breathing
- Heavy/numb arms and legs
- Floaty sensation
- An overwhelming urge to shit myself, (don’t worry I didn’t).
By the time I reached the venue my legs had turned to jelly and I could barely think straight.
After walking through the main reception (God knows how I managed to do that), I nipped into the toilets to compose myself. The same thought circulated through my brain on loop “GO HOME, get out NOW!” However, I did some belly breathing and looked at myself in the mirror. As distressed as I was feeling, I knew deep down that all of the symptoms were part of the ‘anxiety trick.’ I felt very uncomfortable, but I wasn’t in any danger and if I gave in to this now then it would be much harder next time. So I let the panic and all of it’s rage wash over me like a wave… if I was going to make a complete fool of myself then so be it.
When I walked into the interview room I immediately thought, “good girl, no matter what happens now you’re fucking amazing, because you’ve faced something that scares you. It doesn’t get much braver than that.” But to my relief, after two minutes the wave begin to retreat. Despite being so horrific five minutes previously it was now dissipating.
Ironically I think I gave the best interview of my life! I was 100% myself rather than a ‘robot saying the correct things’ if that makes sense?
What is my point then, with this terribly self indulgent tale? In a nutshell it’s this: IF YOU DO NOTHING, THEN NOTHING WILL CHANGE. Anxiety is the master of keeping us trapped. It’s a crafty bastard, one that can take on many forms.
Here are the main three to watch out for:
- The terrorist – impossible to ignore. Very aggressive physical symptoms and distressing thoughts such as “STOP NOW.” This form often appears right before a stressful event.
- The bully – cruel and belittling. Mainly exploits the emotional symptoms of guilt and self doubt. “You’re pathetic. Who would want to speak to you.” Sound familiar? That’s the bully talking.
- The frenemy – the sneakiest one of all. Convinces you that doing nothing is actually the right decision.
The frenemy is the one that I’d really like to focus on because it often goes undetected.
I was talking to a friend of mine who’s been having trouble with anxiety for years. Her ‘go to’ response is to avoid situations that makes her feel anxious, and the tragic part is, she doesn’t even realise she’s doing it.
Her: “I’ve been thinking about Adam’s BBQ thing and I’m going to give it a miss. I’ve been doing too much lately. I’m really tired and emotional. I’m just going to have an early night.
Me: **Thinks** Noooooo… do you know how many times I’ve heard you say this? You’re being tricked into maintaining your anxiety.
Now, I’m actually a big believer in relaxation. I think that sleep and ‘downtime’ are very important, particularly if you have anxiety. However, they can also be used as an excuse to ‘check out’ of life and avoid dealing with problems. The frenemy tricks a person into believing that if they ‘just relax and give the party/meeting/holiday a miss,’ then they’ll feel better. The truth is.. that’s rarely the case. Believe me, I wish it was because I would’ve been cured years ago!
To be clear, I’m not suggesting my interview example be used as a comparison. That’s far too extreme to begin with!
Anything, no matter how big or small is good as long as it involves action. For example, it could be any of the following:
- Going to see the GP to discuss your anxiety
- Booking a session with a CBT therapist
- Joining a gym (and actually going).
- Starting a new routine
- Giving up coffee or alcohol
- Go to that event, even if makes you feel anxious – come up with a plan if you need to such as, “I only have to stay for an hour.”
But for God sake beware the frenemy! I’ve curled up with her so many times (and still do on occasion), but she never makes it better. It’s not easy, but taking action is the only way forward.
Maybe that should be my halloween costume this year? Anxiety in frenemy form… I’ll have a look on Amazon. If they can do a sexy Red Riding Hood (so wrong), then a sexy frenemy should be fine!