As much as I try to live a normal life, the anxiety is always there. Sometimes way in the back of my mind, and others it’s nagging to be front and center. And try as I might, the reality remains that I do things a little differently because of anxiety.
So in my 20+ years of living with anxiety and panic attacks, I’ve come to terms with it. Even on my best of days, anxiety is back there. Hiding, maybe. But peeking out just enough to say “hey, don’t forget about me!”
I thought it may be helpful to share some of the quirks I still live with. Even though my anxiety is well controlled on medication, want to share with you my quirks so that you can feel at ease with yours. They don’t prevent me from living, the just require a little extra thought and a little extra preparation.
This post may be sponsored or contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. See my full disclosure here. I am not a doctor, therapist or professional of any sort. These are only my personal opinions and experiences. Always consult your doctor.
Thankfully, the quirky habits I’ve developed over the years aren’t off the wall. And the stranger in the crowd, who had no idea my history, isn’t likely to think anything of them.
Ok, so my quirks.
I won’t travel too far alone.
I still don’t go too far from home alone. We live in a small city and need to travel about 30 minutes on a county highway for better grocery shopping or a Target run. The closest mall is about an hour away and that requires interstate-like highway driving. So I rarely go alone. And although I do, I still have to fight those pesky “what-if” thoughts. So whenever I can, I go with a daughter (since the hubs doesn’t love the mall so much :0) Should I need to go to a “big” city like Madison or Milwaukee, I would never want to travel alone.
I have a few “must bring” items when I venture out of town.
I have to make sure I always have snacks and water with me. I’m ultra-sensitive to minor dehydration or blood sugar changes. And those feelings make me anxious.
So I always make sure I have a full water bottle, a light snack and my Worry Free roll-on. I still carry around my powdered Xanax from years ago that I never use. You know, just in case.
I’m scared to find a new job.
I’m ready for a change. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been where I’m at a very long time, and the flexibility is fantastic. I know what to expect and it’s comforting that a number of coworkers understand what I deal with.
But I’m long overdue for a change. I’m burnt out in my current environment. But starting new, in a strange new place, has been holding me back for years now. The flexibility I mentioned – it’s been a life saver during my worst anxiety bouts.
I obsess about my heart rate.
Is it too fast, too slow? Did it just skip? Is it too hard, too weak?
I far too often have my fingers to my throat, checking in on it. I have a seconds app running on my phone. I’ll bring up the seconds clock on my computer.
I dislike overnight trips away from home.
However I still force myself to go – girl’s weekends, family camping trips. I know I’m not benefiting myself by becoming a hermit. So I pack those must have items mentions above. Plus a few more things. Like my own pillow. And a variety of essential oils.
I’m afraid to fly.
I have traveled by plane as a young teen, prior to my anxiety. I haven’t found the courage to fly in 20 years. And it’s really limited our family vacations – I do dream of a tropical getaway! I have never boarded a train or a cruise ship. It’s not the fear of crashing, it’s the fear of not having an “out” should I need one. What am I going to do – pace up and down the aisle?
I avoid concerts and other heavily crowded places.
Particularly those without designated seating. Not much is more terrifying that a crowd of people, shoulder to shoulder with no move to move. I have passed on some great shows because of my irrational fears.
All that said, these quirky little habits are nothing compared to what daily life used to be.
I didn’t want to leave my bed. I couldn’t drive. Even taking a shower left me feeling trapped.
No way would I push myself to do something that might set me off. So there’s been a tremendous amount of progress.
If you’re reading this, wondering if there’s hope. There is. Be patient and cut yourself some slack.