Why Does Anxiety Stop Me Doing Things That Could Help It?
Why Should I Try Something New to Cope With My Anxiety?
Last night I went to watch my friend and her team play a game of netball with the idea that I would eventually join the team. I was so nervous. Not so nervous that I bailed out but nervous enough to think of lots of reasons why this venture was a bad idea.
Realistically, it’s a great idea. My friend invited me along because they have a player leaving so there will be space on the team, but she also thinks it will be good for me.
I can totally see her point. Here are the positive reasons my rational brain came up with:
- It’s a sport and exercise is great for channeling all that nervous energy attached to my PTSD.
- The team sport aspect will get me talking to people, even if it’s only to say ‘pass’ or ‘shoot’.
- It’s a new skill to learn and that will be distracting from my negative thinking.
- Off the court, I might even make more friends.
Here Is What Holds Me Back
However, as anyone with anxiety will relate to, for each of those perfectly good reasons, I can think of ten or more ridiculous reasons to not do this.
At the top of that list, for me, I would probably say social anxiety, including fear of:
- talking to said people.
- being weird.
This list could a lot longer and is often the reason I talk myself out of doing things, sometimes important things or things that I would benefit from in the long run. Because the negative part of my brain takes over and convinces me that anxiety is right and I should stay very still just in case it gets worse. Again, if you suffer anxiety, this will not be news.
Why I'm Pushing Through My Anxiety
This has been such a strong theme of my life since PTSD arrived and since the medication only has a limited effect and the therapy has waiting lists, I’m really pushing myself to do what I physically can and hoping more will follow.
For instance, as well as netball I have also arranged first-time sessions for both kickboxing and football this week. I have applied for voluntary and paid work (still waiting to hear about most of it, eek!). I put myself in a really anxiety-provoking situation where I was required to attend an event as part of an arts festival in my local town and write a review that may be published in the local paper. Every one of these activities has its own bullet-point list of pros and cons of course.
I have never done any of these things that I have sought out and applied for and am so nervous about every little bit, but I’m trying. I’m fully aware that most of this won’t stick , but I’m going to do my best to push through the initial nerves to see for myself what I want to bail out of and what I would like to do to in order to improve myself.
The problem is that’s all well and good when I’m sitting in a comfy chair with my feet up fiercely typing away on my laptop as I am now, but what about actually getting out and doing what I’ve typed I might do? That’s so much worse.
Anxiety Is a Vicious Cycle
As I’ve said before, anxiety can find so many ‘really good’ reasons not to do something, and it is exceptionally good at stopping you from doing something that would reduce the anxiety. I guess, in that sense, it’s really good at looking after itself and making sure you’re always nervous so it will always have a home in your head, your chest and anywhere else your anxiety lurks. A stupendous parasite if you will.
So we don’t bother. Often it seems easier to take the path of less resistance and sit to wait to panic out. It’s so frustrating because I for one am dying to get my life back. But I’m stuck in an endless loop, make plans, worry relentlessly, cancel plans, feel bad for cancelling plans, return to isolation, think twice before doing it again. This applies to all sorts of plans, even coffee with a best friend.
When you’re well, this seems ridiculous but having lived and breathed it for two years, this is no joke and takes some breaking out of.
Wish me luck in my efforts to at least try.
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