A text from my sister earlier this week, after a conversation which very nearly escalated in a panic attack for me, but which didn’t, because I think I am too repressed to fully experience a full-blown panic attack.
“..I worry that you have developed this pattern throughout your life where you NEED something to agonize over, dread, or freak out about in order to feel normal. This impacts your capacity for joy and hurts my heart for you.”
Yes, she is a mental health counselor, so she is certainly qualified to recognize these things.
I don’t remember ever not being this way. Even as a little girl, I recall, for example, sitting in an airplane seat and dreading the part of the journey where I might have to pee; I’d have to get out of my seat, disrupt my seatmates, make my way up the aisle and hopefully not trip over anything, find the bathroom, hope that it’s empty, hope that I can look nonchalant if I have to wait, hope that there’s not a long line of disgruntled passengers after I’m done, make my way back to my seat without incident, and disrupt my seatmates again. As an adult, I still carry this fearful scenario with me, and now, as then, I will just hold it in until my bladder feels like it is going to explode – yes, even if it is a six hour flight – and just wait til we have landed.
My whole life is like that -an extended airplane ride wherein I have to pee, but I don’t want to disturb anyone, make a fuss, look foolish.
I think it might be time to start thinking about how my life, and my “capacity for joy” is being impacted by my nervousness and anxiety and neuroses. And I think it might be time to look into getting help for it.