Anxiety is a bitch! It has been several years since I have had a full-blown panic attack – the one where you can’t breathe and you think you are dying – but on a regular basis I have bouts of anxiety where my heart races, I get a bit short of breath, and I fear I may go into panic mode. These smaller anxiety attacks, along with some low levels of depression, are enough to make leaving the house a big chore for me.
Top 5 Reasons I Hate Leaving My House
1) Showering takes more energy than I have on most days. And then there is the fixing of the hair, and OMG! make-up, and God-forbid getting out of my pajama pants. I mean, come on…that’s a lot to ask of a girl. By the time I do all of that I am ready for a nap!
2) Driving is stressful. I live in a busy metropolitan area and traffic is heavy. Patience, concentration, and sometimes aggressiveness are needed to safely navigate the roads around here – all of which I basically lack.
3) Social anxiety. Leaving the house often means going to some sort of social event, and I don’t feel comfortable around other people because small talk is like nails on a chalk board to me! I’m definitely an introvert and prefer to be alone or with my immediate family. Also, if it is a larger party, the noise and extra stimuli is overwhelming to my senses.
4) Fear of public places. Leaving the house also often means going to the store or some other public venue where crowds gather and strangers abound. Yikes! What if I see someone I know? What if I get mugged? Kidnapped? How claustrophobic I feel standing in lines and squeezing down isles. How it makes me lose my breath to bump into others or feel them in my physical space! And again, the noises, lights, and movement are all overwhelming to my senses.
5) Agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is an intense fear and anxiety of being in places where it is hard to escape, or where help might not be available. This would explain why if my husband is with me, I feel much less anxious when out of the house. He drives, I stick by him during parties, and follow him through the stores. Now if only he could shower for me.
Although I hate leaving the house, I do force myself to on a regular basis. Sometimes I have to take an anti-anxiety pill before I leave and sometimes I don’t. I think it is important for me to desensitize myself to these stressful situations as much as I can, because if I don’t my anxiety will only get worse.
I also grade the tasks in a way that will make them more successful for me. For example, when I go to the grocery store I only get a few items at a time, and leave the big list for my husband (he’s the best!) When my daughter has a 3-day sports tournament in a loud crowded gym, I will only attend one or two of the days. When going to a social event, we will only stay a short while or not go at all if I am not feeling up to it. We go out to eat early in the evening (with all the old people) so we don’t have to wait for a table. These are just a few examples of how I compensate for my increased anxiety.
As you can see, there are ways around anxiety. It doesn’t have to make you a prisoner of your own home. Although, sometimes it will. But it doesn’t have to all of the time.
How does your anxiety limit you, and what are some ways you have found helpful to decrease these limits?