There was a moment of horror and dread when our team leader said we would have our department meeting over the road this afternoon, at a beautiful cafe that specialises in all things chocolate. Now, I work with the most delightful, supportive group of people there is. And my manager is a 100% rock-solid woman whom I trust implicitly. This should have been a lovely, carefree outing…
Everyone else saw it as the treat it was. A chance to relax and enjoy the company of each other, enjoy a lovely cup of something in beautiful surroundings, get out of the office…
Me? Years ago I turned anxiety into an art form, and the thought of this excursion sent little “what if” tremors right through me. Familiar tremors, and nowadays, manageable tremors, but, it’s still the monkey on my back.
I am a recovered agoraphobic, and old habits die very, very hard. People with anxiety issues often make little sense in their rationale of situations to avoid, and I am speaking from years of experience here. I still find it comforting to run through all the awful possibilities. Then I might be more prepared if anything like this happens –
- I vomit up my coffee onto the table or all over a work colleague
- I develop an urgent need to “make potty”, and there are no handy bathrooms
- My pants fall off when I’m walking across the road
- I have a stroke/heart attack/or develop an illness like Ebola or something that requires an ambulance
- I somehow fall into a display cabinet/ the chocolate fountain/table of other diners
There’s more, but you get the picture.
Guess what happened? I had a lovely iced coffee with a lovely group of people and lived to tell the tale 😉
Nothing ever does happen. That’s the stupid bit. My pants always stay on. I don’t faint or have a stroke and I haven’t vomited in public yet.
A bit embarrassing to write this post, but talking about my agoraphobia was one of the most positive steps I took to recovery. The agoraphobia was all a very long time ago now, maybe 18 years, but, I remember it all, and I think I may always have some degree of social anxiety. It waxes and wanes, and doesn’t affect my life that much. I came to realise that lots of people don’t like queues, or crowded venues, or something. I wasn’t the only person in the world having these feelings! That in itself was a huge relief.
I only hope my experiences have made me a more compassionate person. It’s true what they say you know: it’s never as bad as you think. Most people won’t judge you , and you are indeed your own harshest critic.
I wish you peace and happiness.