The “Take a Break” Debate
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Most likely not Albert Einstein… but it doesn’t matter.
As I’ve posted earlier, I have several rituals that I have acquired over the years in order to cope with my attacks. I generally add and subtract a few here and there as time goes on. One will stop working and I’ll replace it with a new comfortable coping technique.
Recently I’ve been doing a lot of discussing with friends about “giving oneself a break”. This all started a few months back when life was extremely overwhelming and even the idea of grocery shopping sent me into an anxious state. Laundry? Holy hell – there’s no way I could handle it all. I had decided that I needed a 2 or 3 week stay-cation. And as we recently found out, getting my hair cut proved to be too much. i needed the sort of break when one wouldn’t have to go to work, entertain guests, cope with the idea of going out to a restaurant, or lock themselves into ANY plans. Essentially I needed a couple of weeks of just being. If I wanted to go for a walk – I’d go. If not, then I wouldn’t. If I wanted to go to a restaurant then I would, if not then I wouldn’t. I didn’t want to put myself into any situations here I’d be letting anyone down – most importantly MYSELF.
So now how does this relate to my panic attacks now? Well, lately haven’t been able to give myself that time that I feel would be greatly beneficial. Therefore as I go about my days, taking of my responsibilities and being present at appointments and plans I have been struggling with panic attacks. As a child I was forced to keep going. Panicking at school? You’re not allowed to go home. Panicking at piano lessons? You’re not allowed to leave, you have to stay and finish. Birthday party and a panic attack? Too bad! You’re still going. So as an adult I continue to push myself in these ways. Oh, I’m supposed to be at XX restaurant in 45 minutes. I know I’m brewing a panic attack over it. You want me to go on the subway? You have to be kidding me. But I’m still going to torture myself and go. I won’t like it, it will feel badly and I may have to leave suddenly – that is, if I even get there. After 24 years I’ve begun to question my actions.
I continue to force myself to do these things a) Out of fear that if I don’t I’ll become a horrible, reclusive chihuahua lady with severe agoraphobia who yells at the riffraff neighbors and their rap music or b) That not forcing myself to do everything will show that I am weak, that I will move backward in my quest to conquer panic attacks. I feel there is a thin line between relaxing and causing further damage to recovery. Is knowing your limits and enforcing them healthy for moving forward or is it enforcing bad habits and moving backward? When is it giving it? When is it healthy? Is there a healthy balance and when should someone know they have found it? At this point I’m slowly allowing myself to say, “No I cannot do this today and that is okay,” or “I know I made it all the way here but I’m not feeling well and think I have to go.” I never feel happy about it, however I’m slowly learning that it isn’t about “giving up” or “failing”. I’m not fully convinced yet but as a living, breathing, working human being I deserve to give myself the time I need in order to FEEL good inside – if not, at least calm and comfortable with the present moment.
Although I do have to work tomorrow, early, I am here on my couch with my singular chihuahua. I have random movies on Netflix blaring away in the background. And the only thing I have to do is be here, sitting here, writing to you. Nowhere else. Because I want to. And there’s nothing wrong with that.