(Note: We spend so much time dwelling on the debilitating effects of our anxiety disorders, don’t we? Why not devote an entire day to focusing on our accomplishments [instead of our bumps in the road]? Enter “Win Wednesday“: a day to reflect upon the past week and share our successes — no matter what their shape or size.)
Patience is a virtue, they say.
And I lack it.
Even when I’m feeling relatively calm, I have trouble waiting. (Lines, waiting rooms, and restaurants are the worst. How long do I have to stand in line? When will the nurse call my name? Will they bring my appetizers before my blood sugar drops to zilch and I begin to panic?)
But this week, I had a small waiting-related win.
I had woken up early to meet my husband and our realtor to sign some paperwork. (We’re in the process of buying a house! More on that soon.) I’m more of a night owl these days, so morning energy doesn’t come easily.
We finished up our paperwork and I decided, on a whim, to take a drive to the mall. I had some coupons to use at CVS for some dirt-cheap makeup and a free candy bar, and I also wanted to browse through the bookstore. (Even though gas is expensive, and the mall is a good 15 miles away, I can always rationalize spending money on gas. If it helps to keep agoraphobia at bay, it’s worth it.)
I drove right from the realtor’s office to the mall. I parked in a strangely-empty parking lot, got out of my car, walked to the mall entrance, and tried to open the door.
I looked at my phone. It was only 8:30 am! The mall opens at 9 am, said the sign on the door.
Laughing, I realized that I’d never had this problem before. I’m never early for anything. I’m not a morning person. Normally, whenever I do go shopping, I’m rushing around trying to finish up before the store closes for the night. I’ve never done Black Friday and I’ve never had to loiter around waiting for a store to open in the early morning.
This felt weird. What now?
I walked back to my car and sat down in the driver’s seat. The idea of waiting for a whole half hour, 15 miles from home, in an empty parking lot? It started to make me nervous. The usual train of “what if” thinking started heaving down its slippery track: what if I panic and there’s no one here to help me? What if I get lightheaded and I have to make the 15-mile drive home? What if I panic because there’s nothing here to distract me from panic? (Hello, circular logic.)
My nerves started buzzing. The adrenaline began pumping. What should I do? How could I possibly wait for an entire half hour? Time drags when I’m anxious.
But with a little distraction from my phone, I made it work. First, I called my father to update him on the whole house-buying situation. Elapsed time: ten minutes. Then, I checked Facebook.
And that did it. It’s easy to get lost in Facebook (especially when you’re trying to be productive, right?) — I spent a good twenty minutes browsing posts about my friends’ kids and dogs and cats.
Even though distraction isn’t the ideal anxiety-management technique, it worked for me. It kept me from giving up and going home. It helped me to pass the time until the mall doors opened.
Wins are wins no matter how small. How did you overcome anxiety or panic this week? Share your story in the comments or on Twitter with the #winwednesday hashtag!
Photo: Tom Magliery
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Last reviewed: 1 May 2013