Abandoning Imagined Panic as a Coping Technique
So, what’s new? The one year anniversary of the pandemic has come and gone. Everything is simultaneously better and worse. Hatred seems to be increasing in its viral spread. And, I still have to pay my bills. With that being said, here’s what happened when I imagined panic as a coping/avoidance technique.
What I mean by imagined panic is the exercise of talking to yourself, creating scenarios and avoiding critical discussions as a way to cope.
The past week I have avoided absolutely everything I could. I’ve rescheduled clients on different dates. I have new high scores on games that I’ve abandoned. I’m watching a YouTuber named Jack Edwards, who reads a lot and reviews books. Next on my to-read list is imperialism: the highest form of capitalism, in case you’re interested. I’ve even baked salted-caramel cookies.
I’m in avoidance mode because I’m at the top of a cliff. It’s time to propel myself off it. God, it’s fucking scary. It’s been a little while since I’ve been at this point, and now that it is here again, I’m suspended in my own limbo, will I, won’t I? How much longer can I not?
There is life waiting beyond me, and I am terrified.
Underlying that terror are conflicts at home. Moving back home was a good, necessary change. But, there are a few boundaries that I had set that were only possible because of the distance. It is harder for people to lie in person than it is over text. I’m struggling to separate what is my parents business and what is mine.
Last week, my mum got angry at me because my dad had made her upset. I don’t think it’s fair that she took it out on me. The good news is that I told my sister about it, improving our relationship and lessening the hurt I felt because of her advice. Before I told my sister, I had spent the night before by myself going over why my mum was upset, how wrong it was, why didn’t she and dad get a divorce. Over and over, I rehearsed conversations in my mind.
Eventually, the beginnings of panic started. If they did get divorced, how was I going to pay for everything? What if they started arguing again? I had a small anxiety attack with how much I let myself get carried away.
The point here is that I let myself get carried away. I think at some point in our lives, we have all rehearsed conversations, practised speeches and maladaptive daydreamed (my favourite). But, I think when it gets to the point that it upsets you, it is then unhealthy. The right thing would have been to say to my mum that she had hurt my feelings. But that was not the best thing for us. Giving each other space was necessary because we historically don’t communicate well.
However, I should have stopped myself from engaging in those imagined scenarios immediately. I knew what I was doing, but I think I was kind of validating myself where my mum wasn’t.
When I got upset, I finally stopped. Lol at me, hurting my own feelings.
I told myself that continuing the train of thought would only lead to an emotional hangover, increased tension between my mum and I, and being angry at myself. So, I very gently told myself to shut the fuck up. I wasn’t going to listen to myself any other way. I got ready for bed super early. I did basic skincare because I was exhausted, and I went to bed.
The whole week I had been in avoidance, which I also realised was a way to engage in imagined panic, instead of sitting down and writing out what I was feeling and why I ignored my mental health. Rather than letting myself feel the emotion and sitting uncomfortably in the limbo, I disconnected from my body.
In a way, the imagined panic is a way to disassociate. Just, it hurts a lot more when you come back. I’m pretty sure there is a technical term for what I’m talking about, but this is how I’ve understood it best right now.
It needs to stop, and I will make it stop. Speaking firmly to myself, ensuring I pay attention to myself and expressing myself are the ways I’m not going to engage in the imagination panic activity.
There are plenty of healthy habits I could have done. I think I’m just feeling a little sorry for myself and lost. It’s scary looking over the edge of the unknown. Nevertheless, I will keep going.
You will, too.
Tea of the day – Twinings, Earl Gray (currently addicted)
Stay safe, be kind, and feel free to reach out below!
With love and eternal optimism,