The weather was gorgeous yesterday, and that creates a BIG problem for an agoraphobic: everyone starts bugging you to leave the house and enjoy it. And while the sun was calling me to come out and play, all that ran through my mind was, “No, I can’t – it’s not safe.”
I don’t like to use the word “hate,” but in this case it fits: I HATE FEELING LIKE THIS!
My heart ached to go outside – to enjoy the day by getting in touch with nature – but my fears again tried to sabotage me. (Notice I said tried.) When my wife asked me if I wanted to go for a walk at a nature preserve, I said “yes.” I figured I would deal with my fears later.
I readied myself, got my camera, and started assembling all the things I thought I would need. Upon seeing this, my wife said something like, “We’re only going out for a few hours. It’s not a big production.”
Ah yes, but to ME it IS! My heart immediately began its rapid-beating. My chest and stomach grew tense. All sorts of questions ran through my mind: “Is there a bathroom there?” “Do they have food?” “What if something happens?” All the what-if’s started flooding my brain.
I almost didn’t go. I looked for excuses to get out of it – not get out of the fun, but to get out of the struggle. I tried self-talk, but my negative thoughts were winning. I tried to meditate a while, but I could not calm down. Finally, I gave up – I gave up trying to be calm and just left the house in a half-panic.
The first part of the trip there was difficult. It must have taken a good 15 minutes to finally calm down. When I set foot in the the nature preserve, the cycle started up again. But I saw my way through it. I found a bathroom, used it, put cold water on my face, and returned to start our walk. From that point on, I was calm enough to manage, and I had an enjoyable day.
I really do enjoy nature and all its beauty; and I wish it wasn’t so difficult to relax enough to have this become second nature, but that’s the way it is – and I accept it. And that is what I tell all my friends who struggle with similar anxiety: DO NOT WORRY THAT YOU HAVE TO GO THROUGH THIS!
This is who you are and you must surrender to that fact. It is a waste of time to dislike yourself for having to go through this. It is a waste of time to fret about the situation. You already have a huge task ahead of you in trying to deal with this, so why compound it by worrying that this is how life is for you? Forget that. Accept it and love yourself. Do not take a “woe is me” attitude. You have more going for you than you think.
So, what happened the rest of my day? I saw some beautiful scenery, got some well-needed exercise, had a lovely chat with my wife, and saw some wild animals along the way. I was lucky enough to spot an owl who had recently started visiting. I was able to get very close and take a few pictures. Here is one: