Avoidance is my addiction!

We all have our coping mechanisms, and mine is avoidance. It’s a shame it works so well at the time – you don’t want to do a thing, so you avoid the thing and bingo! Anxiety relieved.

Last week I was supposed to be going to a local support group for a coffee and chat. I wanted to go, I really did, but as the date loomed closer, I started to feel fearful. I had a hairdresser’s appointment on the same day, which is another thing I’m not at all comfortable with. Although wearing a mask has made that a slightly more bearable experience, as I don’t have to sit and look at myself and try not to appear anxious.

My mind kicked in with its usual avoidant thoughts and I decided I couldn’t possibly do two things that made me anxious in one day, so I cancelled it. I felt guilty as I had to book my place and so I might have prevented someone else from going.

But that’s the awful thing about avoidance, you let people down or even end up lying about why you can’t attend something. I feel like I just can’t stop myself. It’s an addictive behaviour. I remember avoiding another past group – I was feeling increasingly anxious about being there, so I decided to stop going. This sudden euphoria came over me and I started hearing a happy song playing in my head as I practically skipped down the street!

I can only keep trying to tackle it, so I’m starting to do some graded exposure with my therapist. I hope that if I start small, I can begin to chip away at it. I have been feeling very sad though as I’ve been here so many times before. I would like to believe in myself and my capabilities, but as I keep repeating the same behaviour, I’m finding that hard. I will just have to keep reminding myself of things I’ve faced in the past.

I used the image of a rabbit for this post as it reminds me of myself, I’m always making a bolt for it!

Avoidance has come back to bite me

When I start finding life difficult, I withdraw. It’s like I only exist to myself and I get very stuck in my own head.

I’ve been feeling physically unwell, with various things including stomach pain. I called my GP, who went off on a tangent about my anxiety, asking me how I was feeling and going over the top with trying to reassure me that what I was experiencing was “normal”. I just felt completely invalidated. Yes, I know anxiety can affect your health, but I don’t believe in this situation that was the cause. I think I’m self-aware enough to know that!

I wasn’t in the best mood afterwards. I ended up in over analysis mode, going over whether I am indeed ill or if it’s all in my head. So, I fall back onto my old friend, avoidance. I find a lot of comfort in being alone. As an only child, I learned to escape into my books and vivid imagination. It works pretty well as a kid, but not so much as an adult when there’s stuff to get done.

I will listen to my body and rest when I need to, but I want to get back on track with my blog, and the Journalism course I’m doing. Keeping busy helps to distract me from my overthinking. I read something recently about this – people have different ways of thinking and experiencing the world. Some think in pictures, sounds, or emotions and some have a constant inner monologue. No prizes for guessing which I am.

I’ve been consistent with my daily 10-minute meditation, which might not seem like much, but for a terrible procrastinator with her head in the clouds, it’s pretty good! It helps me get a bit of distance from my thoughts, which can only be a good thing. I’m trying to recognise the space between triggers and my anxiety.

In a way my avoidance is a comfort, as I always have a friend in myself. But I need other people too, I can’t let myself forget that, so I thought I’d write this post and put some of my thoughts out there into the world.