My therapist told me it is good for me to not avoid doing things that trigger anxiety for me, because my brain gets rewarded for avoiding and not avoiding will get subsequently much harder with each time I avoid.
This is not true for everyone, and is true or me only after a lot of work to have the tools and resources available to me to handle the triggers in a healthy way.
And since I do have those tools to manage triggers and anxiety, and I’m willing to use them to navigate life, I chose today to drive a box truck around a metro area to do a big favor for my partner, who needed some help getting a few things moved around from a few places to a few other places.
I drove a truck. A 15′ box truck. In the rain. In traffic. On the interstate. Nothing bad happened, and I did it really well. Not even a near miss or an almost really bad.
I did spend the day on high alert, and with a lot of anxiety, and with a little bit of feeling like I might pass out, and with a lot of the discomfort that quickly turns to anger for me. I had to be mindful of how I felt a lot and had to be very careful not to speak meanly or carelessly. I had to reassure myself a lot and drive a little bit slower than usual (probably wise in any regard) and ask for help when I changed lanes so that I didn’t miss anyone in the fairly large blind spots. It was stressful, and I am still coming down from the stress. I’m not there yet.
But I made a conscious choice today to do something I knew would be hard for me and that was pretty much guaranteed to be triggering for me, not just because I love him, but because I love myself.
I love myself enough to be honest about what I can and can’t do, and to push myself when I can. I love myself enough to start saying yes when for a long time I’ve been saying no, but only out of fear. I love myself enough to actively use the tools I have worked really hard for to manage anxiety and other PTSD symptoms so that I don’t have to be limited in what I can do. I love myself enough to allow myself to live a bigger life and not stay in the small life that is no longer serving me.