Taking the Reins


Haunted houses. Haunted trails. Scary hayrides. Fright Fests. Horror movies.

I get asked a lot if these festivities bother me when it comes to my anxiety.

Shouldn’t something that induces fear and adrenaline be a trigger?

Don’t you get enough of that feeling as it is?

First of all. Bitch, don’t tell me what should or shouldn’t trigger my anxiety. Secondly, I can’t explain it really. Maybe it’s about control. Usually my anxiety is completely out of my hands – I never know when those feelings will it, when I’ll think I’m about to die, when the world will become terrifying. But when I choose to turn on that scary movies, walk into that haunted house, or get on that insane rollercoaster, I’m choosing that rush. I’m prepared to face the fear and look it in the eye. I’m allowing the adrenaline to rush through me. For those brief moments, I’m walking straight into it. For that time, the anxiety loses its power. Even if just for a moment, I’m in control of my feelings.

Control is really all I want. Sometimes I lock myself in the bathroom or the closet because it’s the only place I feel safe. If I can’t control my feelings and thoughts, at least I can control where I’m having them.

Sometimes, anxiety hits hard and there is no bathroom to run to, no closet to hide in. If I can, I turn to music. I try to get lost in it, let it distract me. If I’m lucky, I can force the panic back, I can hold it down, until I can get to the piano. Then. There. That is my safe place. At the bench, with my fingers on the keys, there is no thinking, there is no feeling, besides the music. That is my safest place.

Unfortunately, safe places, piano keys, and headphones aren’t always just around the corner. There are times when I just have to embrace it. There isn’t some breathing technique or finding that “happy place” people keep telling me about. (I must need a map). Those times become a waiting game, a test of patience. I just have to remind myself that I’ve been there before and it gets better. I make it through.

I know that this is forever. I’m going to have to learn to live with it just like one would live with an allergy or bum knee. It can be discouraging, knowing you’re going to struggle to feel “normal” for the rest of your life. But it gets better, I am strong enough, even on the days when I feel like I’m not.

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