One of my biggest fears when it comes to Anxiety is feeling trapped. In any situation, the thought of feeling trapped if things go bad/wrong/uncomfortable scares me like crazy. I always have to have a getaway, otherwise I will panic.
Back when I was a dance teacher, I’d always get a lift with the other teachers as the location was quite a drive away. On this particular night, we had a new teacher starting at the dance school (who wasn’t in the car on the way home). When we finished work for the night and were driving home, one of the teachers asked all of us what we thought of the new teacher. When it got to my turn to answer I completely froze, because I feared saying the wrong thing. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t look at her. I don’t know what came over me but I was just frozen. She realised I wasn’t responding and she started to attack. She said things like “you’re not going to answer my question??”, “why are you not talking??”, “you need help!”. Then she started swearing at me, and I just went into panic. I started to cry, and she wouldn’t stop. She called me a baby and kept swearing at me. Neither her father (who was driving) or the other teacher said a word. I was trapped, I was in a moving vehicle and home was still an hour away. It went on and on until I was just hysterical and eventually her father said “that’s enough”. But it had gone on far too long.
I think that situation made a big impact, if not created, my fear of being trapped to this day. This fear is only one part of my anxiety, but it’s probably the biggest part. If I could go back in time, I would have answered with something like “she’s fine”, or anything really. But you can’t go back, and with anxiety you can’t predict what’s going to happen. The only thing I really learnt from that situation is that there are some really miserable people in this world, and she could only have been attacking because of insecurities she had within herself. Anyone who is confident and happy would have just shrugged their shoulders and moved right along. Unfortunately nobody in the car that night or the owner of the dance school took the situation seriously… it was labelled as my fault, and I was asked to apologise.
I always seem to panic these days when I’m going somewhere that I’m unfamiliar with, or a place where it won’t be quick and easy to get home. I hate getting a lift in someone’s car as it means I lose control of being able to get myself home if needed. Also being in the middle of a busy shopping centre is a scary experience, most of the time I just want to get out.
When I find the willpower to go somewhere that I’m not in control, I like to pack my handbag with everything I could possibly need while I’m gone. I make sure I’m comfortable in what I’m wearing, I make myself as familiar as possible with the destination by searching online or asking questions, and I place myself into a bubble of sorts. I think of this bubble as a “protection bubble”, which is going to get me to the location, through the situation and back home again. And it works.