To be honest a lot of things set me off on one. Noisy eaters, people who crack their knuckles and people who don’t use their car indicators!
Then we get to the big stuff. The things that make my heart race and my brain turn fuzzy. Firstly, supermarkets. About 90% of my panic attacks have taken place in a supermarket. I think it’s a mixture of things, it’s the huge space, the sheer amount of people and the noise. Oh my god the noise, it just all collects together like white noise and it’s just too overwhelming. I remember once in Aldi I feel an attack coming on and all I could do was stare at the spring onions in front of me and do my deep breathing to calm myself down. But now I have my daughter I feel somewhat calmer in a supermarket. In a sense I know I need to have myself pulled together so that I don’t have an attack or get anxious. I always go armed with a list and I get the items as I head up the centre aisle. Flitting from one end to the other would just prolong the agony quite frankly. My husband has been great and often does the food shop, or we do it as a family. So now I tolerate them a lot better than I did before. In fact, having a child has given me no choice but to tolerate them. So in a way I should be thanking her.
I also tend to avoid concerts or nightclubs, guaranteed to be be full of people, drunk people. Bumping into me, getting too close to me, the music is too loud, the chatter is too loud…to be honest there isn’t much I enjoy about these situations. So I tend to avoid them. If I do go out (for a friend’s birthday for example) I like to be out with people that I trust. People that know how I feel about these situations and understand how I might start to act strangely and suddenly glaze over. Then I feel safe, safe to be me and know I can remove myself from the situation and go home without being judged.
Mess. I’ve been known to look off into space mid conversation because I’m just so focused on a squint picture hanging on a wall or the carpet is clearly needing hoovered. I feel compelled to keep my house spotless, great fun with a baby right??? But I also feel cleaning is therapeutic for me, once I’ve scrubbed the bathroom I feel instantly better. Having my daughter now means my cleaning has had to take a back seat and I like to think I’m a lot less obsessive about it than I am now. My psychiatrist agreed that this is not necessarily a bad thing, but I still have a limit as to how much mess I am willing to stand before I need to sort it! But I definitely do notice my mood slips when the house hasn’t been cleaned in a few days. I’m lucky that my husband is also tidy so he’s a great help with keeping on top of it.
So in all, yes I have things in my life that will trigger my anxiety levels but I’m happy that I’ve got a reasonable hold on them all. I doubt these triggers will ever change, lessen maybe but not disappear completely. But all I can do is glory on and take each day as it comes.
I do fear relapse. I know it can happen at any time. Now I’m back at work and feeling overwhelmed I’m definitely cautious about tasks I take on and I’ve been doing more self care activities. Like going out for a meal or bingo with my best friend (she’s a mum too so she knows the need to feel “normal”) getting my hair cut, cleaning my house or maybe even just watching tv with my husband. But fearing relapse it itself makes me anxious, so it just becomes a vicious circle really. I just keep an eye on my mood and take it day by day. Fearing the future only brings misery and is rather stay happy while the going is good!