There are various triggers for Ben; some that are consistent and others that are completely random and unexpected. I can never figure out which ones I find ‘easier’; I like to be prepared for any attack but also knowing that certain situations have made me anxious in the past can actually bring on Ben.
People who have experienced me in an anxious state are beginning to understand and learn how to help me, and this is indescribably important to me. To have people who actually want to make me feel better and go out of their way to accommodate me and Ben makes me feel incredibly lucky. However, I understand how difficult it is for people to comprehend the way my brain works when theirs is so vastly different. If I could get the people I love to understand, and I mean properly, without having to experience what I do, then I would – unfortunately life doesn’t work like that, there are no easy answers or quick fixes. All I need is people to want to learn how to help and accept me for the person I am, with and without Ben.
I wanted to focus on some of my personal triggers and what I do to help myself, or need from other people – it all depends on the level of anxiety or particular trigger as to how much intervention and support I need.
Feeling trapped – This can range from being at a concert surrounded by thousands of people, or just in someone else’s house. If I feel like I can’t leave an environment when I need to the anxiety can get immense and result in a panic attack. In order to help myself reduce the amount of space Ben is taking up in my mind, I try to assess my environment quickly for exits and/or places I can go if I start to feel panicked. If I have an ‘escape’ route in my head it can make me feel a little calmer. These times are where I almost always need support from someone else; if someone gives me the option to leave if I need to, it can change the way my mind views the situation in a positive way.
Restaurants – I’ve touched upon this issue before in a previous blog, and it’s one of the things caused by my anxiety that bothers me a lot. Mainly because it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me! I can easily go to a restaurant and eat with my friends or family and not feel the slightest bit worried. But put me with someone I like, their family/friends or people I don’t know very well and its a whole new ball game. I’m not entirely sure which part of the environment triggers Ben, maybe the way everyone has to sit opposite each other, people watching me eat or the worry that the food will make me sick – or more likely a combination of all 3! I haven’t figured out how to overcome this issue yet, I tend to just avoid it altogether which is the worst thing I can do for my future self. The more I avoid something, the bigger issue it becomes. In order to try and move forward I intend on trying this in restaurants that offer a buffet option – I feel this would give me more control over the situation. I can leave the table as often as I want to without it being rude and I can decide how much or how little to put on my plate at a time.
Change – This isn’t a consistent trigger, sometimes I am completely fine when things change and even embrace this happening. However, sometimes it can be the fuel to the fire and cause me a whole lot of issues. Normally, the severity of the anxiety surrounding change depends on how my life is in general at that time. If I am feeling settled, like now for instance, then I can handle change well and deal with it positively. But if I am feeling tense it can feel like I’m losing control of my world when things change from what I’m expecting. This trigger is the one I am most used to experiencing, change is something that happens regularly and often is needed in order for people to move forward and grow. On particularly bad days, if things aren’t how I’m expecting them to be in order to keep calm I try to remind myself that this is normal, that it isn’t going to turn my world upside down no matter how much it feels like it will, and most importantly, I will get through it. I always do.
Sometimes there isn’t an obvious trigger to Ben, he just wants the limelight no matter what. I am beginning to accept this, although some days that’s harder than others. On days like this all I need is someone to listen when I say that today isn’t a good day; to understand that I might need some space or extra distractions and to love me even more that day. Its surprising what a difference those things make to me and my mental health. I think so much pressure is put on us to be okay all the time, and that just isn’t real life. Some days I feel on top of the world, some days I feel barely able to cope, some days I am a little somewhere in between. That’s life, that’s me and that’s Ben.