Part of the anxiety problem is that it constantly reminds you about your worst fear and how it can impact on what you are doing. With me, my major problem is health and hygiene, anytime it is anything other than perfect, I get anxious. The only problem is that to my anxiety, nothing is ever perfect, so I have to negotiate with myself to reach an acceptable agreement.
For example, when I go into Starbucks to get a coffee, I always get it in a takeaway cup, even if I am drinking in. My anxiety long ago reminded me that all number of germs and pathogens live on a cup, no matter how clean it looks. Now of course, paper cups can still have germs, but I managed to convince myself that this was an acceptable risk.
My life can sometimes be a string of risk assessments that go far beyond the ones people do every day. Just walking down the street you are constantly assessing and adapting to what is going on around you. With anxiety, you have all those, plus many other less rational assessments to do just to stop yourself from panicking.
One of the worst for me are public toilets, for this reason, I am so glad I am not a girl or I may never use one. When I went on my trip to Norwich last week, I had to assess my need with using a train WC. This has always been a big no no for me, my anxiety almost screaming in my ear that if I so much as touch the door I will be struck down with a nasty bug. I decided that on this occasion, I had to face it fear and try.
It was one of those toilets with the automatic door, so that wasn’t so bad, I just had to not think of how many filthy hands had touched the button. When I got inside, there was the familiar smell of cleaning products mixed with urine that never ceases to make my throat close up. This next task is something that many men might understand. Trying to pee into a toilet when you and the room are standing still is enough of a challenge, but when you are being flung from side to side, it is all you can do to not to pee all over the floor and walls.
The easiest thing would probably be to sit down, but, well you know how that goes! So I had to do my best effort, constantly adjusting my feet and balance like a waiter with a tray of glasses on a rocky sea. I was quite impressed with my effort, even though I was doing a good impression of an Irish dancer.
The most important thing was that I managed to do it without a major breakdown. All I needed was a healthy dose of hand sanitiser when I got back to my seat. It can be done, and the brief stress is worth the feeling of accomplishment.