Saturday, June 27, 2009

Brief(ish) and introspective

I have found myself watching TV shows and movies of late and actually wondering how is it one character is able to get in a car with another character for even a brief roadtrip without getting anxious about needing to go to the bathroom.

Isn’t it strange how things that seem so mundane to the rest of society can have such power over us? I know I’m not alone here.

For those coming in late, all my life I’ve had an anxiety about situations in which I do not have a bathroom readily available to me for any lengthy (or really any) period of time. I was formally diagnosed with this “disorder” by a psychologist when I was 18. My condition is not aided by the fact that I also have lactose intolerance and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but it is in large part psychological.

This weekend, I drove with my fiancee, Megan, three and a half hours from New Jersey back to Boston for my cousin’s wedding and along the way had cause and time to reflect upon my situation and where I am now relative to where I’ve been.

On the whole, I would consider myself currently in a better place psychologically than I’ve probably ever been, let alone where I was (wow) nearly ten years ago. However, it’s worth noting that the more aware and comfortable I’ve become of and with my anxiety, the more focus I put on it and thus the larger issue it becomes. Back in high school, when I was blissfully unaware of any sort of problem, I routinely drove around with my friends, snacking on fast food and then piling into a car for a twenty-minute trip down Route 9; in the back of my mind, there was a nagging fear, but I didn’t give it a voice. Nowadays, I’m quite in touch with my neuroses and able to fully understand them, but I have trouble taking more than a five minute car-trip with anybody outside of Megan or my immediate family.

I’ve also in the past two years begun using the train as my primary mode of transportation, and I realize now this is both a blessing in a curse in some ways. On the one hand, it’s an ideal way for me to travel since there are always bathrooms within walking distance and I can be with my friends with minimal anxiety; on the other hand, as I discovered this weekend, it has really made driving seem like a foreign experience to me, to the point where I work myself up even on an empty stomach because I don’t have that safety hatch of a nearby lavatory I rarely even use to put my mind at ease.

So where do I go from here? Is this really a can of worms I even want to open? Honestly, I function just fine even with my “handicap” and people rarely guess I have a problem unless I tell them. Sure it would be nice to be able to carpool with friends to a party, but it’s not something I need to do; I can live my life despite my condition, it just requires finding ways around certain situations sometimes.

But could therapy help me? Is this a problem I can conquer fully or just something I need to learn to live with? Also, at what point is there really nothing more even a licensed shrink can do for you and you need to become your own therapist, regulating your nerves and deciding what’s best for you? People manage to live their lives despite fears of flying or using elevators or all sorts of random stuff—do I need to devote time and energy to bettering myself here or should I just focus on living my life best I can?

I don’t have any answers here, I just figured the questions were worth asking.

I apologize for those of you who came looking for a concise movie review or musings on obscure 90’s X-Men characters; as recompense, I offer this picture of due-for-a-comeback New Warriors archfoes, Psionex:

Next time, back to business as usual.

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