How one big leap can make subsequent small steps doable – the fear afficianado brain anoxia symptoms

(Prior to this, the only times I’d left my home neighborhood this year were in July, to travel to my niece’s wedding in Logan, Utah, and her reception in Centennial, Colorado… so, needless to say leaving my house is not something I’m really accustomed to.)

I knew the event would be far outside my comfort zone… that I would be simultaneously in large open spaces, and large closely assembled crowds… that I would have to leave my own house for a good eight to ten hours (which still, a month later, is not high on my personal to do list)…

For the week leading up to this devotional, I’d known that it wouldn’t even begin until 6 o’clock at night… but it wasn’t until the day before that I found out my parents were planning on arriving at Safeco Field at 2… to wait in line for the gates to open at 4… to be in our seats at 6, to listen to maybe ninety minutes worth of talks… to then drive back home in all that traffic…

(Seriously the first time we left home for the airport I KNEW I was going to either die… or back out… or suffer a complete and total nervous breakdown… and my parents would have to go on without me while I would be carried away from the airport in an ambulance and checked in to an institution… it was THAT TERRIFYING just to travel beyond the edge of my own driveway.)

• I could be so overwhelmed by fear and anxiety just waiting in line for two hours, that I could pass out, or fall over, or start sobbing or shaking uncontrollably… and then my parents and I would have to leave, and miss out on the whole experience.

Hopefully… you get the picture. hypoxic brain injury mri findings I was straight up terrified… to the point that I didn’t even know if I could still handle eating breakfast, showering, and getting dressed… let alone being ready to get in the car at one, after having spent all those morning hours agonizing over every possible thing that could conceivably go wrong!

(I wish I could say I’m exaggerating here for dramatic effect. hypoxic anoxic brain injury wiki But the truth is I’m only scratching the surface… suffice it to say that if you’ve experienced this kind of anxiety, you know what it feels like.) Plan For The Worst, THEN Hope For The Best

I knew we were allowed to bring a backpack into the stadium… so I packed a change of clothes in case I peed my pants (thank goodness I never did, but I have had soda spilled in my lap on a plane before and in that instance I was grateful for having a clean change of clothes in my carry on….)

As we approached the one o’clock hour, my anxiety was almost enough to convince me that I was making a mistake in thinking I could handle this HUGE experience… and that I really should just stay home. (Like I said, I’d had the exact same feelings in July, so I had some recent experience with this and I knew it would diminish at some point. hypoxia anoxia Otherwise I probably okay definitely would have given in.) Only Worry About One Thing at a Time!

Finally, as my parents were making plans for what we would do once we arrived at Safeco Field, I blurted out, “Guys I can only handle getting ready to go, and getting in the car when it’s time to leave. anoxic brain injury mri If I think through any step of this journey beyond just getting in the car, my anxiety will overwhelm me and I won’t go. I’m only going to think as far ahead as leaving the house… and trust that I’ll figure out the rest, as we go along.”

(Spoiler: that sentence was the pivotal point in this particular experience! Once I decided I didn’t have to figure it all out beforehand, and I didn’t have to anticipate or plan for every possible scenario that might play out, all the way from beginning to end… I was able to relax just enough, that I could turn off the remaining “future anxiety”… and simply focus on the immediate anxiety of “how do I progress from this moment, to the end moment of this leg of the journey?” And that was when the magic started to happen.)

And then, finally, when it’s all done! I need to be able to get back in the car with mom, dad, and two of our friends (the other two had made other arrangements for after the devotional)… and somehow “survive” the car ride home. (But if I managed to get through the rest of the day then riding home would be easy.) Check.

And then I just let go of the need to figure everything out and to plan every last detail before I even started getting ready to go… and instead took each step in turn, one at a time, at the time it actually happened… and, you wanna know something?

On account of which, I actually enjoyed the long car ride. It gave me a chance to visit with friends, and to talk briefly with my dad, and to sit back and enjoy the scenery. (There are stretches along I-5 in Western Washington where the scenery is just breathtaking, no matter how many times you drive past it.)

But when we got out of the car and my friends and I agreed to find somewhere to eat… both problems, solved. And the car ride was now behind us, so I didn’t have to worry about that anymore… and the gates still didn’t open for almost two hours so I didn’t have to worry about that yet…

So I just enjoyed eating lunch with my friends… in a restaurant in a part of downtown in a city that I’d not personally stepped foot in for possibly the past five, six years now? (I’ve been in downtown Seattle plenty of times in the past – but for most of the last decade I’ve always had some reason or other why I “just couldn’t handle leaving my own neighborhood, no matter the reason.”)

Because I’d already decided that I’d deal with the “getting through the gates and finding a seat in the stadium problem” after the gates opened at four o’clock… all I had to do from about 2:10 to about 3:50, was to “worry” about how I would pass that time… and with good friends and okay decent food at kind of a classy restaurant where nothing’s really amazing but it’s all really expensive… passing that time was a pleasure.

If you’ve never been to Safeco Field, Suite Seating is the row in the stadium where all the rich people come to watch sporting events… the whole row is a long series of self-enclosed suites, with seating for anywhere from ten to maybe thirty people?

I’m convinced though, that I would have done just fine with regular stadium seating, following my new-found attitude of “I’m only going to worry about the part that’s right in front of me – and even then, only until that part has been resolved.” But since I didn’t have to worry about anything once we got the Suite seating… I was totally free to relax and enjoy the two hours leading up to the devotional – and to fully hear and appreciate the messages from each of the three speakers.

And they tend to have multiple activities each month, though often times they really are too far away for me to drive. But still, I’ve wanted to go… and yet somehow I always “forget” to put it on my calendar, or talk myself out of it days or weeks (or sometimes hours) before… because…

Because I’ve done much more challenging things, in my very recent past, so I know how to deal with each one of those anxieties. anxiety attack meaning in hindi Plus the car ride is considerably shorter today and through lots of back roads and wooded areas, so if I have to I can probably just pull over and run behind a tree.

and that over time, those small, “doablesteps, will make a much bigger difference than I can even imagine, or appreciate at this moment… and because I found the courage to do the couple of big things… each small, subsequent step that moves me in the same general direction will always and forever be considerably easier… than if I had decided to give into my fears, and just stay home.