Everyday challenges (part 2)

I wasn’t sure what to write about today. There are a few different topics I’ve been meaning to cover. But I can’t decide between them at the moment. So instead, I thought I’d write about my day – and what it feels like from my perspective to deal with pretty normal situations.

Today I wasn’t at work – which immediately leads to anxiety until I can get my ‘script’ for the day in place. So after my normal morning routine I plan to make some toast and sort out what I’m doing for the rest of the day.

The first problem comes when I discover the bread has gone stale. Luckily I remember plan B: I have some breakfast biscuits in the cupboard (which I bought after this situation happened before). Meltdown successfully avoided.

So I plan my day: I need to be at the garage for 11am and then I will go into town on the way back to get some lunch and finish my Christmas shopping. I will then practise the cello as I have an orchestra rehearsal on Sunday. I feel calmer now I have a plan for the day.

As I am driving to the garage, I plan where I am going to park and script what I am going to say when I go into the garage. Unfortunately, there is nowhere to park so I have to block people in. My anxiety starts to increase but I manage to revise my script and explain that I don’t know where to park. I think it’s all going OK until I realise that I’ve completely missed the cue to shake the salesman’s hand. Oops. I remind myself that once I’ve picked the car up I won’t need to see him again and it doesn’t matter what he thinks of me.

The rest of the paperwork is just a formality. I’m used to reading financial documents so this is within my comfort zone. I even remember the social convention of a handshake on my way out.

Next part of my plan is to go into town. I know it might be busy so my plan A is to park in the normal car park, plan B is to use the alternative car park and plan C is to go home and go to a different town after lunch. I have to use plan C but that’s ok – it’s why I have a plan C.

At home I try to sort out car insurance. Which is where it all starts to go wrong. I’m supposed to be able to do it online but the system won’t let me choose the option I want. So I need to make a telephone call. I feel anxious about this but write a script and call. Unfortunately I get through to a voice recognition service. Which doesn’t recognise my increasingly panicked attempts to give the information. This sends me into a full-blown but thankfully short-lived meltdown. And I eventually get through to an actual person and because the conversation is a set of structured factual questions I can just about handle it.

So then I go into a different town to finish my Christmas shopping. And it’s noisy and crowded and even with my headphones on I am completely overwhelmed. I end up having to leave a few shops when it gets too much. Eventually, by limiting myself to 10 minute ‘shopping’ sessions with finding quiet places in between, I manage to do most of the things I wanted to do. But the rising sense of panic means I can’t do everything so – after resting in a quietish coffee shop – I head home.

I start to feel better on the train home and seriously consider going to a work social event. But when I get home, the events of the day overwhelm me and I shut down completely. For 3 hours.

Just another normal day, really…


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