We all protect ourselves, whether consciously or unconsciously, all the time. Sometime what we are protecting ourselves from is physical, like jumping back when a car comes close to hitting us. Other times it is emotional, like when someone decides to take a break from dating after having one too many disappointing dates.
I recently realized that I have been protecting myself from events that I think have the potential to be upsetting, even when the events are normal parts of life. I think that I am doing so because in the past, even a small upsetting event could cause me to spiral into unhealthy, potentially dangerous behaviors. This realization led to another self discovery. That’s not necessarily how I react now.
When I was first diagnosed I couldn’t see a depressive episode coming, nor could I have stopped it if I had. With uncountable hours of therapy and introspection I started be able to see the episodes coming, but had to helplessly watch myself decline. I have now reached a point that I see it coming and I know what I have to do to make it as manageable as possible. I use coping skill after coping skill, I talk to my therapist, psychiatrist, and importantly, my husband.
I know that I won’t always necessarily be able to predict or control a depressive episode, but I have gotten to a point in which I feel that I can confidently believe in my ability to look the depression monster in the eye and say “fuck you, ain’t nobody got time for that!”
Now that I have this combination of self awareness and coping skills, I need to stop protecting myself from scary situations (as long as they are actually safe situations). To grow I have to allow myself to feel uncomfortable on occasion. This means simple things, like giving the delivery driver my phone number for when they get lost, rather than my husband’s.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with protecting ourselves, it keeps us alive, but I do think that sometimes it’s easy to over do it, especially those of us with anxiety.