Holding on to 'coping mechanisms'

by Liz Lockhart

I haven't written a blog for some time now but I am wary of blogging just for the sake of it. 

During a conversation this morning I realised that, after many years on from my recovery from phobic anxiety, panic disorder and agoraphobia, I still hold on to 'coping mechanisms'.  My head started to race with thoughts of 'does this mean that I'm not fully recovered?; and 'Should I be dropping them from my everyday life?'

Perhaps I should explain what coping mechanisms are.  For me they are things like needing to know that I have the opportunty to exit a situation.  I used to have to sit at the end of a row or by a door in certain situations but now as long as I know that I am free to leave, where I am seated is no longer an issue.  I do still check that my exit is clear and freely available though. Nobody knows that I do this, it doesn't make me look silly and it harms no one, so does it matter? 

I also like to have my car keys with me at all times or be the designated driver on social occassions or to have the taxi fare in my purse if I'm putting myself into someone elses' 'transport' care.

After some consideration I think that my recovery is as full as it will ever be.  I function as well as any 'normal' individual (I have a loathing for the word 'normal' as I feel it is impossible to define - but perhaps there lies another blog). 

As to the question of whether I should have dropped these coping stratagies..well....a counsellor told me that I don't need them and that they are unhealthy.  I think that my opinion differs.  If they help me to live a full and productive life can they really be all that bad? 

Yes - I am scared that if I discontinue them I may feel panic again but as they help me and harm nobody else why rock the boat?  Perhaps I would have other personal peculiarities if I had not suffered for a period of poor mental health.  Perhaps others who have never suffered from any form of mental health disorder have similar rituals.

I know that I feel truly blessed to be able to function so fully in a world that trapped me in my home for too long.  I was a prisoner without a release date and now I can fly.....well actually I suppose I cant ... air travel fills me with dread!  No car keys or immediate exit from that situation is there!?!! 

So I thought I was fully functional - well perhaps we can't have it all but I am so happy with what I now have. 

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