When I was seeing my therapist, Ken, for anxiety, I was forced to do a lot of introspection. I guess that’s what therapists make you do, look all inside yourself and shiz. During one of my sessions, I was explaining to him how frustrating it was that I had panic attacks due to my food allergies. It got to the point where anytime I would put something in my mouth, even if I had eaten the food hundreds of times before, I would have a panic attack. The “what if” thoughts took over the logical parts of my brain and I was convinced that I was going to develop an anaphylactic allergy to every single food on the face of the earth.
I said to Ken, “I just wish I didn’t have food allergies!! If I didn’t, I would have no anxiety!! Life would be so simple. Other people don’t even know how easy they have it.”
Ken peered at me over his glasses and gave me a little smirk. “Is that the case? You think you wouldn’t be having panic attacks if you didn’t have food allergies?”
Ken had a way of looking at you and phrasing things that made answering simple questions suddenly difficult. He could ask me “do you like cheddar cheese, Courtney?” and I would sit there on his leather couch asking myself “oh my gosh, DO I??? I know I enjoy the taste, but deep down in my heart, do I REALLY like it? What would I sacrifice for cheddar cheese: my waistline, my paycheck, my firstborn? What does it mean to really like something?” He was a good therapist. He inquired. He made me inquire.
I thought for a few minutes and realized that my anxiety/stress/panic attacks were not a result of my food allergies. Sure, that was a nice excuse and a great reason to hyperventilate on the side of the road or during a meal, but my food allergies were not causing my anxiety. My perspective and way of thinking was causing my anxiety. I didn’t answer Ken’s question immediately though, I wanted to be honest and fully confident in my response, and didn’t want to rush the process of getting there.
A few weeks later, near the end of our time together, I said to Ken on the way out of his office, “I will always find something to be anxious about. If it’s not food allergies, it will be something else. There will always be something wrong, something to be anxious over, it’s just the way I perceive it that determines how I will react, how it will affect me.”
He smiled a huge, proud papa bear smile, put a hand on my back, and said “there you go, Court.”
To be continued…