Conflict avoidant + anxious = disaster
June 29, 2020 8:48 PM   Subscribe

I am extremely conflict avoidant, and now it seems to be triggering panic attacks. If you’ve dealt with this, what are your coping strategies and tools?

I have always been terrible at anything that involves even a hint of conflict. I can’t negotiate to save my life. It’s a running joke in my family that I get physically uncomfortable when my partner haggles in a street market.

But it’s getting a lot worse now. Illustrative case: I am working with an attorney on a thing. The attorney is my attorney. I had to ask them some clarifying questions about paperwork, and I emailed them.

I didn’t hear back from them for a while, and had to follow up with a phone call. Gearing myself up to make that call was hugely stressful, but the even worse part was that my anxiety got worse with each ring of the telephone . What if they answered? What if I annoyed them? Cue panic attack.

I’m being literal: I felt my anxiety physically ratcheting up with each ring, and the relief I felt when I got voicemail was startling.

This seems dysfunctional, and I’m about to enter a life phase where for many years I am going to have to both be my own advocate and deal with people who may not like what I have to tell them.

If this is or has been you: what’s your advice on how I can manage this anxiety and avoidance so that it doesn’t incapacitate me?
posted by scrump to Human Relations (5 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Well I avoided anxiety treatment for years until I started having panic attacks over COVID. Like, convinced I was having a heart attack and was going to pass out and die in the grocery store. My doctor (after ruling out any heart shenanigans) put me on an SSRI. Took care of the panic attacks within a week. I also started with a new therapist.
Hope that helps.
posted by StockingMarionette at 9:02 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]

The beta blocker Propranolol helped me with some particularly panic-inducing phone calls I had to make on a regular basis at work.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:05 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]

Xanax and mood stabilizers, plus Inositol (it's an OTC supplement that helps prevent repetitive or obsessive thoughts). It was a magic bullet. Once the mood stabilizers started working, the xanax was hardly necessary. I take maybe one a month now. 25mg will bring me down from a panic attack in about half an hour. Even just knowing I have that option helps me sometimes.
posted by ananci at 9:22 PM on June 29

I am a milder version of you and two things helped me. One was to learn that some of my anxiety is the result of poor preparation, so now I budget more time when preparing for conversations and sometimes even write down what I’ll be saying and how the back & forth might play out. The other thing that helped was drugs. For the past few years I’ve been on a daily 10mg of fluoxetine (a very small dosage of anti-depressant) and after a month-long adjustment period it took a lot of the edge off of daily life stress.
posted by migurski at 10:25 PM on June 29 [1 favorite]

Psychedelics, taken with intention in a trusted setting.
posted by gold bridges at 10:03 AM on June 30

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