This is a good one, I like to think it challenges perception.
So, I’m a serial shoulder-showoff. Most of my shirts are a size bigger than they should be, and I cut collars off everything that comes too high or feels too tight.
More than once, people have told me to cover up. Sometimes, people call me flirty and reference my abundance of showing skin. Other times, people try and adjust my shirt so I look “dressed”.
Here’s the thing….
And it happens just like that. See, when I first started having panic attacks, it used to feel like I was being choked. You know like when you swallow something hard, whole? Or that thickness you get in the back of your throat when you’re trying not to cry? If you’ve ever experienced the slightest amount of pressure to your throat… it felt like that. It used to get so bad that I would try to take my shirt off. Any-which-way. It didn’t matter how it came off, just that it did. It was nothing to rip a collar. If I was near scissors or anything sharp, I would slice it open at the neck because it suddenly felt so constricting.
And you guys wonder why I stopped going out… — sarcastic smirk emoji! 😉
Heat plays a major part in bare neck and shoulders too. When I’m panicking my blood boils on the inside, and I need air to cool it down. I want it on me, over me, like rain. When the heat comes I know passing out is next. And I can’t let that happen. This gets tricky without a biblical length explanation, so let’s just say passing out amounts to a lack of control, and as I’m sure most of you know, one of the major factors of OCD is control. Passing out means relinquishing that control. I can’t let that happen… which of course makes the anxiety worse. This shit is vicious, you guys.
I don’t know if you know anything about how learnt behavior works (p.s I’m desperately trying not to patronize you here), but during this 5/10/15 minutes of sheer panic, my brain registers the parts where I feel protected/safe/in control of what is happening. It doesn’t just ‘register’ these parts, it clings to them, holds them close, makes them into a manual of how-to.
….And thus wearing anything that closed round my neck and shoulders became completely out of the question.
So that’s how that works… or worked.
This has gotten better over the last couple of years. Maybe not “better”, but definitely less. I don’t undress or destroy my clothes anymore. I even bought a tie a couple of years back and wore it for a Christmas party. Some days I can kill the heat and choking with a glass of water, but then, of course, other days it’s as bad as it ever was… but the point is, it’s not every time anymore. And to me, that means, in time, I’ll be able to kick it completely.
As always, feel free/open/WELCOME to drop by the comments and tell me about your anxiety or how you cope with it.