Oh the life of an anxious person. We are constantly told to rely on our instincts, that our gut feelings are rarely wrong, but is this true when you’re battling anxiety?
I’ve been battling generalised anxiety disorder (with a hint of panic) since at least 2012 and this means I have the tendency to overthink to the point of avoiding certain things.
Fight or Flight
I don’t think our instincts are limited to fight or flight because another response and reaction is freeze. I have the tendency to freeze, if confronted my heart pounds & I am the epitome of ‘ deer in the headlights’.
You might be wondering what the relevance of the fight, flight or freeze response has to this post but I think maybe everything. My natural reaction to confrontation is freeze, in the early human days, would this have saved my life (probably not) or would I have been in more danger? Who knows.
In January I travelled to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa (WHV) and knew that at some point we would want to complete our 88 days regional work/fruit picking that would make us eligible for our 2nd year visa. The thought of farm work does worry me. I have never done manual labour, I don’t cope well in the heat & it is something completely new to me. It is normal to be nervous, even if you don’t have an anxiety disorder.
(I promise you that this is relevant to the post title.)
It took almost a week before the offers started coming through. We accepted the 2nd out of the 3 we received. The next morning I started to overthink. This is one of the aspects of anxiety that I really don’t have control of. I find it difficult not to overthink BUT was it my anxiety, or was it my instincts telling me that something wasn’t quite right.
I began to google the town and found a few articles about underpaid, exploited Backpackers and corrupt farmers. Anxiety or instinct? Are we going to a corrupt farm? Is it a legitimate job? What if we aren’t paid? What if the living conditions are dreadful? What if we get our money stolen? What if we are separated? What if I don’t feel safe? What if we are attacked? What if we are killed? This might seem like I’m over-reacting but these are all questions I had immediately, some perhaps more likely than others.
Were my questions and the urge for flight of the situation (avoidance) just my anxiety talking, or was it my instincts telling me to find a different job. How are we (anxious people) supposed to figure out which responses are due to anxiety and which are due to human instinct?
I found a link to a Facebook post on an Aussie Farm Review page that discussed the town we had accepted work in and how they had been scammed by people called Mayla & Ken who also used other names including (but probably not limited to) Grace & Jayce. Was she the person who has been emailing us? Are we about to enter a scam? They had posted an email copy in the comments of what they had been told and while not identical to ours, it wasn’t too dissimilar. Alarm bells were ringing. It was Monday morning, we were due to leave on the Greyhound bus on Saturday, should we still go? Is it just my anxiety talking or is it gut instinct?
In the end, we decided not to chance it & we rang a farm that was recommended to us by our friends, they had loved their time there so when he said work might be a couple of weeks but we were welcome to stay in his accommodation (a private room for almost $200 cheaper a week between us than a dorm in a hostel in Brisbane) we jumped at the chance.
I don’t know if it was anxiety, instinct or dumb luck that made me question the original acceptance but it ended up for the best, I think. That’s not always the case. Sometimes I end up overthinking myself out of doing things that I would have really enjoyed. I don’t know the answer to my own question, but here’s to figuring it out.
This post was written as part of Mental Health Monday, a blog meme where people are encouraged to share their stories & I choose a few to feature on my blog. You can read other Mental Health Monday posts here.