I recently read (or rather skimmed over) this quick article on how stress could be good for you. It got me thinking about how it relates to Agoraphobia.
This article lists 6 possible positive results of short-term stress (we’re not talking panic here):
Motivation – gets us up off our butt to get things done
Alertness – no brainer here
Creativity – you think more outside the box when riding the adrenal wave
Enhanced Vision and Hearing – see Alertness
Immunity – research suggesting it could stop certain cancers, or lead to better recoveries
Memory Loss – keeps brain cells active
The more that I mulled things over (not just the article but my own situation,) the more I started to agree with this need for bursts of anxiety for those living with the burden of Agoraphobia (as long as they are ready to deal with it effectively.)
When I am not an Agoraphobic (and I don’t really consider myself one out of spite for it) I thrive on stress. I’m not an anti-social creature by any means. My employment revolves around speaking to the general public. If there is something that has to be done last minute, I will jump on the opportunity to do so. Some of my best grades in schooling came from a night-before rush job. So, it is easy for me to comprehend the validity of short-term stress equaling results.
Under Enhance Vision and Hearing it stated that “…a lack of stress means your body is under-stimulated, leaving you feeling bored, sluggish and isolated.” Agoraphobics are already feeling isolated, but the lack of new situations allowed into their world does more damage than gradual, short-lived, stressful ones (although it does not seem this way at the time.) This explains why the longer one spends “locked up” in their safe havens, the harder it will become to venture out again.
- Firstly your body has been used to a stress-free surrounding for so long that any new situation outside of your own 4 walls will be deemed a “threat.” Your senses will be inundated with stimuli causing your heartbeat to rush, and:
- Secondly (fearing the lack of control over themselves) the Agoraphobic will take the quickened heartbeat as panic, which will in turn set off the emotional memories of all other panic attacks, and result in re-emerging into their cave.
But how is it that as much as I feed to my positive experiences of stress, Agoraphobia doesn’t seemed to be phased by “good stress?” Well if I knew the answer, I would be at a BBQ right now meeting my partners friends for the first time, instead of sitting at the desk typing away.
There is no consistency to Agoraphobia. I have a theory that you just have to “relearn” not to panic, but what makes this hard is Agoraphobia’s masterful ability to “wipe the slate clean” every night when I go to bed. The fact that I spent all day outside away from my home the day before means nothing when I wake the next day. (ARGH)
So while “good stress” seems to be proactive in keeping us alert and balanced, there remains the mystery of how to get Agoraphobia to listen in a more productive, timely manner than what it tends to.
(It also explains as to why my partner scaring the living daylights out of me can make me feel more relaxed than I have in days.)