Stop! Panic Time!

A unique contradiction of my mental health is that I do have both Asperger’s Syndrome and an anxiety disorder. Any Autism Spectrum Disorder implies the ultimate in rational thinking while a part of my anxiety disorder (whose symptoms mimic those of either panic disorder or OCD) causes me to become distressed over irrational thoughts.

When faced with a situation that I find truly scary, though, the sense of panic becomes quite overwhelming. Tonight on the way home from my grandmother’s house an hour away we encountered torrential downpours on the highway, triggering a long-dormant sense of pure fear. My Aspergian necessity for control and skepticism in the face of trust failed me in this situation as it was impossible for me to predict the weather’s course and I found it hard to trust that other drivers around my father could be competent and not slam into us. The anxiety side of me, though, told me less than reassuringly that the highway would soon flood and leave us abandoned until some men in boats came to pull us out. This did not help to soothe my claustrophobia at all and I am proud to say that I never entered the threshold of full-blown panic attack.

Self-control and self-awareness may be the most important tools to living successfully with both ASD and anxiety disorders. Because I identified the situation as one that may cause distress I was able to prepare myself for a possible attack and therefore divert it. A few years ago I probably would have crumbled, and it feels good to be able to get past a situation without dwelling upon it as I may have when I was a freshman.

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