I tried to make it to a cafe on about a dozen occasions. But I’d wind up sinking to the gutter in a truly awful state of analysis paralysis…
When you’re anxious, decisions can be your undoing.
Anxious people are shocking decision makers.
Plus, the process of making decisions heightens anxiety.
Plus, any kind of indecision or faffing or vagueness around us tends to trigger anxiety.
– Sarah Wilson, First, We Make the Beast Beautiful
In her book on anxiety, Wilson describes the struggle she had with what others would deem a simple activity: going to a cafe. Her thoughts about all the options and decisions to make would “cluster and fester in my head and fast become a throbbing panic,” often leading to her not going anywhere. To those without anxiety, the analysis paralysis situation may seem ridiculous… like, just make a decision? It’s that easy! No biggie. Right?
In my experience, I KNOW it really should be so simple. When depression comes into play, this analysis paralysis facet of anxiety REALLY impairs my ability to fully function. I’ve literally stood in front of the meat section of a grocery store on the verge of tears, overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options of what type of meat to buy, what cut, what size, what brand… After a long time, I just walked away empty-handed.
There is the anxiety about…
the number of options,
making the right decision,
the significance of the choice,
anxiety about my growing anxiety about the decision-making process…
IT’S JUST ANXIETY BUILDING ON ANXIETY about things that don’t even really matter.
In contrast, in a manic state, decisions come so easy to me… too easily. I decide to drive hundreds of miles on a whim. There is no anxiety to tell me to pause and think about the negatives or possible consequences of my actions. While my depressive, anxious state put brakes on all decisions, my manic state thinks that every single idea (and I have a TON of those) is great and strives to do them all… leading to dozens of mini projects started during mania, from creating an app to redecorating the house to learning 2 new languages at once.
There needs to be a happy medium. Anxiety can be beneficial to a degree. It can warn you that something is not a good decision or is not safe. However, too much can prevent you from moving forward at all. I’m still trying to find that perfect level, one that lets me pause to make educated decisions… but doesn’t paralyze me with anxiety.