August 2017
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anxiety workaround: turning off my brain and doing the scary thing on autopilot


icon: "disassociative (a digital painting of a stylized person in profile with wide open screaming mouth and arms up with palms spread wide. Head and hands flow into strands like blood vessels)"

Actions that are emotionally scary but physically simple, I can do more easily than most. I just decide to do it, then turn my brain off and do it on autopilot. So, if I'm scared of applying to something, I will prepare the application while carefully not thinking about what I am going to do with it, and upload it. Then before I click the submit button, I turn off my brain so that I am not thinking about what the click means, and click it automatically. Usually then I have an explosion of panic, but it is short-lived most of the time. If I have to face heights without safety restraints, or catch a wasp, or deal with something really gross, or handle a dead/wounded creature, I do the same thing.

The only thing is that the more complex the action is, the less possible it is for me to turn off my brain and use autopilot. I can't do this for a conversation (which is the most scary thing for me to face, especially one that is related to job or money), or for something that takes multiple steps. If I didn't already have a cv prepared and hadn't written dozens of cover letters lately I wouldn't have been able to trick myself into editing them for this job that I really want. If I had to start from scratch I would have had to face that I was doing the actions specifically for this job, and it would have frozen me.

I suppose it's a kind of disassociation. I turn off my decision-making and consequence-considering capabilities. It's almost like being super drunk for a very short time. I wonder if I learned this from disassociating when I was younger, or if it's a thing anyone can do.


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