Anxiety And The Petrol Tank

Over recent months, I have had to take stronger steps to manage my anxiety. It’s gone from an issue other people struggle with, to a lion circling the perimeter of my life. Or maybe an elephant. That every now and then decides to sit on my chest.

“Not today Mr Elephant.” (It always helps to be polite.)

“Actually, I’m quite comfortable here.”

“If you don’t move, I’m going to tie a knot in your trunk.”

Some days I win, some days I lose. This week, I managed to win because I carried on with life anyway. Earlier today, I thought I might be losing. But then I realised I was getting a life lesson instead.

My car has been running a little low on petrol. But I don’t pass petrol stations on my general commute. I used to, but then I started to shop more local. My bills have gone down (except for the bit where I had to go and buy clothes for Little Person because she insists on growing) but then the petrol light came on. Did the school run for two days, no problem. Borrowed The Dude’s car one day (long story). Then this morning, I realised I had to go to the big shop and it has a petrol station. So I took my car. And as I drove, I saw the line on the petrol gauge was below the red bit.

Let’s just say it was a very stressful drive to the shop. I employed all the petrol saving driving tips I know. (Basically, I drove like a granny.)

And then, because January and money and end of the month I couldn’t fill the car up but put in as much as I could afford. Turns out, I could afford half a tank. Which means I will be filling up my tank again sooner rather than later.

But what does this have to do with anxiety? Well, there’s two ways of filling your car up (okay, there’s also a mish mash of other options but essentially they fall into two camps).

  1. You fill your car up to the absolute top. And then, as soon as you realise you are getting low on fuel, you fill your car up to the absolute top again.
  2. You let your car just about run out of fuel – almost but not quite. And then you put a little bit of fuel in. Just enough to last you a week or so. And repeat.

Option 2 is obviously the more stressful of the two. It’s also the way that I sometimes treat my own mental health. That stops now.


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