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Control is a form of Anxiety by Clare Fisher

I find it ever so challenging to be a passenger.

Ziggy Pop once sang 

“I am the passenger

I stay under glass

I look through my window so bright

I see the stars come out tonight

I see the bright and hollow sky

Over the city's ripped-back sky

And everything looks good tonight”

I say NO WAY! It’s more the case that I am the passenger and everything looks terrifying tonight!

I am not passenger material, I would prefer to be the designated driver of planes, trains and automobiles. Even if I could pilot a plane or drive a train I am sure that Richard Branson wouldn’t be kind enough to give me a cheeky loan of his Virgin Galactic Rocket Plane or Virgin Hyperloop One Train.

So I am stuck in the passenger role of an active bystander who has a very loud case of verbal incontinence. I have a variety of unhelpful stock questions  “Are we going too fast?”, “is that a bird? watch out for that bird”, “what’s that weird banging noise?”, “is that smoke, can you smell it too?”, “Are we there yet?”….. These stock questions are not rhetorical and if anyone dares to provide a rational or supportive answer my FIGHT response triggers. It is then my alter dark ego who is akin to tennis player John McEnroe ensues with cries of “you can not be serious” whilst I dramatically throw my metaphorical racket to the ground in an epic tantrum.

I normally consider myself to have a handle on my emotions after many years of masking and regulating my neurodiverse overwhelms. However, when I am faced with the role of passenger I lose my decorum and return to my baseline affective state of anxiety.

The reason for my temporary and uncharacteristic adaptive response is based on my need for control, I need to be in charge and responsible for the vehicle, its navigation and the overall safety of my fellow travellers. As a passenger, I relinquish my control to another, which manifests in the feeling of vulnerability, uncertainty, dread and ultimately fear. The official label for my specific anxiety is amaxophobia, the fear of being a passenger.

As a Psychotherapist I can CBT myself to address my cognitive distortions, I can practise mindfulness techniques, undertake exposure therapy and give myself the gift of self-compassion. However, even as a Psychotherapist my healing journey is ongoing and if I spot a train I choose life and crank up Madness on my car stereo whilst I croon the lyrics “I like driving in my car”

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