The Unavoidable Demands

The Unavoidable Demands

There are some demands which, no matter how hard we try, we PDAers cannot avoid. Because anything and everything can be perceived as a demand to us, there will naturally be some demands which are difficult or impossible to avoid altogether.

This can cause a lot of stress. Since our brains believe demands to be something dangerous to be feared and avoided, being forced to confront them can be stressful and even damaging psychologically. Imagine being confronted with your worst fear, then knowing you’ll have to face it again the next day, then the next, then the next, never with any respite. Now imagine feeling like that about several things and being forced to face them regularly, and with extra unpredictable fears added on top.

Some of the unavoidable demands are ones which have always been around, since birth. These might not have been perceived as demands before, they might have been easy things to do, but one day they popped up on the fear radar and suddenly they weren’t so easy any more. This is the way of PDA, anything can become a demand at any time.

This is a list of some unavoidable demands:

  • Breathing
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Using the toilet
  • Keeping warm
  • Cooling down
  • Registering pain
  • Sleeping
  • Giving birth
  • Moving the body

Whilst these demands are unavoidable, we do have some control over them, so we are able to cope with the demands by changing parts of them or how we do them to make them less anxiety inducing. We can choose not to eat set meals and snack when we are able to eat rather than trying to force ourselves to consume food when we are already in a heightened anxious state. We can’t choose when we use the toilet but we can choose where we go. We have a lot of control over how we warm ourselves up (clothes, fire, blankets) and how we cool ourselves down (removing clothes, cold drinks, ice). We can choose how we react to pain and we may be able to choose whether to heal the pain or not and how (thank goodness for modern medicine).

These demands may seem silly to non-PDAers, after all, what could be anxiety inducing about sleeping or keeping warm? This is why the PDAer’s brain’s response to perceived fear is seen as over-active, it might not make sense but that doesn’t mean the fear response isn’t real. Just like a fear of phobias are often irrational yet real, so too are PDA demands. I can guarantee that if you know a PDAer they will have tried to avoid at least one unavoidable demand. I have tried to avoid breathing in the past (many times) to no avail. This induced a panic attack because I couldn’t stop myself from breathing. My brain perceived breathing to be a dangerous thing and so it tried to stop me from breathing, but because I couldn’t stop for more than a few minutes I started to panic, thus started hyperventilating which simply compounded the issue.

These demands might seem silly to others, but they can be very serious and have serious consequences. Unavoidable demands can cause a lot of issues so learning to manage them is very important. We should never underestimate the danger of the unavoidable demand.

2 thoughts on “The Unavoidable Demands”

  1. Just reading this as we go through the worst part of the day, using the bathroom and getting dressed. It can take up to 2 hours and can get so scary that screaming is a regular occurrence. My poor child in the bathroom, I am at a loss what to do to help, I just have to be at hand for when she needs me as she deals with and forces herself to go through the frightening routine, with ocd aswell. I feel like I have tried everything and the last thing we havnt done is anti anxiety medication. Do you have any advice for me? xx Great post as always. xx

    1. I haven’t really tried medication for anxiety although I’ve heard it can go either way, for some it makes things worse and for others it helps a bit. Apparently St John’s wart is quite favoured. Otherwise, I find novelty can help with some demands, I’ve been trying the sweets flavoured hand wash (bubblegum, cola bottle, strawberry laces). Maybe dimming the lights in the bathroom and adding fairy lights to change the atmosphere and adding lavender scents. It’s hard when OCD is in the mix. What form does her OCD take in that regard? avoidance or rituals. It will probably be harder to get her to meet demands if she’s also trying to fight against compulsions too. I actually found PDA to be helpful in fighting OCD as the need to avoid my handwashing compulsions was stronger than the need to wash, although it’s never fully gone away and sometimes resurfaces. Getting dressed is hard, I have loads of socks which I love and find being able to put a different pair of colourful socks on every morning helps me overcome the need to avoid getting dressed, it’s not easy to find something that can help and what works for one person might not work for another. It’s harder to get dressed if I know the day isn’t going to be good because until I get dressed it feels like the rest of the day might not happen, like delaying the inevitable. Distraction helps some, like putting on music to get dressed to or watching TV.

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