One of the common worries while recovering from an anxiety disorder is the fear that it might “come back” after recovery.  This is something I hear from many many people.  It’s also pretty common in the community surrounding the podcast to see people arrive that have been through these issues before. They thought had it all solved, but find themselves back in the grips of panic, anxiety and associated nastiness.

The Acceptable Bubble – What Is It?

This is closely related to what I’ve been calling the “acceptable bubble”.  This is the bubble we build when we do the “recovery things”, but we engineer them to do them without anxiety.  Often this means that someone has found a panic-free way to do all the required basic life things, then kinda stopped doing the work.  The hallmark of the “acceptable bubble” is the existence of limits and limitations in one’s life.

What Are The Signs Of An Acceptable Bubble?

If you feel like you’ve recovered, but you still “can’t” do things that outside your normal daily experiences, you may be in an acceptable bubble. When are rely on safe people or safety mechanisms to get the bigger tasks done, there’s a chance that you’re in an acceptable bubble. If you are enduring your days, pushing through anxiety and trying desperately to just get through, you’ve built an acceptable bubble.

The REAL Goal of Recovery

When we build a panic free acceptable bubble, we never reach the ultimate goal of recovery.  The real end game of recovery is to learn to not be afraid of our own bodies and minds.  We must learn to experience fear and discomfort without being afraid of being afraid.  This is what recovery is all about.  Going to work, or the supermarket, or on a family vacation are the happy results of achieving this goal.  They are not the goal itself.

Avoiding The Acceptable Bubble – Getting The Job Done For Good!

In the end, avoiding the dreaded acceptable bubble is a personal thing. You must be able to look in the mirror and know that you are truly not afraid of panic or anxiety any longer. You don’t have to love it, but you can’t be afraid of it, in any circumstance.  When the day comes that you can honestly say that a level 10 panic attack while alone 200 miles from home isn’t a scary thought any longer, you’ve achieved your goal.  When you work toward that, you never have to worry about it “coming back” again.  Reach that goal, and this recovery journey will be the last one you’ll ever have to embark on.

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Podcast Intro/Outro Music: "Afterglow" by Ben Drake (With Permission)





Founder and host of The Anxious Truth podcast. Graduate student and therapist-in-training. Author and educator on the topic of anxiety disorders and anxiety recovery. Former anxious and depressed person.