Several years ago, I was struggling with work and the demands of ministry (and an undiagnosed PTSD problem). One of the things that was common leading up to and during this time was escape fantasy. For example, I would be walking down the street and see a bus and think to myself, “If I could get hit just hard enough by that bus that I would be in hospital for a few months, that would be great.”
I didn’t want to die but my willingness to suffer this kind of incident for the chance of being freed from my circumstances was intense. Thankfully Kim saw the warnings signs and we narrowly avoided my need for medical intervention in what was already a tough season of burnout.
Not every imagining is bad. Who hasn’t dreamed of a sudden financial windfall that resolved so many of life’s financial challenges? While that is not what I am primarily referring to, even those can also be unhealthy, even dangerous. In fact, some harmful fantasies can have a romantic appeal to them. The point is, in the end, they are about escaping.
It is also important to note that while not all of our circumstances can or should change, often they can. While not always easy, these warnings provide us with an opportunity to start making changes before we’ve left it too long and begin to harm ourselves and others in our lives.
While my escape fantasy was somewhat extreme, the lesson should not be missed: If you are imagining experiencing otherwise unacceptable circumstances as a preferable escape from your current reality, this is a major red flag. You need to talk to someone as soon as possible.
Have you experienced this? Are you experiencing it now? Do you have someone to talk to? Please reach out. It can get better.