Yesterday was supposed to be my first workshop on organic farming. I say was because I didn’t go…
I have social anxiety disorder (some call it social phobia disorder). I have been working on getting better about it for years now. I’ve had it my entire life in varying levels of severity, and there was a point where I wasn’t able to leave the house because of it. I avoid stores and driving – Especially without someone with me. I’m unable to make telephone calls to strangers or to make appointments even when it’s an emergency. There have been a few times that I have been vomiting due to a migraine and suffering worse because my neighbor’s stereo was too loud and I couldn’t manage to go knock on the door to ask her to turn it down.
Many who know me and are close to me usually don’t see it, or if they do it’s because I’m around too many people at once and have to flee and/or decline invitations to parties. Once I warm up a little, it’s a different story unless it comes to telling people no or confrontation. And since I’m lacking these social skills, it’s pretty easy to be a human doormat and magnet for those who are willing to take advantage of my seemingly good nature.
What happened on Wednesday with missing the workshop, though, is pretty effing painful for me. Google Maps messed up the directions, and the way my town is set up is confusing at best sometimes. In this case, the street it landed me on was the right one, but it ends halfway into the city and then has miles until it starts again in a seemingly random place. So, despite being a punctuality freak, it ended up with me giving up about 20 minutes after the workshops were supposed to start. I had no idea how to get there, and by the time I managed to get there I was going to have to walk into a room full of strangers late. Just thinking about that sort of situation makes my chest tighten up.
The truth is that I started in with my anticipatory anxiety about 4 days before, which was pretty impressive considering that it usually starts about a month in advance. For most of that time my excitement overshadowed my anxiety. But then I started sleeping poorly, and I think that weakened my ability to challenge myself as much as I usually do.
So, since my mother was dropping me off, I had her bring me home. I know she didn’t want to do it, and she even attempted to pull out a map (It wasn’t there). But by that point I wasn’t willing to push myself anymore; I’d been doing it all morning while alone on top of fighting all the irrational thoughts in my head for days before that.
I went up to bed and cried for a while. Mr. NaW brought me my computer, a package I’d received in the mail, and a book to read. I guess he realized I was going to be out of commission for the day. I actually slept most of it. Now I just feel depressed and sort of numb… And, well, frustrated and horrible about myself. Sometimes you have to throw a bit of a pity party, and since today I’m supposed to be in workshops again (which I won’t go to since I missed the first 9 hours of them) I don’t see tomorrow being much better. Hopefully after that I’ll decide to suck it up and carry on with my life.
But I am lonely. I love people, and this illness cuts me off from them. In the year we’ve lived here, I’ve not met a single person my own age nor have I made any friends. I’m so hungry for face-to-face interaction or any interaction at all that if I think too long on it, I begin to cry. For a while I didn’t really care, because my mother hadn’t gotten a job yet after moving. She does her best to keep me going out and doing things, but I see a lot less of her these days. Mr. NaW is very busy with school and research work, and I get to spend about an hour and a half with him each day – Most of it watching TV. I’m not upset with him about it, because he’s doing what he needs to do in life. We have one car, but I have a lot of trouble getting out by myself still. Every week I say I’m going to go do something, attend a UU service, a community potluck, or some meeting for a group I want to belong to, but by the time comes to do it I never seem to gather the strength required.
Even my friends that I’ve typically talked to on the internet for years and years are all super busy with their lives. We talk once a week if I’m lucky, and it’s nice to have that chance to talk to them even if most of the time I’m just handing over small talk. I hear a lot of “I’m here if you need me,” but I’m getting to the point where I simply no longer believe it. There are other people for them to worry about and they have lives to lead, and while it hurts I understand. I’m getting used to them not being there. We all used to role-play, but since I’m no longer involved with a game I don’t get a chance to indulge in healthy escapism. I miss that. A lot. But I don’t bring it up with them, because at this point I just feel like it would be some sort of charity case for the crazy girl without a life.
And that’s just it… I think that’s where the very core of the pain sits for me. I sit back and watch everyone else have a life, and while most of the time I’m content to fill my days bustling around the house, gardening, teaching myself something, or creating… Well, I just feel like my own life is at a stand-still and what’s holding me back is me. Yet I can’t seem to do anything about it.
To add insult to injury, the key part of my avoidance is brought on by things I recognize are irrational thoughts. I realize that what I’m thinking is crazy, but the more I challenge it, the more I wear down and become unable to fight the discomfort of it all. Medication doesn’t help. And just let me say that being sane enough to realize your having thoughts that aren’t right is actually a lot more troubling than being absolutely delusional since you’re aware.
It is easy to sit back without experience with this illness and suggest a person needs to cultivate a stronger “fuck it” attitude, but the very basis of social anxiety is the fear of being judged by others. That’s not just an attitude you can magically develop just because you want to. Personally I don’t think it’s a 100% healthy attitude for anyone to have, but my view may be skewed.
It’s also easy to suggest I get into therapy again. However, despite this situation being the most horrible, humbling experience I can come up with, I still can’t pick up the phone and call for help. Trust me, I’ve tried.
So… That is where I’m at. I had a fabulous couple of weeks despite being lonely. What goes up eventually must come down. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see when things go up again for me.