Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Social Anxiety and The Quest to be like everyone else

Close your eyes.

 Remember when you were that awkward teen and you worried what others thought of you. You wondered if they thought you were smart, funny, and cute. Did they like you or did they want you as a friend? Could they be a big part of your life? Do they want to be a part of your life? Do they like the way you dress, will they tease you or make fun of you. Do they see you as cool?
When we are younger it was common to deal with those fears when you are growing up and still finding yourself. You have all these questions and you want to know where you fit in.
Imagine that when you are an adult, you are still having those feelings. You have those feelings and they are more intense. You have friends and you hold back because you are afraid they will judge how you raise your kids, how well you clean your house. You wonder if they are judging you on what you feed your kids and how you live your life.
All these thoughts make you have massive anxiety and panic attacks.  That makes you feel like someone is squeezing all the air out of your chest. Your heart is beating faster and so your body kicks into flight or fight because it perceives a danger and you have to survive.
You decide that it is better to just stay away from people as best as you can.  You just want to be a hermit and refuse to go out and socialize. You leave the house only when you have to and when you have to you get so anxious that you start to feel sick. 
This is called Social Anxiety.
Social anxiety is a feeling of discomfort, fear, or worry that is centered on our interactions with other people and involves a concern with being judged negatively, evaluated, or looked down upon by others.
I suffer badly from Social Anxiety. I dread going out to hang out with people. If my calendar is empty I get so excited and relaxed. I hate to see items on my To-Do list. I will freak out up until the time is over. For the past three months I have been engrossed in deep painful anxiety and it has made me dread going anyway. 
You start to feel like no one understands how it feels to want to talk to someone about your issues and yet be too afraid to call or get in the car and drive over to their house 5 minutes away. 
People think you are lazy and just want to stay home and stay on the couch. Not true.  When I am smack dab in the middle of an event, my anxiety can go away. I sit back, have fun and chat and laugh at my companions for the evening. Yet inside I am freaking out and I always feel like “I just need to go home.” My brain tells me that over and over again.
When I move to new cities or go to new places, I am a hermit for weeks until I feel brave enough to go outside. Then I only go out to buy groceries and take the kids to school.
It is a terrible feeling and you have to take it day by day to get better.

I remember that I entered to run in an obstacle course and I had a panic attack. Fear gripped me and my brain perceived it as a life and death situation. So you tend to stay away from the things that make you that way. People are the main culprit.
Every day I try hard to engage with people and to be a part of the society around me. To not be afraid to talk to neighbors and to my daughters basketball game without having a panic attack.
I just try and take baby steps like…Taking the kids to a hockey game. I know they will have a lot of fun.

I’m terrified