A few months ago, I had a HUGE blowup with my sister. When I didn’t say anything to my mom other than “Lauren and I fought”, my sister told her what happened. Which prompted my mom to say “I never listened to you when you said you had anxiety. Why don’t you call a doctor and see about therapy.”
I made her call because I have (along with what I think to be just general anxiety) social anxiety. I do not like calling strangers on the phone. Or meeting new people. Or seeing/calling/talking to people I’ve known forever. The idea alone makes me shake and start to sweat. Growing up, I was on stage. And sick every moment from the time I showed up to the performance venue until the moment I walked off the stage. No one realized (or said anything to me, at the very least)…maybe I’m just an awesome actress and this mental block is making me miss my true calling. Who knows.
I’ve talked to a counselor twice now, and while it seems that we’ve been working some stuff out, she agrees that I do have some sort of anxiety. I have her intrigued because she said that I don’t show any outside clues that I’m anxious…other than looking a little tense. (Look! My mom forcing me on stage since I was 8 did something! I am good actress!) That’s all and well, but she can’t see the sweat rolling down my spine or see the black spots going across my mind. I get a headache. My back ACHES from being so tense. I’m shaking like a leaf and I feel like I want to vomit. I can’t think straight let alone see very well.
So, I’d like to take you through a day in my life of anxiety. I’m trying to get people to understand that everyone experiences things differently. And anxiety is not something that someone should be ostracized over. I NOT going to go into full detail with what I’m attempting to deal with in therapy because I can’t face it myself yet. I just had an instance in my life where I felt like I should explain this to people. If I get the courage, I might hand this over to my family to read. So, good on that. Maybe.
My alarm goes off: My dog immediately perks his head up and walks up the bed to lie on my pillow. I have to give myself a pep talk to get out of bed. I might see a neighbor while walking Max before I leave for work. Oh God, work. I have to see people that I have only known for slightly over a year. I work in customer service. I have to see STRANGERS. I’m going to vomit. No. I can do it. Put on your work personality. You can do it. Get out of bed. Your breath is rancid.
About a half hour later: Ok. I’m out of bed. What am I supposed to wear? God, I’m so fat. I can see everything I’ve eaten for the last 15 years. People probably think I’m disgusting. Oh man. I have to walk Max. He’s looking a little dance`y. Shit, I’m late. The parents are going to be taking kids to the bus stop. Shit shit shit.
Walking the dog: Okay. Just hurry up and go, Max. No one out yet. Nope. I lied. There’s a random walker. Aaaaaand kids and parents. Oh, good, they’re gonna try and talk to me. Shit. Haha, yeah, hi. I wish my dog wasn’t the friendliest thing in the world who wants to play with EVERYONE.
As it turns out, I am perfectly comfortable in my car. I am a confident driver. I’m a good driver. But as soon as I get close to work, I start sweating. Just a bit. I’m getting more and more comfortable with the people I work with. But as soon as it’s opening time, I want to die. I scrunch back in my seat and take a deep breath. I put on my work personality “mask” and get my shit done. Every time the door opens and someone new walks in I panic. I pray that they go to someone else. They don’t. I’m in the middle seat. I get the most traffic. So I get through their stuff with as much speed as possible. God help me if they have an issue with something. Or if they decide that they want to be one of the married middle aged or older creepy dudes who wants to stick around and actually HIT ON ME. God, no. Please, just no. I joked to one of my coworkers that I should buy a sign and/or shirt that says, “If you are married, have a child, or are over 8 years older than me, I am not interested. Please don’t even try.” But what I really want is a shirt that says, “Please don’t, I will panic if you show any kind of interest in me at all.”
I finally get my lunch hour where I can thankfully sit in my car by myself for an hour. It’s nice to just sit and listen to music and not talk to people. It’s a reprieve.
Anddddd it’s time to go back and do the whole fake personality all over again. I want to vomit. I wish I had my dream job where I didn’t have to talk to anyone ever and could just read books all day. And it paid me enough money so I could move out of my parents’ house and REALLY never have to talk to anyone. Does that job exist? Probably not.
I congratulate myself on my drive home. I survived an entire day without breaking down into tears and locking myself in the bathroom. Thank God for my coworkers who are learning to read when I’m beginning to panic and don’t get pissed when I have to get up and walk away from my desk just to get away. I’m feeling pretty brave.
And then I tell my brother about that time that I got pulled over for speeding even though I wasn’t and I went into a tail spin panicking about everything and he said that I’m a wimp. But you know what, I’m not. He won’t listen when I’m trying to explain. It’s not my fault that I react this way. A lot of anxiety is hormonal. I can’t control my hormones. Sorry bout it. It’s chemical. I don’t do any of this on purpose. Most of my anxiety is probably just chemical, but some of it DOES stem from insecurities that are worsened when I’m told things like “Go eat some more. I can’t wait for you to have a heart attack from your obesity. I don’t want to look at you until I see your fat face as they close the coffin.” FYI, THAT’S REALLY FUCKING MEAN. And is probably why I have such a difficult time seeing the good things in myself. It’s shit like that that make me lock myself away. Why would I continuously subject myself to being told HOW AWFUL I am.
It sucks SO MUCH when the people who are supposed to be “built in friends” (i.e. siblings) are the ones who are the meanest to you. I wish I could say that everything that every person says rolls off my back like it’s nothing. But my main issue is that no one really ever talked to me outside of my own family. I was ignored through most of my education and was constantly in the shadow of my siblings. The only people I actually totally interacted with growing up were the people who were the meanest. My sister once told me “you should hear what people were saying behind your back”, but she doesn’t get that I didn’t need to. I had her and my brother who was saying it to my face. They were the people closest to me, but were also the meanest.
So I say this to you: imagine your WORST thoughts about yourself for a minute. And then imagine someone close to you using those thoughts against you in an argument about…cleaning the bathroom. Sucks, right? That’s pretty much the relationship I have with my siblings. Super duper sucks.
Add those feelings in with a hormonal issue and you have a whole ball of me. I am uncomfortable in my own skin and get panicked because I think that people can read my mind and know everything and are judging me on it.
Please, think before you say things. And try to understand before you brush someone off as weak. Because the fact that I’m even writing this is pretty fucking brave. And rad. So you know what, suck it, nerds.