Tag Archives: social anxiety

Marooned in Myself

It’s hard to explain where my head space has been for the past few months. I don’t know what I should be saying right now. For the past few days, I keep coming on here to post then freezing and having nothing to say.

Well, at work, a few months ago we applied to have my job become a full-time one. The fiscal year begins in July, and since I haven’t heard anything about the matter, I assume it’s a no-go.

This is going to sound really childish, but I’ve always had a belief that things work themselves out for the best. In my life, that used to seem to happen, anyway. It’s also kept me going. But for the past year, things haven’t gone that way, and I’m just afraid I’m destined to fall. That belief is stupid, anyway. Loads of people don’t have things work out for them, so why should they for me? I’m not so damn special. Plus, the world often isn’t fair.

Ideally, I’d like to stay at my current job and have it be full-time. I’m decent at it. I like it there. I’m finally starting to feel like I belong. After two and a half years, which is kind of pathetic, but still. That’s the way I am. It’ll probably take me that long to feel comfortable someplace else.

I feel like this ideal is what’s best for me and my mental health. The pressure of starting over terrifies me. The idea of interviewing and looking for a new job terrifies me. That’s why I’m not assiduous at job-hunting.

For the past few months, I’ve been isolating. I continue to isolate. It’s like I live in this dream world in my mind and ignore large concerns in favor of small ones, only living from day to day. I drift. I let my mind be consumed by stories, both my own and those of others, whether that be in the form of books, movies, or TV shows.

And I like it.

But it can’t last. Bigger concerns will no doubt crash into it all one day. Plus, I feel hollow and alone. I can’t stay like that perpetually.

But I want to stay like this. Keep my anxiety at bay. Be consumed by fantasy because it’s all I have, because I don’t belong in this world.

The more I isolate, the more anxious I do become when I have to be around people. The more I just shut everything out.

The more I don’t read others’ blogs. I feel so guilty about it. I do care about the bloggers I follow. But I fear that maybe I’m lying to myself about that, because wouldn’t I stay more caught up if I did?

Yet I don’t. I continue to remain in my bubble. And the worst part is, I’m not even doing that badly. Just isolating. But perhaps that’s why I’m not doing too badly in the first place–I’ve inured myself into a self-contained isolationist world.

I don’t know. I don’t know what on earth I’m rambling about. But there you have it: the unlikeableness of me.

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Anyone Other Than Me

Sometimes I wish I could be anyone other than me. I shouldn’t. My life isn’t so bad. But I am, and my destiny is to be completely alone, always.

I’ve known it ever since high school. I’ve known that, once I got out into the “real world,” I wouldn’t be able to function like an average human being, that I’d never make connections, ever, that my life would be one of neverending failure and isolation.

It is, but it’s because I’ve done it to myself.

But I can’t do otherwise. I can’t be anything other than what I am.

I can’t form connections with others. If anyone engages me in a conversation, my instinct is to flee. How am I ever going to find friends if all I do is run away?

But I can’t do otherwise. I get too nervous. I choke up, have nothing interesting to say. I enter Awkward Annie mode.

Then I’m afraid of the person eventually finding out how pathetic I am, the fact that I really have no friends, that I’ve lived here for over two years now without forming any connections.

If they knew that, then they’d know there’s something deeply wrong with me.

And even if that weren’t a factor, it’s just . . . I can’t form close bonds. I’m incapable of doing so.

I crave them so much, but they’re something I can never have. It’s impossible for me, like it would be impossible for me to magically become six feet tall. It’s not something that’s inside me.

I’m destined for a life of loneliness. All my dreams of making human connections are silly, childish. The idea of finding a “true love.” That’s not only childish, but it’s also something that can never be for me.

I have more empathy than the average person. Lately, on occasion it’s as if emotions radiate off of others and I can feel them. Yet no one will ever know that I have even an ounce of empathy because I can’t express it. I can’t even express my own emotions.

It’s not possible to dig them out of my soul.

I instinctively know it. If I live until I’m, say, sixty, I’ll have lived a life in which I’m always alone. My need for a human connection will never be met. Writing, reading, films, TV shows, all stories, they just serve as a poor substitute for something I will never have.

I’ve been feeling odd all day. Maybe this sounds idiotic, but I feel as if I’m on some predetermined trajectory, like a storyline that is manipulating me, keeping me in motion. And in this storyline, it’s certain that I’m destined for a life of coldness, one in which I receive no (or very little) of affection’s warmth.

Most other people get at least a semblance of that at some point in their lives.

And thus, I wish I could be other than me.

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Not Belonging

I just feel like I don’t belong in this world anymore. Or I never really belonged here, really. My heart burns, and it’s in shards. It has been for some time. Nothing helps. I like to think that it gets better, but I’m just lying to myself. Even if it does, it eventually gets worse. And that’s where it ultimately stays.

I’m not going to do anything to myself because my heart burns at the emotions I imagine in my family. But oh how I feel like I should.

There’s no point to anything. Anytime I work on a task, I start to feel panicky and think, “I can’t do this.” It paralyzes me. When there are people around, I feel suffocated. When I’m driving and there’s a car right behind me, I feel pressured and threatened. I live so I can get away from everyone at the end of the day and lollygag around.

I’ve tried to start writing fiction again, and I guess I wrote a decent amount. But when I think about my recent short story and my novel, it just seems so stupid. Dumb. There’s no point to it. At all. None of it is ever any good.

I want to go lie in bed and clutch my stuffed animal.

I’m all alone in this, and it’s my own fault. I can’t reveal myself to anyone. I can’t accept help from anyone. It’s shameful and a sign of weakness. Plus it makes me vulnerable, and I know it’ll eventually be held against me. Besides, people tend to make it worse, anyway.

I’m going to go try to get a tiny bit of work done because I have to uphold the facade. I don’t know if I can be strong enough anymore, though. But I have to be. There’s no other option unless I want to ruin what little I do have.

Sorry, I’m still going to have to keep to myself for now. Indefinitely.

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Blog for Mental Health 2013

Last year, Lulu created Blog for Mental Health 2012. Now it’s time for the 2013 edition! As I primarily write about mental health, I am more than honored to take part in this wonderful project yet again! Hereby do I swear my pledge!

1) Take the pledge by copying and pasting the following into a post featuring “Blog for Mental Health 2013″:

I pledge my commitment to the Blog For Mental Health 2013 Project.  I will blog about mental  health topics not only for myself, but for others.  By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health.  I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.

2) Link back to the person who pledged you.

I was pledged by A Canvas Of The Minds, natürlich.

3) Write a short biography of your mental health, and what this means to you.

Initially, I was going to recapitulate what I wrote when I pledged to Blog for Mental Health 2012. However, I think my answers would be different now, and some things have changed, too.

I probably couldn’t write a short biography of my mental health. In some ways, it’s bound to who I’ve been my whole life, like my physical health would be. I suppose I should go over some highlights.

I have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Though I didn’t receive these diagnoses until I was 23, they’re both issues I’ve dealt with my whole life, since before I can remember. I don’t know how others experience social anxiety, but for me it’s like an instinct. Even before I started dealing with my later self-esteem issues, it’s been second nature for me to flee when there are people nearby, especially in groups. Responsibilities, deadlines, everyday life, trigger stifling anxieties, but none of those are as strong as my social anxiety. That’s not to say my anxiety problems are light; my social anxiety problems are just much more intense.

As for my other issues, explanations have been bandied about. Some that have been suspected include depression, Asperger’s Syndrome, and a personality disorder. Two that have recently become official are post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder.

I’m not comfortable with the PTSD diagnosis, or maybe it’s lain dormant for a few months. The PTSD diagnosis mainly stems from the fact that there are certain situations in which I’ll flashback to a childhood mindset or become incapacitated. For instance, if there’s intense arguing or yelling nearby, I freeze. When people sound angry, I’ll start crying, even if I’m not involved in the action, even if the action involves strangers. If someone wants me to mediate or take a side, I cannot do it. Before my parents divorced, they often got in heated arguments, and sometimes it felt like they turned on me when I tried to help. PTSD supposedly resulted from this type of childhood emotional stress.

Then there’s bipolar disorder, which seems more accurate the more I understand my experiences and mood cycles. I was skeptical about the possibility of bipolar disorder, but when I read through my blog posts as a whole, patterns seemed to emerge. I often still don’t understand my observations about myself or even how to articulate what’s going on.

This pledge means a lot to me. I hope I can help chip away at the stigma against mental illness, decrease unwarranted shame about mental illness. I hope I can one day eliminate my shame, stop feeling like I have a secret I must never let out, not even the tiniest whisper of it. I hope I can help people, both those with and without mental illness, better understand mental health.

I hope I can show there is hope for people with mental health problems, that our lives aren’t doomed. That no one is alone in this. That even if it takes years to understand our issues and find a solution to them, life is worth it, and we can lead meaningful lives.

4) Pledge five others, and be sure to let them know!

I think most bloggers I know have either already taken the pledge or been pledged by others. If you’re reading this and haven’t yet taken the pledge, I nominate you!

5) Blog for Mental Health 2013 Blogroll

Canvas has a blogroll of everyone who’s taken the pledge. Check it out! And if you’ve taken the pledge, leave a comment so you can be added to the blogroll!

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The Asperger’s Question

I am afraid that some of the things I’m about to say could possibly be offensive or portray me in an unflattering light. But when I started this blog, I promised to be brutally honest, and so far I’ve stuck to that promise. The fears I will discuss have been simmering in my mind for a few weeks, and I need to write about them, try to suss out the threads.

A while ago, I wrote a post about the possibility that I could have Asperger’s. I explained the reasons I thought that possibility was likely and the reasons I thought it was unlikely.

Last time I saw my latest pdoc, she mentioned that it seemed as if I could have Asperger’s. In the post I linked to above, I touched on an insecurity I felt about that label, but my thoughts have taken a more personal turn, one related to how I view myself.

Even if one day someone should proclaim I have Asperger’s, it never occurred to me that it would change my perception of myself, not until that appointment with the pdoc.

At the end of my appointment with the pdoc, I said that I felt like I never belonged anywhere, like I couldn’t connect. We discussed how I’ve often felt like I was “different” than other people. She said, “You are different.” Then she brought up that I reminded her of some of her patients with Asperger’s and that perhaps it was something I should think about.

I don’t know why, but something in her tone made me feel as if I could be slightly offended at the idea of me having Asperger’s. Maybe that implication wasn’t really there, but it evoked questions in my mind. Should I be offended if one day I’m “officially” diagnosed with Asperger’s? Would it offend me?

Since I was a child, I’ve felt different than everyone else. Yet I could occasionally spot similar differences in other people. Unlike me, though, those people seemed to be able to connect with others. This would make me resentful. Why should they have those connections and not me? What was with my rotten luck?

I could (and still can) tell when someone was socially awkward. I could tell when someone had qualities others would find off-putting, and I could tell when they didn’t seem to comprehend social cues. I, on the other hand, did understand social cues, even if I couldn’t convincingly follow those cues.

I thought there was nothing off-putting about me. Sure, people seemed to keep me at a distance, but that was surely because of my timidity or my dull-as-dishwater personality.

But what if there is something off-putting about me? What if I can read the off-putting quality in others, yet I’m blind to how off-putting I am?

I feel like I can’t live with knowing I’m off-putting. It’s hard to explain why. If I am off-putting, I don’t know why I never perceived that feature in myself. All those people I’d seen as off-putting . . . I didn’t look down on them, but I would excuse some quirks of theirs because I could tell they were just different. In a way, I feel like this is condescending, like it’s a comment on their intelligence or something. But what if I’m one of the people others think they should treat like that? If so, that would seem to reflect on my ability to understand fundamentals about how the world works.

Now that I’ve laid out this fear in writing, I suddenly get it. Literally, I just understood at this very minute. Being treated like that, knowing others treat me like that, would frustrate me because I believe I do understand those fundamentals; I just somehow don’t fit into the world. This would be unlike those other people I’ve met before, but perhaps I am being insulting to them as well. Perhaps they really could understand those same things without behaving according to them.

Yet I feel like I do act in a societally appropriate way, but I’m just unable to form connections.

Or maybe I’ve been deluded my whole life about this matter. Maybe I’ve been completely oblivious about why I’m an outsider; maybe it is caused by more than the social anxiety.

And that’s also something I can’t handle, the idea that I’ve been so erroneous about myself all my life. I’ve been thinking that I’ve been a consistently self-aware person, but perhaps there’s a large piece of myself I never even noticed.

And then to have that be a part of myself that determines what people think of me, how they interpret my actions . . .

It seems like an unfair way for others to define me, because it’s not my defining characteristic at all. At least, it feels that way to me. But I could be wrong . . . and the thought of being so completely wrong for so long, it stings.

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Awk-ward

I teach a class at eight a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. Despite the atrocious time, I am excited about it because I finally get to teach a freshman composition class for the first time since grad school. (I’ve been teaching mostly developmental writing, as my tutoring position chiefly involves helping students in developmental writing. I do like teaching developmental writing, but I’ve been wanting to broaden what I teach.)

My class ran a few minutes past its ending time, and I had to discuss a couple of matters with students who were absent last week. Meanwhile, the students from the next class filtered in. I tried to hurry so I could vacate before the next class would start.

I gathered my stuff and rushed to the door. At the same time, the instructor for the next class walked in. He looked at me and said, “Where’re you going?” Puzzled, I replied, “I’m leaving.” He seemed a bit taken aback by this, so I explained that I taught the class before his.

He said he thought I was one of his students because I looked familiar. (Well, I was at the adjunct instructor composition meeting.) Apparently he thought I looked young like a student, too. I repeated that I was the instructor for the previous class, a “composition” class. He apologized, and, flustered, I responded that it was okay and disappeared as quickly as I could.

Only after I was gone did I realize that I could’ve pointed out that I’d met him at the adjunct meeting. See how unmemorable I am? I clearly remembered him, but he didn’t much recall me.

It probably didn’t help that I was wearing a backpack. (I used to use a messenger bag, but it tore up. That left me with the backpack as my only bag for carrying class materials.)

I was so embarrassed by it all.

It’s been so humid (and warm) today that I’ve been feeling sick. There’s a reason humidity is the weather condition I dislike the most. It’s odd that I, who grew up in a humid place, am so affected by the humidity.

I’ve decided that my return to blogging will be gradual. As I mentioned yesterday, the idea of returning overwhelms me. Plus, I need to have a little time for my creative writing.

But I think I figured out what is making me most antsy: it’s my social anxiety. Just as I get cripplingly nervous when I see people I haven’t talked to for a long time (a long time can even be a week), I’m feeling petrified about the idea of returning to the blogging world. As with the former situation, it might even take a little dissociation before I can feel comfortable again.

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Cemented, Certain

In some ways, I feel fine. I certainly seem fine. I can go about life as usual.

But the more it ripples in my mind, the more I feel it–cemented, certain.

It’s not just the social anxiety. It’s me.

I was reading about avoidant personality disorder on the almighty Wikipedia, and I came across this detail:

“Lonely self-perception, although others may find the relationship with them meaningful.”

That’s when I realized that maybe the distance was all me. I’m severed from humanity, and not just because I’m unlikeable . . . but because there’s an unbreachable wall between me and the world. I can want close relationships all I want, and others can even try to make them happen . . . but ultimately, it’s just not possible. I’m too far away, and I can’t change that.

If I can’t connect to people, why bother?

It’s hard to describe this image I have in my mind. It feels like this newfound knowledge is in some sort of weird brain space. Like that time I thought I had the soul of a murderer.

Is this a delusion?

That was a delusion (probably). No matter what I did and knew about myself, I couldn’t shake that conviction. I couldn’t shake it until I’d scared people away from me.

Am I going to scare everyone away somehow? With my passive-aggressive tendencies, perhaps?

But I don’t think this is a delusion. It seems very logical. Like a logical conclusion my brain has finally come to, one I want to find a way to reject, but I can’t. If I do, I’d be lying to myself.

I can’t connect, and I never will be able to. I’ll never have close friends like others do. All my little-girl dreams of falling love will come to naught. Because I’m incapable.

I am incapable. And even if someone were to penetrate to the core, that’s when they would realize I’m right: I’m unlovable.

There’s no point to any of this. I want to write a post on avoidant personality disorder, and I’ll continue with the Friday Fictioneers. And the Circus, of course. I’ll read others’ blogs. But for all intents and purposes, for what ails me, I can do nothing but accept the brutal truth. No point fighting fate.

I can do nothing but shut down. Even though I am stubborn, often resist, that doesn’t change the facts–I am blocked by bulletproof glass, and that’s the way it’ll always be.

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