These white pills aren’t kind

Between my old Live Journal and now this blog, I’ve toyed with the idea of writing this post for about 3 years now. For varying reasons I never followed through with it. Part of me did not want this to turn into a “woe is me” post or allow myself to instill a built in excuse for my problems. And another part of me thinks I will not be able accurately articulate this in the way that I want.

I still don’t have a complete grip on all of my issues, so this makes writing about it even harder. So, please bare with me…this will probably be more of therapy session for me than any form of entertainment for you. I do believe this will help some of my friends better understand me and why I am the way I am though…

As early as middle school I noticed that certain situations made me overly nervous. I always chalked it up to stage fright or something similar. However, my fears and anxieties continued to grow and spill over into other parts of my life. It really started to become an issue during my Senior Year of high of school and into college.

Basically, many social situations made me extremely and unnecessarily nervous. Restaurants, bars/parties (pre-drunkeness), concerts, classes in college, dentist appointments, etc. were almost always a cause for anxiety. Leading up to the events I would have some form of these symptoms: nervousness, nausea, tingling in my hands/feets, dizziness, shakes, hot flashes, and some other related awesome feelings. Each time I had an anxiety attack, I became more afraid of certain situations and I began (and still do) avoid many situations. Whatever my problem was, it was effecting my work, school life, relationships, and social life.

Anyway, for whatever reason, in the Summer going into my Senior Year of college (2004) I finally went to my doctor to talk to him about my “issues.” I guess I had finally had enough. I talked to my parents about it and realized I probably had some kind of disorder. This whole time I just thought I was weird and I could overcome whatever these weird feelings were. I never realized I could actually have some kind of disorder/disease.

My doctor diagnosed me with Social Anxiety Disorder. Apparently, it affects a lot of people and I actually know a couple friends who suffer from similar disorders. Here’s one definition of social anxiety disorder:

“Social Anxiety disorder, also called social phobia is an anxiety disorder in which a person has an excessive and unreasonable fear of social situations. Anxiety and self-consciousness arise from a fear of being closely watched, judged and criticized by others.
A person with social anxiety disorder is afraid that he or she will make mistakes and be embarrassed or humiliated in front of others….The anxiety can build into a panic attack. As a result of the fear, the person endures certain social situations in extreme distress or may avoid them altogether. In addition, people with social anxiety disorder often suffer “anticipatory” anxiety — the fear of a situation before it even happens — for days or weeks before the event. In many cases, the person is aware that the fear is unreasonable, yet is unable to overcome it….Without treatment, social anxiety disorder can negatively interfere with the person’s normal daily routine, including school, work, social activities and relationships.”

Sounds fun, right?

Anxiety disorders are related to depression, so a lot of anti-depressants are used as treatment. As such, my doctor prescribed me Zoloft first. This medicine left me in a complete haze and I hated it. I didn’t have any anxiety, but I didn’t have any feelings either. I was just numb.

Next up was Paxil. I’ve been on this little gem since that Summer. Although the pill does a decent job for me, it is not perfect. There has been a lot of negative press about it, so I’ve been attempting to ween off of it for a while now. This is a whole other story though.

So, I continue to have problems to this day and probably will for the rest of my life. When I do get out to places like restaurants and bars, I am still fidgety and sometimes have all-out panic attacks. Some friends have probably noticed me constantly moving, zoning out, getting up a lot, eyeing the exits, and requesting to sit in specfic seats. I probably seemed super OCD.

I really need to go to a pyschitrist, but the ironic part is my anxiety disorder “prevents” me from going. That statement makes me hate myself. I want so desparately to be a normal person and I should not use my issues as a crutch. It makes me seem so weak and its frustrating. I need to suck it up and get more help.

Not a day goes by that I don’t have some form of attack, even if it is just small one. I have these little routines and avoidance techniques to get through each day and it can be exhausting.

It’s also upsetting to miss out on activities that other people can attend with no problem. I am terrible at making plans with friends and I rarely go out to dinner with them because of this. I believe it also had a hand in my break-up with the Ex and will plague all of my future relationships, if I can even bring myself to go on a date with someone new (dinner, movie, and the pressure of impressing someone is a little tough on me). Plus, the thought of being intimate with someone new seems so foreign and pressure-filled to me now.

I also avoid doctors, dentists, and other things that I should be doing regularly.

For some of my closer friends this also probably explains some of my drinking behaviors and actions from Fall 2004-Winter 2005. Needless to say, drinking on this type of medicine is a bad, bad choice.

As I said, I have been weening off of the meds, in hopes of finding a better one or not needing them with the help of a shrink. But I’ve kind of hit a standstill. There are some withdrawal symptoms with these meds that are hard to get passed. This, of course, makes my anxiety worse. My closest friends can usually tell when I am on my meds and when I’m at the furthest point from my last dosage. My mood, actions, and level of nervous fidgeting are quite different during those times.

I hope this journal explains some of my past…and my future for that matter. My social anxiety disorder has shaped me into the person I am today and my ongoing battle with it will be a huge factor in the remainder of my life. I could go on for hours about this topic, but I will wrap this up. I hope this wasn’t too scatter-brained and made some sort of sense to everyone.

Feel free to ask any questions, I will not be offended. I don’t talk about this stuff too often, so even some of my best friends don’t really get this whole thing.

11 Comments

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11 responses to “These white pills aren’t kind

  1. scarletdark

    *hugs* 😦

    I had similar symptoms that got worse with age, especially once I started living on my own. It ended up finally putting me in an emergency room about two years ago, and that’s when I was kind of forced to realize I had a problem.

    Since then, I’ve slowly gotten better, but unfortunately I don’t have a whole lot of answers to share. I’m not 100% sure what made it start to go away. Personally, I found that quitting my stressful job and pursuing one that was less socially over-stimulating was a step in the right direction. Sleeping better and avoiding Starbucks helped too (or at least kept off the shakes and fidgets). I was on zoloft and some sort of anti-anxiety thing for a while, and had some back-up barbituate things for when my heart went out of control. Honestly, though, I never felt like those did anything to help, and I hated the idea of being “on medication.” It made me feel helpless. I eventually stopped taking them.

    For all I know, I had something completely different, and none of those things will help you, but I figured I should throw it out there just in case. If nothing else, you now know at least one other person who knows what it’s like to be shaking when you’re not cold, and tingling when your hands aren’t asleep.

    I never went to a psychiatrist, but I think about it a lot. I know exactly what you mean about trying to keep a “normal” persona though :p that’s what stopped me too.

    Anywho, I’m just random blog girl so I can’t get too deep on you, but I really hope that things improve for you. Anxiety attacks suck balls.

    I emanate support in your general direction 🙂

  2. scarletdark

    oh, and props for the boxcar racer.

  3. Hey boy… I have a close relationship with phobias…it’s been in my family for a while now, you shouldn’t be embarassed. Believe me.
    I’ll make you feel better:
    1) My aunt (mum’s sister) has a phobia that’s been with her since 2002. She goes to the psychiatrist, takes pills and stuff, and still, she hasn’t been able to get over it yet. She can’t drink liquids, she chokes, so she had to drink from a little cup of coffee, people tend to think she’s drinking coffee all day long 😛
    2) My cousin (her son) is 9 and had a social phobia that started last year. He had panic attacks all the time, with shakes and temperature, he skipped school for the whole year and now, the poor thing has to sit for all the subjects in order to continue without repeating the year.
    3)ME. For years, I’ve had this. I don’t have it all year long, but when I have it it’s a nightmare. I’ve been pretty afraid of travelling because of this.
    My stomach aches a lot and I get so desperate I want to come back home and…u know (this is embarassing :P)
    I had that last year and avoided all sorts of social meetings. They drove me crazy. I had to take medicines too.
    I’m with you buddy. This I can promise.
    *superhugs*

  4. heavensenthellbent

    Hey PiC…its good to see you writing about this. I know its plagued you for many years and I’ve seen what the medicine can do to you. I’m rooting for you, and I sure hope you can find something that will get you through this the best way possible. We both know that I’ve struggled with things in the past as well and to this day I’m still not 100% over my issues. The only thing I know is that I have to keep a positive outlook on things to help get me by. Just like myself, I’m sure you’ll find or do whatever it takes.

    Now tonight I want some comedy gold damnit. Also I’ll be posting today!

  5. not to go all Oprahish on your ass, but maybe your speak out will help someone else/help you realize some new things. Good luck looking into new ways to live a healthy, normal life. From my experiences, finding effective anti-anxiety meds and therapies can be frustrating. I have no doubt you’ll figure out what works best, and when you do, share it. 🙂

  6. All – I appreciate all the kind words. It’s always nice to know people who understand on some level what I’m going through. You guys all rock.

  7. heavensenthellbent

    rock? like rock your fucking socks off??

  8. What a great post. And I’m so happy for you that you have the guts to talk about it. My father has been on medication for anxiety disorder since I was a teenager and he is 5000x the man he was before he got treated. Also, he is burly and tough and amazing and works with his hands and protects and cares for his family, so there is nothing vulnerable or weak about it. Quite the opposite, actually. It took him a long time to realize that.

    Our family doctor has been telling me for years that I show signs of anxiety disorder (it’s genetic apparently?), but I respond with a very-adultlike “fingers in my ears lalalalala” every time. I don’t have the guts to admit that about myself at this point in my life. But, I do wonder sometimes, that if I did admit it and talked about it more that some of the pressure I feel to always be perfect and my loner tendencies might ease up.

    Anyways, it sounds like you have a really honest relationship with yourself about it (however cheesy that sounds). I envy that.

    Thanks for writing this.

  9. I know. I’m awesome ;p

  10. PiC and Thrice – You guys are always so modest.

    Bloggy – No, thank you for the awesome response.
    FYI – It is genetic. Both my parents and 1/2 my grandparents have/had similar issues.
    I know you said you are not at the point in your life where you want to admit you may suffer from it too, but if you ever want to talk about it DO NOT hesitate to contact me. We may only “know” each other via blogs, but I would be glad to listen anytime.
    People like your father give me hope that I may be able to overcome this problem. Thanks again.

  11. Pingback: Clamming Up « Proverbial Hyperbole

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