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.