I’ve mentioned a few times now about my anxiety, and how it stops me from doing a lot of things. I wish I was over exaggerating when I say it rules my life, but I’m being 100% serious. There are a lot of things that deep down I really want to do, but the closer the time comes to do it, the more my chest tightens and a deep-seated panic begins to stir within me. Then, the time comes for said activity, and I find I can’t breathe or think straight, so the plans normally get cancelled.
My anxiety gets so bad sometimes, that I’ll hermit myself inside for days just to avoid conversation with an unknown human being. My social anxiety is off the charts, and even making important phone calls take an incredible amount of energy. I have to sit there and prepare myself for said phone calls, taking anywhere from 5-30 minutes mentally prepping to speak with this stranger. A phone call that takes 3 minutes is an hour long ordeal. The preparation, the anxiety-filled conversation, then the relief time where I take deep breaths upon hanging up.
For someone without my level of anxiety, this looks bad, and I can understand that. From the point of view from someone who can talk to new people like they’ve known them for years, I am pretty pathetic. Some may think I make it up because I’m procrastinating, or lazy, or just really that unfriendly. But it couldn’t be further from the truth.
I hate being this way. I hate it so much that I cringe at myself every time I feel the anxiety creeping up. It’s one of the few aspects of my personality that I just literally cannot stand, and it’s one of the few things about myself that I just cannot change. I have tried just about everything, but in the end, I can’t find the switch to turn it off. No amount of going out with people, trying to make new friends, pushing through the anxiety barrier and trying to ignore the panic, nothing makes it easier. I had to accept a long time ago that this is just how I am, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
I try to be coy about it sometimes, but those closest to me can see right through me. We decide to take an easy way out for dinner one night and just go through the drive-thru at some fast food place, and I’m not already driving? Oh, well, you can drive and I’ll make sure the baby doesn’t fuss. “You just don’t want to talk to the people in the drive-thru,” my husband snarks at me. I sigh, admitting defeat and nodding. He sighs heavily, as he’s pretty anti-social himself, but he does it anyway because he knows how bad it gets for me. There never was a better man.
But Amber, if you’re anxiety really is so bad, then how did you even meet this man of yours? Well, for one, the anxiety is getting worse with age, and I met my husband when I was only 19. And for two, I met him online. No, I didn’t meet him on some dating app or social media. I met my soul mate through the gaming community in the MMORPG of FFXI (Final Fantasy XI). The full story is for a different time, but let’s just say, I wasn’t even looking for someone at the time. That was just something that happened.
If my anxiety is really so bad, then why am I here? For some reason, my anxiety levels aren’t nearly as high on the internet as what they are in real life. I would love to be able to do motivational speaking and help youths dealing with traumatic past events, dealing with being bullied daily, and/or have depression and suicidal thoughts every day. But, my anxiety and terror of public speaking makes that nigh impossible. But here on the internet? Here I am free to do what I feel I do best: write and hope one day I can help others the same way others helped me.
All of the bullshit in my life wouldn’t be nearly as bad as what it is if I didn’t have high levels of anxiety. My depression wouldn’t be as bad because I wouldn’t be constantly overworking myself about situations that don’t even exist. I would be able to easily interact with customers at my job and hate my job just a little less. I could make new friends and actually be a normal person by getting out of the house every once in a while. I wouldn’t feel like having a complete meltdown every time I was in a crowded area (trust me, having anxiety like this and being an empath? Crowds are a living nightmare).
If there was one single thing about myself that I would change, it would be to get rid of this demon that’s constantly hanging on my shoulder and whispering these things in my ear. Telling me about how people are talking about me behind my back, about all the things that could possibly go wrong, about how everybody actually hates me, how I’m not going to get all my work done, so on and so forth. Living with anxiety, there’s no rest. Depression is likely to come and go throughout life, but anxiety is always there, creeping on you and darkening your days. It’s one mental illness that just refuses to let up, and only gets stronger by the day.
There are some days I wake up full of energy, and I can effectively beat back the monster with a bat of light, but by the time I get home, the bat is demolished and the darkness is swamping me. Then, for the rest of the week, the levels are even higher and I just won’t speak to most anyone whilst hiding as much as I can. The less social interaction at that point, the better because people can almost always sense when I’m on edge. And because they can sense it, they react to it – and their reactions are almost always negative. Then the Aries in me jumps up to that and reacts negatively back. One can only guess how that situation usually ends.
It’s wishful thinking, but hopefully one day I’ll be able to beat back the demon for good and live a peaceful life. In the meantime, however, I continue to struggle. If you ever happen to meet in person and you notice that I’m uncomfortable, I plead that you not be offended. Just give me a moment to breathe and work through the worst of the anxiety, then I will be alright. Some people don’t seem to realize those with anxiety need a moment to gather their wits before being able to function. They just automatically react negatively and it makes the situation that much worse.
Patience is a virtue, and when dealing with an anxious person such as myself, you need an abundance of it. So please, next time you are in someone’s work place and you notice the cashier is fretful, don’t lose your temper. A smile and patience can go a long way, and both parties will be thankful for it in the end.