Dealing with anxiety

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I wrote the following one day when I was particularly keyed up. I didn’t post it even though I probably could have used some support at the time.

I have a horrible, crippling amount of social anxiety.

I know. I KNOW everyone is talking about and judging me. How do I know this? Because when I fuck up, I fuck up bad.

Is it true? Maybe, maybe not.

Surely I’m not that important that people would have nothing better to do than talk about me. But then again, I know from the experience of living in a small town and working a small town job, that people are cruel, horrible and mean spirited. When you don’t fit in, and I rarely do, you become a target.

People like to tell stories. Stories about that person who said something terrible, or stupid, or acted out poorly. It doesn’t help when I go to a writing workshop and the panel talks about branding and how to present yourself and how small New York is and how everyone talks.

I bristle when I hear the stories people like to bring out. Stories about the crazy person, the angry person, the weirdo. And in our SJW day in age, the sexist, the racist, the bigot. Labels and judgement, and I assume they’re all aimed at me. That I am, in some way, that person that story is about.

Then the defensiveness comes out, and I bring it on myself. I can’t help it. I have poor coping skills and even worse reactions at times. Does it mean I deserve the anxiety or the treatment I get from the ways I act out at times? Well, I suppose that is your call. Maybe I do.

Anyway, below is my rant from that particular day:

I’ve reached this fucked up state of mind where I feel like I should be honest because I think I’m easily misread, but worried I’m annoying people by over sharing. Then I think I should only share with a few people because it seems needy to share with everyone. Then I think, no one needs to know this bullshit.

But being open about anxiety and my other issues is important because it spreads awareness… But I’m such an attention whore… (Yes that’s me attempting self-deprecating humor. Thought I should clarify because apparently I’m hard to read…)

And OMG I’m dramatic and can’t deal and I’m not worthy of anyone’s sympathy or support and should just keep it to myself and it’s all in my head and I probably bring it all on myself anyway. I mean, I’m not always a very good person and I say dumb shit, lash out and get defensive and over react in public because of this wonderful lack of self-awareness I was endowed with.

And I’m over sharing again. Anyone reading is probably rolling their eyes by now and I should keep it to myself.

Oh, and did I mention the sensory overload? I mean can people in my house just living their normal lives BE any louder? I can’t even stand to be around them right now, and yet meals need to be made and homework needs to be done, and we’ve got an IEP meeting tomorrow. And I’m not going to be able to sleep again.

I’m literally hiding in the bathroom because with the water running I can almost cope. Yet I’m wasting water, and my son needs attention because he had a meltdown today and I can’t even cope with the fact that we didn’t finish his homework and it’s past 9.

I didn’t do shit today, unless you count all my online stuff that makes no money. Yeah, the only part of my day that counts is making meals, talking to the special Ed teacher, and talking my son through his issues. Otherwise I’m a bonbon eating, sitting on my butt, reclusive stay at home mom.

 

Re-reading this now twists my gut. My nose tingles, and I tear up. It’s so familiar, too familiar. And yet, this is mild. This is safe. I didn’t descend into the levels of self-hate I used to. The self-hate that I’m embarrassed to share because I don’t want anyone to pity me or tell me it’s okay, or I’m worth more than this. This is the sort of self-hating spiral that leads to suicidal thoughts.

Suicidal thoughts that I’m not even worthy of having, because it’s not that bad. I’m not in as bad place, not really. I have so many things that other people don’t have. I’m functional, I have a family, a home, and really, nothing to complain about.

So I do the only thing I can do.

I shove these thoughts down deep. Push them down as best I can. When they bubble up and I react poorly to something, I retreat, I hide, and I shove them down further.

Now here’s the part where people say, “Go to therapy.” I have. I did for years. I’ve tried medication. I believe in therapy and medication for my son. I know it can work. I think I’ve had a lot of poor treatment over the years, though. And quite honestly, I’ve learned to cope better on my own.

Even my very best therapist didn’t do much as far as breakthroughs. The therapist I think back on as being the most helpful didn’t keep me from dropping him and then messing up really bad within a few weeks. Bad in a way I’ll leave to your imagination because stigma. Because putting it in words and admitting it is something you don’t do. No, you lock that secret up tight because it’s the sort of thing only crazy people do.

Then, it got to the point that paying for therapy was just out of the question. I have a kid to take care of. We’ve got a limited income. We can’t afford decent insurance. So I cope. I research, I try to do a lot of self-care, which can be impossible at times, and I just do the best I can.

The older I get, the better understanding I have of myself. I am aware of my failings and accept them. I know other people have failings too, and their judgement of me is based on their own view of the world. I can’t change them. I can only do my best to be the best human I can with my unique perspective.

Sometimes I’m even lucky enough to have people in my life who are sympathetic and caring and don’t judge me too harshly. Even when I make mistakes, even when I lash out, even when I seem cold, too blunt, or uncaring. Between them, my volunteer work, my hobbies and of course, my little boy, especially because of my little boy, I’ll get by.

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