I suffer from anxiety, it’s been a part of my life, a part of who I am for so long that I really don’t know what kind of person I would be without it. My anxious ways have a hugely negative impact on my life, from making social situations agonizingly stressful to making me feel like a terrible writer and blogger. Anxiety makes me check my back door is locked every night even though I never open it. It’s part of the reason I have to always sleep with my television on, drowning out my anxious thoughts with whatever late night trash TV I can find.
Anxiety is a bitch. It’s stops me doing the things I want to do, and stops me being the person I want to be. It makes me second guess every single decision I make and because of it I constantly question my worth as a human being.
There are parts of my life that get off pretty anxiety free, for example my animals provide me with a sense of security and an overriding feeling of happiness. Don’t get me wrong I still fret myself into a tearful craze when the cat hasn’t been home all day, or worry that there might be something wrong with him even though he’s had recent vet checks and is still a young chap. But generally pet ownership is something that’s free from my anxiety, those furry and scaley babies are my comfort blankets.
There are things out there though that tip my anxiety scale to MAX, they overload my senses, cause me to break out in cold sweats or have panic attacks. Those things are socializing and blogging.
Yeah, I know right? What the fuck am I doing here?
Social Anxiety. For me just talking to another human can induce a panic attack. In fact I am mostly socially inept these days because I just can’t cope with being in a room with more than a few people. So many people think I am a quiet, shy person when actually that couldn’t be further from the truth. I am not shy I’m just busy running through a thousand things I could potentially say double checking that nothing I say might; OFFEND YOU, UPSET YOU OR MAKE YOU THINK I’M STUPID…. OR ALL OF THE AFOREMENTIONED. In the end I usually decide its best to say nothing at all, and then I still worry because now I’m also potentially rude, ignorant, dismissive… sigh.
Whilst my anxiety affects many areas of my life, it’s always dealing with people that I struggle most with. It’s in very few other situations that my ‘fight or flight’ response is triggered quite so heavily, causing random adrenaline rushes that I have no idea what I’m supposed to expend on. I’m so tired of always feeling like an outsider in any social situation but I can’t just bin my anxiety, basically unless I want to spend my life drunk or high I’ll never feel relaxed around people.
Plans – and why I hate them. I rely heavily on supportive friends if I want to go somewhere that might be crowded or that might mean I have to interact with a stranger or two. But I do sometimes cop-out – in fact the more planned something is, the more time I have to worry about it, and the more likely that my anxiety will win out. I feel so much pressure to go and do things, to be social, to make an effort, but it’s not that simple and I feel terrible agreeing to something knowing that I’ll probably have to make an excuse closer to the time. Case in point I really wanted to go to the ETO Show this year, but I was too worried about not knowing anyone, feeling awkward, not belonging and all those irrational thoughts that overwhelm and cripple you when you have anxiety.
Social Media Angst. I now both love and loathe social media as a platform to interact with people. On the one hand NOBODY can hear me stuttering, wonder why I’ve gone red, or side eye me in the awkward silence between what they’ve said and me working out what I ‘should’ say. On the other hand, I find it just as hard to ‘jump into’ a conversation even if I’m passionate about the subject. I often worry that if I ask a question in a status or tweet nobody will answer me at all, and yet sometimes I even abandon my own posts BECAUSE lots of people are commenting and I don’t feel confident enough to join the conversation.
Oh god why did I think I was ever good enough to write a blog? I think every blogger has blog insecurities to some degree. I know I for one don’t go a day without thinking; Is my writing actually any good? Is it readable? Does it flow? Do I have ‘a voice’, a style, a rhythm? And most often of all; IS MY DYSLEXIA SHOWING?
It’s so hard to read your own words subjectively, to get a feel for how it all sounds, because you are always looking through the eyes of a critic, constantly searching for errors. Add to the equation my dyslexia and barely scraping a C in English GCSE and I often wonder what the hell I’m doing writing on the internet and expecting people to actually read it.
All in all my anxiety makes me want to pull the plug on the whole thing, remove my site, delete my twitter and carry on not existing. For now though, I won’t let it win, sure I have quiet days, hell I’m having a quiet month! But I know that I should persevere with this, quite frankly; I quit being a quitter!