10.18.2017

SOCIAL ANXIETY, living with it

I have social anxiety.  

Severe social anxiety and it's taken me years to realize it.  

I knew I had anxiety but I never experienced bad panic attacks or anything like that.  It only dawned on me a few months ago that I have social anxiety.  Since I was a kid I was homebody, I had school friends and usually one best friend.  Even so I never hung out much or went to parties, I never did what "typical" teenagers do.  I flirted but never had a boyfriend.  I was perfectly happy being at home in my room writing stories, reading manga, watching anime, drawing, etc.  My family always called me the "quiet one" even though I was loud when I wanted to be (around them).  I also had extremely low self esteem due to my body and a deformity I was born with.

For years I've lived in my mind, in day dreams and delusions of experiences.  Probably why I'm such a good storyteller.  Sadly I wasn't living these experiences they were all in my head.

I want to make a distinction I'm not shy.  Social anxiety is NOT shyness.  It's a disorder.  In high school I was a cheerleader, on dance team, and in lots of school clubs.  Doing speeches or reading out loud, speaking up in groups or being a leader, etc, is not hard or impossible for me. 

In college I went to a school with my best friend and I managed to make friends mostly because of her.  The year didn't go as planned so I dropped out and moved to Minnesota to live with my mom.  Those first few years were fine, in 2011 and 2012 I got seriously into Gyaru fashion and it intensified my confidence.  I wore bright wigs, lots of makeup, and dressed up more than I ever had before.  It was still somewhat hard for me to approach people but not to the point of crippling anxiety.  

As the years of struggling to find a good job and dealing with an emotionally abusive mom went by me and my sister decided to get an apartment together in 2013.  By this time I took a job at a popular call center in the billing department.  Big mistake.  I was desperate for money, still very much into Japanese fashion, confident, and for the most part happy.  I didn't realize this job would trigger my anxiety to the point of wanting to commit suicide.

As the job begun to wear me down I stopped wearing makeup, cute wigs, dressing up, and gained a lot of weight.  My skin broke out, the worst it's ever looked, I ate bad foods, slept most of the day, and hid myself from the world in my room.  I remember in the mornings before work I'd brush my teeth and lay back down fully clothed until it was time to go.  No effort, no drive, no nothing.

I was dead to the world.

Honestly I wanted to die.

I hated my life or lack of.  I hated how it seemed like everything was passing me by and I was only getting older, uglier, and fatter.  I wasn't working on my book, I couldn't stand how I looked in my youtube videos, nothing was going right.  My sister was an exotic dancer (side job) so of course I compared my body (and life) to hers.  She was in school, worked at a great job with lots of days off, had a nice car, friends, a boyfriend.  I love her (she's a great sister who supported me) but secretly comparing was killing me inside.

By this time me having a social life was impossible, I couldn't talk to my family let alone people I don't know.  I lived online in forums.  The thought of speaking to actual people scared me to death. 

Then my sister and I decided to get our own places and I moved into my current apartment starting 2016.  That year started out badly, I wasn't doing much to improve my life and was still working at that call center.  I was on the verge of jumping off a bridge.  Literally.  There's a tall bridge by my old job and I'd play the events in my head of me plunging to my death.  Thinking about it now sickens me.  Instead of doing the unthinkable I quit my job out of desperation.  With no money or backup.  And although it's been tough I will never regret this decision. 

It saved my life.

Afterwards I hustled to make ends meet, started losing weight, and I'm slowly growing back my confidence.  But as of now my social anxiety is probably at it's worst.  I hate leaving my apartment, I can't make eye contact with people, and I assume everyone is thinking negatively about me.  At one point I wouldn't allow myself to leave the house after 1 pm. 

At age 25 I've had no romantic relationships and currently only one close friend and I'm sick of it, as anyone would expect.

I want real true experiences and relationships. 

The worst feeling in the world is when your loved ones don't understand and think you're just shy, quiet, or weird.  I hate being this way but luckily I've decided to start working on it as best as I can.  Right now that's through uplifting podcasts and self help books.  I wish I could get special treatment but I don't have the money or time.  Approaching treatment for any kind of mental health is always a daunting task. 

Telling my story is the first step to treating it, I think, and I almost feel a slight pressure lifting after typing all this.  (I'm planning to do a video as well)  I've started saying positive affirmations, having real gratitude (thanking God for all that I have everyday), and going forward with becoming who I truly want to be. 

I now have a job where I believe I'll do well, it's physical and none customer/call center related.  I'm editing my book and making real progress.  I exercise most days because I love it, and everyday I'm doing something out of my comfort zone. 

This is only the beginning.  I have so much work to do but I'm glad I'm not ignoring this anymore.  Life is getting better and better each and every day.  I'm thankful and happier than ever and I know I'm going to conquer this disorder.

Thanks for reading.

❤Love, Lanelle

No comments:

Post a Comment