where is my mind?

Yesterday I ran into one of my girlfriend’s friends on the street. I didn’t see her, and if I had I would have done all I could to avoid her, but she spotted me and approached me. She said hi and gave me a hug and we asked each other how’s it going. We both said “good” and then I bent down and petted her dog, and then we said goodbye. Simple, harmless social situation, right? Wrong.

Between our “goods” and me bending down to pet her dog, there was a moment of silence. Lots of silence. In reality, it lasted no more than two or three seconds, but in the moment it felt much longer–and I started to panic. She looked away, as if she saw the panic on my face. Was she searching for an escape? Did the silence make her uncomfortable too? What did I do wrong?

The questions caused even more anxiety, deepening my panic, and my mind went blank–but why? Why did my mind go blank? Why did I start to panic? What’s so wrong with a little silence?

In those seconds, my heart raced, I felt tense, my body grew heavier and heavier. I could feel the dampness in my hands and the sweat dripping from my armpits down my side toward my waist. When I got home I stripped off my shirt, discarding the evidence (sweat) and curled up in bed. Such a simple social interaction went wrong, and it ruined my night.

But back to the issue: What’s so wrong with a little silence? I think silence between two people is very intimate. A lot of information is exchanged. I can’t hide behind my words or the other person’s words. I have to be there, in the present moment, with another–with someone I think is better than me. The intimacy causes me to panic, which causes me to put immense pressure on myself to break the silence, which causes anxiety.

Again, it comes back to being comfortable in my own skin. If I had been comfortable, I could have dealt with the silence without panicking: letting it pass naturally and then saying something else or just saying goodbye.

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2 responses to “where is my mind?

  1. Hey Mike,

    This is Takashi from the blog “Searching through the dark”. I’ve just read your profile and newest post. It was like reading about myself! I, too, always experience tremendous anxiety even when I just say hi to people I know. Since I was diagnosed as severely depressed, it’s become more and more difficult for me to interact with people. I once had a good friend at work who called me occasionally, but he hasn’t called me for months because he seems too busy for that. After I told my parents about my depression, they condemned it and clearly said to me how I could have been pathetic enough to get that kind of illness. I was devastated, but I am still lucky enough to have a couple of people in real life who do understand my situation. Yet, they’re as busy as my Japanese friend, so I don’t get much of a chance to talk with them unfortunately.

    Then I started to blog in the hope of making a connection with people online who have been in my shoes. It is always great to find people like me and connect with them. Thanks for visiting my blog, by the way. I hope you come back regularly because I still have so much that I want to share with people. I hope you’re doing and feeling well. Enjoy your day! 🙂

    • Hey Takashi,

      Thanks for the comment. Sorry about your parents. My mom pretty much reacted the same when I told her. When it comes to mental illness, I’ve found that most people either don’t understand it, while some don’t even try. It’s a shame.

      Anyway, I’ll definitely be coming back regularly, and I’ll add you to my Blogroll.

      Take care.

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