Monthly Archives: November 2010

i will fail

I’m in a bad place right now. I have to go to a wedding next Saturday. It’s actually a three-day event (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), but I think I’ve managed to find good excuses for the other two days; but even still, I’m feeling really bad about it. I dislike the groom and his family because they’re all very outgoing and seemingly don’t understand people who are shy and quiet, let alone people like me who can’t engage even in the simplest of conversations.

I tried working on some CBT earlier, but what’s the point when I’m feeling so depressed? There’s this constant voice in the back of my head saying, YOU WILL FAIL. I counter it with- “I’m going to be all right. My feelings are not always rational. I’m just going to relax, calm down, and everything will be OK” and a load of other coping statements .. but that voice is still there.

Next weekend I will fail. I’ll be flooded with anxiety and won’t be able to say anything, let alone smile. I’ll have to hide in the background, hoping no one notices me, relying solely on my girlfriend to help me through conversations.

This wedding will ruin the rest of the this week and probably the week after. I’m scared. Wish me luck.

illusion of control

When I am alone or with one or two people who I feel comfortable with, I am at ease. My body and mind are calm. I can loosen up, be myself, and have fun. Why would I want my body to be in any other state? Why would I want to insert uncertainty into my life? Why would I want to relinquish control? I don’t, and so anxiety comes into the picture, which says–

“Why would you want to be anywhere else but where you are now? You don’t know these people or the situation. They may make you feel bad about yourself or inferior. You have no idea what’s going to happen.”

So, my anxiety is trying to protect me from uncertainty. Anxiety is really on my side. When looked at it like this, anxiety is just my rational mind trying to convince me to stay put, to not change, and when I listen to it, there is a payoff: I stay in control. But this also reinforces the anxiety and makes it harder the next time around to go into the social situation.

Anxiety is a logical response to the world. No one wants to feel unconformable, no one wants to be put down or hurt, and anxiety manifests to help protect us from that.  What our anxiety doesn’t know and what we sometimes forget is that anxiety is always going to be there no matter how much we isolate ourselves. For example, when I used to be more isolated and not leave the apartment. I would feel in control most of the time, but every now and then I’d hear my neighbor walking up the stairs, and I’d think- Maybe he’ll stop at my door and knock. What will I do then? I could ignore him, but maybe he knows I’m home. I’ll have to answer. Then, he’ll see what a mess I am.

Control is an illusion. I have very little control over my own life or the outcomes of specific situations. Yet, I’ve convinced myself that I do. Throughout my life when I didn’t have control, I gave power to my anxiety. I’m slowly taking the power back by not giving into the anxious thoughts as much and telling myself that I do not have total control–and never will.

It’s not that people don’t like me–it’s that they don’t know me.

stepping back ..

I had a setback yesterday. Put simply, I woke up feeling down about the social situation from Monday, but instead of trying to deal with those feelings, I went right to my obsessive behaviors.

I’m obsessed over how many people read and comment on my blog. So, I shelved my feelings and went right to looking at my blog, and then I read and commented on someone else’s blog (with the hope that they will respond by checking my blog), and then I checked my blog’s stats (and felt disappointed), and then I commented on a message forum (with the hope that people would make their way to my blog), and then I checked my blog’s stats (again, dissapointed), etc. etc. This lasted for about an hour.

Afterward, I had to go back to my feelings, and, by that point, they had grown. That, coupled with my disappointments with my blog (which I can probably never satisfy), I fell into a depression, and I made a conscious decision to binge after my g/f left for work. So .. she left, and I binged.

Now, I haven’t binged in almost a month, and I thought I didn’t need to eat as much to get the desired effects (pushing the negative feelings back down in my body). Well, I was right and wrong–I got a terrible stomach ache (which I don’t normally get) and the feelings only grew along with my depression. As the hours progressed my actions grew more and more erratic. By the end of the night, my g/f was rubbing my forehead while I laid in our empty bathtub with all my clothes on, turning the water on and then back off again (just enough to get my back wet). I wish I could explain, I guess I just find comfort in the bathtub but I didn’t want to take a bath, I don’t know.

***

Anyway, my original intent for this post was to focus on the scope of this blog. I waver between thinking I can truly help people with social anxiety and thinking I can’t help a soul because I can’t even help myself. I’ve talked a lot about the healing process as of late, abstractly–I haven’t really thought about what it means to me, that is.

There’s always going to be setbacks. Two steps forward, one step back. Forward, forward, back. Forward, forward, back. It’s not quite that simple, either: there’s ups and downs, and yesterday I just felt like I was spinning around and around. But in the most general sense, yesterday was a setback.

This past month I’ve been trying to focus more on my steps forward. I want this blog to be positive. I want to provide support for people going through the same things I am. I want to be a leader. But I guess I’ve only been sharing one side to the healing process: my successes. Healing is also about failing. It’s about setbacks and destructive behaviors and hopeless, suicidal feelings. Having those feelings is good every now and then, because they are proof that I am healing.

So, I just want you–and I–to know that I am going to do my best to show this process more completely. To show the darker sides even if that’s not what you want to hear or what I really want to write about.

***

Finally, I’ve been taking care of myself today. I just got back from a run, and I’m going to eat a healthy breakfast. My g/f made pumpkin soup for lunch. I’m going to try to not stress about schoolwork. Maybe I’ll take it easy and watch a movie or go to a gentle yoga class or something. Or maybe I’ll just write a few posts. Or maybe I’ll take a bath (with water this time). Or read things like this. We’ll see.

Also, I’ve noticed that my obsessions with my blog only come out when I’m feeling depressed and/or anxious. They help to mask my feelings. I’m going to try to take it easy and just let things play out the way they should, but it’s hard. I know there will be a setback or two .. and that’s okay!

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.

trust

I’ve talked a lot about trust in the past, particularly in this post where I discussed how I replace trust with constancy. Anyway, I came across an interesting comment on this post, and I want to address the questions left by the author–

Trust is an interesting one though…you’ve maybe done it already but it can sometimes be useful to explore the following three areas:

What trust means to you…
What has to happen for trust to be there
What stops you from trusting

What does trust mean to me?

Trust is hard to define. It’s much easier to describe the after effects–i.e., what happens after trust is established. In the most general sense, a trustful relationship is a peaceful relationship. When there’s trust, I feel comfortable calling the person and talking to him or her about anything; I don’t get hung up on my negative thoughts; I simply don’t care what the other person thinks of me. He can judge me all he wants; it’s not going to affect the relationship. Finally, and this may be the most important factor, in a trustful relationship, I not only trust the other person, but I trust myself as well. I’m not constantly questioning or analyzing my behaviors. I can be myself.

Trust is important to me. I want and need to have open, trustful relationships with others. Trust is the willingness to be whoever I am in the moment. There are no walls. Or filters. There’s only me.

What has to happen for trust to be there?

Several things need to take place for trust to develop–

Be honest: Being honest with yourself as well as with the other person. Your actions must match your words, as well.

Be reliable and predictable: If you say you’re going to do something or be somewhere at a certain time, then do it and be punctual. Predictability is important, too.

Have the willingness to share: Tell the person who you are, faults and all, and reveal what you want/need from the relationship.

Take a leap of faith: All of the previous things don’t really matter if you aren’t willing to take a leap of faith. Trust means you have to open up. You have to put yourself out there. You have to put yourself on the line. You have to be willing to be hurt. You have to have faith that the other person will be there when you fall–and you have to be there, too.

What stops you from trusting?

I don’t like myself. In fact, most of the time, I hate myself. I’ve been hurt so much in the past and have gone through so many negative social experiences, that these hateful feelings are ingrained deep within. I can’t seem to penetrate these ancient beliefs; I can’t change them, in other words. Hate is there–and it may always be there.

So, how can I let someone else in when I hate myself so much? If I don’t like what I see and feel inside, why would anyone else? I know exactly what I need to do–I need to learn to accept, appreciate, and love myself. But I don’t know how. Or rather: I do know how. I’m doing it right now. I’m going to therapy, I’m writing, etc. It’s just hard.

Also, I can’t ignore empirical evidence. I have let some people in, and, more often than not, they run away. They must have seen something they didn’t like. And so, I’m no longer willing to take that leap of faith that’s so vital for establishing trust in relationships.