I am out of my comfort zone, completely and utterly lost.
I don't really cope well with stress.
I don't really enjoy social gatherings that I have to organise.
Meeting new people, speaking on the phone, organising dates to meet friends and family is something I mentally find hard.
This wedding planning is bringing out lots of insecurities that I usually manage to suppress or avoid by not putting myself into a situation I know it will occur.
I have never been to the doctor about any of my anxieties over the past, I think family who know I get this just assume I am an extremely nervous person, so I guess I tell myself that to. I mean there is nothing physically wrong with me after all...
But the other day I found this when searching the symptoms I get and I think I have finally found what I have: Social Anxiety Disorder, and I think this is something I have lived with my whole life.
As a child :
Fear going to school and participate in class-I used to feel sick before the first day of school, in fact I was the year returning to school in Y1, but throughout my school life the odd day I would get unusually nervous for no real reason. Once there I was generally ok, but dreaded the times I had to talk out loud, answer on the spot etc.
As a teen and adult: The dreading of everyday activities such as:
- meeting strangers-I feel physically sick before meeting strangers, particularly if I am meeting them alone. Recently I have almost had panic attacks about it.
- talking in groups or starting conversations- I have always hated this, always known for being the shy one, but it has grown into much, much more. I worry about what I say, if we are writing down things I worry about my awful spelling, I never know what to say and generally just feel a bit awkward.
- speaking on the telephone-I have never called a friend unless it's it for a quick "I'm running late" or "are you still coming", I cannot stand talking on the phone. When I used to work in a shop I would always let it go to answer phone to see what they wanted before ringing back afterwards. Only before ringing back I would get a ball of nerves, I pace, I go over and over every scenario before hitting that call button. It's the same if someone I don't expect to call, calls me, I'll wait until they leave a message or a text.
- talking to authority figures- Going back to work, any and every call to the office for just a general meeting would leave me fidgety, panicking, and anxious, I'd get that horrible claggy mouth, and go all hot and sweaty.
- working-before the boys I found work ok, on the odd occasion I might have got a bit nervous, but since having the boys I would dread work. For some reason I would panic about feeling and being sick (think this was brought on by all the sickness I had when pregnant with the boys) and one thing I get when feeling nervous is the feeling of being sick which doesn't help!
- eating or drinking with company-I don't totally remember this but in part of my first year at school I didn't eat with anyone-I was too nervous to sit in the hall with all the others (my Mum didn't like this so as soon as she found out I was back in the main hall with everyone else) I do however remember coming home and eating all the lunch I left because of only nibbling at it at lunch time, and never get my lunch play! I remember any party, or any visit to a friends house I would dread meal time, and not really eat, and any mouthful I did eat I chewed round and round in my mouth and made myself swallow it. Now though, I am no different, I can't enjoy a meal out with friends, have a romantic meal with James, because by anxieties make me feel sick, I get hot and I panic I am going to be ill in front of everyone (as a teen I was ill outside of restaurants a few times because of this nervous 'thing'), yet eating outside I am usually fine...
- going shopping- I hate shopping with other people, I'd much rather go in by myself do what I need to do and get out of there! The only person I like going out shopping for the day with is Mum.
- Low self esteem- I've never had confidence, I'd love to be one of those bold people, but put me in a situation where I am supposed to have an opinion, or take charge I shy away, I think this also plays a big part in the fear of the workplace.
- Fear being criticised- I don't take criticism well, I never have, not sure if this is actually my anxiety this time mind you, more of a personality trait!
- Avoid eye-to-eye contact- I have noticed recently that I don't hold conversations well, not only in the vocal way but also in the physical way, I really struggle keeping eye-to-eye contact whilst have proper conversations with people, not general chit chat, I am always ruffling the boys hair, looking where the boys are and if they aren't there I really struggle!
- Misuse drugs or alcohol to try and reduce anxiety-now thankfully I don't do this, but I can see why others would.
So I pretty much tick every box, so where do I go from here?
Now I have a title, a name to put this thing that people think is all in my head, and yes I guess it is all in my head, but how do I stop it?
How can I be who I want to be? How can I live a normal life without out this cloud hanging over me in certain situations?