In this blogpost I would like to talk to you about something really important to me. I’d like to talk about it in a way that will hopefully help you to understand me better. Warning: this post is very long.
World Mental Health Day was on the 10th of October, but seen that my anxiety has gotten worse over the past few weeks, I’ve decided to write a post about it now. Please read this carefully. It was really hard for me to write this down and it took several hours, but this is something that I need to get of my chest now. I hope that after you’ve finished reading, you’ll better understand what it is like to live with anxiety.
Have you ever imagined what it would be like to be trapped in a small room with no windows, no doors and there being no possible way to get out? Think about it right now and think about how you’d feel. Most of you would feel extremely anxious and panic. You’d feel your heart pounding like crazy and get a lump in your throat. You’d sweat like a pig and wonder if you’d die there and then. Nothing abnormal to feel when you’re trapped, of course.
Now, imagine feeling like this almost every day at some point about the most stupid situations: talking to someone new, go to places you’ve never been before on your own, ordering something at a cafe or restaurant, being alone with someone you don’t know very well, but would love to know better… I could go on like this forever.
That is what social anxiety is, or at least in my case. Doing all of the situations I just mentioned above, and more, are a true challenge for me on a daily basis. It has its ups and downs, but the past few weeks it has returned frequently. It completely ruins my social life.
Every single day thoughts like “Do they even like me?”, “What will they think of me?”, “I hope I don’t say anything stupid and make a fool out of myself” are running through my mind. The closer I get to interacting with people, the frequent they become and eventually I panic. The funny thing about me, is that you can’t actually tell I’m having an anxiety attack. It is true that I start breathing more heavily and get really hot, my heart is pounding and I want to cry, but somehow I always manage to hide it from other people. I just keep silent and don’t talk to others. It is when I’m alone that the outbreak comes and I actually start crying. I just don’t want to have to explain to people what is going on, because I’m constantly afraid they’ll just laugh at me.
Whenever something goes wrong, it’ll haunt me for days, weeks, sometimes even months or years. I bloody hate myself for it. I don’t know why I constantly keep thinking about it, because it makes me feel terrible, and most of the time I just want to punch myself for being so stupid, even though I can’t change it. The past is in the past.
Sometimes I wonder if my anxiety is a relict of my past. I used to be a happy little toddler that didn’t worry about anything, until I came into my first year of primary school and the bullying began. For two whole years I was bullied by my former best friend (whatever that may mean as a toddler) and her new friend. It never really stopped. Afterwards it died down a little, but from the fourth year on, other people started to pick on me and calling me names. I had a few friends at that time though.
I was convinced it would stop as soon as I started secondary school. I was terribly wrong. Somehow it didn’t quite work out for me to make new friends. I kind of stuck to my old ones, especially because my best friend at the time was in the same class as me. The first two years were fine, besides the popular girls sometimes calling us out, but that didn’t bother me too much. Third year everything went downhill again.
Classgroups changed and I had to make new friends. Everything was fine in the beginning, I joined another group and I kind of liked being around them. Although everything started to go wrong after the Christmas holidays that year. They just started ignoring me, never bother to ask me to join them when they did something and literally skipped me when they counted how much they were to go somewhere. The whole situation got to me so badly, that I decided to change schools halfway through my fourth year. Everything went fine in that first half year: I had made some friends that invited me out sometimes. I was happy. Until I the new year started and the same song started all over again. I barely got invited to things, heard that people hung out together afterwards and had to sit alone in class most of the time. I spend most of my days crying at home at what a failure I was. Losing my first dog halfway through these years didn’t help much either.
Luckily, everything changed in the good way when I started university. I’m in my third year now and for now, nothing like this has happened yet. I got a nice bunch of friends who I can talk to about anything, and I’m especially close to one of them. We constantly hang out, invite each other to our birthday parties and love to go out for dinner every now and then. I sometimes feel really sad that I don’t see them for such a long time, because I’m on this Erasmus exchange. Here also my anxiety comes in, because I’m constantly afraid that everything might change as soon as I come back. This thought frightens me. Even though I talk to them on almost a daily basis, thinking about everything falling apart scares the hell out of me. Especially hearing that there is some trouble back home. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see?
My Erasmus exchange itself has been wonderful, although my anxiety sometimes lets me believe otherwise. I got a nice bunch of friends here: we go out together sometimes, either for dinner or parties, we visit cities together and do a lot of fun stuff. Nonetheless, somehow I feel left out and wonder what I did wrong.
Somewhere last week I saw boomerangs all over instagram of the people I consider my friends, but I was not sure if they feel the same way about me. They’re having fun and I wasn’t there. And all I ask myself on that very moment is: why? Why am I never good enough? Why can’t I be popular for once? Why don’t people like me? I really don’t get it, am I that dispicable? These are the things that constantly go through my head and make me feel lonely. They make me close down and push people away from me, because they’ve proven to me that they don’t like me around. That’s what social anxiety does to you. There is no light, there is only darkness. Even when people would tell me that I see it all wrong, I wouldn’t believe it. The devil in my head is stronger than myself and I hate it. I just want to live a normal social life, but that’s apparently too much asked… I’m not saying that these people should invite me all the time. We’re a very large group and it’s impossible to invite everyone every single time. I know that, but my anxiety yet makes me feel terrible about that.
It’s hard living with a mind that constantly prevents you from being happy, and my current health situation isn’t very helpful in making friends either. I just don’t know what I do wrong anymore. Can someone please finally tell me what is so wrong with me? It’s like I’m in secondary school all over again.
I personally believe that this anxiety is also the reason why I’ve never had a boyfriend. Especially with guys my anxiety seems to be present all the time. I just never know what to talk to them about and I’m extremely afraid to make a fool out of myself. There even was a guy that I kind of liked here. I don’t know what happened. Sometimes talking to him was so easy, and other times I had no idea what to say to him and I was innerly cursing at myself. I completely ruined it once again, I haven’t spoken to him or seen him in weeks. I guess I’ll just stay alone forever.
I know some of you that will read this will just think that I’m seeking attention or making this up, because “anxiety seems to be trendy these days”. I’m not. I was diagnosed with anxiety by a psychiatrist about three and a half years ago right now. I even had to take medicines for it. I stopped taking them after a year and a half though, because I didn’t want to be dependent on drugs. That made me feel like a failure even more. I have considered several times to get back on them, but decided not to.
I did not write this post for pity, I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. This was an attempt to give all of you a better understanding of who I am. It even was a try to find people who feel the same way, because even though people come out with their story about anxiety all the time, I sometimes still feel alone. It is also a way to encourage those that read this and feel the same way to come out with their stories and get help. Trust me, it really helps to talk about it. Writing this post has somehow had a therapeutic effect on me.
I realise that this post has become very long and I’m sorry about that. That’s why I’m going to wrap this up here. I hope you enjoyed reading it anyway.
Lots of love,