My Dirty Little Secret

Not many people in my circle know that I suffer from anxiety. And those that do, probably doubt me. I’ve learned to hide it well over the years and even to deal with it and accept it.  And maybe mine is different from most or I treat it differently, I don’t really know. I think I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and social anxiety disorder or something like that. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a doctor about it.  Most of the time, I can keep it in check. I used take medicine for it, but I hated the medicine and how grey it made everything more than I hated the anxiety. So I got rid of the medicine and learned to love the anxious pieces of myself.

Sometimes I can even forget that I have anxiety.  Until I’m standing in a new place and I’m paralyzed with fear. It’s always like a game of tug o war in my head. There are so many things that I want to do, but I don’t want to do them alone, but I’m not a good planner, and I’m not good at keeping in touch with people. So I do this balancing act between being a social butterfly and being reclusive.

I love people. I love being around people. If I’m in a familiar place, I’m comfortable. I can be friendly and be myself. But I hate going to places alone, well, new places anyway. I guess a lot of people dislike being in a new environment. I guess it’s normal. I don’t know if anyone gets heart palpitations and sweaty palms and has a hundred dreadful scenarios of what could happen go through their head just to order a sandwich. I’m not sure how much of that is normal.  And I’m also not sure if it makes me even crazier that sometimes I do it intentionally. If there’s a place I want to try out and I can’t find someone to go with me, I will force myself to go. It’s a ridiculous conversation in my head that goes something like, “ok, you can do this. Thirty minutes and then you can leave.” And I do. I’m sure people in bars get especially aggravated with me because instead of sitting at the bar, I always grab a booth. Even when I’m alone. I like feeling invisible. It’s where I’m comfortable. And sitting at the bar leaves me feeling exposed and vulnerable and when I get home, I have to breathe deep and mentally talk myself out of falling to pieces. But once I’ve been to a place a time or two, it’s not so dreadful to return again or to return alone. That’s why I’m always at the same spots. I always go to the same places. My comfort zones. The places that make me the least anxious.

Sometimes I feel like half my life is one big therapy session and the rest of it is just a big game of pretend. It’s like I’m in a constant battle in my head. Someone commented yesterday that I needed to get out of my head and enjoy life and I really would love for it to be that easy, but I’m always in my head trying to get out. And I do enjoy life. I’ve even learned to enjoy the feeling of my chest caving in right before a panic attack. It used to scare me because I thought I might die from it, but now it’s soothing like ocean waves and I ride it until it passes. Ever since I learned how to feel it without letting it get to me, I haven’t had a full blown panic attack. Once I made up my mind to just accept that anxiety is just a part of me, it somehow subsided. Once I decided I wasn’t going to avoid life in order to avoid anxiety, it eased up. I’m still anxious all the time about everything. I try all the time to get out of my head. And I’ve mastered the silence and the meditation. I can zone out and not think about anything, which helps sometimes. I think I first learned how to meditate on the back of a motorcycle. I think that’s why I love them. Because I am just where I am. No thoughts, no emotions, no anxiety. But when I’m not actively meditating or cruising the mountains as someone’s back seat rider, I’m in my head. All day. All the time. Worst case scenarios. What ifs. Would haves, could haves, should haves litter my brain and I can’t turn it off. I think it’s partly why I don’t know what I want or why I can’t find what I think I want because every scenario makes me anxious and panicky. What if I get exactly what I want? What if I don’t? What if I’m not good enough? What if I’m too anxious? What if, what if, what if? What if I could get out of my head and just live without questioning every little aspect of my life and without questioning everybody’s motives? Maybe I’ll get there one day, but today is just not that day and tomorrow is not looking all that hot either.

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