An Experiment in Social Anxiety
For the past few months when I leave my house, it is always in the early morning when my anxiety is not so high. I am usually highly productive during these times because my social anxiety, my genuine fear of being around people at any given time, has been an issue. There are fewer people at 6 am at Starbucks so I can usually study or write for a long a possible or until my anxiety hits too high of a level. When that times I finish my work at home.
This day was supposed to be my weekly mental health day. I usually need at least one day that isn’t full of things on my humongous weekly checklist a mile long. I have wanted for the past week to try a new theory– exposure therapy. I had always hated the idea when one of my psychiatrists told me about it. From what I gathered its all about putting yourself in situations that a significant trigger for social anxiety. My biggest trigger is being out in the world– which I have done less of lately.
So I decided to test that theory. I chose an unfamiliar coffee shop and went during the worst time for my anxiety and social anxiety– during the hours of 3 pm and 7 pm. I didn’t disappoint. It was as expected. I had periods of time where things felt okay. Then I could feel the anxiety creeping in and taking over as the evening crowd began to make its way into the coffee shop.
I did what I needed to do. I had only taken one mg of my Ativan in the morning and out of the four mg that I can take a day– I had three left. So, I made an extra 1mg available to take so that I could get my anxiety under control. I needed it as I could feel the walls closing in. It helped for sure, and I could feel myself taking control of my breathing which was aided by my anti-anxiety medication.
It was a strange feeling when I am out in the world. I made some positive steps. I didn’t spend the entire time with my headphones on– which was a step in the right direction. While I felt good in spots, I also felt uncomfortable with so many people around me. It is still my greatest trigger.
I want so much to move forward and finds ways to conquer this social anxiety. I have never been on a plane, and I need to fly to several destinations in August and September. At the same time, I have learned from my fellow mental health bloggers that baby steps are the best course. I want things so bad.
I keep fighting and working through it. There was a time in my life about three years ago where this social anxiety was not an issue. It really is a recent phenomenon. I will keep fighting and work to get better in this social anxiety life.
P.S. I am getting close to finishing my memoir. I will be trying to work this summer to make up the difference so I can publish end of summer. If you can donate it would bring me closer. Thank you so much!
James Edge Skye