Frustrated and Scared
After high-school, I surely didn’t want to face College. Put money towards hellish days that interfered with learning? No, thank you. I wasn’t sure “who” I was or what I wanted anyway. I landed a part time job steps from my house, with a relative as manager.
Suicide entered my mind off and on in my early 20s. I felt worthless, a burden, embarrassed, emotionally and physically worn out. Literally pained. Day after day. I just didn’t know what to do with myself! I have experienced two different feelings of suicide: A slow onset that sustains or builds, and one that hit me like a brick wall – which I will explain later.
I wont be divulging my suicidal ideas, as not to encourage anyone. I will just say, one method was easy (though realized others might get injured) The other, was a sure-fire way to die painlessly, but complex and would take time to save money for.
Outings for me: Symptoms and intensity depended on how far from home, who was there, and how long away I’d be. “Usually”, my anxiety would bubble up into tension, nausea/indigestion and headaches/migraine. Sometimes hot flashes and shakes would join in. I never ate when out, or if I’d be going out – so I could avoid stomach pains/nausea if major anxiety or panic happened. The odd time, a nervous cough, too, would show; so I carried throat numbing spray with me wherever I went.
One overnight outing I pushed myself to do initially, I couldn’t pee! I had to, but I was so tense, I just couldn’t. I ended up going home in the middle of the night. It still took me another few hours before I could “go”. Do people think things like that when they hear anxiety disorder? Likely not.
Staying in: Caused major depression. I wanted progress! Staying in, was not who I really was! Still, going out didn’t result in me nor “my life” either. It was painted unorganized and dormant by my disorder. Limited, and full of fear rather than growth.
The comparison I use to describe the emotional aspect: It was like I fell down a deep, dark hole. Someone built a highway over the opening, where everyone’s life was zooming by. They were unaware of me trying to scream for help. Every time I attempted to get a handle on my anxiety situation, it felt like I’d climb up the hole, only to be knocked down and tired once again. It was draining.
Determination: Try #1
A person I identified with in the beginning and looked up to (thanks to my doctor), was Donny Osmond. He had Social Anxiety Disorder as well, and happened to be touring with musician Jim Brickman at the time. Donny learned how to cope enough to travel all over and perform! If he could do that? I could travel a couple of places, to sit in the audience. Maybe I’d have the same feelings of confidence and inspiration as the New York City trip.
I took approximately four “Donny trips” by bus, each averaging anywhere from 1 hour, to 5 hours away. I almost came home from the furthest trip. This one, I had the opportunity to meet Jim and Donny. I take baths to relax myself, and not even that was working. I wanted to blink and be home.
A lot of my trips back then are a blur. Either I’m blocking things out, or I had so much baseline anxiety (a certain amount of anxiety continuously in your system for a period of time) that it didn’t stick well to memory.
I did meet Donny, Jim, and the rest of the band! I’m glad I went, but there were times I wished with all of my being, that I were home.
In my research of Donny, I also caught a few David Cassidy songs and information. He didn’t have anxiety, but was inspiring in his own ways. He was touring, and I wanted to keep trying with the “bus trip therapy”.
Add five “David trips” to the list! Two of which, were near New York City. One of those trips, I lost 10 lbs in three days. I remember crying on one as well, I was just so sick and tired of not fully being able to enjoy myself.
What I did to endure these trips? I sectioned them off: The bus ride there. Day one, day two… The bus ride home. This way, I’d get through it, step by step. My last “David trip”, I ate while on the trip, and had only a headache one night! I felt NORMAL. I thought, “Wow.. I beat it!” Never again would I suffer from anxiety!
The line of bus trips stopped. Stress built with a situation at home, and… the anxiety came back like it never left. Depression wasn’t far behind. I felt defeated.
This depression lasted two years.
I didn’t know what to think. Trying to be positive again, felt like lies.
Determination: Try #2
My mid-20s, I felt it was time to try again. Something closer to home. What might I be doing if I didn’t have anxiety? I like music, and creative people, therefore decided to join a local theatre group. My goal here was to accomplish going on stage (like kicking my social anxiety right where it counts) I thought THIS will stop the anxiety! I wasn’t going to worry about making friends, I was just there to accomplish something for myself.
Good thing I wasn’t there to make friends, there were two or three rather snobby ladies that obviously didn’t like me. Oddly enough, these ladies tested what area of strength was needed, and I passed! I didn’t quit!
Four months of rehearsals. Getting dressed in the hallway in front of whoever. Having scenes where I was a (visual) focus. Doing nine shows in a month and a half. I didn’t pass out or throw-up once! (note: anxiety has never caused either to happen for me) I even went out after rehearsals with new friends (made in theatre), to sing at a karaoke restaurant and hang out. I did sing off and on. The best vocal outcome was Halloween, when I had a costume on.
The friends are still in my life to a degree, by the way.
The confidence from being part of a performance, and going out with new friends, lasted a little longer than the “bus trip therapy”, but alas, it did not stay either. In fact, after a few years, even though some of my progress remained, I lost one friend whom I really cared about. He didn’t totally get the whole anxiety thing, and after a while, was tired of it. I wasn’t sure how to fix myself, as much as I wanted to. His attitude at the time did more harm than good. I felt very small.
A big part of my Social Anxiety, is not wanting to disappoint people I care about. Wanting people to know “me”, not the insecurities or hindrances. To a lot of people, I wished I could just say “Wait.. you’ll see who I really am!”
If a person doesn’t want to be there in the hard times.
They wont be invited to the good times.
Self-respect helps you grow away from your anxiety.
There were one or two people I valued very much, who were pushed away by my “oddness”. By guilt, I wanted (and tried) to “fix” what I ruined. In hind-sight, trying to fix things was also unnatural, and did nothing but make me look insecure.
A year or so after this, came the second type of “suicidal feeling”. Sitting at my computer in Winter, not concentrating on anything negative.. I suddenly felt as if everything around me was dead. Time stopped and flashed forward all at once. The chairs across the room, I could see them broken down and dusty as if centuries of neglect passed. A reflection of how I felt inside. I didn’t matter, and was going nowhere.
Physically, every negative feeling you can think of, was burning from my core, out every pour of my body. Invisible poison consuming me. I wanted to run from behind my desk, and throw myself off my balcony. Not like three stories would definitely kill me – but I wanted another sensation. Any other sensation! I understood how a person could throw them-self in front of a train. My body was immobile. I sat like this for a few minutes, then collected my thoughts. I went to the doctor as soon as I could to try an anti-depressant. I didn’t want to feel that again. I went on a very low dose. Whether it was “in my head” or not, that low dose seemed to work. Thankfully that weird sadness hasn’t happened again.
My favourite childhood band (NKOTB) was reuniting in 2008. This pushed me to travel and be around a lot of high energy sooner than expected. One member of the group, Jonathan Knight, dealt with horrible anxiety, I believe, almost his entire life. If he was going to perform, and I had traveled long distances before… I could see them an hour away! No problem!
Waiting in 5th row for the show to start, my anxiety got the best of me. I walked out of their very first reunion concert. Progress goes back and forth while you’re in the process. I didn’t go home – I stayed for the next two concerts.