57: Anxiety Disorder is a Thing

“The defining feature of social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation.”

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Social Anxiety Disorder

The doctor thinks I have an anxiety disorder.

The anxiety disorder has been killing me for 123 days. Plus or minus 50 years.

It took months of conversations with the doctor for me to understand I have an anxiety disorder and what it has done to my life.

I’d say, “yeah but,” and she’d stop me and say, “Stop letting people in your head. Stop letting people define you.”

As I’ve said elsewhere, I hate admitting anxiety is an issue. “Anxiety is for women. Real men don’t get anxious,” my Pride tells me.

I’m not a narcissist, sociopath, or dangerous. But I’m “very afraid that other people will hurt me.”

One of the largest issues of my anxiety disorder is it gives no quarter to mistakes and bad choices. When I do something wrong, I panic. The more wrong, the more panic.

Anxiety immediately pushes me to run and hide or fight. Hence, a troll shows up on my CadConfessional blog and attacks me, I attack back. I hurt Painter, I expect her to attack me, and like a cuttlefish with a keyboard, I shoot ink and run.

Post and pre-discovery pains, sleeplessness, nightmares, and fear constantly hounded me.

The trolling certainly hasn’t helped.

I honestly didn’t know how often this was my default position in my interpersonal relationships. Chronic exhaustion, emotional pain, and loss amp it all up.

Recently, the doctor and I decided it was time to add Lexapro to help me focus and calm down. Since the beginning of this Odyssey anxiety has been the enemy of patience and restraint.

Anxiety drives my internal Pursuer and fuels the Drama Triangles. It is exponentially worse than at any other time in my life.

Screenshot 2018-04-02 at 9.39.18 AM

I’ve told people my whole life I am an introvert. They’d never believe me because I can normally compartmentalize it and function. Being around people makes me anxious. I never feel safe. There are reasons for that but no one cares about the old damage right now.

I would tell people, and people will roll their eyes and mock the idea I was anything other than an extrovert. I spoke publicly, organized meet-ups, networked, and was a village trustee.

The whole time I was terrified. I felt like an imposter. That is the reality of an anxiety disorder.

After events, I’d go and hide. I’d walk the dog at the golf course. I’d shovel snow at midnight. I’d do for a long drive. I’d eat chocolate cake or sit behind the art tent and try not to make eye contact with people.

Regroup. Recharge. Refocus. Compartmentalize. Do it again. Painter gave me that courage.

Painter knows this truth about me and we often talked about how hard of a time I had in some situations. She was always the calm in the eye of my hurricane. With her I felt like I could accomplish anything.

The anxiety is worse the more I care for someone. The most damage in my life has been done by the people closest to me and I’ve never let anyone as close to my heart as Painter.

I revealed more about my hopes, dreams, and vulnerabilities to her than anyone else. It is why Painter sees me…even if her pain says she doesn’t. It is one of the reasons I’m having a hard time moving forward and left my heart with her. It’s why I still hide behind my writing: I want to be seen but I don’t want to be seen.

I’m not rushing to fix anything or paint anyone out of my life. I’ll take my time and work through it.

After talking with my Doctor and learning about Social Anxiety Disorders I realize how my infidelity, secret keeping, lies and betrayal were driven by my own anxieties.

My initial selfishness created a cascade of anxieties creating a negative feedback loop progressively making matters worse until the crashed down on Painter, Beatrix, and our families.

If you make the time to read years worth of my writings you will see they revolve around the themes below.

Now that I know, I can focus on the solution and not the problems. I’m done clowning around with this. Not confronting my anxiety cost me important friendships, my marriage to Beatrix, and my partnership with Painter.

I’ll own it and create boundaries that allow to thrive and not just survive.

SYMPTOMS

For those that are interested here is a list of social anxiety disorder symptoms. The symptoms include:

  • Feeling highly anxious about being with other people and having a hard time talking to them
  • Feeling very self-conscious in front of other people and worried about feeling humiliated, embarrassed, or rejected, or fearful of offending others
  • Being very afraid that other people will judge them
  • Worrying for days or weeks before an event where other people will be
  • Staying away from places where there are other people
  • Having a hard time making friends and keeping friends
  • Blushing, sweating, or trembling around other people
  • Feeling nauseous or sick to your stomach when other people are around

RESOURCES

WebMD: What Are Anxiety Disorders?

American Psychiatric Association: What Are Anxiety Disorders?

The Atlantic: Surviving Anxiety