Have you ever read something and realized as you were reading it, that it is explaining exactly how you feel in certain situations? Well, that happened to me last night. The funny thing is, I never really realized what I have experienced had a name or that other people felt it and if I did, I never ever in a million years would have thought that it was something that described ME in any way. I mean…I’m not an idiot.
Thank you, Jennifer Lawson. “Furiously Happy” has opened my eyes to this feeling that takes over my life on certain occasions, and because of this, I feel slightly less strange, weird, psycho, closed-off, odd, scared and even a little alone. In this book of “essays” as it is described, lies a whole lot of truth. A whole lot of real-life hysterically terrifying ways that Jenny has dealt with her mental illness adventures. I say “adventures” because almost each chapter is a story in itself. She is refreshingly honest with her writing and makes the reader feel as though they are there with her ducked under a table or hidden in a bathroom stall or – beside her on the floor of her bedroom with “dead arms” trying to keep the cat from attacking her phone as she dictates the moment she woke up from her nap and the lack of circulation to her arms had caused her to be armless for what seems like an eternity and how she instinctively knew the moments leading up to that moment that morning had to be documented because it was literary GOLD. It’s no wonder that her book as been on the NY Times Bestseller list for 4 straight weeks. There is a desperate need for her voice in this world.
You see, I have a very bubbly personality – more so when I was younger, but at the ripe old age of 44, I’m finding that I still have, for the most part, my bubbliness in tact. I’m social. I like to hang out with my friends and do things and experience things…but sometimes…I’m the exact opposite. Sometimes, I don’t want to be around people or be in a crowd or mingle with people I don’t know. Sometimes the thought of meeting someone new just overwhelms the holy living shit out of me. It’s called “Anxiety”. And an even better term for what I’m self-diagnosing would be “Social Anxiety”.
I was once sent to a networking/marketing class – to learn to network for and market my parents business. What I didn’t realize, until after I got there, was that I was in a room full of artificial people that were all talking to each other, but they weren’t listening to each other. It was as if they were there for show, wanted something out of me – business, word of mouth exposure, me to think they were the most incredible person I had ever met – and there I was…just watching, from the corner. Sweaty. Feeling overwhelmed. Breathing heavily. Avoiding eye contact. Wanting to get the hell out of there as fast as humanly possible. But. I. Couldn’t. I was somewhat petrified. Frozen. Trapped. In this sweaty, hyperventilating state. Plus – I was with someone – a co-worker- who ate this shit up for breakfast. It was probably the longest day of my life. I hate networking.
I. HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE. IT.
Another time when anxiety got the best of me was when I returned to my job after vacation and my boss had decided to change my job title without discussing it with me first – no real reason, but I went from an office job to working in a warehouse – apparently the person that they had take over for me while I was on vacation had rainbows flying out of her butt and her mother was a higher up and blammo – Sassy got kicked to the curb. There goes Sassy’s job. Meh – hindsight being what it is – it was for the best. BUT – when it was happening?! Holy shitballs, you guys…I thought I was losing my mind. I really went off the deep end. I walked out of the office to a corner of this huge 50,000 square foot warehouse, all by myself and just bawled my fucking eyes out, called my mom so that she could calm me down. The physical things that happened to me were something I had never experienced before as an adult. My hands started shaking, breathing was erratic, I felt really clammy but hot at the same time. I remember my hearing sort of turned off and there was a slight ringing in my ears. I knew that I was in a full panic attack – even though I hadn’t ever remembered having one before.
There have been other instances – mostly surrounding groups of people that are just really beautiful and thin and have their shit together – where I’ve just retreated to a place where no one else was, usually I was with my husband and just sort of disappeared to a corner or to a table far away from anyone else – typically this happens when I’m with my husbands co-workers at an event or something. I just don’t belong in a room with those people. It’s come to a point where I just really try not to be placed in those situations. If I’m going to hang out with those people, it’s gonna be on my turf, man.
We are throwing a Halloween party this Friday. At our house. My turf. I can totally handle this. You know why? BECAUSE IT’S MY DAMN HOUSE and I CAN GO TO MY ROOM AND SHUT THE DOOR AND HIDE WITH A COCKTAIL! But I won’t because I’m waaaaaaaaaay more comfortable in a controlled environment than I am on neutral ground. Plus, chances are, some asshole isn’t going to show up to my party unless they really want to spend time with me and on the flip-side of that, I don’t invite people I don’t want to spend time with so it’s really a perfect storm.
So, other than my abandonment issues (someday I’ll get into that) and my need for everyone to like me (although age has gotten me to a point where I realize that I really am not that much of a people pleaser anymore and hey, if you like me, awesome. If you don’t, meh…I’ll get over it – I have lots of friends that I love very deeply and who love me in return, so I’m cool, bro.), I’m pretty sure that this anxiety stuff is my only real issue. It doesn’t consume my entire life…but it has made things interesting at times. I’ve missed out on some things I may have otherwise enjoyed, but was crippled by my fear of being put into situations that I couldn’t just remove myself from if I felt the need to leave.