Monday, August 26, 2013

Social Anxiety: Episode 1

My social anxiety is self diagnosed. I have not been to a doctor to be formally diagnosed because doctors are expensive, and I already know that social situations make me anxious. My hope is that by sharing my experiences, I can help others in similar situations feel less alone.

I plan to focus on this issue for the next couple of days, and then to update in the future when I have something relevant to add.

The following was posted to a couple of my friends on August 9, 2013.

I was motivated. I had the kids ready, I had the return I had to make in the car, I had plans to be a grown up and get stuff done. But boyfriend left the running lights on in the SUV 2 days ago, and now the battery is dead. All motivation is depleted. My plans immediately changed to stay home and clean the house instead. Laundry needs to be done, the garage needs to be organized, and I haven't cleaned the kitchen in 2 days. Okay, I can deal with this change of plans. I don't like it, but I can deal. It will be okay.

I sent boyfriend a text saying the car battery is dead. The text he sent back seems so absurd to me. And terrifying. "See if one of the neighbors can jump it." Easy, right? Just knock on a neighbor's door, ask a question, no big deal, right? Wrong. The idea of going over to a neighbor's house to ask a favor is making me want to cry and almost throw up. Seriously. I am about to have a panic attack.

The thing is, I have only talked to each of my neighbors once - the conversations when you are both walking in from the car at the same time and go a little something like, "Hi, I'm [insert name here]. You must be our new neighbor." "Yes, I'm Heather. The kids are M and G; my boyfriend is S." A couple more sentences, maybe, then in the house. I don't know these people. I remember their names, of course (okay, so I wrote them all down so I wouldn't forget), but I have a really hard time asking for help. Especially when I don't really *need* it. I can wait for boyfriend to get home and jump the car for me.

Additionally, I don't even know how to jump a car. I know the basic premise, and why it works, but I have no idea which clamp goes where. So I would need to find someone who can bring their car over, and knows how to jump a car.

I am not emotionally prepared for this. I know this is stupid. I am a grown up, and kind of a bad ass. I have spent the past week cutting trees with bow saws, and sawing/sanding/painting lawn chairs.

But this... this I am having a really hard time with.


Even when I was in the moment, I realized that some people would find it incomprehensible. My boyfriend, for instance, has no trouble asking the neighbors things. Can he borrow a wrench to change out the battery in the SUV, for instance. I feel a little ridiculous when I start panicking over  little social interaction. What am I worried about? I don't know, I just am. 

I am painfully shy, but not socially awkward. When one person introduces me to another, I can easily make conversation. The problem arises when I have to initiate contact. I don't like to do it. Last month, my dad called me to chat and he said, "You know, you could pick up the phone to call me every once in a while." I responded that I rarely call anyone, and that is wasn't personal. Which is true. When I initiate a phone call, I do it to relay information and keep it as brief as possible. I call my best friend to tell her to wake up because I am coming over. I call my boyfriend to remind him to do something, because a text is easy to miss. The exception is my sister, who I call to vent. It just never occurs to me to call people to chat. If someone calls me to chat, though, that is fine. I hold up my end of the conversation well.

If I don't even initiate conversation with my family, consider how much more difficult it is to do so with strangers.

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