First off a big thank you to all my readers. There have now been over 2,000 visits to this site. It might not sound like much but it means a lot to me. So thank you all!!
Today I am going to talk about how my own anxiety problems have effected my life. I know previously I've described how my anxiety manifests, but I haven't really explained how this effects me on a day to day basis.
I've had to cope with anxiety for a long time, though this wasn't always the case. When I was younger, maybe 7 or 8, I don't think anyone would have suspected that I would develop anxiety issues to the extent I have today. At that age, I was very outgoing. Probably too outgoing to be honest. Once I was out with my mother and she had to make a withdrawal from the cash point. Without an hesitation I struck up a conversation with the man waiting behind us, and proceeded to tell the man my mother's bank balance.
Further examples were in school. I loved Drama class when I first went to secondary school. I'd quite happily be the loudest person in the room and had no fear at all. Making friends wasn't hard for me, I found that just striking up a conversation with everyone meant you ended up with a lot less trouble later on. I never stuck with just one friendship group, I bounced between them.
However, slowly my anxiety began to manifest. It started with minor stage fright. My cheeks would flush and my heart would race, but it wasn't anything that really bothered me. Just a little uncomfortable. As time went by I found myself sticking to fewer friends but I didn't know why. In the end I decided to drop Drama as a subject, because I couldn't do it anymore. Then, by the time I'd got to university my anxiety hit its peak.
I found presentations impossible, and so I would tell my classmates that'd I'd do extra work if they would do my speaking. I hated to go anywhere without a friend with me, and if i couldn't find someone I'd find a corner to sit alone. It wasn't all bad though, I made some great friends at university, and after a while I got into a routine where I was never alone. I managed to control it so well that I managed to convince myself i was actually making progress. After all I worked in a busy pub and would happily go to the clubs with my fellow classmates. What I didn't take into account was the sheer amount of alcohol I'd have to drink before I would go to said clubs, but I thought little of it.
To be honest, I was quite happy to pretend that I was okay.
I wasn't okay. In fact I was getting worse. I was using alcohol as a crutch, though I wouldn't say I was an alcoholic. I drank a LOT, but I did not NEED to drink.
I'm not the only person that uses this method either. I've said before that a lot of people with anxiety end up working in the social sector. I'm not sure why or how it works, but I know it does. Generally I find two typical stereotypes of anxiety. There are those that hide away from people and their are those that force themselves to be social. In all honesty, both of these types are essentially the same, and I'm sure there are many other ways that people cope. In everyone's own way, we all hide, it's just some of us hide in public, whilst others hide elsewhere.
Currently I am hiding in my home. My anxiety seems to agitate my current condition so i tend to avoid going out. I was initially worried that I would get lonely, but in reality i'm relieved. It is hard to put on a mask everyday and pretend that I'm okay. Right now, I can't even put that mask on anymore given my current state showing very visible symptoms.
All in all, my experience with anxiety has been varied. Sometimes I was able to suppress it to the point where even I didn't know I was still anxious. It is a very odd sensation. Then again, there were some days that I would run out of my lectures to have an anxiety attack in the university toilets. Until my condition became what it is, I would have said I had high-functioning. Until recently I'd have said I was always a happy barman who was very outgoing. However, looking back, I can't help but wonder at how I did it. Looking back i can see how exhausted I was everyday just because I had to talk to people. How exhausted I was by keeping up a mask. I've spoken before on how my anxiety made me feel like I was two different people.
That's how my anxiety is. It doesn't always have a massive impact of my day, sometimes I can hold it down. Then again, on the days when I've lost my grip on it, it flies out of control. It effects my personality, but only to an extent.
I don't want to be the person with social anxiety. I never wanted that label. That term makes me feel like there is something really wrong about me. I just want to be a person. Granted I'm a person with anxiety, but I don't want that to be a distinguishing feature when people meet me. I think there are many people out there that feel the same way. People that have a mental condition that are tired of being defined by that alone.
I want to be Jack. That optimistic guy that you can have a joke and a drink with. Not the guy that everyone is very careful around because they don't want to startle me. I don't mind if I'm startled. I'll probably laugh about it anyway, because I do make some rather spectacular noises when I jump.
Over to you. How does your condition or conditions effect your life? How do you manage them, or perhaps you struggle to do this? Do you feel that you're labeled by your condition?
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This has been,
A Jackals Voice.