Category Archives: social anxiety disorder

My anxiety is sky high — and it’s exausting

I’m exhausted. I’ve been doing a lot of fighting in the last 48 hours. Not with anyone else, but with myself.

I’ve been trying to tame the monsters in my head, and I have not succeeded. I have succeeded in not leaving my apartment, and for the most part, not leaving my own bed. That’s not good. I know it. And I don’t care.

I’m not sure what brought on my latest bout with anxiety. I’m almost never sure. As I posted yesterday, one of the most frustrating things about social anxiety disorder is that it’s not logical at all. All I know is, I heard people with loud voices talking outside my apartment, and it set off something within me. I do not want to be around noise. Or people.

It so happens that I have an appointment with my psycho pharm today. I will bring myself to go to that, if only because I know that most of my meds need refilled, and I want to make sure they get refilled.

I try to fight this as best I can. The fact that I care about my meds is proof of that. But the monsters in my head are formidable opponents, and I get so tired of fighting them. The second I got up this morning, my first thought was “you are so dead.” I have no idea why I thought that. But there it was.

I’m going to keep fighting. But it’s so damn hard. And I’m so damn tired.


Hey, people. If you want to say “hi” to me, do NOT honk your horn.

As someone with anxiety disorder, here is something I will never understand: how, in the world, can a honking car horn ever be construed as a “hello.”

Just a few minutes ago, I was contentedly taking a walk in my neighborhood. I had just purchased some bargain books at my favorite bookstore, and I was trying to find an outside bench to sit and start reading. I was crossing the street when, suddenly, the harsh blare of a car horn ruined my solitude. When I heard it, I did what I always do when I hear a car horn: I jumped, and hurried out of the way as fast as I could.

As I was about to finish crossing the street, I heard someone calling my name from the car. I turned. He was laughing at me. “Alan, I was trying to say hi to you. I didn’t want you to jump out the way.”

Didn’t want me to jump out of the way??? Then why the hell did he honk at me? To make matters worse, this wasn’t even someone I wanted to say hi to. This was someone who was an acquaintance at best; someone who, if I had any real guts, I would have told him to fuck off a long time ago, and he wouldn’t even think of wanting to say hello to me ever again.

It was his laugh that really bothered me. His laugh told me that I was crazy for being so scared of a car horn. Maybe I am. The truth is, car horns have always scared the shit out of me. When I was a teenager, first learning how to drive, I was with my driving instructor when a car suddenly pulled out in front of me. The instructor asked why I didn’t honk at the driver. I said I was too scared to do that. The instructor–who, being a driving instructor, had probably seen and heard everything–looked at me as if his eyes were about to pop out of his head. “Really,” he yelped, trying to sound civil. “We’re seriously going to have to work on that.”

Even though I have indeed honked a few car horns since then, I’ve never learned to like them. Even with this latest incident, I was so startled that I no longer wanted to sit on a public bench and read my new books. I just wanted to get back to my apartment and be by myself. For better or worse, that’s what I did.

So people, do me a favor. If you’re in your car and you see me, roll down your window to say hi. Do NOT honk your horn. Ever. Even if I love you, this will, in that moment, make me hate you. I’m not kidding.


Big Apple highs and lows

I’m back from my little jaunt to New York City. The trip was not as easy as I hoped it would be, but there were definite pluses.

The biggest plus was spending time with one of my best friends. Steve and I have been friends for 30 years. Whenever we see each other, it’s as if no time has passed whatsoever. I’m very grateful for that.

I also met a guy and had a brief fling. I’m fine with that. In fact, it was the best sex I’ve had in years. His name was Matthew. We both knew damn well that we’d never see each other again after I went back to Boston, and we were both fine with that. We knew the parameters and we just wanted to have some fun. We did. He made me smile. A lot.

But when I was by myself, New York was a challenge. Crowds are one of my biggest anxieties–and New York has lots of crowds. I used to love places like Times Square. Now, I can’t stand them. Not only are there people everywhere, but 9 out of 10 of them stop to take photos. Every damn thing is a photo op, which means that people on all sides of me stop whatever they’re doing. That means that they bump into me, or I bump into them. With every bump, my anxiety level rises.

It wasn’t always this bad for me, and thinking about that really got me down. My social anxiety disorder means that I’m not the same person I used to be, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be that person again. Steve noticed this. We had talked about the possibility of me moving to New York. On my last night there, Steve said to me “I’d love it if you moved here. But just judging from how you were this weekend, I don’t think you’d be very happy here.”

He’s probably right, and I hate to admit that. Since I left New York, all I’ve wanted to do was to binge watch the new season of “Orange Is The New Black”–by myself. For a while, I did that. I didn’t even stop to unpack my suitcase. But today, I did unpack my suitcase. I also went grocery shopping, went to group therapy, and made some efforts on my continuing quest to find a new apartment.

So, even though New York and my anxiety were not the greatest of mixes, the trip is history. I did it, and I made it. It’s all one step at a time.


How social anxiety disorder causes me to underestimate myself — and my friends

I struggle with social anxiety disorder. Just today, I freaked out when I got a voicemail message from my landlord. All it said was “call me back when you get a chance.” Very calm. Not threatening at all. And I’m also good friends with my landlord.

Yet, when I played the message, my first thought was “he hates me and wants to evict me.” I didn’t want to call him back. The only reason I did was because my heart was pounding, and if I didn’t call him back, I thought my heart would burst out of my chest. So I called him. It’s supposed to snow tomorrow, and all he wanted was help bringing some patio furniture inside. Once again, I blew things out of proportion. Once again, I underestimated myself — and my friend.

So, when I read about this new study from Washington University, it made a lot of sense to me. It turns out that it’s quite common for people with social anxiety disorder to underestimate what friends think about them. Researchers interviewed people with social anxiety disorder, as well as their friends. The bottom line: people with social anxiety think their friendship has deteriorated due to the disorder. Their friends, however, just perceive their relationship as different, as an acknowledgement that their friend is going through something difficult.

If I had a dollar for every social situation that I’ve ran out of because I felt as though I was some kind of freak of nature, I’d be a rich man. And the thing is, my social anxiety is often WORSE when I’m with friends and family. I’m afraid Crazy Alan will show up. I’m afraid they’ll see the crazy. I don’t want that. That’s why I often turn down invitations from friends and family to join them. If I asked them, that’s why they would probably perceive our relationship as being different.

Maybe studies like this will lead to more communication and better understanding among people with anxiety, and those who love them. I can only hope.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go help my landlord move some furniture.

For more info on the Washington University Studies, go to https://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/27665.aspx


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