Normally I wait until I’m feeling better before writing a social anxiety / mental health blog post. I try to put a positive spin on it, a tip or some sort of advice. Who knows, we might get there by the end of it. But for now, I am just going to write… So we’ve all heard the term, all dressed up and nowhere to go. How about, all dressed up and nowhere you CAN go? Well that pretty much sums me up right now.
Today was going to be a good day. I had lunch plans with family. I had a couple of blog photos to take before launching the new site. These are things you look forward to. Having a laugh and sharing a meal with people you love and launching a project you’ve worked so freaking hard on.
I was up nice and early, I wanted to enjoy getting ready and not be rushed. Taking my time putting on my makeup, a fresh bronzed makeup look and bright lipstick (fake it till you make it, right?). I dressed, had something to eat. Somewhere between waking up and finishing getting ready, I became completely overwhelmed with life.
I want to go out, hang out with family, family I also consider friends, however, the idea of walking out the front door and interacting with people terrifies me. It literally feels like oxygen is being sucked from the room, and the only place I will be safe and able to breathe, is if I hide in bed.
So I am in bed, makeup half washed off on the tear express. Wishing so desperately that I was out and about, while wishing equally (well to be honest probably more) that no one will text, call, IM, snapchat, or even think about wanting me to go anywhere. Heaven forbid someone turns up right now!
At the same time I know I have disappointed people, this is not the first time I have bailed on plans last minute because ‘I just couldn’t go’. To be honest, no one is more disappointed than me. Disappointed that I didn’t go, disappointed that I ‘let myself’ get overwhelmed, disappointed that I disappointed people. – You see the cycle…
Anxiety can be all consuming and not make sense, it can make a social butterfly into someone afraid to check their text messages. It can make facing a social situation feel like the biggest and hardest decision of your life and that is not an exaggeration.
For the most part I am writing this to get it out of my head. To stop that evil cycle of thoughts that drops your mood lower and lower. I am also writing this with some hope it will help people understand what it means, or what is happening behind the scenes when someone who struggles with social anxiety or mental health say, ‘they can’t make it’.
It is not that they don’t want to make it, they want to be there more than you will ever understand.
It is not that they can’t be bothered or are lazy. It is likely they showered, got dressed, put on makeup (if they wear it). Did their hair, packed their bag and have their keys in hand ready to go. This includes doing their best to fight the mental fortress that is holding them captive. <– NOT EASY TASKS when it feels like your world is falling apart around you.
It is not that you don’t mean enough to them for them to go. The fact that they tried their hardest and had every intention of going, shows you mean enough to them for them to face their internal battlefield.
This is the part that people don’t see, the struggle between the rational and irrational sides of the brain. Often this leaves me in tears and hyperventilating. The rational side telling me ‘just go, it will be okay. You’ll enjoy it once you’re there, if not you can leave. What’s the worst that can happen?’. While the irrational side is saying ‘oh…. I wouldn’t go if I was you. I don’t know what it is yet, but if you go something bad will happen, something really bad. Bed is safer, choose the safe bed instead, don’t you want to be safe?’
It is not that they are letting it get the best of them. Sometimes it is actually just too hard, physically and emotionally. Sometimes it is okay to for someone to say; today I can’t, but tomorrow I will.
I will leave it there or I will never shut up. I will say I feel somewhat better. The chocolate, food, cuddles and space my amazing man has given me has helped a tonne, as well as writing this.
I guess if you take anything away from this, know that you’re not alone. Know it is okay to have a ‘I’m not okay day’, try again tomorrow and reach out to someone special.