was floating thru the life discussion forum and someone posted about social anxiety. so i started writing, and it got too personal.. so here it is.
i still remember the first moment i felt social phobia. i was 12 and i was at a skating rink and it suddenly struck me that i could fall down and look stupid. and that would be unbearable.
fast forward 20 years... i've learned a lot. exposure therapy, defusing negative thoughts, telling myself "if this bad thing happens, it will be ok. you can fix things that go wrong.", and such really helps.
in college, i did some social experiments to prove to myself that most people are not watching you to see if you have flaws (most people are self-interested, they are only watching themselves lest they make a mistake too... the people who are pointing out others' flaws ungraciously are red flag people. don't hang with them).
the flaws you see in yourself - many people either don't notice or they wish they had (like, wavy hair. i hate my wavy hair. meanwhile, some people have hair treatments done to get wavy hair. so obviously people do not think wavy hair makes you look frazzled).
certain people in my family are really critical. they make critical comments, offhandedly or directly. things like "fat people are gross" or "my frizzy hair makes me look like a mental patient. and i hate it." while acting kind of neurotic. i had a sister who constantly picked on my appearance and did not want me to associate with dorky friends.
when you are around voices like that.... you can get srsly messed up. you feel like everyone can see your flaws, and that they're talking about them. you feel like people are constantly noticing things about you. your hair isn't quite right. your socks don't match your outfit. ohmygosh, you look like a hobo. ... sweatdrop
i was conditioned. and having depression, poor health, and an anxious temperament... all that intuited negativity was always roaring in the background of my mind.
so, getting out, out of my family, and out of my comfort zone - has really helped.
and if i isolate too much, i get the anxiety coming back.
you have to get used to certain levels of stuff going on around you. a little at a time. and build up til you're ok in a crowd. i've been there. i've done very well. but if i stop going out of the house regularly.... this suddenly caves and suddenly just going to the store is hard. (0/10 - would not recommend. drag yourself out of the house, ppl!)
moving to Asia was not half as anxiety causing. for the first time in my life, being stared at did not bother me. because it made sense that they would stare. i might be the first white person they've seen irl. i can accept that as a reason to stare. (it might not be polite. but at least it's not personal.)
moving back to the US was harder. i get stared at in public. not constantly. but oh i see it. especially men. i don't know what it is. i'm not trailing toilet paper from my shoe. my pants zipper is up. my hair isn't too awful. but they're staring. looking. at. me.
i had to just accept that some people are weird stare-ers. and maybe i'm pretty, so they're looking? maybe that is it. but srsly, people, don't stare. it's rude! and sets off my anxiety.
i also found that anxiety from other areas of life spilled over into social anxiety.
having lost my job, i felt alien. feeling alien = social anxiety
my mom having very poor health and me having to take care of her and the household - and deal with her bad attitude, her criticisms if i didn't buy the right groceries, or do things exactly how she liked them -- having to do all this while having almost 0 mental and emotional support.....
i was an internal basket case of anxiety.
even if i visited my friends, i could barely talk about the problems i had. i felt a stigma inside myself. i could not open up to my friends to tell them i was basically experiencing that kind of abuse. admitting you're from a broken family is hard.
(but i managed to get it out, a little at a time, and my friends are amazing. they understand. they validated me.)
my dad was not much help either. he's kind of a cranky temperament. which i don't do well with because i'm a pleaser.
plus, he's always railing about liberals. blaming them. etc.
i can't listen to that kind of venting. it bothers me because it's angry steam without any real content. there is nothing to repair. it's just the same old anger. there is no fixing it.
for a while, he talked to me like i was a liberal or sympathizer.
that was hard.
especially as a pleaser. i do not want to be argued at. i do not want to be the object of anger.
i'm not liberal. i'm more libertarian.
and i'm not stupid.
basically - all this vitriol in the media is making people crazy. and raging.
people are taking in headlines and blurbs, and not thinking with discernment. they're just reacting with their emotions. (this is dangerous, btw)
Just hearing the headlines can polarize you.
You can go from being indifferent about Trump to really loving or hating the guy. Point in case - most people love or hate the guy.
My dad was doing that a lot. He'd hear the junk on the news, and then jump down my throat.
There was a period of time where I could not speak without great effort.
I would get a rash if I did too.
I had to come to terms with my dad being an asshat. And then formulate a way to diffuse it. And assert myself.
I'm doing a lot better these days.
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