anxiety · social anxiety

The constant struggle

For all the positivity I gave in my last entry, despite pointing out some of my flaws, I still lost my battle with social anxiety in some ways. I went to bed at 12:30 AM and spent the next few hours tossing and turning, as I could not pull myself from a vicious circle of pondering all the things that could go wrong at the meetup event. My heart raced and raced. I found that nothing could calm me down. Even after I got up to scribble down a journal entry in an effort to talk myself through the anxiety, I still spent at least a half hour more in bed until I could finally drift off to sleep.

The meetup itself went fine. I felt mildly irritated by the atrium’s security guard giving me grief about taking too many of the chairs from other tables to seat my group. I guess I will be hosting the meetup at another atrium from now on, preferably one that is less stingy about visitors using many of their seats.

I was in no way expecting more than 9 people to come to the event, and in the end, 12 people came. Again I waffled back and forth between my own nervousness and the sense of responsibility I felt about needing to make other people in the group feel settled in and comfortable.

I got another perspective on this after the event when I spoke to a fellow group member, Andrew, who has also hosted events. I explained to him the weight of responsibility I feel. His opinion is that I shouldn’t be putting that kind of pressure on myself and that it’s entirely up to the attendees to come to the event or not, and if they don’t want to talk during the event, I shouldn’t feel bad about it.

During the event, some of us had to move to a second table because I realized there was no way 10+ people could sit around in a circle, even if the table was large.

I focused mostly on coloring. I feel I was quite lazy and didn’t really make conversation or was only responding to people’s questions and not saying anything back afterward. There were moments I chimed into a conversation if it was something of interest to me, but mostly, I was quiet. I felt intimidated because there were three guys at the same table I sat at who were all quite talkative with each other. I couldn’t help but feel deflated at this, and almost as if nothing I had in mind to say would make any impact on their conversation.

At the end of the event, Andrew showed up to hang out. He’s the guy I mentioned in a prior paragraph in this post. The trio of guys I deemed to be talkative left to grab lunch somewhere. Brian stayed behind. Annelise, who had stayed in the hopes of finishing her coloring page, ended up leaving at 3 pm for an appointment she had with someone at another atrium.

Brian has just finished eating pizza (his lunch) and went to the restroom to wash his hands. While he was gone, Andrew and I talked about my social anxiety issues. Particularly my affliction for wanting to get to know people better but often not being able to ask the questions I want to ask because I fear there will be negative consequences from it.

Somehow, after Brian came back, he presented me with a question: “Why don’t you want to go therapy?” Since my absence at the board games meetup on Sunday, he and I were messaging back and forth. I admitted, in those messages, why I got cold feet and ended up not going to the board games event. We talked a long time about my issues. At some point during the online message exchange, he had prompted me about therapy and I had deflected the issue as best I could.

In the present time, face-to-face, his question made me uncomfortable. The conversation is a blur now that I try to recall it, but I remember he started talking about how therapy could help with some of my issues. I started tearing up because something in me reacted badly. Maybe it was that I know I do have issues, and I’m too scared to accept that I need more help to overcome things than just attending meetups.

God, I fucking hate crying in front of other people. It’s the most fucking embarrassing thing, too, because once I start crying, I refrain from making any noise, and as a result, my sobs clench up in my chest and end up coming out as hiccups instead. I also cried during my first time attending a meetup event in the social anxiety group. It wasn’t pretty.

At the first social anxiety meet up, I went to, one of the friends I made at this event gave me a link to sign up for therapy services. It is the same service he is currently using. This was in May, and yet I kept wavering about calling.

The short story is, during the talk with Andrew and Brian, I cried several more times and eventually agreed I could try calling to obtain more information about therapy.

I feel both glad and worn out that I had the discussion with them about this. I remember at one point while I was crying nonstop, Brian reassured me that I didn’t need to be ashamed of having emotions and not feeling too great. Those words were like ripping open a wound inside me. I have always been good at maintaining a semblance of calm on the outside, and I hated that I lost control.

I have mixed feelings about why I cried so suddenly. It felt like it came out of nowhere, or did it? One thing I know I felt very strongly the moment the tears welled up in my eyes was a stinging sensation in my chest, and I felt truly very, very tired. Perhaps my body gave out from the strain of maintaining a fake semblance of “I’m completely 100% fine and not anxious at all” all day during the event when really I practically wanted to run away for every second I was there, or just melt into nothingness so no one could see me.

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