Monday, October 22, 2012


Somehow I've managed to have a job interview next week. I cannot even put into words how much anxiety this brings on. I don't know why I've put myself in this position other than wanting to better myself for me and my partner. The idea of it makes perfect sense. With the economy being in the state it's in, living expenses continuing to rise, lack of pension benefits provided by employers, and the threat of SS benefits quickly dwindling, I think most of us are very concerned about our futures. I don't want to live paycheck to paycheck. I don't want to struggle financially the way my parents did. I want to put my education to use. I want my partner to feel the person she has chosen as her life partner can be counted on to share equally in our financial responsibilities and not have to continually be the strong one in the relationship. I've seen how hard that has been on my parent's relationship and the strain it has put on my Mom since my Dad also suffers from S.A.D. I don't want that for myself or Rachel. I want her to be proud of me, not ashamed.

The reality of it is, I have a "decent" job that I provides me ok pay but could definitely provide better pay and benefits. I struggle daily at this job that provides me with my own work space and minimal interaction. The small amount of interaction I have to have now can send me in a downward spiral in a heartbeat and leave me crying at my desk wishing so badly I didn't have to be there. 95% of the people there are decent, fun, and friendly people. I have known them now for nearly 3 years and yet feel I am still not part of their world and have a very difficult time interacting with them. I have the luxury of not having to attend most social events related to it even though I long to to be able to and understand it could help better me career wise. I stay to myself as much as I can because each encounter has the potential to leave me with an overwhelming sense of failure and humiliation. Even though I am a very conscientious and detail-oriented person, I find myself making mistakes because my mind is always racing, worrying and trying to deal with the anxiety of just being there. I tend to lose focus of the task at hand. Who will I have to talk to next? When will the next person come to ask me a work-related question? How big of a fool will I make of myself? Do they wish they didn't have to work with me? How can I possibly put myself in a new situation which could require more responsibility, interaction and potential for humiliation and anxiety??

I am a hard worker. I do know this about myself but it is hard for me to give myself any credit for what I have achieved so far. I want to be better but S.A.D. is one contradiction after another. Do I go and risk the humiliation of an hour and a half interview?  It took me days just to work up the courage to call and schedule the interview in which I felt I embarrassed myself with the responses I gave. Do I not go at all and then deal with the regret of at least not trying?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Connecting with People

I miss having a best friend. It has been a very long time since I have connected with someone in that way. It seems I have lost the ability to do that over the years. When I was young, I had a fairly easy time making friends. I loved to laugh, make others laugh, engage people and be involved in whatever activities the kids around me were doing. That sense of "connecting" and making someone else happy was a special and amazing feeling. It made me feel needed and that I had a purpose. It made me feel happy inside.That feeling is a distant memory now because as my SAD progressed, it became very difficult for me to engage and make new friends. Instead, my life became about avoidance. Avoiding the potential to embarrass myself, of being judged and/or not being liked and accepted. It became an excruciating contradiction - wanting to fit in and not being able to.

I'm not saying I don't have special people in my life. I have a wonderful partner and family whom I love with all my heart. But I miss having that special connection to someone who doesn't have to be in my life but who I could call at 2 in the morning and know they would be there for me if I needed them and who counted on me do the same thing. I've been very lucky to have experienced this several times in my life but these people have gone their own way. They have moved on. As I refer to them in my book, they were my "comfort" people. They have no idea how much they meant to me.

When you have SAD, you become a good actor. You have to because that is all you have to somehow  feel part of your surroundings. For me, I can not relax enough to be myself and respond naturally. It is an instant transformation for me when I come in contact with someone. I become tense, anxious and my brain ceases working. I become paralyzed in that sense. My actions and conversation become "forced". I can barely put a sentence together. I force something out that I usually regret afterwards just to have something to say. When all you're doing is pretending, you're not really into the moment. You're not really forming any type of bond. Your connection is superficial.

I am surrounded by friendly, smart and funny people everyday. The potential for new friendships is there. I just can't seem to make it happen.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Letting Go

There are many times when I've looked around me - be it at work, in a classroom, at a social event or even with friends and family - and felt how different I am from everyone around me. My thoughts, opinions or how I deal with certain events seem so far off from those of others. I've often wished I could read other's minds to know what they are thinking or how they are processing specific events. At the same time, if others could be inside my mind, they might be frightened of what goes on in there. My mind is constantly racing, analyzing and rehashing things I should've have let go and put behind me. It could be something so insignificant as a comment someone made to me at work that I took so much harder than it was meant to be or more importantly, the loss of a friendship. It stays and stays with me. I know this is the difference between living in the moment and being happy vs. living in the past and being unhappy but having SA means it's very difficult to make a new friend, new memories, or even just have an anxiety-free day. Our days our-filled with self-monitoring and analyzing. Much of our time is spent making sure others are happy, saying the "right" things when we do speak and trying to "fit in".

Many times I feel what actually does manage to come out of my mouth is nothing close to what I'm feeling inside or wanted to express. It loses its translation somewhere between my brain to my mouth. Inside my own head it makes complete sense and I feel I will make a valid point but it typically comes out making no sense and I am left with a sense of humiliation, frustration and inadequacy once again. I can rarely express effectively what it is I hope to get across. It's as though I'm not even the one speaking the words, that they are coming from somewhere else. It's very unsettling to say the very least to not be able to effectively communicate or stand up for yourself.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

July 24, 2012

July 24, 2012
2 years ago, I decided to write about my life with social anxiety disorder. It was very therapeutic to finally openly discuss what I'd been dealing with most of my life. My book is titled "On the Outside Looking In-My Life with Social Anxiety Disorder."  I still deal with the effects of this disorder everyday and so feel I still need to talk about it. For someone who hasn't experienced it, it is difficult to comprehend I know, but for those of us who have, it is an extremely frustrating, humiliating, and lonely way to live. No matter how many people are around you each day, you feel incredibly alone. It is nothing shy of torture each and every day.

Going to work everyday is very difficult to say the least. I asked for my own cubicle so I wouldn't have to share an office space with anyone. 8 hours confined in an office with someone was unbearable and I felt bad for the other person.  I rarely spoke because no words would come to me but I felt I needed to try for their sake. (Because it's always about what the other person thinks of you, no matter what impact it will have on you, you're always trying to be pleasing) I would force something out that would sound stupid and/or uninteresting so then I would embarrassed by what I said. It was 8 hours of constant tension, apprehension and awkwardness.

I sit alone now in my cubicle and stay to myself as much as I can because the smallest comment will send me into a tailspin and leave me analyzing it for hours and beating myself into the ground with negative self-talk. I can see the break room from my seat so I watch for it to be empty before I will go in to get a glass of water. I walk the entire way around our floor to get to a printer I think will most likely not be in use. I walk to the bathroom but if I hear anyone inside, I will turn away and wait. I sit and listen to my co-workers wander into each other's offices talking and laughing to take a  break from their work. While others enjoy a company sponsored lunch together in the break room, I wait for everyone else to get their food before I get mine to take back to my cubicle and eat alone if I take any at all. I know this all sounds like avoidance but I didn't start avoiding until it got too unbearable not to. I feel so out-of-step with everyone around me. I am an alien here on earth who does not belong.