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The Constant, Hidden War I Have With Social Anxiety

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Have you ever been so stressed out, you just sat in silence, alone? Just sat there trying to get a grip on life? I do it multiple times a day. I have a constant war going on in my head between this so-called “anxiety” and myself. I’m constantly drowned out by my own thoughts. Sometimes I let anxiety take over to the point where I hurt so much I can’t even shed a tear. I just lay there. Starring at the blank wall; feeling nothing.

Everyone who knows me thinks they can see me. They see a pretty blonde girl, big smile, always laughing, “happy.” Maybe they even think I have the “perfect life.” The truth is, no one can really see me. Behind the “happiness” and well put-together look, I’m dying inside. I know what you’re thinking now: “What could she possibly be hurting over?” Honestly, I don’t even know if I can answer that question. I have social anxiety and depression. I live day to day not knowing why I feel the way I do. I live day to day with constant fear and worry, drowned out by my “unnecessary” thoughts. It’s easier to just tell myself I am happy. I do it to the point where I can actually believe myself and make it true. But, deep down, I know it’s not true.

I worry what people are thinking about me to the point where I allow it to control me. I let the worries and bad thoughts take over. I constantly question if people actually like me or if they’re just as good at acting as I am. I fight with anxiety in my mind. I tell myself I am being silly; they are my friends.

I allow the anxiety to win at times. I believe the worries and bad thoughts. Other times, if I’m lucky, I can get over it and suppress the anxiety.

Think of the time you and someone you really care about got into a really big fight. Think about how empty you felt, how scary it felt that you could lose them. I constantly have this feeling toward the people I care about. An action so small by them, or maybe no action at all, can get my head spinning and questioning if there is anything I could have possibly done to them. Could they possibly be mad at me? Could they not want anything to do with me? I ask if they’re mad at me and they’ll find it silly. They maybe even see it as coming out of the blue. The truth is, I need the reassurance. Sometimes, if I don’t get it, I can find myself worrying for hours. Drowning from the anxiety. Allowing the anxiety to beat me down.

I have a constant feeling of guilt. I feel the need to apologize all the time, to the point where people don’t even think it means anything anymore. But, all my apologies are sincere. It means something to me. I have a fear that if I don’t apologize at times, I could lose the person to whom I’m apologizing. The guilt can eat away at me and make me feel like an awful person if I try to ignore it.

At night, I lie in bed and replay my entire day over and over again in my head, thinking of anything I could have done wrong:

“Did I wave back when she said ‘hi’ to me in the hall today? I hope I at least smiled back. I probably didn’t. Think she’s mad at me now? Should I text her and ask? Maybe apologize for what I did? No, don’t text her. She probably doesn’t even remember. But, maybe she does.”

This is an example of the battle I have in my head. It gets so tiring but I can’t fall asleep. Sometimes, a small argument can keep me up all night worrying. On a bad day, my worries make their way into my dreams.

I try to find things that help me cope with anxiety. Sometimes, for weeks at a time, I can feel down and have anxiety right there on my shoulder with me. Other times, I can go months with little worry and feel as happy as can be. It’s a constant up and down ride I have to take.

I feel like I’m constantly running from something I can’t get away from. I try not to allow anxiety to win. Some days, I feel so strong. Some days, I feel so weak and let it take over. My life feels like a constant roller coaster. I have to rely on a pill every day just to feel happy like everyone else. Some days, it doesn’t even help. I find other ways to keep myself happy and my mind occupied, to keep the anxiety out. I know I am not the only one. I know other people can relate. They keep it to themselves. They know how silly the war with anxiety sounds. But, I understand them. I see them. You are not alone.

I don’t want people to read this and feel bad. I don’t want sympathy. I want understanding. I want people to understand what it is like to be in my shoes and others. Social anxiety seems silly at times, but it’s real. It’s there. It’s hard to live with at times. People not understanding makes it even harder. All I want is for people to see me, for people to understand and be there.

Image via contributor.

Originally published: January 31, 2019
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