So, I somehow convinced myself that this was going to be a good idea. Everyone reassured me that it was a fine idea when I explained it, so I felt okay about it. Here is a graphic representation of what I envisioned along with a poem that inspired me.
The idea was that I would buy a balloon and give it away. This is how I saw it. A great time, framed by this whimsical poem of spring. I imagined that I would be a little awkward like Cummings' balloon man, but I would make people happy. That's not quite how it went.
First, I went to the party store. I picked out a big monkey balloon. A big monkey balloon. I tied it to a hair band around my wrist. I drove to a store I was not accustomed to. I felt lost as I wandered through the isles looking for someone to give the balloon to.
I felt like people were staring at me because I was carrying a giant monkey balloon. They were. I knew I should look them in the eye and smile. I think they were grinning at me. But I started feeling self conscious. Where was my inner extrovert when I needed it?! "Square your back, chin up, don't look at the floor," I told myself. And just then I saw a mom with a toddler.
I approached my "prey." I asked the mother if she wanted a balloon. Her eyes widened. She looked flustered. I freaked out."Oh, no. Oh, no. What does she think is wrong with me? Oh, no. Oh crap," Uncertainty crept through my spine like seeping, black, fog. That made her feel even less sure. As I drew the balloon toward her, she tensed. Okay, this was stupid. "Well," I said, "he's probably too young"
"Yeah, too young... I was going to say," she responded. I walked off. AGH! Why did I decide to walk around Walmart with a giant monkey balloon? Could I please explain that to myself again? How did this seem like a great idea? I felt like a big, stupid, clown. It was as if the monkey was screaming, "Idiot! Idiot!Idiot!"
I hid in the toy isles and pretended to look at some Batman action figures. I felt a burning in the back of my eyes. Was I going to cry? "Dear Heavenly Father," I prayed, "Please do not let me cry in Walmart while holding a monkey balloon."
I emerged into a clearing of children's clothes. I passed some people who stared at monkey and me. I felt ashamed. I had to get rid of this horrible, smiling, banana munching anathema of evil. A girl of perhaps three or four and her mother were picking out clothes. They had their backs to me. Great, now I had to get their attention.
"Um," I stammered, "excuse me." They turned around. "Um, I was buying balloons for a friend" a partial lie, only a partial lie, "and I had this extra balloon" that was true, "and I'm trying to give it away." She looked slightly confused. "So, um, do you want it?"
Ahh! This awkwardness surpassed Napoleon Dynamite! "Sure," she said politely. Turning to her daughter, "It's your birthday next week anyway, isn't it?"
The little girl happened to be wearing a monkey hat. "It matches your hat," I said. She smiled as I transferred the burden from my wrist to hers. I felt like Frodo finally dropping the ring into the volcano. I turned to go. "Thank you!" the mom said.
When I got to my car, I felt like the most giant loser on the planet. What had I been thinking? "Stupid,stupid, stupid!" I told myself. I suppose, in feeling these things, I was doing what my therapist, Dr. Headman, tells me I often do. I was figuratively sticking an ice pick into my leg and twisting it all around. I didn't actually do anything wrong. In a sense, it happened a bit like I had imagined, but with minor set backs that I blew out of proportion. I gave a little girl, who obviously loved monkeys, a giant monkey balloon a week before her birthday. 'nough said.
Sometimes, people think that shy people are snobs and that's why they don't interact more. A cool, quirky girl wrote a blog entry that discusses how this is usually not true.
In the case of people with anxiety, it's not that they don't like people or don't want to have positive interactions with them. It's not that they don't want to make friends. It's that it's hard for them. They may feel foolish, as if they're carrying around a giant monkey balloon and are inevitably going to elicit rejection.
Until my next awkward adventure,
Namaste (bye in Napalese)
I spent the night with David last night. It felt really nice to be around him and sleep next to him. I had a few close calls with panic attacks, however.
We decided to meet at the grocery store closest to us by the flowers department. When I got there I grabbed a cart, wiped off the handle with a sanitizing wipe and started to look around for something to make for dinner. Someone was walking behind me and it made me feel so uncomfortable. I wanted to let go of my cart and run out of the store. Instead, I gripped the handle tightly and with tears in my eyes, I walked to the flowers department to just wait for David. I started taking deep breaths and decided to smell the different scented candles to try to distract myself and calm myself down.
Soon David was there and I felt a lot better. I felt a sense of protection. That posed the question for me: Do we, as anxiety sufferers, rely too much on our loved ones for support? I thought about this for the rest of the grocery trip, up until we got home and started watching some movie rentals.
During my stay there some adult themed activities happened that caused me more anxiety. I won't talk about them on here because I know all different ages use this site.
I feel really great today, back at home. I wish it could last forever and I'm hoping it will last for quite some time. It's nice to break free from constant anxiety living.
Coming to the realisation that getting better from Social Anxiety Disorder was going to involve more than a quick fix, was the first real step I came to in finally starting to recover.
I was 22 or 23 when I made that decision, and I'd had severe S.A.D since I was 11. For years, although I knew something was wrong, and that I was far more 'nervous' of doing things than other people, I refused to listen to people telling me that I had to work hard to fix the problem. I honestly thought it would just eventually go away. That I'd 'get over it'. That one day I simply wouldn't have to deal with it any more.
For my entire time at high school I played the avoidance game. I became very good at giving excuses, making up little 'white lies', being 'sick' at invonvenient times or just not doing things. My friends and family came to simply 'accept' that that's what I did. It stopped seeming weird. In fact, if I had done something different, they probably would have made a big deal out of it - which maybe made me even less likely to try and change.
It wasn't until I'd dished out big money for a university degree only to find myself unable to sit in a lecture theatre without nearly fainting or vomiting that I finally started to accept I might need help.
Sure - I'd seen counsellors galore up until then, but leaving home meant that now I had to face up to some realities.
It's not normal to feel nauseas upon entering a supermarket.
It's not normal to be unable to breathe during a movie just because you aren't on the edge of an aisle.
It's not normal to be unable to eat 3 weeks before a performance (the day of, sure, but three weeks?).
It's not normal to lock yourself in your dorm room because you can't face interacting with your flatmates friends.
When I decided I wanted to be a teacher, I had to make a serious choice. I got offered a place on an intensive three week cognitive behavoural therapy group course for sufferers of Social Anxiety, but in order to do it, I had to quit my job.
So I quit my job.
I thought "I didn't really need to go on it", that "I wasn't bad enough to be in cluded in their group", that "this was only a way of helping make me cope with speaking in front a class".
But when I got there, it was clear that I was one of the worst.
I cried twice and had three panic attacks on the first day, and went home refusing to go back.
But I did go back, and it was hard. But it did help. Just not immediately.
Three years later, I am back in their clinic after relapsing. Seeing the same amazing clinician who is teaching me to slowly change my thought processes. To view panic as something that isn't dangerous, but just is. Learning that I will never fully be 'free' from anxiety, that if I were, that would in fact be a bad thing. That this process of 'overcoming' anxiety simply means learning to manage it better. No longer letting it rule you - but allowing you to have the skills to rule IT a little more.
There is no quick fix for anxiety and depression. It takes a lot of hard work. But it is So worth it.
Contact me and follow more of my journey and song writing project here. http://jessicaclaire.webs.com/apps/blog/
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