Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz!
So, if you didn’t know this little fact about me despite me being very vocal about it on my blog, I have SAD, or social anxiety disorder. It differs from normal anxiety because of my behavior and patterns are symptoms of a more clinical anxiety disorder. I was diagnosed with it a little over a year ago, and since then I’ve been finding new ways to live with this newfound information as normal as possible, while still trying to take care of myself.
At first, it was very difficult to adapt to the news because it was now something I had to learn to accept myself, as well as be accepting enough to it so that those around me can accept it as well. At first, it was hard to do both, and because of that, my anxiety attacks were through the fuckin’ roof. It had gotten to the point where I was having anxiety about my own damn anxiety, which I learned is quite common in people who are first diagnosed with it.
So as the months passed by, I’ve had lesser anxiety attacks, but they didn’t just disappear. They would happen at the most random times of the day; after dinner, at my former partner’s place, at night before bed, and even moments after I laughed at the funniest joke ever. Talking to my therapist about my fear of having anxiety attacks, she spoke a lot to me about embracing them and take them as learning lessons in why you feel that way you do and how you can acknowledge these feelings better before the anxiety attack phase of them happens.
So, as I’m sitting here writing this, I’ve haven’t had a major anxiety attack for a couple of months now. That was until I was on my way home from work yesterday.
You see, sometimes my anxiety doesn’t like for me to be myself, and as I’ve gotten more comfortable in my work environment, I’ve been even more myself, which sometimes my anxiety tells me that its “annoying” or “obnoxious” and that I’m truly “unlikable”. It’s those things that hold me back from being my complete self, but I guess I thought I was confident enough with myself at work to the point I was being even more myself.
Does that make sense?
Anyway, on Friday at my job, we had a little somewhat holiday lunch to wrap up the semester and celebrate the holidays, which I was very excited and happy to finally be a part of such a community in the first place. While we all are pretty comfortable with each other and with ourselves, we pretty much talk very casually to one other; we are all truly friends and co-workers I believe. So, while everything went well and I left my job feeling pretty happy and content, my anxiety crept up on me, telling me “your co-workers probably talk behind your back about how annoying you are, y’ know? They probably talk about how hard you try to fit in with their younger crowd; ew, you’ve turned into one of those old people that are still trying to be young and cool to young people. Get a grip, these people are only nice to you because they work with you, they aren’t your friends.”
I don’t know why I think these things, to be honest. Maybe it’s not even me thinking them; maybe it is the anxiety behavior and patterns I have when it comes to socializing with people. My anxiety makes me believe that no one likes me and that people are only nice to me because they don’t want to hurt my feelings, as well as I’m not really friend-material; I am easily forgotten. So, with my anxiety telling me that just moments after I leave for work, I have an anxiety attack.
I’m not ashamed of having them anymore, because although my anxiety can be wrong at times, I also believe it happens because it is telling me something, or reminding me of something. While yes, these people I work with are like friends to me and I like them a lot, I have to remind myself that this is my job first, and there are boundaries I have to have with these people. I’m not saying I can’t be myself around these people, but I have to remind myself that we aren’t in an outside setting, we are at work, and some level of professionalism still needs to be at play. Also, I have to remind myself that even though I like them a lot (more on that on the posts about demiromanticism), there are still boundaries that have to be enforced. Going into work next week, I can now still be myself to some degree and still feel comfortable enough to the point where I feel confident in the little quirky things about me.
It’s a very weird explanation, but I wouldn’t have had this talk with myself about this topic if I didn’t have that anxiety attack. While it was helpful to regather myself in this situation, it also allowed me to take a deep breath and remind myself that these people, whether they talk about me or not when I’m not around, I’m still being the best version of myself and that it’s okay if not everyone you like will like you back. You have to put in the work and ask yourself what are the positive things about this anxiety attack and what are the negatives about it as well.
Fearing your anxiety attacks and preventing them from happening will only further hurt you and your healing process. Holding in anxiety attacks is like trying to bottle up all of your emotions: if you avoid them enough times, it will spill over and create an even bigger mess than it would’ve been if you just dealt with it at that moment. If you fear to have anxiety attacks, they will just happen more often than usual, I’ve been there and it fucking sucks.
Half of your healing process is to prevent the fear and outcomes of certain scenarios in life. Your fears may come true, but they may also not; life is uncertain and you have to let your anxiety know that you will be okay, no matter what.