I have noticed a reoccurring message in my life over the past few days: overcoming fear. This is a topic I avoid talking about, but I am feeling very open today, so here goes...
I deal with fear almost every day. I have high social anxiety with spotty depression and some days are really, really hard for me. "Normal" interactions with others that are easy for most people cause me a lot of stress before, during, and after. Before...I stress out about how I'll be perceived and if I'll make a fool of myself. During...I stress out about how I'm being perceived and if I'm making a fool of myself. After...I stress out about how I was perceived and if I made a fool of myself. It's an uncomfortable way to live, but it's been my reality for many years.
Following a social interaction, even with family or close friends, my body and mind are normally coursing with anxiety that dives into depression. I'm hard on myself. Mean to myself. It's tough and is why it takes me not days, not weeks, not months, but YEARS to be fully comfortable with new people in my life. I'm that fearful of being perceived as "imperfect."
This is what holds me back.
I've been called a "recluse" before, and it's true. My fear is so great and penetrates me so deeply sometimes, losing touch or missing out feels better than experiencing the symptoms of anxiety. And the most heartbreaking part about it is that I realize the importance of being present, I want to be "in the mix," but I can't always be, and there's no good way to express that to those I may be letting down. I feel like I'm keeping a secret, a dark secret, that no one would believe or take seriously if I said it out loud.
I've done medication - it sucks. I don't like being a shadow of myself. I've done therapy - it sucks. I'm not into blaming my mother for everything. So I've developed my own way of coping with my anxiety and addressing my fears. I wanted to share a few of my favorite go-to activities in case they might be of help to anyone out there experiencing similar feelings to mine:
To be completely candid, it's extremely frustrating a lot of days to know that I live with this mental illness and most likely always will. But when I look back on my journey with anxiety and depression, realize how far I've come, what I've learned, and envision where I'm going - I've dared mighty things to get to this place. Which is something to be proud of, as hard as it's been. I've found hope in focusing on "being better," the best I can be, as I live alongside this illness.
This is what propels me forward.