I have always had an anxiety disorder. I had it as a child in the form of separation anxiety and I will just say, I did not really outgrow that. As much as I often utter "God, I hate people..." I am not sure I've given "people" as a whole a fair shot. As someone who is a recluse right now, and has been for some time, I wasn't always, even if it was my inclination. And as far as "people" are concerned, I have only maintained a social life in the area I currently live in. Many of the people I ran into, and speak to now, from other areas (you know...mostly not the south) were sweeties.
Sometimes, even interesting ones. But I always leave, and I always put them behind me.
I did not make any effort to become friends with them or to stay in contact. These sweeter people have never been able to read me easily, and I am sure to some extent, I make them uncomfortable, almost as if my own discomfort is radiating outward. I am under mental healthcare (outpatient) and over the past 10 years I've received contradictory diagnosis from different doctors, but anxiety can be a part of all of them, and a more recent "goal" for me is to socialize more. Go out, and just be in public doing a healthy activity (meaning don't try to socialize at bars,) and eventually, I am apparently bound to meet friends I could mesh with. Who also happen to be *gasp* healthy!
Doesn't healthy mean "normal" though? Normal makes me anxious.
This is supposed to keep me away from the kinds of "friends" I attract. The ones who stalk me, the ones who steal my identity and obsess over me in the wrong way, the ones who tell me to change everything about myself. I consistently end up around people who want me to smile more than I feel necessary, beg for eye contact, nonstop point out my body language, ask me why I am not expressing this or that emotion, and then flip all the shit they ever shat when I DO express some. Anyone who wants to me for much more than company.
Making friends isn't a top priority for me, but if I do make some, they have to be friends with *me* not with a *project* they would like to make of me. Want someone awkward to listen to all your problems and stare blankly? Here I am, bitches. I'll paint you something about sadness, while I'm at it.
Experiencing life, in a pleasant way, is a top priority for me, which can indeed be done mostly alone. Anxiety and panic attacks make this hard. My anxiety takes many forms - usually, it's just generalized anxiety - not directed at anything inparticular until something presents itself. I experience fight-or-flight syndrome several times a day, sometimes from a thought crossing my mind, sometimes because I'm making an effort to go into a world that is completely confusing for me in sensory, social, emotional, practical, functional ways.
Sometimes, I get to my destination, and I go back home. I don't go in. Sometimes I go in and I have an unpleasant experience, such as quite obviously not being able to count change or the bright lights making me want to smash things. There are a lot of everyday things that are outlandishly complicated to me. People are not very understanding of these things in a town where no one can read to understand anyone but themselves.
And my anxiety screams "Told you so." And I whisper, "It was still an adventure. It's still exposure. I'm still functioning mostly."
Since I have been through all of my life events with anxiety from probably toddler-hood up through school, deaths, marriage, and now into motherhood. I have learned many ways of coping, from dissociation and self-destructive behaviors, to medication when it's unbearable, to art, music, writing, dancing, exercise...and anxiety self-help checklist, I've tried it.
One of the best ways for me to experience some relief from anxiety is to be alone and to turn my headphones up loud on my playlist, and balter around the house, up and down the stairs, all over the place, while also sporadically working on either writing or art. While this is happening, I disassociate off into a very severe, chronic daydream that I've maintained for a long long time.
Nervous energy out through the dancing, positive in through the music, process and express through the art and the writing. Praying to live the daydream.
Dealing with an anxiety disorder is like being in an ongoing fight with an extremely overbearing, codependent parent who keeps you locked away. For every positive I have, the anxiety will highlight a negative. For every negative I embrace as a part of me, anxiety reminds me that it will get me into more trouble. Then anxiety reminds me of all the things I don't understand, all the bad social interactions and the ones likely to happen, the possibility of a car wreck in the name of overcoming the panic.
Some days are way harder than others. Some days I have to wait to accomplish certain tasks. But I try to remember that all of the good things that have happened in my life, happened when I win out over the anxiety. So I won't stop fighting.