Thursday 23 September 2010

A quick insight

I thought this might be informative for those who don't suffer anxiety disorders. People don't get it when I stay home sick but don't call work. "Just a quick phone call or a text message, that's all we ask." Well, too bad, I can't.

I have what must be descirbed as a very mild social anxiety disorder and very mild depression. I've thought about suicide but never attempted. I've thought about self harm and once or twice I tried to cut my finger deliberately but I only drew blood once. I'm not suffering as many people suffer. But sometimes life is hard.

Social anxiety is all about a fear of rejection. We all know what it's like to be rejected; it sucks. The reason anxiety is different is because it's just pretty stupid. I fear rejection in every situation, even situations where it doesn't make sense. When I am rejected it hurts so much it makes a cost-benefit analysis clearly against trying anything.

What's more, because I'm human, and because I know rationally that things really aren't so bad, I hate the idea of people pitying me, of not rejecting me but wanting to, because they don't want to hurt me. That makes me angry, mostly at myself. I absolutely don't want that. At the very least it's not a good treatment for my anxiety. I have to learn to deal with this.

I'm going to give you a quick, though not recent, example. I have never used cheques myself. I am not a cheque person, having banked only after the invention of Internet Banking and ubiquitous EFTing. I was once, however, given a cheque in payment for some tutoring I did. Other times this has happened I've put the cheque in a deposit envelope and the money has turned up in my account days later. Being out of money on that day and a bit hungry, I went to get it cashed - that is, to withdraw cash. I did this at my bank. The cheque, however, was not drawn on that particular bank.

Those readers with an understanding of financial matters will recognise that of course this won't work. Banks aren't in the business of handing out cash on presentation of little bits of paper. So when I tried to present my cheque to the teller I was told this couldn't happen, because it wasn't drawn on this bank, but would I like to deposit it. I replied no thank you and left. Once outside the bank, I cried a little bit. I didn't eat, instead walking around the city avoiding eye contact with everyone until I had to go wherever I was going that day. The feeling of rejection stayed with me for nearly two days. That afternoon I couldn't concentrate, I was too busy thinking what an idiot I was.

Was I an idiot? No. Was the teller particularly mean? No. That's what makes it a disorder. And it really hurt, that sort of physical pain in your stomach of utter humiliation. It's absurd. But that's what it's like. That's the risk I face every time I interact with anyone, for any reason. Some person's reaction to me may set me off, totally irrationally. As I say, that's what makes it a disorder, the fact that it's absurd and ridiculous and dare I say it, crazy.

This is why I don't do things. I hate that I have missed opportunities, from that time in grade one I could've spoken to that kid, through to just yesterday when I could've spoken to that guy. I hate this utterly because I know how capable I am. I know I could do it. I just don't because I fear what my fucked up brain chemistry could do to me if I do.

So much for quick. Sorry.