It was always going to come, after the recent steps towards recovery and normality (whatever that is). A setback. Funnily enough, it hasn’t triggered a particularly negative cycle but it’s there nonetheless.
I’d arranged to go to an event today and even contacted the organisers yesterday to see if it was okay for a late agreement to come along. It being the summer, we have to enjoy these open air events while we can. Especially in Britain, where normally ‘summer’ entails two days of scorching sunburn and three months of cloud and drizzle. I was looking forward to meeting up with old friends.
Yet, this morning, once again, my mind was ticking over with reasons not to go. The main one was, with money always being tight, can I justify paying to get the train over there and then pay to get in? I wrestled with myself mentally, until I came to the inevitable conclusion. No, it wasn’t. Save the money for necessities, even if it was comparatively inexpensive to get and go to.
I know the real reason, though, and was just trying to come up with a half decent excuse for denial. Even I can see through it though. I didn’t want to be around a lot of people in a social setting.
A few nights ago it was different. I was out of an evening, at an open air function. I knew most of the people, which numbered around 70. The conversation and the ambiance was as gentle as the sea breeze coming in. Quite lovely.
Today, though, was an event where hundreds would attend. Sure, old friends would be there, but could be counted on one hand. There may be no reason at all to be anxious of that situation, but a block came into my mind. It wasn’t panic, but just a feeling of ‘I don’t want to go, I don’t want to go, I don’t want to go.’ As soon as I made the decision to not go and instead nip out to the bakers for a loaf of wholemeal, my body and mind relaxed.
It’s not only in large-ish groups that this phobia, if that is what it is, kicks in. Now back into the swing of voluntary work, the person who runs the organisation I’m helping out wanted me to come over of an evening for a friendly chat.
I was fine over the phone and online about it but as time drew nearer to walk over and meet up, I didn’t want to go, I felt somehow worried and concerned but didn’t know why. In spite of myself, I still went, but even arriving outside, I sat on a park seat for 10 minutes before plucking up the courage to call and say I was there.
Lesley mentioned that I have what she termed ‘social agoraphobia’. I’m not sure exactly what that is and by the sound of it I’m not sure if I agree. It’s undeniable, however, that I do suffer social anxiety.
It probably stems from childhood. I was always a home lover. I never went on any school field trips and I remember one holiday, where we were just an hour and a half from home, when I cried and pleaded to go back. Then again, families can make you feel like that, anyway.
I don’t find it difficult to make friends but I tend not to make good friends with anyone until after a certain amount of time. Even then, they soon fade out of my life, as I then get anxious and insecure at how I’m seen in their presence. A fool to myself, some might say, but it seems like a sort of switch that’s remotely activated in my mind. One second all is well, the next, no, I’m not going, or I want to go home.
Often my behaviour at social functions is mistaken for being snooty or aloof. I’d like to think I’m not. If I don’t know people, I’m quiet and introvert, until I gain their confidence, when I’ll come out of myself. It’s always been that way too.
Yet, as can be seen by the trip to the bakery, if I can be anonymous, just another customer or person in the background whilst completing a mundane activity, I’m absolutely fine. The social anxiety doesn’t extend to day-to-day living so I’m extremely lucky on that score.
All it means is that, instead of enjoying something I was looking forward to, and writing the latest installment of my getting better tomorrow, I’m here this Saturday afternoon, socially immobile, fully aware that I still have a way to go.
Do I want to overcome this though? I’m not sure. Just as a tester, I thought about going to that event right now, getting there just before the end. Immediately I felt my body tense up and my mind begin to worry. Perhaps I’m not a social animal. Amiable but not social.
At least the bread is fresh.