A person who deals with this type of anxiety usually retracts from social events.
On Social Anxiety
Social events are perceived as noisy places where one can´t think straight. Conversations around topics that can go from boring and superficial to downright invasive, scary, and embarrassing.
The guard is always up, the uneasiness is always there. In my case, I often feel the risk of saying the wrong thing and collecting another distressing memory. One that may trigger my anxiety in the moment and in the future as well.
The common catalysts are getting invited to meet up with someone. Thinking about all the things that could go wrong. Coming up with conversation topics so I can better control the moments as they unfold.
The reverse often has the same effect. When I invite people over I think about what I am going to cook, if they have eaten that stuff already, if the plates were empty by the end of the meal, and if I should risk cooking something that they haven’t previously eaten in my house.
A change in mindset
Even though I manage to do other things, these thoughts are never far from my triggered self and I usually end up cooking something safe. When invited to go somewhere I either have pre-prepared jokes and talking points or I just don’t go.
However, in recent times something has changed in my overall mindset. I am going through a stage in my life where I experience love, connection and safety regularly and that has had an effect on my ability to do things and go places that otherwise my anxiety wouldn’t allow.
Most people that form my circle are now aware of my mental health issues and I no longer feel I have to hide all the time or sugarcoat my reality. It is a huge achievement for me since I hid for more than 30 years.
With it comes another feeling which, I am entitled to feel this way, it is not my fault and I do what I can to keep it at bay. This is very important. I am not guilty of my anxiety and my anxiety is not what I am.
Also, and perhaps more important than anything, I am loved. I have love in my life and less fear.
Most of the time I no longer feel less than my peers or people who I gave power to, comparisons I used to make that would just spiral me down to a very unhappy place.
So at the moment, I can open my door and ring other people’s doors too.