Man that’s a trippy feature image… oh well, it kind of gets my point across so I’m sticking with it.
Anyway, on to the subject.
I feel like one of the hardest things people without anxiety can get to grips with is the fact that anxiety isn’t a constant thing – at least for me it’s not. Some days I can be the life and soul of the party. Other days, I’m the quiet one sitting in the corner.
Two separate people
It’s a really strange feeling. At times, it almost feels like I exist as two separate people – one that has his anxieties, and another that has none whatsoever. Which one makes an appearance on any given day seems to be completely random.
Now of course, it can be influenced by what I’m doing and who I’m with. Like most people, I feel more comfortable being in familiar environments and around my closest friends than I am in unfamiliar territory and with complete strangers. That’s pretty normal in my eyes.
But sometimes, I can’t help but feel my anxieties creeping into those same situations of comfort. For example, I have many memories of times where I’ve been out at a club with a group of friends and just not wanted to be there or engage in conversation – almost like I was meeting everyone for the first time again. I’ve had situations where I’m literally with two of my closest mates and felt so uncomfortable that they’ve noticed and inevitably made a remark along the lines of “are you alright mate?”
Only last week, at my new place of work, my manager asked me if everything was alright and that I “seemed a bit down”. I was fully aware of the impression I was giving off: I wasn’t talking to anyone, I wasn’t giving anyone any eye contact, and I don’t even think I said hello to anyone in the morning when I got in (all of which are apparently some of my other “safety behaviours”, like the one I described in my last post).
Little did she know that on the inside, my mind was going into anxiety-overdrive and the environment I’m usually relatively comfortable in suddenly became this arena of judgement. It was as if whatever I might say would cause the room to fall silent and everyone would secretly be judging me on whatever came out of my mouth. What’s really odd to me is that this was a Wednesday so I’d already been to work the previous two days and felt completely fine.
I don’t really understand why I was feeling the way I was. All I know is I ended up blaming it on a bad nights sleep, telling my boss that I was just a bit tired.
And I think that’s what’s the most annoying thing about it – I find myself making stupid excuses for my own change in behaviour. A change in behaviour that I’m FULLY aware of but can’t stop. Because, to be honest, I don’t really want to sit there and tell them exactly how I’m feeling because I’d probably be there all day.
But that’s also the worst thing about it. I really want to tell these people what’s going on in my head. I really want to say “I’m just feeling really anxious today”, but unfortunately, unless they’ve experienced anxiety, I can’t help but feel they’d just think I was a bit odd. I feel like they’d just kind of respond with an “OK” when really they’re thinking that I’m a complete weirdo.
Back in the day…
What’s even harder for me to come to grips with is that there was a point when I had all the confidence in the world. Back in my third summer of uni, I was loving life. I was out with my best mate pretty much every single Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and even some Sunday nights, partying all night long, talking to strangers and even getting a few numbers here and there. It was like I couldn’t put a foot wrong and I always had a way out of awkward situations if they ever cropped up.
I briefly experienced the same kind of time during my cancer treatment the year after I’d finished my degree. Maybe it was the fact that I knew there was a chance that it could be the last year of my life, but I could do anything. I met my girlfriend during that summer and met a whole bunch of new people (something that would absolutely terrify me these days) and just went about it with the attitude of “fuck it – they’ll either like me or they won’t”.
Nowadays, that kind of personality shows up rarely. I know that it’s probably a bit of age kicking in and that kind of party lifestyle and not really giving a shit soon succumbs to the real world of hard work and general adult life.
Even so, it would be nice to know when my confident doppelgänger is available so I can deploy him instead of the socially awkward, anxiety-prone version of myself.
Anyhow, as much of an abrupt ending to a post as this is, I gotta get goin’ – I’ve got an appeal against a train fine that won’t write itself… the bastards…