Let’s dive right in to my first challenge.
I’m not shy about discussing my mental health. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, coupled with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and a few other things that we’ll get into another time. I have a fixation on feeling safe and un-stressed at all times. If I don’t, I have panic attacks. We’re talking the sweating buckets, racing heart, unable to breathe, feeling like the world is closing in on me kind. I end up staying home a lot and sometimes missing big events in other’s lives because I simply can’t handle the stress of being in a loud or crowded environment. Quite frankly, the panic attacks are both exhausting and embarrassing. I know numerous people around the world suffer from some sort of anxiety disorder, but in the moment it feels like I’m the only one who has ever felt that way.
You know the feeling when you have to stand in front of the class to give a speech in middle school? That sense of impending doom? You might crap your pants? You might cry? You know the one. Imagine living in that state constantly.
When I do go to house parties, restaurants, or bars, I know I come off a bit standoffish. I am that person that asks where the bathroom is within five minutes of arrival. It’s not because I have to pee, but because I need to know where I can go to panic if necessary. I also don’t really talk to anyone outside of saying hello. This is because I can’t get the words out correctly. Somewhere between my brain and mouth, the words become this jumbled nonsensical mess. I typically find a quieter corner and watch everyone have a good time. My iPhone and I get some quality time. I make a concerted effort to keep my armpits hidden, because they’re usually soaked with nervous sweat.
If a house party has a dog, I am saved. Thank goodness for dogs, they are too pure for this world. They usually know that I am scared and sit patiently with me for the duration of the party. I have closer dog friends than people friends, and that’s okay. I used to be a social butterfly. Now I’m more of a social rollie-pollie.
My fiancé knows that I have a pretty difficult time with crowds, so he doesn’t push me to go out too often. We have get togethers every now and then at home. We’ll do small game nights or his friends will drop in to play video games or barbecue. I’m completely in my comfort zone there and excited to see and talk to everyone. The difference is noticeable. Once people get to know me, they realize I’m just a big sweetheart that’s a little shy. Most are pretty understanding once they know what’s going on with me and for that, I’m grateful.
So this weekend, I’m challenging myself to go to a local music festival. It’s called Electric Island Festival. I’m a huge fan of EDM and music festivals, so why not? It’ll be a little easier in some aspects. It’s going to be outdoors and in an open field. That means I can do my own thing in plenty of space. The main drawback? Strangers. Lots and lots of strangers. It’ll also be very loud. It’s my first time going, and I don’t know what to expect.
I’m already nervous, but that’s why it’s a challenge!