Social Anxiety

The last few months I have noticed that my social anxiety has increased. I am overwhelmed in public even more easily than I would have been a few years ago. I am even more intimidated by new situations, new people than I remember. I have started to get more of the physical symptoms including racing heart and occasionally even tightness in my chest.

All in all, it’s sucky, frustrating and scary.

I became acutely aware of this in the last week when I nearly started to cry while waiting to meet a new instructor for martial arts. I was making up a lesson from a few weeks ago and my normal instructor, hell any of the instructors that I knew, were not available so I agreed to work with someone I didn’t know. I got there a bit early and so had something like 7 minutes to work myself up nearly to tears, I couldn’t take a normal breath, I could feel my heart racing and I was uncertain if my stomach could tolerate much more acid build up before I would need to run to the bathroom and throw up. This was mostly because there was the one on one instruction with someone new in a place that I still am not familiar with and surrounded by others I didn’t know. It was compounded by the fact that I was stuck in a fairly confined space with over two dozen people coming and going. I haven’t felt that bad in a very, very long time. Once the lesson started and I began going through the new kata I’m learning I was able to calm down and I think even learn something. If there was too much time between different exercises the anxiety started to creep back up, but it was tolerable, especially since it was only half an hour and I was kept pretty active.

The other incident that comes to mind was Saturday night when I went out to dinner with Nathan. It was a Saturday night at just about 7, so of course it was busy and the restaurant was full of people. It was a pretty crowded space and it was so filled with people noise that I couldn’t hear the music. I couldn’t hear Nathan even when he spoke pretty loud, though I don’t know how much of that was because I had already hit my max for sensory stimulation and so my brain was shutting down the information overload to keep me from having a full on panic attack. There was again compounding in that I hadn’t slept well the night before and had been up since about 530am and it was the last day of my 3 twelves. It wasn’t until it had started to quiet down enough to where I could hear music (which is actually quite soothing to me) that I could even really start to think and was capable of responding to questions and carry on a conversation.

I am truly lucky that Nathan is as patient as what he is because I know he was getting frustrated and confused with me in both incidents above. He doesn’t like people much and can also get overwhelmed, but he is better at tuning out things and going into his own world. I can do that if I’m prepared, sometimes, but if I’m caught off guard then I just end up shutting down. That’s if I’m lucky and I don’t start to go the other way and begin to have building anxiety. Not so awesome. Not awesome at all.

I guess I just find it weird that my anxiety, which could be controlled, or at least ignored, a few years ago, has increased again. I can understand why it initially increased with starting a new job, but I’ve more or less settled into it. Yes, I have started back to school in the last two weeks, but I noticed the trend of increased anxiety before that, probably sometime in November. It was one of the reasons why I started doing yoga and working out again. I haven’t noticed any changes for the better despite better habits that have a lot of evidence behind them saying that they should have a positive impact on my symptoms. Actually, if there have been changes they have been in the wrong direction. It’s weird and I wish I knew what was going on.

Anyway, enough whinging. I need to find sleep and yoga and class. Thanks for reading and I hope you have a lovely day!

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