Sunday, December 5, 2010

living with anxiety

I have a serious anxiety disorder. And even if I meet with a therapist every week, and take various medications, I still struggle. It really doesn't help I am also introvert, shy, have low self-esteem and some light social phobias. I function best left to myself. I love being able to live on my own, with no roommates. My home is my haven, my asylum from the constant attack of people. I work at school, so I have to cope with noise, kids, interruption, misbehavior, occasional strangers, public announcements and similar stressors. I am able to do it, and most people are surprised when they find out I am nervous in interaction with people. I am able to put on a good act, I am doing whatever I have to do... but the price is high. I need time to reload. Hours of solitude, doing nothing or doing something - as long as I can be by myself. Whenever there is a particularly difficult day, I am physically drained, exhausted and unable to do anything productive.
It is also not easy during the waiting time for something big... I can't stop the constant attack of thoughts, images, scenarios of the upcoming event. No matter what I am trying to do, I worry constantly.
Even when the event is quite harmless... like a friend staying over. It's an invasion of my safe haven. She was supposed to come yesterday evening after a party she wanted to attend. The whole Friday and Saturday I was nervous. Cleaning, moving things, all the time nervously going through scenarios and automatically assuming the need to explain myself for various things. Suddenly the one thing that is the symbol of safety and calmness - my home, became the source of stress and attack on my low self-esteem. I felt defensive, I was expecting ridicule and harsh judgement about my decor choices, mess, or unfinished projects. Especially that this friend has sometimes a tendency to "fix" things. Small things... without asking taking off stickers from second-hand books. Cleaning candle holder from artistically and beautifully melted wax (I stopped her in time), putting things away where she thinks they should be... and generally feeling too at home in my own place. I feel attacked, and really uncomfortable.

In the end she didn't come, didn't feel well enough to go to the party. I can't even describe the relief... I am glad I put away some stuff and straightened up the apt a bit, as it's been waiting for it for a long time. But it also made me realize how stressed I was.

And I thought I would be able to get off the meds soon. I realized that some year ago I felt every day the way I felt over the two days.

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