Call me crazy if you want, just don’t call me

Lately, like in the last few years, I have been getting more and more…well, crazy.  I’m deathly afraid of heights like I never have been before.  I envision our house burning down and people breaking in and stealing my kids.  I’m a panicker and I never used to be.  I try to keep everything inside, but it can be so hard.

I get claustrophobic in crowds of people.  I’m pretty sure that’s not even the proper term, claustrophobic.  I think it might be Social Anxiety, but I just learned that on google, so that’s probably not right either.  I know!  I’ll tell you my symptoms and you tell me what I have, ok?  It’s like going to a psychiatrist without having to talk to anyone in person, which is kind of part of the problem.

I hate talking to people.  Well, I hate talking to people I don’t know; people I know are ok.  I usually don’t talk to them because I’m huffing or lazy.  I’m also ok with customers because there’s usually some sort of script; they have a finite number of questions they’re here to ask and there are a finite number of answers I can give them.  Strangers in social situations make me nervous.  Which makes it kind of difficult to co-run Mom’s Night Out.  When Carly can’t make it, I panic.  I’ve never told her outright (but she’s probably guessed) that she’s my social crutch on Wednesday nights.  Thank you, Carly.  I’m especially a mess when she can’t make it and a new person attends.  I’m sort of supposed to be introducing them and making them feel relaxed and comfortable, when I’m actually freaking the freak out.  I hope I’m good at keeping this on the inside.

I avoid running into old friends; even ones who were considered close.  If I see someone from a distance, I purposely avoid them.  I take a different aisle in a store, I avert my eyes walking down the street, I pretend to be distracted by the kids.  I don’t want to see them, I don’t want to tell them about my life, I don’t want to know what they’ve been up to lately.  And this is not because I’m an awful person (mostly), but because that would require speaking.  And, again, I’m not so good with the talking words at people.

I think it’s because I’m horrible, and I mean HORRIBLE, at small talk.  When there’s a lull in a conversation, I blank.  I get tunnel vision, my mind wanders to, oh, nothingness, and I look away.  I must seem cold and rude, but I’m really not.  I just can not speak to people I don’t know, or haven’t known for a while.

This spills over to the telephone.  Besides to my mom, I avoid making phone calls at all costs.  I email.  A LOT.  Email has delete and backspace and spellcheck and you can save an email while you google something interesting to say.  I will occasionally make required phone calls at work, but only when the person doesn’t have email (who, in 2009, doesn’t have email?), after I take many, many minutes to psych myself up, literally write a script of what I’m going to say, and call at a time when I hope they won’t be home and I can leave a message.  We even have audio call display at home so the phone, in its computer generated voice, can tell us who’s calling.  We only answer the phone if we know who it is.  In fact, we don’t get off the couch if we don’t recognize the name.

I have panic attacks in crowds, which makes Christmas shopping awesome.  I get sweaty and my heart starts racing and I can feel myself getting more and more anxious and feel like I have to get the hell out of there before my head explodes.  I get grumpy and short-tempered and flustered.  I feel like I can’t breathe.

This year I’ve decided to be finished before the huge crowds start.   I’ve got most of the girls’ presents bought.  I’m determined to be finished the vast majority before December 1st.  I might ban television during the last few weeks before Christmas so that Eirinn doesn’t change her mind on what she wants.

I have three things coming up that are causing me mental grief already.

1)  I have a date with Carly to go Christmas shopping.  I’m hoping that the stores aren’t too crowded when we go (during the day, during the week) and that if I lose my mind in front of her, she won’t disown me as a friend.

2)  I have a date with my very dear friend Steph.  I haven’t had a date with Steph in about ten years.  We’ve stayed in moderate contact over the years; the odd email here and there, the occasional message through Facebook, usually a visit at Christmas time.  But we haven’t had a one-on-one date where we go out, just the two of us, with the singular goal of talking and catching up, in about ten years.  I love Steph dearly, and miss how close we were so many years ago, but I have to say I already have nervous little butterflies when I think about it too much.

3)  My G.D. birthday.  My mom has asked me what I want to do.  AH has asked me what I want to do.  AH’s family has asked me what I want to do.  Carly has asked me what I want to do.  And I really do want to do something.  But the thought of being the center of attention, or at least the reason for an occasion, makes me kind of vomitty.  A sweaty, nervous, vomitty mess. 

As does most things that involve me opening my mouth to speak.  And I think now that I have acknowledged my fears and anxieties and trepidations, it will either get better or much worse.  I can either do something about it, actively, to try to make me ok with talking to people and being around mass quantities of them.  Or I can know what situations are going to bother me, which is becoming more and more like every situation, and avoid it altogether, which equals avoiding everything.  I’ll either get better at life or go totally agoraphobic and fail completely.

Do I take the blue pill or the red pill?

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14 thoughts on “Call me crazy if you want, just don’t call me

  1. I have so much to say. I need to choose.

    Okay…I know this to be true: Do not avoid these things that make you sweaty and panicky. It will only get worse. You won’t even know it’s getting worse until it is worse, much worse. The only way to make it go away is to do it, over and over and over, until you’re stronger than it is. You know how, in nightmares, if you run and hide from the monster, the dream goes on and on and it’s terrible and you never get away? But if you somehow get yourself to face the monster in your dream and confront it, then Poof! its gone? Anxiety’s the same way. You have to ride it out, no matter how hard your intuition and your asshole mind and your guts tell you to run. Lean into it and accept it, welcome it, challenge it, invite it in like you’re using reverse psychology, and that’s the only way to win the game.

    I’m such a preachy asshole. Come here now and punch my in my vagina.

    It’s good to write it out. Don’t feel pukey about it, you did good.

    • Like I said in my email, thanks for this. You’re right and thank you for making it a game because I’m super competitive and my intuition and my mind and my guts are going to get pwned and then they can suck it.

  2. You do an absolutely wonderful job at Mom’s Night out with and without Carly…you are a warm caring person who is very easy to warm up too.
    I think that you and I are very similiar in “people” situations. 🙂

    • Thanks, lady. But it probably just seems that way because I know you and I’m comfortable with you now. If you think back, I probably didn’t say two words to you the first four or five times I met you. And that wasn’t because I meant to. It was because you were a STRANGER! and I was too vomitty to talk.

  3. Take a chill pill!! Now, before you shoot me down in flames for being crass and glibe I’m not intending to be. Sounds to me like you have an anxiety disorder which may also be giving you symptoms of depression. Now panic not. Its all fixable, and you are obviously in posession of the skills to do that, just look at your blog girl, its fantastic. If you were in the UK I’d say got to your doctor who would then send you for councelling or cognative behaviour therapy. Not sure what your equivilent is. Some little pieces of advive for you, be good to yourself, find someone you can share with, try meditation and the best thing I tried was aromatherapy. You have a responsability to look after yourself and be happy for yourself and your family. go for it kid, youve made the first step.

    • We’d probably do the same type deal here – see a doctor who sends us to a psychiatrist or a therapist. I’m not sure. I don’t think I’m at the stage where I need to see anyone about it; I cope by avoiding the crowds and writing my scripts. If it ever got to the point where my owns coping mechanisms weren’t helping, I would definitely seek help. Just not yet.

      Thanks for the advice. I have my husband and my family and my friends I see every Wednesday night. My meditation is vegging out in front of the tv, which is sort of the same if you lay down and turn your brain off (which I do), and my aromatherapy is my blog.

  4. omg glad to know I’m not the only one who feels like that – especially when using the phone. I H-A-T-E talking to people on the phone, which is pretty funny considering I’m in Sales & Marketing. I will send you a thousand emails before I call you. I think I’m the queen of panic attacks – it was so bad once they thought I was having a heart attack (similar symptoms) … sheesh, it’s a wonder I don’t drink more … (I don’t drink less, I just don’t drink more …) 😉

  5. Funny that I’m reading this at a time when I’m trying to sell a stove on kijiji, I get one email from some guy who says ‘please call me! I’m interested in the stove if you still have it!,’ and he leaves his phone number. I am absolutely cringing at the thought. Every other person has just asked me questions through email, why does this random dude need me to CALL. I emailed back and said it was easier for me to email, it’s hard to tend to a 2 year old while on the phone. I’m pretty sure I lost that possible buyer. Meh. I already had to call one potential buyer last week, turns out she runs a daycare and was talking on her cell and I couldn’t hear a word she was saying because of all the screaming in the background and the static from her phone, not to mention her strong accent. The whole time I was so nervous and uneasy, I just wanted to hang up, I’ve actually randomly hung up on people I don’t know because I lose track of what I’m saying and get nervous and anxious and just hang up!
    Anyways, sorry for ranting, but man oh man, I totally get what you’re saying, I avoid people like it’s going out of style, something that hubby HATES about me. He calls it rude, I call it… *phew, thank god I got away from THAT one!*.

  6. Wow, there’s my confidence booster for the day 😉

    You do just fine, Jen. I struggle with the small talk, too, but at least at mom’s night you always have the kids to fall back on: What is Junior up to these days?

    I do notice the phone thing. Weirdo.

    All joking aside, Eric is very similar to this. It’s classic introvert behaviour. Especially the phone. It drives me BONKERS how long it takes him to make a simple phone call, ie: to book a mechanic. But it’s totally an “I-don’t-know-you-and-that-makes-me-nervous” thing for the both of you.

    And both of you are more comfortable in familiar places with familiar people, routines, schedules etc.

    There’s nothing wrong with it, so don’t apologize. It’s just who you are. And those that know you, love you no matter what.

    • Aw, thanks. And it seems us shy folk (Eric and I) have gone and married ourselves to outgoing partners. We need as many social crutches as we can surround ourselves with.

  7. Dear friend here. I have plenty to talk about so you can just sit back and enjoy lunch in two weeks on the Sunday (but you have to pick where because I rarely get to eat out here never mind down there!) And if you are eager to work on conquering some fears, I would be happy to take you out Saturday night too!

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