Today was just one of those days that I tried really hard. Lifted. Went on a walk because it was gorgeous out.
And my anxiety was still very, very bad most of the day. I made it through seeing my two clients but overall my anxiety just ended up being unbearable.
I’m tired of my anxiety keeping me from doing things that are important to people. I can’t show up authentically at holiday gatherings like I might want to. And things that are supposed to be fun leave me feeling like I want an excuse to just get out of them so I won’t have to worry about how much time is socially acceptable to stay at a gathering before I leave. Not because I’m snobby but because I’m scared and it’s just physically exhausting for me to be around people for that long.
A point was brought to my attention today that I’m approaching these social gatherings in a defensive and self protective way and that that may not be helpful. I agree. But that’s what trauma does. I don’t know how to be in a crowded room with people I don’t know for an unknown amount of time and not dissociate a little bit. I’m not sure that’s possible for me at this point. I have to dissociate sometimes just to get through social situations where I KNOW PEOPLE. It has all gotten so much better over the years but the holidays can bring my troubles back in full force. Especially because of the hardships I have in my own family, I’m especially uncomfortable being around other people’s families
Here are some of my common thoughts/worries:
God, this person got me a gift and I didn’t get them one.
I hope so-and-so didn’t get me anything.
I don’t want any attention on me.
People are joking around, I’m uncomfortable and don’t know what to say.
I was invited to have fun and I can’t do it. I’m not relaxed. What’s the point of this ?
I’m just sitting here silent and can’t think of anything to say. Think of something ! THINK.
Can I go to the bathroom ? Did I already go?
I might be sweating through my shirt.
I just feel so bad that I can’t be authentically myself. I know that people want me to meet other important people in their lives but a group setting isn’t the best way for that to happen for me. And I feel so inadequate that I just can’t do it. I know I can graciously decline, but that makes me feel badly also. And it also throws me off that sometimes people want me to push through my anxiety to go to events. Like sometimes I’m just too exhausted. I’ll admit, sometimes I can’t tell the difference between if I’m just hiding from something versus if it’s actually unhealthy for me. But I do know I have made myself physically ill, like catching a cold, from being so stressed out/activated for long periods of time. First my mouth gets dry. Then throat scratchy. Then my face feels dry like the skin around my eyes is a desert. And then if I wake up the next day with my throat still scratchy and the back of my head hurting I know I took it too far. I’m always walking that fine line of trying to show up in life and challenge myself versus taking care of myself. I have already done so much more with panic than I thought was possible. And there are some days where I don’t feel much anxiety at all. Usually it’s now only over major things that the demon surfaces and closes its claws around my throat…
But it still does. From time to time.
Be kind to people if they choose to be alone on the holidays. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you, it just might mean that they are taking care of themselves and don’t express or receive connection the way that you do during the holidays due to trauma or panic.
Don’t be mad at people this holiday season for
- staying on the outskirts of a group
- Leaving early
- Being quiet and observing
- Saying thanks but declining your offer.
- Making last minute decisions about attendance
- Breaking commitments
Sometimes I wish I could be normal and not have to manage anxiety but I know that’s not realistic when it comes to being around groups of people I don’t know. I try to remember that I’m doing the best that I can but I hate when you feel like you’re just letting people down.