My Social Anxiety Life – Part Two

Part Two

I feel like I am walking into the unknown as I head towards my social anxiety.

This is part two of what I believe will be an ongoing series for “The Bipolar Writer” blog. In the last post of this series, I talked about my thoughts leading to a big night in my social anxiety life. Anxiety has always been as big in my life over the last two years as being bipolar and dealing with depression. It is this reason why I find myself talking about this topic.

Last night was the first time that I have been to a live event or movie in an over a year and a half. Close spaces with lots of people are the worst case scenario for someone with the type of social anxiety that I must deal with when I leave my house. It is where I found myself last night.

I knew this challenge was going to be extremely high. As I mentioned in my last post, I came close to canceling going altogether to the comedy show. I was really looking forward to seeing Jo Koy live, it is something I always wanted to do. The tickets were amazing and I realized that I made right decision to go and see a live show.

My work to make sure that I could get through the night started earlier in the day. I made sure to take a good nap for a few hours before it was time to get ready, that way my focus was on point. I took precautions like taking my Ativan with me and plenty of water (when I hyperventilate water and an inhaler usually helps keep my panic attack under control) and I also did two ten-minute slow breathing medication focusing on my thoughts about what was ahead.

This technique is something I have learned during my work with cognitive behavior therapy. I listen to my thoughts and then center myself back using my breathing. I have this great app on my apple watch helps me by telling me when to breath in and when to release my breath. For me, it has really helped with my social anxiety.

I felt somewhat confident as I left the safe confines of my house. The catastrophizing thoughts were still there fresh in my mind, and some new ones came about as I made my way to the theater where the show would be held. I worried about if I would have enough Ativan, which I did have enough of it turned out. I worried about if I would have to leave the theater if my anxiety spiraled. This was still a couple of hours before the show.

I had a great dinner at a place in downtown, I had the fish and chips, and it helped to eat something even if I ate only about a third of my dinner.

Then came the waiting in line, the finding our seats, more waiting, and then people showing up around me, my greatest fear. I had just taken an Ativan before dinner, and that was just an hour before getting into the theater. As the people poured in all around me I could feel the anxiety and panic growing with each passing minute. Moments would stop and I would forget where I was for a fleeting moment.

I started to feel some major self-conscious feelings in my head. What will these people think about me? Why did I decide to go out? I could have stayed home… why didn’t I? This was all before the show had even started. I did what I was supposed to do, and I did my breathing exercises again. I reminded myself that my worst fears are most likely the result of catastrophized thinking and almost all of it was really in my mind.

As the show started I started to calm down some, but I could tell that my anxiety was still at a high level. I have talked to my therapist and psychiatrist in the past six months about immersion therapy where I put myself in a situation that makes me uncomfortable. I hadn’t done it because of my overwhelming fear, but this was one of those situations that could be used as an experiment.

I got through the show. I laughed harder than I have in ages. I smiled and for moments of that hour and a half comedy, show life was better. By the end, I was glad I did the right thing and immersed myself into a situation that made me uncomfortable. I had a moment in the middle of the show where I felt my anxiety was spiraling into a panic attack so I took an extra Ativan. It helped. I feel bad it took extra Atican.

I honestly don’t know when the next opportunity will come where I can further immerse myself into a situation outside my house that isn’t a place (like a coffee shop) where I don’t feel at home. Maybe I could go see a movie. This was a good experiment and while I got out of it fine the middle of it really worried me. I feel sometimes that I am too reliant on my Ativan too much in these types of situations. It’s this reason why if I leave my house I always have my Ativan within reach.

I would like to hear some people’s thoughts on what I shared. Did I overact too much in the moment or did I do what I could to get through the night?

Photo Credit: Davide Foti

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23 Replies to “My Social Anxiety Life – Part Two”

  1. I think you did amazing. Good for you. This is something I struggle with too, the anxiety and I know how killer it can be. I find that breathing exercises help as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, I can’t even imagine what it’s like to feel like that. I am a bit claustrophobic and won’t go to big concerts with tons of people anymore because I don’t like that many people around me, but never had anxiety that much. I feel for you and think you did an amazing job.😘

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m so happy that you didn’t cancel your plans! It sounds like you took all the necessary precautions to decrease the chances of having a panic attack. I like to get to the venue (usually the movies) early so we can be seated before the rest of the crowd arrives. Did you enjoy the show?

    Like

  4. James, you did marvelously! You did not say if you were with a friend or alone. I get the idea you were alone though, which would heighten the tension. And I am so glad you enjoyed the show. 😀

    Like

  5. Hey James, thanks for being my first follower 🙂 I think you handled this situation really well and you should be really proud of yourself for it. If you’re anything like me, you probably never give yourself credit for doing things like this – but you really should. I’m looking forward to reading your posts and it’s lovely to meet you 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I work
    With people
    With bi polar
    Disorder

    Awareness is key. You have to be very aware of your moods and emotions and know that reality is a few breaths away.

    You describe my experiences with being around people at times

    At
    Times
    I am an extrovert
    When my unworthiness and ego recede

    Liked by 1 person

  7. James I was with you all the way while I was reading that. First thank you for frequenting my site, and thank you for leaving the likes as it has steered me towards your wonderful work. I was also very housebound for a few years, especially after coming off all the class A substances I would take to hide my insecurities when I was younger, boy, what a mistake that was, but it did put me in a position where I had to finally talk to other people about everything inside.

    – I don’t like to give advice, but as someone who has only ever known anxiety, that’s 47 years of the bugger, the first thing I say to anyone is, stop fighting it, you’re anxiety is a part of you, it might sound stupid and uneducated, and I am, I left school at 15, but accepting that it would never go away completely was the biggest breakthrough for me, I started to talk to my anxiety, in my head at first and then also, eventually, out loud, and ultimately I’ve come to accept it as a friend and not an enemy. These days, if I start to feel that uncontrollable feeling of dread arise within me, I immediately close my eyes and visualise something that makes me feel calm, I then share that image with my anxiety and tell it everything is going to be okay, we can get through this, nothing bad is going to happen, its just me and you, let”s do this thing. ❤

    be well, take care, E

    *I apologise for the long comment, I just felt compelled to reach out after reading this post, all the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s okay I don’t mind the long comment. It makes sense to accept that anxiety is a part of you life. It’s something that many people struggle with, myself included. It might be a good thing to change my thinking. Thank you for the great advise.

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  8. I feel your pain with the social anxiety, the panic attacks that seem to rise up out of the blue as the stress of other people around me builds, like a freight train going down the side of a mountain. Controlling the breath, visualizations, a simple focal point seems to subdue the downward spiral. Getting “out there” as you did to discern what you could handle as an “experiment” was a courageous endeavor, and you engaged with laughter – and that is the best medicine of all. Kudos to you!

    Liked by 1 person

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