My Social Anxiety Life – Part Four

I continue down this long road of Social Anxiety. 

Anxiety, and more specifically my struggles with social anxiety, has been an ongoing issue for me in 2017. It got so bad this year that in February I was hospitalized with bleeding ulcers for almost a week. It is no coincidence that this event happened during one of the worst stretches where my stress and anxiety hit levels I didn’t even know existed.

Since that time I have worked diligently on getting my social anxiety under control, with some success at times and at other times some failures. I am still working with my therapist on my cognitive behavioral therapy and we decided together that we would start to focus on the thoughts and behaviors of my social anxiety in the coming weeks and months.

I wanted to use this blog post to gather my thoughts on one specific cause of my social anxiety. What I have learned so far since starting this blog is if I am honest here, I am more willing to be honest with my therapist when I see her. It is also nice to connect with my followers by sharing my experiences with the many things that are wrong with me.

One area of my social anxiety that has really bothered me is how I feel when I am in my car driving. I used to feel comfortable and at ease behind the wheel. I drove a delivery truck for a supplier of plumbing, heating, and cooling company when I was just nineteen. I drove on average 1500 miles a week, not including the driving I always did in my free time.

I once drove six hours north just because I wanted to get away, and drove another six hours back home in one day. Anyone who knows me knows I was a natural behind the wheel. Driving was just something I was really good, and the jobs I did before I got diagnosed involved driving. People always felt safe when I was behind the wheel of my car.

I never ever felt anxious once behind the wheel, that is until about two years ago. One of the causes, in my opinion, is tied to the fact that before leaving my house for anything there is always a high level of anxiety before I have even stepped out the front door of my house. By the time that I get into my car, I am a ball of mess and anxiety just waiting for the worst to happen.

It is not a great feeling to not be comfortable driving when it used to be a place of solace. Driving used to be therapeutic and the longer the road trip I would take, the better I would feel. It has been so long since I have driven farther than the area I live. The beach is only a ten-fifteen minute drive and yet I don’t go anymore. I miss being able to drive and think about life. My best ideas would always come when I drove, so much so I started keeping a tape recorder with me.

When its just me, the road, the cars around me, and good music life was good. It has been so long that I have felt peace like that in my life. I want so bad to get back to that place.

It is always hard to pinpoint an exact cause of something so good becoming something that brings me anxiety. But I think my anxiety boils down to my panic attack two years ago. Before that event, I had never had a panic attack while driving. I have stated before that this panic attack was the worst I ever had to this very point in my life, and it was the first time I thought I could die from a panic attack. It is the panic attack that I gauge every other panic attack since that day.

What the worst part was that I tried to keep driving during the panic attack thinking it would pass. I had panic attacks in the past but it had been a long time. About six months before this panic attack my doctor had reduced my Ativan from three times a day to two. When it the panic attack didn’t subside, I barely was able to pull my car over in time, and I almost hit someone. My passenger was able to help me guide the car to the side of the road. I bailed from my car and proceeded to hyperventilate​ almost passing out by the time the ambulance came.

I think that is what goes through my mind every time I get into my car. At any moment, I could have a panic attack so bad that I may unintentionally hurt someone. I think this is where I will start my discussions with my therapist as we work on my social anxiety. This is a good starting point because I can figure out what causes these thoughts and how to channel them in better ways.

This is now the fourth blog on social anxiety that I have talked about since starting this blog. I was thinking today that it really could have been helpful to start this blog in January, but I just wasn’t in a good place then. I did journal every day during this time, so I am thinking that somewhere down the line I will post a journal to show my thoughts at that time. It might be useful to give my journal to my therapist. It’s not like I am hiding my thoughts anymore.

As always please share your own experiences with anxiety in my comments. There are so many people out there that suffer from this and it takes many forms.

Always keep fighting.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: Utah Jack

22 Replies to “My Social Anxiety Life – Part Four”

  1. I first started fighting back against my anxiety fifteen years ago, it’s been up and down but I’ve made a lot of progress. I jumped feet first into the battle by performing poetry at open mic venues, terrifying at first but I had three good friends to help me; old hands at the spoken word game. Then about six years ago I got a job in retail, again a terrifying experience but I fought my way forwards. At the moment I can only work 24 hours a week, when I’m at full strength I can do about forty odd. Retail has been a great experience for me, I have come to love it and it has helped me with anxiety a great deal. But best of all it has revealed to me something I didn’t know before, and that’s how much I adore people.
    I wish you victory in you battles James XO ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for sharing your story with me. I think at some level I am afraid to fully face my social anxiety because it has been, for better or worse, a major part of my life. I fear the life I could live if could find a way to control it again. Still, I am hoping that I can continue to fight.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have very severe generalized anxiety disorder, and I can relate to some of your story. You’re quite the fighter. You’re an inspiration. I love reading your posts. You’re an amazing writer and so well describe your struggles. But seriously, you’re a hell of a fighter. ❤️

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for reading my blog. Hopefully you can find the same strength in your own work. I wasn’t always a good fighter, it took me years to get to this place. Now that I am here, it feels good to be in this place. Thank you for your kind words.

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  3. This post was wonderfully written and so relatable. Driving and anxiety don’t mix well, personally, either. Thank you for sharing, you’re inspirational for others going through similar fights!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I understand this. Before being diagnosed with pts(d) I was having panic attacks at work (not realising what they were though). This heightened when I got labyrinthitis / chronic vertigo. I thought I was recovering and was driving to work one morning and it started to rain. The rain coupled with being stuck in traffic sparked a massive panic attack. I too just about hit another car trying to get out of the traffic. I headed for home but pretty much drifted to the side of the road and came to a halt. I called my partner and then went to the doctors. Unfortunately it was still another 4 years before the diagnosis and its been 3 years since then. I used to love driving – Now its a goal. To drive again.
    I hope you’re able to resolve this too. Because theres nothing like driving alone, long distance, listening to awesome music 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for sharing your story with me. It is very brave to do. Its nice to know that it isn’t always me, and I really hope that you achieve your goal in driving again. I have been able to drive just not long distance. I hope my work over the next couple of months will change this for me. Again thank you for sharing your story with me and to the readers of my blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I understand your concern about having a panic attack while driving. I had one, myself, many years ago. I lost my way on a residential street I had been on so many times before. I had to pull over to the curb and just sit there until I began to recognize the houses on that street. True, not as harrowing as your experience but scary just the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re just a person who happens to have social anxiety and bipolar. Yes, you have diseases, but that isn’t “wrong.” 🙂

    I haven’t driven in over a year, though I’ve struggled with driving for at least the past 10. I used to have no trouble driving at all, and then all of a sudden, it just caused so much anxiety. I don’t have a specific reason for it, except for why I haven’t driven since last year. We got a new car that’s a little bigger than our old car, and I couldn’t yet gauge its length and width properly. I hit the neighbors car and the side mirror of a parked car on the street in less than a month. I haven’t driven since.

    I do have the same fear as you though, while driving — that I’ll have a panic attack. It isn’t always that bad (the anxiety over it), but it’s there.

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    1. Its good to hear that others share the same problem, for different reasons, and that it is tied to anxiety. I am sorry that things have kept you from driving. Its tough. I am looking to facing my fears in the coming months so that I start to go to the places that I used to love. The beach. My favorite hiking trail. Thank you for sharing your story. It means the world to me.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. My social anxiety is something that I’m only just realising and, as you said, it’s doing things that once brought you solace that now strike dread in your guts. I think this sound silly but, I used to love going out to my local and playing pool, I did it on my days off and it made me feel great, socialising made me feel fulfilled. Now I rarely go out to meet friends, even if it’s in the morning for coffee and when I do get the courage it’s after a very long string of internalised thoughts and fears of “they’re going to think you’ve changed and they won’t want to be friends anymore, what if the bus crashed on the way, what if I’m assaulted for no reason on my way, no one is gonna know where I am” I have since found that I can somewhat happily socialise in small groups of my closest friends who usually come round to my house for a visit, or us to them. I rarely stay out after work with the guys, I avoid crowds (even not very big ones) at all costs because my anxiety brain goes into overdrive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am the same with my social anxiety. It sucks on so many levels. I mostly do things on my own and by myself. It has to do with my social anxiety and the fact I am very much an introvert. Its good that you are able to recognize your triggers. I would recommend, if you haven’t already, looking into cognitive behavioral therapy. It has helped me recognize my destructive thoughts while at the same time come up with solutions to these types of thoughts. Thank you for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When I first got my diagnosis of severe depression and anxiety I was automatically referred to CBT and it helped in some ways, I have however been regularly seeing a therapist dealing with a more general overview of my life, past and how all the things that have happened to have impacted on me as an adult, and that had helped a -lot-.

        I’m in no way shirking the benefits of CBT, it’s fabulous, but I now know that it doesn’t work (fully) for everyone. The breathing techniques are the main thing I benefit from on a daily basis, CBT is a wonderful tool and it definitely helped me on the path to discovering what help I really, really needed. If I didn’t have CBT I wouldn’t have the self confidence android knowledge of myself (does that make sense?) that I needed to tell my GP I wanted more in-depth therapy. 😊

        Liked by 2 people

      2. CBT is great and I feel I have learned things that will carry with me in the future. I still have a ways to go before getting my social anxiety completely under control. Thank you for sharing your story with me.

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  8. Social anxiety is a heavy weight to carry. I believe it’s always positive to share these thoughts and feelings, as the more light we shed on our mental illnesses by exposing them to the world, the least debilitating their grip becomes.
    Sending you positive vibes!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I used to love walking everywhere when I was younger because I could have time to myself to think. As my anxiety increased over the years, leaving the house took lots of coaching and planning. I would procrastinate on running errands a lot. It’s even hard for me to get groceries or pick up food when I run out. I used to depend on meal delivery kits a lot, but since I live in a large building now, getting food deliveries is less practical.

    I’m planning to push myself to leave the house more to do enjoyable things. There’s a park nearby, and I get bonus points if I’m brave enough to visit it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing. Anxiety can b so crippling. I only think after the fact when it’s been days without leaving my house. It’s good to have goals even small ones, I have learned even if you can’t quite leave the house today, know that you can. It may take a few tries to find the courage but it will be worth it!

      Liked by 1 person

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