Thursday, May 11, 2017

Adventures in Social Anxiety Chapter 7 - Gas Stations (slightly longer, but more real in time scenarios, like the first two chapters)


I'm driving to the gas station, nerves shot from traffic. Pull in, it looks a little busy. Ugh. Okay. I start mapping out the area. Pumps clear. It's OnCue. Good.

Those old style 7-Elevens can be a nightmare to get in and out of, and I will run the car dry before I sit and wait and navigate through a horde of people getting gas. The car provides a little safety but still people may honk or get upset, even if it's the person in front of me taking forever so it shoots my anxiety up and I'm simply in line getting gas.

Back to OnCue. Think I'll get a drink and a snack. I start walking to the main door and see traffic going in and out. Fine. Whatever, so I go to the side entrance with the bathrooms. It's usually clear there. No awkward door moments. Head for the fountain drinks but oh someones there already. Blah. Shop for chips it is. I already know what kind I want (those Bloomin Onion Funyuns)

I pick out my chips, and the fountains open so I beeline for it. I fill up most of my drink but it's fizz, so I eye the table, no ones there but that could change so I go ahead and grab my straw and lid.

I top off my drink, and someones coming up, so I dart off to the condiments by the roller grill, no ones there and put my drink and straw on, looking around make sure no ones watching, and test the drink make sure it's fresh. I take a deep breath.

Ah an Egg Roll sounds good. No ones there so I hurriedly yank the tongs out and toss the eggroll in its bag. I go for the line but alas, there is two clerks and people waiting. I need sunflower seeds. I don't but it will save me from standing by people. I keep eyeballing the line, waiting until I can go straight to the clerk.

It doesn't clear up. I'm talking myself out of Red Vines, knowing I'll eat the whole box over the next hour and hate myself. I get my card out and get ready, and I pull out my phone and pretend to be busy on Facebook, as I quietly slide into line. It's getting harder to breathe. Calm down. We all want to get out of here and do our business.

Inhale. Exhale. I start typing part of this adventure. Fortunately I glance up and I'm next. Okay. Ok. k. k which clerk. Uh oh. They finished at the same time. I start to panic, both are watching me.

Ones more my "type", much as I hate to say that, I do, more down to earth friendly looking girls, she has the smart look to her so I choose her.

Confession: if I don't know you already have anxiety issues, I default to friendly looking or educated women, if you don't suffer it, maybe you are at least smart enough to understand it.

My hands are shaking. I got this. I can't speak so I follow the card machine, not even caring if it's rung up right, I need out of there. Of course it's not reading my presses, so I'm getting frustrated, people are watching, she's watching. I'm looking dumb hitting it with my fingers and the pen.. I make it through and she asks if I want a bag, I nod no, say thank you and run out the door with my items, nearly knocking a customer over on my way out.

I scope out the pumps. I'm on 13 and there's someone on 11 & 12. Bleh. I need to wash my windows but it can wait. I go ahead and open my door, then set up the pump and start filling up. I take a sip of my drink and chow down the egg roll. I start feeling a bit better. Partly why I eat so much. It's therapeutic for my anxiety.

I hear the click, put the hose back and drive off, forgetting my receipt and later find out my gas cap, but I'm free. I can breathe. I need a nap. Almost as exhausting as Walmart, but a fairly average trip, they weren't as busy as they are at 7am. That's panic town.

Adventures in Social Anxiety - Chapter 6 (shorter chapter!) - Drawings (for prizes)


Chapter 6: (shorter chapter!) - Social Anxiety - Drawings


We have a drawing at work that is done on the computer, and it displays on a screen. I don't know how I do it, but I do, sometimes there'll be 30 people. Watching. Waiting. Maybe it's the counter in front of me, a shield, or the rush, I don't have as much time to think about it. Always makes me nervous. Come a little ways though, I failed my communications class 3 times in college.

Sometimes they'll ask me how much, sometimes I know, I do try to find out ahead of time, sometimes I don't depending how busy I get. Of course they will ask in front of a lot people so I'm panicking trying to get the thought out. Can I go back to my desk please?

I could probably show someone else how to do this. I re-delegate when I can, purely so I don't have to deal with other people if I'm wrong or mess it up. I can accept when I'm truly deeply wrong, and it doesn't put me down as bad, but if I was in the right.

Even I know for sure the answer, I can't get it out. I stutter and say "I think it's $600." I'm sure it is, but I can't be confident behind it. What if I'm wrong for some reason? I don't want that conversation over an accident.

Humans don't get accidents anymore. What if I missed a change? So I insert maybes, probablys, I think, possibly, help stave off potential disaster. Maybe that's why people always take my maybes as a yes, they know I'm scared but right.

Unfortunately this delays the drawing while someone finds out. I'm shaking while waiting, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. Ugh what if it isn't $600? What if it is? I could have been right the whole time and we could all be on our merry way.

I have it ready. All I have to do is click a button. This helps a lot, always have stuff ready on the side. Whether it be payment or a button ready to click, anything to cut the time you are in front of someone to nothing.

Comes back, of course it was $600. I know that. All I said to say was yes, it is $600 with some confidence. Saved us all trouble. See how crippling it can be to life?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Adventures in Social Anxiety Chapter 5: Social Conventions, Labels, & Assumptions


How my anxiety makes you wrong about me, only me, specifically.

This one is a doozy. Not as heavy on the real world scenarios. The next chapters are way better and more like the first two. Promise.

Humans #Notallhumans have a nasty way of assuming the worst of your best intentions, and it feeds my social anxiety. I can’t win. This year has been the worst in a few years, (~75% wrong rate) because people want to come up with crazy reasons why I do or don’t do stuff, when most of the time it boils down to three things:

Social anxiety, possible altruism, and having a totally different, unorthodox thought process(I don't think like others based on the below conditions).

Keep in mind anything I do is based off 10-20 thoughts, and that’s if I can even come to a conclusion, based off evidence, past history, moods, trust levels, and much much more.
I also don’t do anything because of my race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, ancestry, age, veteran status, and or disability.

Most of the time I do or don’t do something it is extremely generalized, and even if I consciously know better, anxiety be like, no, can’t let you do that.

The biggest example, opening the door for someone. Purely out of kindness, well and granny taught me to always open the door for women, but I’ve evolved that into a general niceness thing. No big deal. . Of course sometimes I will fail it, because I get nervous and scared, the more people involved, the worse it gets.

Oh, and speaking of doors, you may notice I always seem to turn back to my car, or go the other way, like I was wanting to go that way but suddenly changed my mind. I didn't but anxiety grabbed ahold of me and, needing to catch my breath and relax, I flee the other way.

Another example, unless I am in the back of an elevator, if I can beeline out the door I will. Sometimes take the stairs for that reason, especially if I'm waiting outside the elevator with someone, or I feel them coming. I’m sure there’s some social convention about letting people out first ♡, but if I’m in an elevator with people I need out asap and that will override that prevailing thought.

So ladies take note, if you are expecting me to open some door for you because of being a “guy”, ♡,and I don’t, it’s nothing personal, I’m not being rude, I’m being scared and nervous! Look at it this way though, if I do, it means more since I had to overcome so much.

This happened awhile back. My car was a mess and I was going somewhere with someone. I got ahead and opened the passenger side first and tossed some things in back, thinking I’ll be nice and close the door once they sit, and I think they expected me to because they made a comment, but I was too afraid they would think I like them or I’d close the door to hard or not all the way and panicked and ran to the drivers side and we left.

Admittedly, I’m not as smart as I may come off, so don’t assume because of that, most of the time I truly don’t know better, anxiety is getting the best of me, or my completely different thought process that leads me to doing something of kilter but justified.

It's my friends cycle. Meet new friends > Best Friends Forever > Horribly Misunderstood Overblown Event Happens > Anxiety, that other thing comes out > Friend bails (Boom, Depression) or becomes Best Friends Forever. So part of why I'm afraid of people. So moving Anxiety to the front, see if I can break the cycle for the next friend.

I observe, calculate and think things way too much. So if you were asking me to do something and I do something else, it’s possible there was evidence I should that something else and so I went the other way. This happens all the time.

Unfortunately then people get upset with me. *not based on any event* For example. Hey meet me at Target! Okay. You text me later saying you’re at Ross. Okay. So do I meet you there then? I may go ahead and meet you there. Or I’ll pester you trying to get solid answer. Expand that to any situation. Make sense?

I don’t know what to do for fear of being wrong. My minds on fire trying to figure it out but can’t come to a decisive answer. I show up at Ross instead, not sure where I should be or what I’m doing. Things like that happen all the time to me.

I’m also borderline sexist towards dudes. I don’t mean any disrespect, but I can attribute 80% of my lifes anxiety and issues back to your average, everyday, Oklahoma type dude, err, southern types. It’s interesting.

This is hard to articulate, so don’t directly assume the worst, bear with me.

Unless I ask, it's work related,coming from one of my friends (you guys are awesome, and so if you're reading this you're good), if a dude says something to me, I won’t care and rebel with every fiber of my being.

That goes for their politicians, religions, rules, expectations, etc, because in my case, most of the time they are wrong, again, they maybe right about everything else, but in my life. Wrong. Not that women are perfect either. Y’all human and all a mess.

#Notalldudes I’ll try not to go on a rant, but most dudes annoy the heck out of me, are simple minded as fuck, are incapable of empathy, and don’t get me started on wanna be alphas like your president, and I find myself more afraid of them then anyone.

That’s general, not that I wouldn’t fight to defend myself or others, then again my thoughts would be like, no, I might punch wrong or look stupid getting hit in the face lol, the physical pains easy and heals.

No, I’m not a Beta. That is a fish and look how they'll fight. See. Dudes. Wrong again. I’m an Omega. I’m the end of all the typical guy conventions. So again, take note, you CANNOT think of me in the typical guy fashion,, because you will be disappointed, confused, and/or angry, and so will I. Save us the trouble.

You should already know this though. I’m plain simple Cory, so going back to the beginning, don’t do anything to me because of my race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, ancestry, age, veteran status, and or disability. If you can stay on that, you’ll unlock the best of me. Try to label me, put me in a box or as in Sonic, a "zone" if you will, and I will kick and scream and fight like a cat being put in the bath.

*side note* I worry more about some white dude ruining my life (which they have because they can’t think beyond their testosterone, in experience), than some Muslim killing me on the street. Men are the ones that cry that I need a haircut. Men are the ones that say I need to dress this way. Men are the ones that say I need to talk like this. Men are the ones that say I need to take advantage of my privilege. Men make most the stupid laws. That I need to be in the “club.” No compassion. No understanding. Most women and minorities have at least never cared.

So I tend to gravitate towards those groups, because, in my experience so for others it could be opposite, most the time they either don’t care, or are more down to Earth and realistic about life, and I can talk to them about anything without as much fear or judgement, thus reducing my anxiety and giving me peace.

Coming Soon:
Eating
Works
Driving

Why do this? My social anxiety has an arguably crippling effect on my life, and with people that don't understand me, can manifest itself into disasters. By putting it out front, people can love me or leave me before we get to close and I get dependent on someone's support. In addition, it will help let others know and myself, they are not alone and can relate, which should also help.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Adventures in Social Anxiety: Chapter 4: Telephobia and The Reset Button

Ah phones. Both the bane and savior of my existence. The communication parts, Messaging and Phone, ugh, the rest, blessed be. So if you wonder why my phones generally in permanent silent mode, why I am scared of the phone, take forever to respond or forget, you are about to learn...
I've always had a fear of phones, no different than talking to people in person, perhaps worse. Unless we are close, I will not answer a phone call, and will go out of my way to avoid a call, practically begging others. Or in the case of work, I'll come find you or come to your desk rather then try to work it out on the phone.
I think this comes from the fact I've rarely had a good phone call in 10 years, always bad news and more, ever since I got the call about my mom and granny passing away. With medical problems, debt issues, and spam, my fears only get worse with each passing call.
Then came texting, and while ten times better, as we all know, has it's faults. I can't do two way conversations well. Like I can send a meme but I can't keep a conversation going for the life of me. I may truly want to talk to someone, see how they are doing, how's life, but once I get a response I get scared and panic. Or if I get no response.
Damned if I do, damned if I don't. I never know when to keep texting or when not to, and it wrecks me, so a lot of times I'll send a text and shut my phone off. Fearful of the response, even if it was a simple meme or howdy.
I am more comfortable with texting, and you'll notice I can type walls quick. In some ways this is my downfall. I can type a novel faster than some can type a sentence. Incredibly efficient at it, and even as busy as I can get, I can multitask so with work so quick, I can overwhelm people quickly.
Shoot, I typed the movie chapter while I was running the dishwasher and washing machine while walking to the mailbox, and cleaned it up some between flips of my steak.
It's not as natural to others, and I have to accept that. Also, don't rub it in my face how I have too much time on my hands if I have time to type that much and how much you work and all that. I take it too personally, working on that, I work to, 50-60 hours a week. I can't help being extremely efficient at idle time with my phone.
My phones also become a crutch for my anxiety, and it can provide much needed relief. Hopping onto a game or texting someone or any host of other functions, take my mind off thoughts, which makes me extremely defensive about my phone.
Unfortunately that can backfire, especially if I send a message and it takes awhile for a response. I understand people truly get busy and rationally, logically I tell myself 100 times.
No, no, no, they could be asleep or eating or having sex, studying whatever, it's no big deal, but it can shoot my anxiety through the roof and cause an attack, so I rarely even text unless I have to, are worried, or some important life event is happening, or maybe a funny meme I'm sure they'll like.
Texting is rapidly becoming like the phone for me. Nothing good seems to come out of it, and my calculations for this year are hovering at a 75% misunderstanding rate. I'm scared of the responses or lack thereof.
Humans seem to assume the worst of anything you say and it breaks me. I already overwhelming feel I'm a burden and a bother to people. Even the cat today, she was sleeping on my bed and I came to take a nap and she got up and left and I felt so sad until I fell asleep, Sorry to bother you with my presence kitty.
People wonder why I sleep so much, there's most of it. If I'm asleep I can't be a burden on others. I won't have anxiety attacks. I can breathe, relax, chill. My heart doesn't skip beats from phone notifications.
Sleep is the reset button to my anxiety meter so I can start fresh. Hence my insistence on not going straight to places from another place, like work to a movie.
A nap in between resets the emotions and I can manage better. I awake and can make it an hour, sometimes more in anxiety free bliss. Hence me taking time off to do stuff. Hence why the lack of sleep can make me more anxious and miserable than others, I don't get that anxiety reset and it builds and builds, like the cat being in heat. Some of my worst weeks come from that, I've identified the problem and can fix it.
Coming Soon: Driving and Work

Adventures in Social Anxiety: Chapter 3: The Movie Theater

This has always been the most challenging. Several friends can attest, in the past I flat out left movies that got too crowded, and they were awesome to see the film in another theater with me.
So last night I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy vol.2. It was a last minute affair. I scrambled to acquire tickets, figured they would be sold out but as luck would have it, one was open right next to one of my friends.
Problem was, it was at the new AMC Dolby Digital, which is awesome by the way, but it's "loveseats", and this was the odd one out. I mapped out the other seats. There was some empty ones in the neck breaker section way up front.
Worst case scenario if it's a big dude, I'll get one of those and can refund the other. Wouldn't be the first time. Yes, I'm also the butt head that will order both seats and refund one last minute so I get the seat all to my wonderful self. Sorry, not sorry.
I make my way to the theater. Traffics not bad. Yay! (General Driving Chapter soon). I pull into the lot. Oh there's the traffic. Humans all over. My anxieties rising. My visors broke and moves all over the place, and I certainly don't want to hit anyone. Fortunately a car pulled out and I made it right where I wanted.
Dang, it's hot out here. Why did I not change into flip flops? Oh, I that's right I painted my toenails, but am certainly not passable right now...
I make it inside, taking a deep breath as I pass a horde of people. I start pinballing away from the vendors, focused on my phone but paying attention best I can without bringing attention, which is hard because I like to look at the stores (window shop) and observe.
I make it up to the theater after eyeballing the Chinese Noodles. Love that place. Of course I beeline for the open machine to pick my tickets up, but of course it prints some future tickets and not my present ones. Ugh. Okay. Guest Services it is. I sprint up there so I don't think about it. Anxiety is in the red zone now. I struggle to speak. You know. My mumbling. There ya have it.
I'm scared and I know I shouldn't be. I'm 33 years old. Jeeze. I stutter to say I need to pick up some tickets, she sees I have the phone app open with the confirmation and says she can get it off that or I can show them and they can scan, pointing at the ticket takers. I get the ticket to be sure since I know I'll be back and forth. Oh okay. Whew.
I precheckout the theater. I'm nervous as heck. Who's going to be next to me? Maybe I'll get lucky and it'll be some 25 year lady who doesn't care. No, not so I can get the hookup or be weird, I know I'll be more comfortable and feel safer if it's some chick instead of some dude. That last line is key. I was raised by my granny and mom.
Oops. I walked in to early, still after credits scenes. I hover around the lobby. Do I get popcorn? So good, but I don't want to walk around with it for 30 minutes in front of everyone. I pace around on my phone a bit, dodging and keeping distance from people best I can.
Oh hey I'm wearing my Sonic, I'm waiting tee shirt! Maybe someone will get a kick out of it, so I try to take a pic but I get scared. Ugh, I don't want to be that person being seen taking a selfie. I sneak one in hiding around pole, but hurriedly so no one saw, so it wasn't the best picture.
I pace around some more and out of nowhere friend jumps out and startles me. Lol good one. No worries there. I start to feel better as I know someone I know is there. Friend goes and gets popcorn.
I'm really wanting some but if I'm so close to this stranger, my anxiety will be through the roof and won't be able to eat or take a drink for fear of being "watched." Stanger danger. Ridiculous right? They are seeing GotG, surely it's a nerd like me.
I head in and see their spouse. Whew. Starting to feel much better about the situation. We discuss these posts and work. No ones come for the seat next to me. Please, please, please stay this way. Breathe in, breathe out. Cool. Other friends show up. Yay. Alright. I can do this.
Still wanting popcorn. Friend has come back and is generously offering some. Of course I take it, but nervous about it and taking to much, to little, but it's cool and I'm grateful. Unfortunately they show up last minute and luckily it was a skinny dude, and AMC reclining seats do have a bit more space.
Nothing was said, I kind of leaned more over to the other side. Then the movie kicked in. I still wanted popcorn but it would bring to much attention and the theater was full. Had the seat been empty. I'd have gotten some.
Movie was non stop. Tears. Laughter. Joy. Yes. I needed this. Mostly forgot about dude next to me except the one or two slower scenes.
Lights come up and after credits is playing. I hesitate to bring my phone out. Don't want people crying about it and I can multitask the two screens. Plus I do want to talk about the movie and scenes with my friends as I'm sure they do to.
I need to pee real bad. Of course movie let out. I'll wait. Go by a less busy bathroom. Nah. Anxiety is too high. (♡) My friends are parked on one side, I'm in the middle, I start to go the other way but get nervous so I follow them and we split.
If it seems like I am following you like a puppy, there's your answer, sometimes I'm scared to be alone, especially after hanging with people I'm comfortable around, yet sometimes it's all I want. There it is again. Revelations.
To Side Car we go.

Adventures in Social Anxiety Chapter 2: The Grocery Store

Hope this explains why I'm so awkward sometimes, especially if I'm close to someone. You are my mobile safe space #ProudSnowflake
Same parking issue as before, except more foot traffic. Where I parked, may as well have parked at Golds Gym. Fortunately inside wasn't that busy. Or was it? The other side, sometimes it's not always customers, it's employees. Humans. If the place was dogs I don't think I'd care. Easy upfront cart. Yay.
Make my way to produce. Uh oh. A lady that came in behind me was trailing, and we seemed to be going to the same places. Here we go. Produce pinball. Someone should video me in a store by myself or pull the security feed. Awkward.
I get a salad bag. They had the croutons I normally get on a display, but alas, the bags stuck and half the display collapses. I panic. Naturally I want to clean it up, and pay attention if you care, because I can panic if I drop something so don't rush me in to cleaning...I'm sure everyone's watching at this point. Stage fright.
My logic center is screaming chill, clean it up, move on. Yet I don't want to build back wrong (wait, I don't even work here). So as you'll see throughout this series, logically I know my fears are whack but everything else is freaking out man. Anyway, I get it set up and walk away hiding on my phone .
I need cucumbers. Start looking oh hey there's an employee stocking next to them. Ugh. Well I don't want to stop his work and I don't like picking produce when people are watching. What if I pick a bad one and they notice?
Again, ridiculous but crippling thoughts. I go off on my way, bouncing between other items where there is no one. Off to steaks. Oh no another employee. Is everyone stocking today?! No they are doing their jobs. Calm down.
I go down a familiar aisle. Oh! I need popcorn, it's down here.. No ones there, I'm relaxed a little. Acquired. I glance around the aisle and see no one at the cucumbers and beeline for them. Go through a few bent ones, looking over my shoulder making sure no ones watching. Target Acquired.
Go back to steaks. Employee is still there. I pretend to look at fishsticks and porkchops. The porkchops start looking really good but I can only think about a Jimmys Egg Breaded Pork Chops breakfast. Nah, I'll get those next time. Guys still there. Ugh. Maybe now. Home is sounding lovely right now. My safe space.
Finally, yes, he leaves. Steaks acquired. I dodge a few customers get some other things, no one already where I need to go, and even better, no one comes up until...I go for milk. I don't care much for the brand, but I do want the latest expiration date as I forget I have milk. I'm going through them and I'm seeing May 8th.
Really? Of course I'm glancing over, making sure no one's watching and sure enough someone's coming. I start to panic and finally notice May 22nd. It's the more expensive one but I don't even bother anymore, someone's coming I'm done looking. I grab one and scamper off.
That it's it. Time to check out. Here we go. Don't be busy. Don't be busy. Don't be busy. It isn't but they only have two lanes open. A main one and express. I had over ten items and each line had a customer, and of course the one in front of me has self bagged produce and a cartfull. Shoot. I start to panic.
People are going to come up. I haven't even begun to unload my cart. Then I remember oh this stores 20 items I have less than that. Beeline for express since I see only one customer and no one going for it. Still. Panic. She has produce to. I'm thinking chill.
Of course they don't care what you have or are doing, what does it matter, but my body is tensed up. Her items are still on the conveyer belt so I don't unload, and the divider is too far away, I'll bring attention to myself. It may not be needed and I don't want to look dumb. I'm smart though I'm thinking.
She gets cleared out and bagged, and to my relief no customers come up yet. It gets weird, the cashier doesn't say hello or anything. Maybe she has anxiety to. I'm one good looking person when I want to be so she could be as nervous. I can't decide whether to put my card in or not. I believe their systems good about your card at anytime but to be sure. Brains in overdrive over something we have done 1000s of times.
She starts handing me my bags and I take them as the transaction completes. She does thank me and I'm on my way. I start to relax but between the tag agency and there my anxiety is through the roof. I'm going home. Got stuff done way ahead of schedule.

Adventures in Social Anxiety: Chapter 1: The Tag Agency


I try to park. I pull up but there's a person in the car next to me so I pull forward and take another spot. I groan. I'm being ridiculous. I take a deep breath and enter the office.
Lady is staring at me and I start to panic, pretend to fiddle with papers and look the other way but see the sign for for drivers license renewal in front of her. Here we go. She asks if I'm here for a license and I say yes, please, while she takes my old one.
I hurriedly filled out my paperwork,caring that it's readable but at the same time not, quicker it's done, quicker I'm home.
I can barely breathe as I sit down. Fortunately no ones waiting on the bench. Here come the thoughts like a line of firecrackers in July. Will they let me renew? Will I have to go to DPS? Will that trigger my hearing? Oh no. I work this weekend! What if I get pulled over?
She tells me to look at the camera and on 3. I'm scared to smile. That's stupid I'm thinking. I have great smile and I love my last license photo.
She tells me to it'll be a few minutes. Alright.
I sit there nervously. Hands start to tremble and I'm a fidgety mess.
I hear the machine finish and she nods at me, it's ready! She hands my license, I say thank you, and breathe a whew of relief as I skip happily out the door. Crisis averted. Now for the grocery store...

Adventures in Social Anxiety Chapter 7 - Gas Stations (slightly longer, but more real in time scenarios, like the first two chapters)

I'm driving to the gas station, nerves shot from traffic. Pull in, it looks a little busy. Ugh. Okay. I start mapping out the ar...