People, People Everywhere

What does social anxiety feel like?

For me, it’s a huge weight on my chest and I want to go hide. It’s difficult to regulate my breathing, which makes my uneasiness more difficult to hide so that I seem somewhat normal.

It’s feeling like there are people everywhere, like the walls are closing in on me from all sides.

I’m hyper aware, which means when someone tries to talk to me, all the voices in the background, the sounds of the environment I’m in, etc. all sound ridiculously loud and bleed together and overlap with the voice of the person I’m trying to hear. That plus not being able to hear all that well to begin with creates a bit of a clusterfuck.

It’s a struggle to find my bearing and a struggle to not look like a freak.

That was last night at my baby brother’s graduation party.

And while I typically have some mixed drinks that are heavy on the alcohol to ward those feelings off a bit, I had to wait a few hours. The kiddos were there for the first part, and I don’t like to drink around the kids (I may have one alcoholic beverage with a normal amount of liquor in it, but that’s it), so I waited for my husband to run them over to his moms. And that wait was painful.

This party wasn’t something I was looking forward to, as I knew there would be a lot of people present. My brother’s Facebook Events page listed almost 20 people.

Oh no. Try closer to 50 people (yes, I counted).

Even though this was supposed to be his graduation party with 20 people (most of whom I know and like, since my brother and I share mostly the same circle of friends), it more than doubled because my dad decided to make it his party to show off his new house as well. (This rather upset my brother, who found out after a lot of people that he didn’t know started showing up. “I don’t know more than half of the people here. How is this for me?”)

But back on track. Do you know what babies are? Especially babies as adorable as Baby Girl?

People magnets.

About 45 minutes into it, my husband noticed my discomfort and suggested we go inside for a bit. That would’ve been great, except for 8 other people following us inside to talk.


Translation: I want to go hide somewhere and cry.

After my best friend arrived a couple hours later, that helped matters a little. She gets me and knows how I feel in social situations where there are 10 people, let alone 50. Then my husband took the kids over to his mom’s and I could finally have my rum. That helped greatly.

I never got comfortable enough to go around and mingle, but I didn’t feel like I wanted to come out of my skin at least. My friend and our husbands picked a corner of the deck to chat at and my brother and other people drifted in and out from that spot.

One guy who didn’t know anyone there (he came with his parents) sat down beside me and tried to make small talk. I could sense that he was uncomfortable, but he so picked the wrong person to help with that. I felt bad for him, but outside of telling him that my bottle of rum was in the freezer, I was at a loss for words.

By the end of the night, I was able to say that I had fun after I got comfortable. It was very nice to hang out with my brother again. He told me that he had missed me (he has been living in the city he finished college in the past two years, so we haven’t been seeing each other that often), and we made plans to hang out a lot this summer. Of my siblings, he’s the only one I’m close to, and outside of being on opposite ends of the spectrum as far as social stuff goes, he and I are two peas in a pod.

As for the social anxiety…I hate it. So much. Of the other anxiety issues I have, this one makes the least sense. Even though I’ve always been a quiet person, I wasn’t always like this. There was a time when I was comfortable enough that I could chat away with other kids in high school, a time when I wasn’t a social freak and did well enough in that area to win any stupid little popularity contest that I participated in. But around the time that I was 19 or 20, that disappeared.


53 thoughts on “People, People Everywhere

  1. henriettamross14 says:

    I struggle myself, so I can completely relate. Well done for going though, I know how difficult these things can be and wanting to hide in the nearest cupboard. Glad you were able to enjoy yourself a little in the end. Thank you for talking about this, I don’t think it gets spoken about enough.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I agree. Having depression but not anxiety, I had no idea what people with anxiety go through. I’m sorry it was difficult but I am glad you have a hubby and best friend that love you and accept you just as you are! Thank u for sharing this.

    Liked by 2 people

    • you are so lucky to be mostly anxiety free. let me give you a taste.

      imagine being afraid of heights. imagine standing at the edge of 200 foot cliff what your toes hanging over the edge of the cliff. imagine it’s windy making it even harder to keep you balance. imagine this happening through the situation as with social anxiety or all day with a general anxiety.

      there you go. that’s kinda what anxiety feels like.

      Liked by 3 people

        • yep. and just like any psychotropic drug, it may make things better. then again, the third arm side-effect seems to have a near equal chance. it is not uncommon for depression and bipolar meds to trigger anxiety. it is also all to common where anxiety meds make depression worse or kick off some other life/mind altering side effect. it’s a crap shoot, at best.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Third arm? You seem extremely sensitive to getting major side effects. I gained weight, get severe dry mouth, fatigue but no ears ringing of 3rd arm. I wonder why?


        • the ringing is far worse in calm because the rings are all the more audible. it would be all the better with some head banging music like nirvana or mud honey. at least that masks or covered up the ringing. of course thinks get a little worse on the other side with a blown out eardrum.

          note to the readers: i don’t listen to nirvana or mud honey, never have, never will. they are both from the seattle area, where I live. I needed some head banging groups and thought of them.


        • I was first prescribed Zoloft for anxiety, which had me spiraling into a depression, and then they added Wellbutrin. After two years (and things getting worse), it turns out I have Bipolar 2 and that the antidepressants exacerbated things. Also Zoloft had a zombie like effect on me, boo!

          I can take Klonopin as needed, but usually take that for general anxiety at home when nightmares trigger an anxiety attack.

          Liked by 1 person

        • My doc tried me on Effexor (switched over directly from Zoloft/wellbutrin) for a month before I gave in and went to the shrink to get things figured out. I’m glad you’ve found a combination that works for you! It always amazes me how experiences can vary so much.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I have treatment resistant depression so took me over 8 years of them working, not working over n over til I was just done. Went to a psychopharmacologist and within 6 months had my life back.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I no longer have social anxiety, but used to, and remember that all too well. I’m sorry, you’re not alone in that suffering. The feeling is similar to my regular anxiety attacks that happen seemingly without trigger. Also…what is it with people hijacking parties. My wife’s birthday was hijacked while I was neutropenic and we tried to keep it small for her anxiety, our finances, and my counts but noooo, so many more people and in the end it was not her party at all. Some people are just amazing with their selfishness.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel for you. I don’t have social anxiety, but I struggle when I take my kids into a crowded place. It’s been a long time since I had a baby, but yes, they’re magnets, and that always gave way to my fear of germs and my loathing for well-meaning mommy advice.
    Drinking really does help. I’m not advocating abuse of alcohol, but my worst years were the ones where I didn’t drink because pregnancy and nursing/pumping. That with the sleep dep, and well, I think they made an anxiety cocktail 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You did one better than me. I would have used the excuse of needing to drop the kids off & taken as much time driving back as possible to avoid the partay as long as possible. I’m glad your hubby & friend get it & are supportive.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes. :::shudder::: I’ll duck into the bathroom if I can, or find a quiet spot. I am getting the social anxiety at work where there are tons more people than I’m used to dealing with. I HAVE TO go have lunch, quietly, alone in my care, or I’d explode. Rum isn’t an option there, either. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ugh, I feel for you. That is something I absolutely dread for when/if I have to go back into a normal job setting. No way I could deal with teaching again, like a plague of locusts…at least not without the rum 😉


  7. the-reluctant-parent says:

    I don’t like crowds either and I think for me it’s all the noise. The loud noise often disorientates me and I don’t like talking loud, think of the low talker on Seinfeld so I don’t like screaming across the room at people, but with the kids sometimes that has to happen. I’ve always been shy anyway so hardly ever initiate conversation with anyone in person but there are exceptions, like when I was waiting for a friend outside and I started talking to my neighbor who I could hear was doing some yard work nearby.


  8. Thank you so much for sharing this. I completely relate to you and even have a hard time going to the grocery store. It sucks but I am slowly pushing myself and making little goals to go out in bigger places. It gets to me so bad I begin having sweaty palms, my body shakes uncontrollably and feel so dizzy I could pass out. I hope things get better for us!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I wouldn’t say I have social anxiety but rather a short temper that makes it hard to be around people because even the smallest comment can make me snap. So I avoid. Or snap. Mostly avoid.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Gah. Same. I am just like this in social situations. Except we gave up alcohol to mitigate dissociative symptoms so I can’t even blur some of the anxiety. Ugh. I feel you, girl.

    Liked by 1 person

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