The Lesson

I’m at an Imagine Dragons concert right now. I’m sitting outside the venue seating, like by concessions and stuff. There’s a bench. Beside me is a dad, holding his earbud-wearing, iPad-watching child. It’s bringing me comfort that the world exists outside my anxiety.

See, I was fine. We’re on the third tier of seating, front row, on an aisle. It’s my dream.

I’m standing beside Boyfriend, and we’re rocking to every song. Dancing and clapping and singing and screaming and it’s absolutely the best way to end my summer.

And behind me I can hear the whispers and the louder talking. The row behind us are mad. Two moms and two daughters. They want us to sit. But they’re not asking. They’re just being mean.

I tell Boyfriend I can hear them. He can too. We decide to keep standing.

But I can’t focus on the songs, songs I know and love. Instead I’m picking at my fingers and I can barely breathe and my ears are hyper sensitive to everything they say.

Finally I tell him. “I’m picking my nails because of them. Let’s sit.”

So we sit. The mom leans forward and sneers, “Thank you.”

I tap her knee.

“You could’ve just asked.”

She sneers again.

I turn back, and then I turn around.

I tell the other mom (the original mom is ignoring me), “Thanks for ruining my night.”

I turn back. I can feel it, the air sucked out of my lungs.

I look at boyfriend.

“I think I’m about to have a panic attack.”

We walk to where I’m at now.

I proceed to have a panic attack. Tingly arm and all.

It subsides. They’re playing my favorite song.

“I know you don’t want to, but I can’t go back in there and it would make me really happy if you did. I don’t want you to miss out on this, one of us should enjoy it.”

We pick a bench I will be at. I will not move except to pee.

I can breathe again. But I won’t go back in.

There is no easy or clean way to wrap up this post.

Maybe that’s the lesson.



Failing and Flailing

I fell asleep thinking about writing this post and, as a result, had a really shitty dream. So I have to write it out now–when I smell like an Almond Joy (because of a coconut oil treatment to my hair) and I still haven’t picked out an outfit for my date with Boyfriend and am overall just stressed–or else it’s going to haunt me all day.

In tenth grade I failed my Chemistry final, but I got a C in the class. That was the closest to school-related failure I’ve ever reached.

This semester I received a 54 F in a class. I will have to retake it.

Here’s the thing. I can blame the Professor–because, well, he was awful. I can blame the material–because, well, it was difficult for me. But the fact of the matter is that I have to blame myself.

I went to class once a week, instead of the three times a week I should’ve been going. I didn’t read the chapters I should’ve read. I didn’t do the project worth 15% of my grade. I didn’t study for the final the way I should’ve. I dropped the ball this semester, and I couldn’t bring myself to care until I saw that big, fat F show up on my Final Grades Report.

Now I’m dealing with those consequences.

There are a lot of factors outside of school that affected my ability to do well this semester–and not just in the class I failed. Before this semester, my collegiate GPA was a 3.75; after this semester I will have a 3.2. Overall, I just did worse academically.

Frat life got in the way, big time. This is my first semester as an active Brother, meaning I let myself get wrapped up in events and sucked into late night dinners when I needed to be studying, doing homework, going to class. I didn’t bother to find a balance; I just prioritized one over the other.

I had a lot going on with my family, and a lot going on with friends. I lost a lot of sleep. I didn’t let myself develop good study habits. I prioritized other people’s happiness over my own well-being–which, normally, is how I roll. But I guess I’m learning that I have to find a balance there, too.

Also, my anxiety has never been worse. There were days I couldn’t leave my room without feeling on the verge of crying because someone looked at me. I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten until it started to calm down and I realized I had been missing out on a lot of stuff-academically and socially. I’ve been thinking about going to therapy to deal with my anxiety. I just don’t know how to have that conversation with my mother.

Internal and external conflicts manifested itself into a lot of nights filled with “I have to take care of me” instead of “I need to finish this assignment.” I’m discovering it’s about balance. I had forgotten about that balance–had forgotten what it’s like to need it, because it’s been so long since I had socialization and friendship and my mental health to prioritize.

I’m figuring it out. Next semester will be better, and I’ve got a month to figure it out before it has to be.


Phase 10: 4 Sets of Finals and 1 Week-Long Panic

I knew I was going to write today–and, around 6 o’clock this evening, I thought I knew what I was going to write about.

I wanted to talk about dating someone who’s your polar opposite. About finding balance, if you can, or if you’re doomed. About when is too early to start talking about things if you know they’re going to be problematic later?

And then the rest of my night happened. And now I want to talk about dating while having anxiety. Actually–I kind of just want to talk about existing with anxiety.

The thing about anxiety is that once one thing sends you into a tizzy–once those cyclic, obsessive, negative thoughts start–it’s really hard to get out of it. Which is to say everything triggers those thoughts.

Last time I was in a relationship while having anxiety, I wasn’t fully immersed in it yet. I didn’t know what was going on, just that sometimes I needed to cry and hyperventilate and pick at my skin because I felt like I was going to crawl out of it anyway. I’ve spent the past year being single and discovering all of my anxiety on my own.

“My own” being operative words here. See, this semester I have people. I have more people than I know what to do with. People who snapchat me, who ask me to lunch, who invite me over, or to hangout, who call me, who walk me back to my dorm, who ask me (before they ask anyone else) to study with them. I didn’t have people before. I had me, my anxiety, Cameron, and my Roommate. And the only person who actually dealt with my anxiety was my anxiety.

I thought that having people would make me feel amazing, wanted, assured. And it does, to an extent.

But I’m discovering recently that there is such a thing as having Too Many People. Especially when you’re just getting into a relationship.

I’ll be honest, I don’t understand why ‘normal’ people date people like me. Why they find joy in being with someone who second guesses everything about the relationship, who misreads (and over analyzes) every conversation or glance, who goes down one road assuming they’re being followed–when, really, it turns out you’re not even in the same neighborhood. It’s exhausting, I’d imagine. I’m exhausting.

So I’m overwhelmed a lot, recently, because I’m trying to figure out what’s worth bringing up, what’s not crazy to analyze or question. It doesn’t help that my Boyfriend and I got together two weeks before Finals.

I will (probably) receive my first ever F in a class this semester. I’ve been secretly harboring a lot of feelings over it: shame, embarrassment, guilt, anger, disappointment, and anxiety.

On top of all that, because it was Finals Week, all my People wanted to study with me, or take lunch breaks to eat with me. And I love my People. I do. But even Not-Exhausting People get Exhausting when you stress the way I stress while having anxiety the way I have anxiety.

My Boyfriend doesn’t get my anxiety in that he doesn’t personally understand it. He listens, and does what I ask him to in order to help me calm down. He’s perspicacious, and attentive–he knows I’m tired before I know I’m tired, knows I’m hungry before I voice it, knows when I’m asleep or just pretending, knows why I’m giggling at nothing. He’s known since I arrived at his apartment that my anxiety levels were high.

“If you don’t want to go, tell me now,” he said as he pulled on a hoodie. We were going to play a card game at a friend’s. I knew everyone that would be there, but I was already dreading walking into the house. He’s the type that can go all night, though. He loves people. And we’ve both been so stressed with Finals. I wanted him to have fun.

So we went. And I did have fun! We played Phase 10, and I lost (terribly) but it was okay.

My Big texted (and Snapchatted) me while I was there. She kept asking if I was okay (because of my F) and how I was feeling (because I was socializing) and what was I going to do about the fraternity camping trip this weekend and she loved me and was I sure I was okay? And I felt bombarded. Too cared for. I thought I wanted to be coddled, but I really wanted to be left alone.

Then we arrived back at his apartment, and as I started doing a coconut oil treatment in my hair, my Boyfriend offered Taco Bell. We bickered as we discussed what I wanted.

“You’re really complicated,” he grumbled as he sat down. “Has anyone ever told you that?”

And, no, they hadn’t. But I have. Plenty of times.

I worry that my complicated will be too much. That he thinks the anxiety is endearing now, but will get sick of it soon. That he can leave the anxiety and me without thought–which, he can. It’s just frustrating because I can’t.

I don’t like being anxious like this. I wish I could stop apologizing every time I think I’ve done something wrong. I wish I stopped thinking everything I did was bothersome. I wish I didn’t feel like the world is ending because of an F. I wish I wasn’t thinking about skipping out on something I have been buzzing for because the thought of three days of socializing with no breaks is absolutely terrifying.

I wish I wasn’t like this.

I wish I knew what I wanted. From my Big I wanted Space. From my Mom I wanted Space. From my Friends I wanted Space. From my Boyfriend I wanted to be reassured. There is no consistency.

No method to the madness.

But Finals Week is over. I just took a hot shower. I don’t have to decide to go camping until noon tomorrow, and I had nachos for dinner.

I’m hiding in the back room while he watches a movie with friends. The bed is warm, and the outside is cold. It’s almost Christmas.

There is still good. I still have good left.


Exhaustion and Therapy and Anxiety

I (probably) should go to therapy. (No shit, says anyone who’s read all my posts.)

There’s only so much introspection one person can do before they realize that their thoughts aren’t normal.

I realized, when I was a Junior in high school, that it wasn’t normal to daydream about dying. That was a pretty life changing moment. I was on the bus. It was morning. I realized that not everyone had those thoughts, that they were probably intrusive and unhealthy.

I’ve realized recently that most people probably don’t have obsessive and intrusive thoughts about the bridge they’re driving over collapsing beneath them.

Tonight I realized my approach to starting new (romantic) relationships is probably not healthy. It is probably obsessive.

I don’t think that knowing the source of my problems will solve things. I’m sure it has something to do with my Daddy Issues and fear of being abandoned. I’m sure my self esteem problems, unhealthy relationship with food, general self hate, and overall anxiety about social situations all stem from traumatic childhood bullshit.

I don’t care about why I’m broken. I care about fixing it.

I realize this is probably a part of the problem.

I really like this guy in my frat. I also don’t know how to approach romantic things. It’s been almost two years since I tried to be romantically involved with someone. Several people have told me I’ve been reading too much into everything and that it’s “Chill. Just chill.” I don’t know how to explain to them that chilling or non-analysis is not how I function.

I don’t understand people. I think that’s why I’m so honest all the time. It’s my motto that if I’m honest with people, people will be honest with me. If they’re honest with me and I know I can trust them, then I don’t have to worry about understanding social cues or reading body language or overanalyzing one interaction or statement or facial expression. I notice everything. I have to.

Learning that not everyone will be as honest with me as I am with them has been difficult. It hasn’t stopped me from being honest, though. Do I start keeping things to myself? Is that the solution?

Mostly I just want to give up on this thing before it even starts. I’m physically exhausted from thinking about it. Not because he exhausts me, but rather because I am exhausting myself.

I am exhausting.

I’ve been thinking that maybe therapy would help me understand what a healthy relationship is. All healthy relationships. With myself, my friends, my family, my prospective partners. I don’t know how they work. I don’t understand how to achieve them.

Explaining that to my mother will be hard. She’s never been very understanding. Or good at listening. We usually just end up yelling at each other.

This is not a well written post. Tonight I’ve done everything I could think of to deal with my anxiety. I’ve colored, cleaned, done a face mask. I drank water, took my vitamins, I danced to Eminem. Nothing has helped. I thought writing would. My shoulders still feel tense, my heart still thumping, my skin still tingly, my body still thrumming for something to make me feel less like I need to scream.

Maybe I should make the appointment soon.


Anxiety Sucks. Period.

Today started off bad.

Last night was great! I spent time with a lot of different people, but I didn’t feel overwhelmed by them. I cuddled a puppy, ate a cake ball, and I got to ride around and see new places. For several hours I got to escape the anxiety which has been overwhelming me all week. I got back to my dorm, ignored the mess I’ve let overcome my room, and got into bed.

Then I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I got up at 10, which is the norm for me on weekends, and I had breakfast. I came back to  my dorm, once again overwhelmed by the mess I’ve accumulated, and crawled into bed. I didn’t crawl out of bed until 3:30.

Saturdays have been great this year. I have breakfast, I get ready, and I tailgate. I don’t drink, but I get to hangout with people that I, usually, know don’t hate me and I can leave whenever I please and overall it’s a positive experience.

Today I didn’t tailgate. It took me two hours to de-clutter my desk and organize my groceries–and not because there was a lot to clean, but because every time I touched something I felt overwhelmed by its existence.

Anxiety isn’t fun. I decided to YouTube some self care videos, because they always help me calm down and make me feel less alone. I stumbled upon one which called anxiety “something that keeps me safe.” I don’t know why, exactly, but it made me angry.

I understand silver linings, I do. I’m at a point in my life where I work to find them in every situation. But there is no silver lining to anxiety.

There is no enjoying the constant feeling like every person I’ve met thinks I’m awful. There is no enjoying hating myself every time I open my mouth because I’m convinced that whatever I’ve said has made the people I’m with hate me. There is no enjoying being unable to leave my dorm room.

Last night I tried to explain it to a friend of mine–that I’m not joking when I say I think people hate me. That I say it as a joke because I can’t control it coming out of my mouth but I don’t want people to feel bad for me or, worse, think I’m weird or, worst, actually grow to hate me because of it. And he didn’t have much to say in response. He was distracted. I don’t fault him for that. We’re not that close.

I used to think I was feeling anxious for attention. That I wanted people to look at me so I pretended to feel overwhelmed. Which, in turn, made me hate myself more.

Why couldn’t I have just come out normal?

I think my anxiety confuses people with whom I try to discuss it. I’m introverted. I have social anxiety. But I’m also loud, and talkative. In the right settings, with the right people I seem completely normal. So when I try to say, “Hey, you know, I have to leave because there are more than ten people here now and it’s making me want to cry.” All I can actually say is, “I’m going to go, I got a headache.”

Because nobody says anything against a headache.

“It’s just us that’s there,” people in my frat say.

My anxiety doesn’t care about who you are to me, I want to scream.

My social anxiety has been almost impossible to talk about. I’m angry that I developed it in such a social and evolutionary part of my life. There is no positive spin on it. It sucks. Clean and simple.

It took me two hours but I cleaned up my room. Tonight I will recharge, because tomorrow I have to spend hours around people again.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.