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I have tried to sum up the issues which I struggle with most prominently. They all seem to relate to one form or other of anxiety.
I would like to know if I am suffering social anxiety, Generalised Anxiety Disorder or perhaps OCD? I need to know some answers so I can start the process of getting well. This is a long post so brace yourselves and please do not judge me, I am a good person who just wants to get better.
Scared to go in social situations where I may feel trapped
I am not afraid of large crowds, supermarkets, I even went to Wembley and really enjoyed it in the end despite some initial nerves. But what I find almost impossible is relaxing and just being myself when I am with small groups of people, in fact just the thought of being in one of those situations is enough to make me feel the social anxiety without even being there.
I cannot deal with any situation where if I wanted to get up and leave it would be brought into question. In other words, if I am in any situation where there is no easy way for me to get out I will probably feel anxiety.
Being outdoors in a large crowd is okay because I can just walk away from the situation if I want. Going shopping is fine because I can just do my shopping, make small talk with the cashiers if it's someone I see regularly and then leave. What I can't do is sit comfortably with friends or even family, because if my anxiety came on and I wanted to leave, people would wonder what's wrong with me. Or why does he look so preoccupied? Or why is he being so nervous? Or why can't he say anything smart/clever/funny?
The reason I can't communicate properly, or my humour is off, or I can't get my words out is because my mind is so focused on the anxiety and my own inward feelings. Or maybe my mind is off somewhere else worrying about a scenario that may never happen. But whatever the reason is, it's always worse when I am around people who I think are judging, or could judge me. My anxiety doesn't happen around certain people I know and trust like my housemate Jon or my uncle Jeff. I know these people won't attack or judge me and are kind and understanding.
Fear of anxiety itself
I get anxiety worrying about whether or not my anxiety will trigger in a certain situation. Sounds funny and simple but it's very serious! This can lead to me feeling anxiety just thinking about going out, and therefore deciding not to go anywhere and just staying in. And worrying what everyone thinks of me not coming out. This downward spiral can lead to helplessness and depression, and letting people down.
Anxiety around certain types of people, a specific person or specific people
Anyone who has tendencies towards violence now or in the past, anyone who seems aggressive, anyone who seems "gangster", men or women who I perceive may challenge me on my behaviour, choice of words, the way I act. Anyone who I feel is a bad person to know and therefore I do not even want to be on their radar as a person who exists because they are bad news and I have terrible experiences in the past relating to this.
Anxiety based on certain topics of discussion
People who talk about how they enjoy fighting, or stories about how someones door got kicked in while they were at home by a gang of people and attacked. Any stories with violence like this again relate strongly to my past experiences. I despise the mentality of people like this...
Anxiety based on smell
The smell of weed triggers negative past memories and makes me feel ill and shaky. The discussion of weed can also sometimes be a trigger. This doesn't happen often because I dont know anyone who smokes weed now but can still be a powerful trigger if on the rare occasion I smell it.
Mind creating negative scenarios that may or may not be relevant to my current situation.
This always seems to happen at work especially.
To other people it may look like I am "preoccupied", "not paying attention", "not listening" (I'm not to be fair), or "spaced out". What is actually happening is that my brain has thought about a situation and is now running an entire sequence where all the worst and most disastrous outcomes possible are happening. It is extremely hard to break out of this trance because my anxiety has been triggered and I desperately start thinking of ways to prevent these bad outcomes from happening. I think of all possible solutions but none are good enough because my mind will just tell me why that solution will not work. I cannot win. I try to remain focused on what I am actually doing and to become more present, but this will normally only last a matter of seconds and then I am drawn back to this mind created problem that I now must solve. I will state some examples.
Situation: At work.
Real life trigger: My housemate is meeting a girl I like.
Mind created scenario: He has met up with her to try and get laid and I am now feeling extreme jealousy. He will have sex with her and I will not find out about it until some later date. He is going to try and take advantage of her despite knowing I like her. Now he is dating her and she likes him and not me. I will hear them having sex in the next room and I will just have to listen to it and suffer. The rejection and jealousy is unbearable. I realise I do not have any say on what other people do, everyone is free to do as they wish, but I am still jealous and feel ill. I dont know if I can stop this happening, I dont even have any right to though... I dont think it would actually happen, but if it did I would be so angry and probably not talk to them again. I dont want that happening either. etc. etc. etc. round and round in circles.
Situation: Sitting with friends. (This happened years ago).
Real life trigger: Unknown.
Scenario: Imagine if I was in a TV show like big brother with all of those cameras filming and recording me 24/7 and recording everything I did and said. I would be so exposed, people would be analysing and judging my every flaw and I would be exposed to the press. I would be like a piece of meat thrown out to some hungry dogs. Every thing I said and did would be analysed, judged, my every flaw would be picked to pieces in front of the nation live on TV with everyone judging me, hating me, laughing at me. I would have nowhere to run and hide, everyone would know me and my secrets and my daft behaviour and secret insecurities that I hide. I feel sick thinking about this. I hope this never ever happens. How does anyone survive on those types of shows? My anxiety would be triggered in front of the people watching and all the cameras. I would be eaten alive. I am so vulnerable and insecure, how can anyone live with this amount of insecurity? Where would I hide them all? Do people actually see me like this already? Am I already as exposed as I am making out to be? The press is evil etc etc etc.
After this scenario I realise that everybody has been talking and I didn't hear a single word of it.
Saying random words out loud to end a bad train of thought
Sometimes I think back to an extremely embarrassing or shameful event and then I snap myself out of it by saying a random word out loud. This is normally when I think back to very shameful events like punching my ex girlfriend in the face (I hated myself for a good year afterwards and it was extremely out of character for me) or other perhaps embarrassing scenarios like when I cried in the pub in front of a lot of people...
This "saying things out loud" thing is a recent development in the last few months.
I cope a lot better now than in the past
These are my most prominent issues that I am currently facing. My general mood is okay and I can normally cope day to day with these experiences. I cope a heck of a lot better than I used to. The scenarios my mind used to create in the past were a lot more bizzare and included things like alien abduction and obsessions over UFO's. I also used to have a lot of intrusive thoughts about torture and other violent images, and words such as "rape" just popping up into my head which I then felt guilty about.
Would like to know what you think I have bared my soul in this post and have been totally honest about the things going through my mind and some things in my past which I am not proud of but happened when I was at my lowest points. Is this all just anxiety?
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