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Walls closing in, that feeling of terror when multiple people you do not know come up to you forcing unwanted compliments down your throat and the terrifying feeling that even church is not safe—making enduring social anxiety a nightmare.
I did not know what I had for the longest time, I honestly thought I was just a weird, ungrateful, horrible excuse for a human being. I could not fathom why I was feeling that way.
Bridgette, my cat, helped a lot when she was alive, so those feels of social anxiety were pressed and down and shoved in drawers that, unfortunately, did not include padlocks.
Time passed, Bridgette passed away due to bone cancer and as tears of rain fell, I forced myself to go back to college.
Hatred consumed my heart, as well as anger, at idiots who refused to give me a chance to work for them. With no direction on how to get a job and zero experience, I used the tools left behind by my grandmother on my mom’s side of the family to obtain an associate’s degree and then transfer to South Dakota to get my bachelors.
Now, I had never traveled by myself before, let alone on an airplane or even lived by myself. In a sense, I went from point A to point M without even glancing at the steps in-between.
Being by yourself for the first time, particularly for someone who has mental health issues, but was not aware they had these issues at that point of time, is horror film terrifying. Sobbingly, I called a family member only to realize the next day that a bunch of scumbags had overheard and that it was annoying/stupid. And yes, these were young men who should have known better and had a little more compassion and understanding in their hearts.
After a while, I started to gain comfortability with my new surroundings and was starting to adjust, I even made a few new friends. Now, I am in no way going to out anyone but what happened next, in my first year at a University SHOULD never have happened to anyone.
One of those new friends that I had made decided to be a bad seed. Emotional abuse is raw and real, the abuse started the day after Christmas of that year. Keep in mind that I still had no idea that I suffered from issues with mental health. I suffered on my own for a little over two months before I cracked.
Not knowing what is happening to you will cause a major panic with your thoughts and your actions as well. I remember that I tried to go to a mutual friend to figure out what was going on and to find some comfort. Continuously saying “I don’t know” by the way, is the most unhelpful and insensitive response to come out of a person’s mouth. This is called being a people pleaser, NOT a friend.
Next, I went to the individual in charge of the dorm I was living in, hoping they too would be able to help me. Needless to say, they were as clueless as the moron I thought was my friend had been.
It was not until I went to go the Resident Assistant on my floor that, finally, they asked the RIGHT questions.
For someone with a lot of mental health issues it should be no surprise that I often have thoughts of suicide.
After years of therapy and a psych evaluation, I found out that one of the mental health issues I have is social anxiety, combine that with my introversion and that is a deadly combination.
Here’s what is hard for me:
- Talking to people I don’t know
- Being in an enclosed space with a lot of people I don’t know
- Striking up a conversation with people I don’t know
- Constantly being around people
- Having people walk behind me
- Allowing people to touch me, even if I’m close to them
- Understanding social cues
- Having eye contact with other people, for me this feels threatening, NOT polite
- Going to sleep at a decent hour, often it’s between 12 AM and 4 AM that I go to sleep
- Sticking up for myself
- Hearing the sound of someone knocking on the door (this also aggravates my PTSD)
- Allowing people to do anything nice for me, unless they ask me first
These are just a few examples, to me these sound strange, but when I found out that I have social anxiety my behavior and reactions towards others started to make sense.
This, in no way means, that I am not going to work on getting better, but in the meantime, a little patience goes a long way.