About six years ago I was diagnosed with social anxiety and put on meds after a single visit with a college counselor in which I confided in her that I was suddenly unable to walk out of my apartment to get the mail unless it was dark outside. I took my pills for over a year, and then flushed them after I woke up one day and realized that I had become fat as hell and lost all impulse control.
Now that it has become somewhat “cool” to be awkward, I hide behind a hoodie and a set of dark framed glasses so that people just assume I’m a music fan or something, and not the boiling pot of sweaty nerves that I really am. Because in reality, I wear hoodies because it’s the socially acceptable form of wrapping myself in a blanket, and I wear thick glasses because I’m not allowed to go about my daily business with a Halloween mask on, although I’d very much like to. You know the character in Hotel New Hampshire who wears the bear costume? Yeah, I’d love that.
Some days, just walking down the street to go wherever, I will start to feel like my walking pattern is becoming comically exaggerated. I will start to tell myself that my butt is bopping up and down to some unheard rhythm, or that my legs are high stepping like the leader of a marching band. Then my eyes will start to water, and to comfort myself, I will do a series of fake yawns. The fake yawns happen pretty much all throughout the day as a way to disguise that I’m hyperventilating.
I also never know what to do with my arms, so I just shove them into my pockets. During T-shirt weather, I’m fucked, so I always make sure to wear a bag that I can clutch on to for dear life. Oddly enough, I like to be outside quite a bit because I love the smell of dirt and fresh air. I also love to go places in the hopes of seeing something really weird happen. If I am at a party or social gathering, I will try very hard to get drunk so that I can talk. If I talk to strangers and am completely sober, chances are I will pick a great topic like how being zapped with a police taser will make you pee, or I will just make out with you. Because we all know that it’s easier to be physically intimate with someone than verbally intimate.
If I say something funny, which I am apt to do, and more than three people turn to look at me to share in the laughter, my eyes will water and my neck will turn red. Talking on the phone is an impossibility because the idea of bad reception, or the worry that the person I’m talking to will also be talking to other people in the background, is mortifying to me. I have had people ask me if I was raped by a telephone in my past, and I can only assume that it is a logical explanation. As a journalist, this phone thing becomes problematic because I conduct phone interviews on a frequent basis. To combat this, I set the interview for as far into the future as I can, and then worry about it daily until it happens. On the day of the interview, I will smoke a cigarette for each hour up till the interview is set to take place. This makes for good interviews. And now typing all of this makes me want to take a nap. Bye.