Mental health awareness month is a month that is, not only important, but especially important to me. I went to school for psychology, I have friends and family who deal with their own mental illnesses every single day, and I have my own battles as well. It’s no news that I like to discuss mental health here on my blog. I have plenty of different topics hitting on the subject, but today, I’m discussing a little bit about my own personal experience with anxiety.
I’m not 100% sure when it started, but I want to believe that my social anxiety started when I was younger from being bullied. I’ve always been someone who was shy, but being bullied doesn’t help in the slightest. Now grown up, I learned to automatically keep my head down when walking and I just don’t like to look people straight in the eye and vise versa. I have even had friends who have brought up to me the fact that I don’t pay much attention to my surroundings. I know this is terrible, but the factor of not seeing what’s around me doesn’t cross my mind. The only thing that crosses my mind is that I don’t want people to stare at me and then find something to laugh at.
Another thing when it comes to my social anxiety is the experience of being in stores or just public places that can potentially become crowded. Of course, I go grocery shopping alone, but it’s not always something I like to do. This is because I tend to think a little too much when I’m alone. I don’t want to be in anyone’s way and I will literally go the most inconvenient way just to make sure of it. The one thing I hate the most is looking into an aisle (whether a grocery store or regular store), seeing that there are a decent amount of people, and then my stomach just feeling like it’s going into knots. It’s understandable for someone to not want to push through all of those people, but the fact that I just get these knots is just unnecessary to me. Yet, I can’t help it and I end up just trying to find an aisle with no one in it whether it’s an aisle I need to go through or not.
Next, I want to hit on my driving anxiety for a little bit. I’ve talked about it before and it’s something that I hate to say I still deal with. Driving anxiety has held me back from so much, but most importantly, just living life. I don’t have it in general, but there are some situations that really give me those knot feelings just thinking about and situations that I try my hardest to avoid. Just for context, if I didn’t get a push from my aunt when I was 18, I’m not sure when I would have taken the initiative to receive my license. I want to believe that I would’ve gotten it soon regardless due to the freedom you get with having your license, but it’s also easy to say that now since I have it. If you want a quick example of my experience with driving anxiety, it’s simply this statement: having the ability to go wherever you please, but not being able to move.
When I first started driving by myself, my foot would literally start to shake right after. It’s not because something happened or almost happened, it was literally just the fear or anxiety of it all. It’s crazy to type that out because no one knows this and now I’m sharing it with a ton of people online. Though I don’t deal with the foot shaking any longer, I still deal with the knots that come to my stomach for the smallest things. The things that people do without a second thought in their mind end up lingering in my own mind to where I’m either trying to figure out how to get out of it or how I can make it as less anxiety-inducing as possible.
Some of the things are as simple as just meeting up with friends to hang out or having to go somewhere that involves the highway as being the most convenient way to get to my destination. I avoid the highway like the plague and will often go the longest route to get to where I want to go. To others, that may seem insane, but to me, it’s literally just my life. I’ve begun to feel so hopeless that, if there was ever a situation where I went on a trip with my friends and we all needed to take turns driving, I’m okay with just not going because I would feel bad about not being able to contribute. Again, sounds crazy for someone who doesn’t deal with driving anxiety or deal with it to this extent, but as I said it’s having the ability to go wherever you please but not being able to move.
Everyone has their own personal experience with anxiety and not everyone deals with the same type of anxiety either. Social and driving anxiety are the two that have affected my life most, but what is life for me could seem odd for someone without anxiety or maybe even with someone dealing with anxiety, just not that kind of anxiety. When you have anxiety about everyday things, as I do with driving, it’s hard to even want to share it with people who don’t because they’ll never understand. If you feel like you’re in that situation, please know that I’m here for you. You can’t control those feelings. Trust me, I would love to freely do things without a second thought or care! Just know that your feelings are valid, you’re not weird or odd, and that you have a listening ear in me if ever needed.