Thursday, August 20, 2015

Social Anxiety and Sunday School

I'm finally listening to this Blake Shelton album (Bringing Back the Sunshine) I downloaded off Google Play.  I'm lukewarm about Blake Shelton and lukewarm about country music.  It was free on Google Play so I said why not.  If I didn't like it I could delete it.  No skin off my nose.  So far, it's good.  But, you know how country songs go...

They get you feeling all feely and everything and boy is this album sure doing that.

This post is becoming a victim of my social anxiety.  There is something I want to talk about but I've deleted paragraph after paragraph because I don't know how to say it on here.  It is easier for me to say things/write things over the internet but I still can't 100% let my thoughts flow here.  I still get socially anxious.  I want to talk about this thing but I just can't.

This thing I want to talk about is big.  To me.  But it is also extremely nutty.  If I talk about this it'll make me sound like I'm deranged and need to be committed.  Well, maybe it's not that bad, but because I think anything close to that I just can't talk or write about it.

But, I want to.  I'm fighting an inner conflict with myself.  Ugh!  I wish I could just type it, post it, and be done with it.  No one reads this blog anyway so I would have nothing to worry about.

Well, I'll talk about something I can talk about.

Which is?

Social Anxiety
I feel, no I know my social anxiety is holding me back.  There is a lot more I'm able to do thanks to my medication, but I still suffer.  I feel bad when I talk to friends and I realize how goofy I probably look.  I'm not able to look them directly in the eyes.  I know they have to notice it.  I want them to know that it's because I have social anxiety.  I want to blurt out "I'm weird because I have social anxiety," but as you know, I just can't.  I'm talking to a friend last night at orchestra practice and I'm so nervous.  I've known her for something like six years.  We've talked before.  I don't get too personal because social anxiety but I think that for knowing someone for that long we're good.  We're talking and I want to be completely honest with her, but I can't.  I know she won't judge me.  The rational part of my brain knows that.  But then the irrational, the social anxiety part of my brain speaks up.  It speaks louder.  It always does.  I don't lie.  I don't try to be someone I'm not.  I'm just very quiet about what I am.

Am I ashamed of what I am?  Yes.  I'm not ashamed that I have social anxiety.  That makes me feel less embarrassed about things I do.  I just think it's because I have social anxiety.  I haven't verbally expressed to my friends and all that I have it, but I hope from my interactions they have been able to determine that I have it, so my actions can be explained.  I do want them to think I act a certain way because I have social anxiety or maybe they think I have Asperger's.

I don't completely think I do, but I feel like maybe I'm hanging off the spectrum, like maybe social anxiety is related to it.  I'm not like the stereotypical person with Asperger's,but many of the traits, I think I have. I don't want to be like I'm self-diagnosing myself because it's popular or whatever.  I don't think I have Asperger's.  I've watched documentaries and read books.  I don't really fit with the typical Asperger.  I'm more aware than they are, if you know what I mean.  But, I do think I have some of the traits.  Obviously, I do have problem with social skills.  That's the whole social anxiety thing.  I'm very well aware of it, though, and I'm not quite sure that a true Aspie is.  What I mean by being well aware of it is I know when I'm going through a situation that is being affected by it.  It's not something I find out after the fact.  I know as I'm going through it that I'm going through it.  I wish that could help me get over it, but it won't.  Being aware doesn't mean I can change it.

I do other things, like have rituals I can't alter.  I get ready in the morning in a certain way (so does everybody and that's so we don't forget to do anything).  I eat my food in a certain way, a certain pattern. I'm OCD (not like I have to touch a doorknob three times before leaving a room, but I am obsessive and compulsive about the things I do).  I follow routines all throughout my day.  I do certain things at certain times of the day because that's my routine.  I know the world won't end if I don't do it, but I don't feel productive if I skip over something.

The odd repetitive movements.  I don't think I really do that. I don't do things like wring my hands or anything.  I don't really have repetitive movements, I don't think.  I notice when I stand I do rock back and forth (especially if music is playing) but that comes off as more of a nervous tic.

We've been through the communication difficulties.  I have worked really hard to look people in the eyes (sometimes I look them in the mouth) when they're talking, but it's next to impossible to do that when I'm talking.  I can almost sort of do it with my family members.  I want to say I am literal, but I know that I am probably 95% sarcastic so that's not true. I know when someone's joking and yet, nudge, nudge, nudge.  Am I trying to make this fit into the Asperger mold?  I'm trying not to.  I'm trying to see how not Asperger it is.  I do have problems with communication.  I do have problems knowing whether someone is referring to me and the tone of their voice.  Are they being mean?  Are they hurt?  Or are they happy?  Are they okay?  In relation to me?  But, is that communication or overthinking and my self-confidence being shot to heck?

The big thing is obsessiveness.  You know me, you know I get obsessed.  I can't just like something.  I have to LOVE it and spend all my time with it.  Harry Potter.  I was huge into it.  I didn't dress up and go to conventions or midnight book premieres.  I did go to midnight openings of a few of the movies, but I certainly did not dress up.  Between OOTP and the release of the last movie I spent most of my free time in HP web forums (so much I was appointed a Gallery Guru of The Leaky Cauldron).  I was a geek, I'll admit that.  Baseball.  I love baseball.  I love the Atlanta Braves.  My medicine has calmed me down so much.  Oh my gosh.  I used to be nuts.  I mean nuts.  Winning meant everything.  Losing was not an option.  Something bad happened I got mad.  I had to watch all games.  I couldn't miss one.  If I had to go out I had to be able to listen on the radio.  I spent time on Atlanta Braves web forums as well.  I know the obsession started my sophomore year of college.  I've always been a fan, but I wasn't obsessed until then.  My roommate never showed up, so for two weeks I was alone in my dorm (then I got the world's crappiest roommate who left after a week so another week I was alone).  I was talking to my dad on the phone and he asked if I was watching the game.  I turned to the game and the rest is history.  I was alone in my dorm room so I didn't have anyone else to worry about in terms of what we're watching on  TV.  I got a computer for my room that year so I joined forums to talk about my new obsession.  If I'd had a roommate those two weeks I probably would not have gained that obsessiveness.  I would still care.  I've always cared.  I remember always checking the paper for the standings every summer and thinking "It's just April.  We're always down now and end up #1 in the end."  That was true until 2005, but I digress.  It's not so much that I'm obsessed with the internet, but that I'm obsessed with my obsession that I need an outlet and the internet is my outlet (and I am sure my family and friends are extremely thankful that I am not pouring my obsessions on them!).  Hey, I think I'm obsessing over this post!

(Related note: my medicine has calmed me down so much sports related.  I used to yell loudly and harshly at umpires and refs on TV.  I don't do that anymore.  Their actions don't make me want to strangle them and put them in jail.  I can go without watching a baseball game on TV.  The world is not going to end if I'm not watching or listening to the Braves game (it helps that we have smart phones with the capability of keeping up with sports scores) and it has nothing to do with them sucking butt this season.  I ruined plans once because of this.  We had gotten our first HD TV and even though we didn't have HD cable I was excited to watch the Braves on and HD TV for the first time.  My dad came up with the idea that we all as a family go to the movies together.  That's fun and I wish we had done that.  We rarely do that (we're a close family but including my mom and dad we don't go to the movies much).  But, I got mad, because we had discussed watching the baseball game.  That's what we're doing.  Nobody could talk to me rationally.  I wouldn't listen.  I got angry and needless to say, we didn't go to the movies that day.  I can be rational now.  There's always tomorrow.  We're not guaranteed tomorrow, but there is a game scheduled tomorrow, so if I miss today there's tomorrow.  My medicine has helped me to think rationally).

I'm not clumsy or awkward.  I'm not an athlete.  My brother and sister are great athletes. Me?  No.  I tried soccer twice.  I tried basketball twice.  I tried gymnastics thrice (one of my failings there is my fear of heights--no doing cartwheels on the balance beam or much on the uneven bars).  I tried dance twice.  I'm not good at any of it.  I did not try baseball (well, softball, I'm a girl) because I'm afraid of the ball being thrown at my face.  You could call that being awkward especially when I have talented siblings.  But, I'm not clumsy.  I don't trip over my feet.  I'm an excellent marching band member. I never fell down there.

Skilled or talented in one area?  I like to write, but I don't think I'm exceptionally talented in that area.  Maybe it's my lack of self-confidence that makes me think this.  I am good at the flute and piccolo but I don't think I'm exceptionally talented, either.  I'm no better than the average person.  I'm definitely not good enough to be first chair anywhere.  But, I do think I'm good enough to not be last chair.  In church I'm in the middle.  We have six flautists so I'm not directly in the middle anymore, but I was when we had five (we don't audition or try out for chairs but I do sit third chair).  I float between first and second parts.  I am the only piccolo player and I love it. I wish we played more piccolo stuff.  In high school almost everything had a piccolo part.  Church music not so much, but lately we have been playing more pieces with piccolo parts (Christmas time really gets it).

Maybe my one area of true skill is grammar.  I will add it to my obsessiveness since I'm kind of obsessed with it (but I don't drive people crazy--I am a member of the Grammar Police but I'm not always on duty).

There are other things like how we're sensitive to sound.  It doesn't mean things are extra loud to us.  We're just sensitive.  I can hear the small sounds, like when the cable is off but the TV is still on.  It makes this tiny humming noise I can hear but no one else seems to.  Small noises become the most annoying to me.  I am trying really hard to grit my teeth and bear it.  Is it something to get mad over? Maybe it's the medicine coursing through my veins.

I look at this and I look at people who actually have been diagnosed with Asperger's (my psychiatrist won't diagnose me with it) and I don't feel I fit in with them.  I feel on this spectrum I'm hanging off the edge.  I'm there, but I'm not there.  I feel maybe that's where social anxiety places itself.  It's related but it's not it.

Totally off-track but that was fun to write about.  We're talking about what I am ashamed of now.

It's not the social anxiety/Asperger's thing.  It's the other part of my life.  I don't have a job outside my house.  This is related to social anxiety.  Would I like a job outside my house?  Maybe. I'm not lazy.  It's not that I don't want responsibilities.  It's not like I want to stay home and do nothing all day. If I have responsibilities, places to be, things to do, people to see, I will do them.  I'm not afraid of having a full calendar and having things to do.  If I had a job that I had to go to everyday I would.  I would be responsible and everything.  It's not that.  I do think people might think I'm lazy, which leads to the embarrassment.  I have tried, but not hard enough, to do work on the internet.  I am trying with the freelance editing (proofreading and editing I do like that and if you need someone to do some proofreading or editing for you contact me, please!), but not very hard.  I'm not making a whole lot of money right now.  Some.  I make some.  I am able to pay my bills every month (and since I live with my parents they're obviously not that much but I contribute).

Why don't I have a real out of the house job?  I ask myself that all the time.  I am afraid of interviews but it's not that.  I'm afraid to voice what I really want to do.  What do I want to do?  I don't know.  What do I like to do?  I don't know.  I do know what I like to do.  I like to read.  I like to write.  I like to play my flute.  I like to play my piccolo.  I like proofreading.  I like that more than the other side of editing.  Saying that stuff out loud is the hard part.  I don't know why.  It doesn't sound like something that should be.  It's not like any of this is embarrassing.  It's not.  I'm not embarrassed by any of that.  It's like I'm keeping the inside on the inside.  I got to get a real job or find a way to make freelance editing more of a real job for me.  I can't live this way forever. I'm not a lazy bum.  I want to support myself.

I do think people think I'm a deadbeat because I still live with my parents.  There is a part of me that wants to move out.  The annoying things that annoy me won't be there to annoy me.  But, I'll be alone.  Because of social anxiety I am not good at making friends and I am afraid if I move out I will be all alone.  I had friends in college but I wasn't always with them.  There were times, a lot of times, when I was alone because I don't know how to just jump into a social situation and declare "Here I am."  I have to be invited.  That's not how it goes in college.  In college people don't invite you.  You just show up.  You don't know how hard it is for me to just do that.  Life on my own I fear would be like that.  I'll be alone.  Yes, I do like being alone.  Like right now I'm alone in my room writing this blog and it's heaven.  But, I don't always want to be alone.  I don't want to sit in my apartment night after night watching TV and eating dinner alone.  I want to hang out with friends and family.  I want to go out to eat with people, go to the movies with people, go shopping with people, heck, just talk to a person sometimes.  I don't want to do that all the time, but sometimes.  I want that option. I fear if I do live on my own I won't have that option.

If I move out I'll also have to do everything on my own.  I don't want you to think I'm 33 and can't do anything.  I can do things.  I'm not some helpless little girl.  I'm not talking about making dinner, doing the laundry, doing the dishes, blah, blah, blah.  I can do all that.  Well, when it comes cooking I can cook for one.  But, you have to do other things like actually talk to people.  When a problem arises you have to call someone.  Something in the apartment breaks, call the super.  Cable problems?  Call the cable company.  Stuff like that.  I have a phone phobia so I use the phone part of my phone as little as possible (when I cancelled a SiriusXM radio a few months ago that was a big achievement for me since you can only do that via the phone).  In college when something broke (like our bathroom pocket door getting stuck) my roommate called.  This is something I need to get over.  I can't live life not being able to do this. I get it.  But, it still scares me and is a hindrance to me moving out.

(Small thing but if I live on my own I have to kill my own bugs.  EEK!)

That's what I'm ashamed of.  It's not social anxiety but things that social anxiety causes.  But, you probably forgot I was even talking about what I'm ashamed of since I went on a very wild tangent.  That's how my brain works.

Sunday School
Another problem I want to discuss is Sunday School.  I am currently in the Singles Life I class which is for singles out of college and under 30.  I'm 33.  I should really be in Singles Life II.  Switching classes is really hard for me.  It's not just one day I go to Singles Life II and am good.  I'm in the orchestra so I would be coming into class halfway through (we have two services and since I play in both I miss the the first thirty minutes of Sunday School).  If I did switch I would be walking into my new class in the middle of it.  Now, we have had combined classes before so they and the teacher (who knows my name even though I don't think I've ever told him) would know why I'm "late" but first time and everything.  Social Anxiety. He knows I'm in the orchestra so he would definitely know why I'm late.   To switch I think I would have to talk to both my current teacher and the SLII teacher.  They're both great.  But, talking to people much less teachers (even church teachers who aren't school teachers) is nerve wracking.

I do want to make the move.  It's just hard.  I can't express how hard it is for me, how it feels.  You can't know until you experience it.

Coming up next month we are doing our volunteer project to beautify our city.  The two singles classes will be combining to do our work.  I see this as an opportunity to get to know the members of the SLII class and to talk to both teachers.  That requires me to go and be social.

I want to be social.  It's not that I don't want to be.  I want to be social.  I want to hang out with these people.  I do.  I really do.  I really need to step over that line.  I need to get out of  my comfort zone.  Social anxiety magnifies every problem a million times.  It's so much easier to just stay holed up in my room where I don't have to interact with anyone.  It's not healthy.  It's also not what I want.  I like sitting here, working on my computer, interacting with  people over social media rather than face-to-face or over the phone.  It's easy.  But, I do want to hang out with friends.  I do want to hang out with real people.  I do want to have a life outside my room, outside my house, outside my computer.  I want to live.

If you pray, pray for me.  Pray that I am able to participate in this activity next month.  Pray that I am able to move up to the SLII class.  Pray that I am able to be social and be happy.  I need that.

PLEASE DON'T LET THIS SCARE YOU AWAY!  I'm a great person.  My medicine works wonders.  I'm not some doped up girl (woman).  I'm fine.  I'm healthy.  I'm much better.  If I get comfortable with you I can be a great person (ask the people who know me).

This was a really long post, but I had fun writing it so that's what you're getting.