SOCIAL ANXIETY MAKES ME WANT TO HIDE MYSELF AWAY

People laugh and think I’m joking when I smile and confess that if it weren’t for my bevy of doctors appointments and Christian worship, that I would happily never leave the house.

Sometimes they will hear the ring of truth and set about trying to convince me that I am wrong, afterall, I’m a friendly outgoing person who obviously needs lots of human companionship to be whole. Friendly, outgoing people obviously can not experience social anxiety or be introverted!

Home is my safe space, a place where I have peace and quietness, a corner of the world where I can isolate myself away and choose exactly how much or little emotional and physical energy is poured out. This is a good thing, someone’s home should be their safe space, but admittedly mine has become a virtual prison of my own making at times – even if I want to leave, I find it almost impossible to break out.

I do love people, but I fear social interaction because I have not yet learned how to limit the amount of energy is poured out during conversations. Most of this comes from my own inability to limit what I put into a relationship, the amount of my heart that is given – there is a great deal of personal enjoyment when I find a deep personal connection with people. However this whole souled connecting often leaves me drained and listless after.

When I’m with others I want to be a fun person, the social connector, the listener. I want to be there and make sure everyone is happy and having a good time. To do this I need to find extra energy too to put on my happy and cheerful mask, the one that allows me to be bright and bubbly. It’s exhausting and I live in fear that I’m going to drop my smile at the worst moment and fall apart.

The thing that is confusing is the fact that I’m not pretending to have a good time, or to be “Miss Congeniality”, it’s a genuine love of others that keeps me going in these situations. The problems lays in my inability to contain myself, to control the amount that is expended. I don’t want to be a grey cloud in someones otherwise sunny day.

I have stopped socialising in recent months, truly content to stay home alone and write, or draw – alone with my own company and my phone to connect me to the chosen few that I interact with. It has been peaceful and I have loved it, my panic attacks had stopped and I was able to focus a lot more on my physical and mental health. The company of just my husband and children has been beautiful.

However, as all good things must, it has come to an end. I have to learn now to socialise again, to “people” as I put it in the most cack handed of terms. My peace is slipping away because I need to learn how to be a human again and interact with other humans, the panic attacks have come back and my anxiety is high – I hate feeling like this, but it is important to not give up, this is part of the recovery journey.

Is it wrong to wish that I could just go back to my self imposed isolation instead of following through on my psychological homework? I really just want to hide away at home. I am safer here.

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