I continue down this long road of Social Anxiety.
Anxiety, and more specifically my struggles with social anxiety, has been an ongoing issue for me in 2017. It got so bad this year that in February I was hospitalized with bleeding ulcers for almost a week. It is no coincidence that this event happened during one of the worst stretches where my stress and anxiety hit levels I didn’t even know existed.
Since that time I have worked diligently on getting my social anxiety under control, with some success at times and at other times some failures. I am still working with my therapist on my cognitive behavioral therapy and we decided together that we would start to focus on the thoughts and behaviors of my social anxiety in the coming weeks and months.
I wanted to use this blog post to gather my thoughts on one specific cause of my social anxiety. What I have learned so far since starting this blog is if I am honest here, I am more willing to be honest with my therapist when I see her. It is also nice to connect with my followers by sharing my experiences with the many things that are wrong with me.
One area of my social anxiety that has really bothered me is how I feel when I am in my car driving. I used to feel comfortable and at ease behind the wheel. I drove a delivery truck for a supplier of plumbing, heating, and cooling company when I was just nineteen. I drove on average 1500 miles a week, not including the driving I always did in my free time.
I once drove six hours north just because I wanted to get away, and drove another six hours back home in one day. Anyone who knows me knows I was a natural behind the wheel. Driving was just something I was really good, and the jobs I did before I got diagnosed involved driving. People always felt safe when I was behind the wheel of my car.
I never ever felt anxious once behind the wheel, that is until about two years ago. One of the causes, in my opinion, is tied to the fact that before leaving my house for anything there is always a high level of anxiety before I have even stepped out the front door of my house. By the time that I get into my car, I am a ball of mess and anxiety just waiting for the worst to happen.
It is not a great feeling to not be comfortable driving when it used to be a place of solace. Driving used to be therapeutic and the longer the road trip I would take, the better I would feel. It has been so long since I have driven farther than the area I live. The beach is only a ten-fifteen minute drive and yet I don’t go anymore. I miss being able to drive and think about life. My best ideas would always come when I drove, so much so I started keeping a tape recorder with me.
When its just me, the road, the cars around me, and good music life was good. It has been so long that I have felt peace like that in my life. I want so bad to get back to that place.
It is always hard to pinpoint an exact cause of something so good becoming something that brings me anxiety. But I think my anxiety boils down to my panic attack two years ago. Before that event, I had never had a panic attack while driving. I have stated before that this panic attack was the worst I ever had to this very point in my life, and it was the first time I thought I could die from a panic attack. It is the panic attack that I gauge every other panic attack since that day.
What the worst part was that I tried to keep driving during the panic attack thinking it would pass. I had panic attacks in the past but it had been a long time. About six months before this panic attack my doctor had reduced my Ativan from three times a day to two. When it the panic attack didn’t subside, I barely was able to pull my car over in time, and I almost hit someone. My passenger was able to help me guide the car to the side of the road. I bailed from my car and proceeded to hyperventilate almost passing out by the time the ambulance came.
I think that is what goes through my mind every time I get into my car. At any moment, I could have a panic attack so bad that I may unintentionally hurt someone. I think this is where I will start my discussions with my therapist as we work on my social anxiety. This is a good starting point because I can figure out what causes these thoughts and how to channel them in better ways.
This is now the fourth blog on social anxiety that I have talked about since starting this blog. I was thinking today that it really could have been helpful to start this blog in January, but I just wasn’t in a good place then. I did journal every day during this time, so I am thinking that somewhere down the line I will post a journal to show my thoughts at that time. It might be useful to give my journal to my therapist. It’s not like I am hiding my thoughts anymore.
As always please share your own experiences with anxiety in my comments. There are so many people out there that suffer from this and it takes many forms.
Always keep fighting.
Photo Credit: Utah Jack