My Mind Still Thinks I’m in Danger

When you grow up with an anxiety disorder, you don’t realize what kind of skills you’re developing. At an early age, I learned how to distinguish if someone was a bad person or not. Are they friend or foe? Growing up on the south side of almost any city will cause you to learn these skills willingly or otherwise. It was easy to see if someone was drunk, on drugs, or a mugger. I now avoid homeless beggars with a practiced indifference because I learned how to present myself in a way that projected, “I’m meaner than you. Fuck off!” It didn’t matter if I was meaner or not as long as they thought I was.

What happens when you integrate into everyday normal life where you have fewer threats? I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. No one around me went through similar struggles or battles. They lived a happy childhood with parents who didn’t verbally or physically abuse them. They have issues they are dealing with, but they have a support system to help them get by. They aren’t sitting at home alone rocking back and forth in an attempt to comfort themselves. They can make a new friend at the snap of a finger and not question someone’s trust. They can walk into a crowded room and thrive while I’m looking for exits, avoiding everyone, and trying not to hear and see every little detail in the room.

I can talk to anyone. I can jump into a crowd and find someone to chat with. I’ll know after a few minutes if I can get along with someone or not. I can make a new acquaintance. I rarely have the desire or energy for this. And close friendships? That part is hard. It takes so long for me to trust someone enough to let them in. Most people don’t stick around that long. I think most don’t want to. Some people, I see them as they are. They’re not bad people but they’re not good people either. I don’t want those people in my life. Other people drift away on their own.

I have no support system. I’ve never been close with anyone in my family. If I manage to find someone I can talk with more than once, they become my best friend for maybe a year or two and then life pushes us in different directions. Sometimes I wonder if the only reason certain people talk to me as often as they do is only because I always start the conversations. If I didn’t contact them, would they eventually contact me or not at all? Most of the time, the answer is not at all.

Maybe my standards are too high. Maybe I only meet selfish people so caught up in their own bullshit they can’t see me. Sometimes it feels like they see everyone except me. I want to be seen and heard. I want to feel close to someone, but I can’t be close to just anyone. I can’t let someone in fast enough. All I can do is sit back and hope someone eventually wants to make the effort. I’ve made the effort multiple times for multiple people. I feel I’ve always gone above and beyond and get nothing in return. I don’t do it for praise or status. I do it in the hopes that someone will do it for me. Karma. Treat others the way you want to be treated. I want to be treated with kindness.

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11 Replies to “My Mind Still Thinks I’m in Danger”

  1. Somewhat different background here, somewhat different “issues” here, but also the exact same things as the last half of your post. No answers here. Thank you for writing.

  2. In the last paragraph it sounds like you sum up the problem really well. If you are only kind so that you can receive kindness in return, then why are you surprised that people treat you the same way? If you give a gift always with the expectation of getting something back, there is bound to be a lot of disappointment.
    Maybe, those people that you are the always first to contact have their own trust issues. Maybe by reaching out to them consistently you are letting them learn that they can trust you to be there. Maybe by “testing” them, to see if the care enough to be worthy of your energy you are confirming their trust issues.
    Here you gave honesty, so you get it in return.
    The best way to earn trust is to give it.
    Please know that I am not saying this out of anger, or frustration or judgement. I cannot possibly know you from the handful of your posts that I have read. I am offering up a different perspective, which may or may not be true for you, because I appreciate it when I receive that from others.
    May you find hope and peace and love.

  3. I don’t have the same background as you but I get what you’re saying. It would be a unrealistic of me to say I totally understand but due to paranoia associated with schizoaffective disorder I often keep people at arm’s length also. I want to be friendly and have friends but I also feel that allowing people in could be a mistake somehow. As a Christian I have learned to trust God but I am still working on trusting people. I pray that you find peace in life and find somebody who will reciprocate your good intentions.

  4. To give the gift of love and friendship, as said in the previous reply, is to expect nothing back. I have put my trust in many and been stabbed in the back but you can’t give up. To have one close friend who becomes family is the greatest joy. Take chances, but be the person you want to be with. Is that person positive? Does that person live mindfully in the moment? Release the past and embrace the here and now. You may be pleasantly surprised to find yourself attracting the one person you will have in your life forever.

  5. This post sums up why I feel alone, even when I’m not alone. I go through phases where I’m generous with my time and resources (I’ll help just about anyone) to feeling like everyone just has me around for all the things I do for them (and helping no one). I try not to expect anything from people, but when you go out on a limb so often for people that seem like they could care less about you, it’s hurtful. I don’t need people to hold my hand or something, but I do like knowing like our relationship means something to them too.

  6. Unfortunately even having a supportive framework of friends and family, this is how it is as well. Everyone is caught up in either their own issues or just in life. You never know if you trust someone if you never give them the chance. Be standoffish and cautious but it’s possible you are putting expectations on your friendships. Been there. I’m am alcoholic, in recovery, and everything has always been about me..

  7. I can strike up a conversation with a stranger, too, and I always thought that meant I didn’t have mental or trust issues. It took my body breaking down for me to confront my anxiety and depression. That’s when I really realized that I had been outgoing on occasion, but, more often, I didn’t have the energy or motivation. I’d always told myself that I just didn’t like the claustrophobic attention of strangers, that, in fact, I didn’t like people in general. Now, I see how much of that was my mind trying to protect itself. I am very fortunate in having two friends (and their families), who have stuck by me for twenty years. Sometimes months will pass without any communication, but one text or phone call, and they are there for me, and we pick up, like no time passed at all. I know I’m blessed with this, and I hope you find someone you can share that kind of history and trust with.

  8. I’m sorry. It’s so hard to feel alone! I feel that way today, even though I have friends and family that care. I have anxiety and depression and trust issues too. You sound like a good friend to me! Wish there were more people like you in the world! I know it’s not the same as having someone physically present, but you have a community here. This is a safe place. We are in this together!!

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