Anxiety has been eating me alive.
I was 21 when I had my breakdown. I was ill for quite some time before then but the breakdown is the thing that took everything from me.
Being in the midst of a breakdown is terrifying. I didn’t know what it was at the time and I’m not sure I’d have cared, all I knew was that the world was suffocating me, darkness was a closer friend than all those before and that I was lost; perhaps forever. I was a towering inferno of agony. I don’t remember great chunks of my life and I’ll never get those memories back; perhaps I don’t want to – I was not in my mind. I was gone, I was a shell and because I was not in my mind I didn’t learn how to function, how to live – I didn’t want to live. I never learnt how to cope with emotions, I only had a two of them and they were desperate misery and seething anger. I didn’t learn how to cope in social situations, how to behave – I isolated myself, I drove people away from me, I was not fun to be around.
I feel, sometimes, devoid of enough tools to cope. I feel uncertain of the accuracy of my actions and that induces crippling anxieties which only serve to make me more socially inept; stumbling over my words and offering a nervous giggle when no giggle is necessary. Saying things that are inappropriate – or not saying anything at all and still spending the rest of eternity living these inane conversations in the vain hope that eventually I will get it right and have cracked the elusive code of conversation.
I have come so far. I don’t strive for isolation any more, yet I still find myself isolated. I do partake in conversation instead of shying away from it – no more the silent mouse in the corner. I speak to people every day now, I laugh and participate and there is seldom a day where I don’t have to talk to someone new or cope in some form of social setting but still anxiety plagues me and it frustrates me that I can’t move past it. Some days I’m not sure I can push through it – but I do, I have and I will likely continue to. Still, what is so difficult about being around people?! What am I afraid of? Why must I seek acceptance in every facet of my life? Does the approval or disapproval matter when coming from a relative stranger?
Sometimes, though less often now, I wish I had let the breakdown have me. It would have been so much simpler, easier and less painful if I had just let it win and embraced the darkness. I would be done now. Free?
There are so many things that I had to learn to do – I had to learn to function, to sleep properly, to wash, to organise, to talk, to share, to live, to breathe… and so many of these things come so naturally to me now – perhaps one day I will be able to interact with others without anxiety and paranoia. But for now, I’ll keep trying, I’ll strive to be more transparent and less defensive and perhaps I’ll just embrace my woeful social ineptitude.