From time to time I talk about things of an extremely personal nature. Talking is cathartic and healthier than the alternative. Herein I ramble about depression, anxiety, and other foibles.
Six and a half years ago I had a pretty good bout with depression. I recognized it and, most importantly, sought help for it. One of the unintended side effects of anti-depression medicine is that it’s used to treat a number of afflictions. When the depression had been treated I was weaned off of the medication and things were fine — for a while. I was pretty sure that the old blues were back again and a trip to the doctor today confirmed those fears.
There’s more to how I’ve been feeling than just depression, and it’s probably my bigger concern. I’ve suspected it for a while but it’s been all but confirmed now. I have social anxiety disorder. I imagine there will be two types of reaction from people that know me — disbelief and confirmation. With some people I am more or less at complete ease but in other situations I fall all over myself. When the anxiety kicks in, I either stutter or start talking fast and can’t stop myself, or stop talking all together.
Imagine living inside of a glass box with a one-way speaker, so you can see and hear everything going on around but no one can year you no matter how loud you scream or shout. That’s a little bit what it’s been like dealing with this anxiety. I try to talk, I want to talk, but the words won’t come out. It’s frustrating. It’s embarrassing. It’s demoralizing.
I’ve had this for a long time. Probably before the first bout of depression. I remember the first time I had a panic attack, close to a decade ago and the anxiety I feel every time I go to a convention or to any place where I have to interact with people. Trying to talk to a well-respected writer at a convention, only to end up mumbling and walking away? I’ve been that guy, on more than one occasion.
One of the reasons why I suspected there was something more than shyness or nervousness happening is that I want to interact. I want to walk up and talk to people, to ask questions, participate in conversation, and be normal. On rare and special occasion I meet someone that I feel so at ease with that I can talk and talk and talk. Online conversations are also something that comes easier than face-to-face but even those I sometimes struggle with because my lack of social experience makes it difficult to how to respond to some things.
Some people don’t like social interaction. I do. I want to be a part of the conversation and not just a witness to it. I have a voice but cannot speak. The words fail to materialize, a spell broken before its even cast.
It’s been a long and stressful day and I’m rambling a bit. Treating the depression also treats the anxiety. The roots of the anxiety need to be exposed so they can be chopped away so that I can be free of it once and for all. I need this for me, and I need it for my family. They deserve me at my best so we can enjoy life together instead of watching it pass us by.
[Crossposted from Adam Israel. If you'd like to comment, you can do so either here or there.]