You’re Making Me Blush

I get embarrassed easily.  This might not sound like a big deal-you probably get embarrassed too-but to me there is an all-consuming fear, a fear of humiliation, which makes it difficult for me to go out in public.  I’m so afraid of being embarrassed that I will have panic attacks in situations wherein I think people are looking at me.  They might not actually even be looking at me, but in my mind they always are, and I will see them staring and laughing at me.  I’m never sure if they’re really laughing or pointing…  I don’t know if these things I see are hallucinations or if they’re true.  These fears of mine can be triggered by perceived or actual scrutiny from others.  Makes no difference, I’m going to panic either way.

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD),  is characterized by intense fear in social situations, causing considerable distress. The diagnosis of social anxiety disorder can be of a specific disorder  (when only some particular situations are feared) or a generalized disorder.  Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder typically involves a persistent, intense, chronic fear of being judged by others and of being embarrassed or humiliated by one’s own actions.”  Google coughed up this description of myself.  No big surprise there.  I don’t remember when I was first diagnosed with this condition, but I’ve suffered from it since elementary school, roughly age 10.  It’s gotten worse as I’ve grown older, except for that period of time in our mid-20’s when The Kellie was usually in charge of our life.  (I really should tell you about her sometime-she’s the life of the party-in real life and in my mind)

SAD is the main reason I usually stay home.  I don’t venture out in public very often, and if I do I (usually) must have Husband by my side and I definitely must be doped up on anti-anxiety medications.  I can’t go out in public unless I’m drugged.  In fact, I won’t go until I have some sort of chemical thing happening in my brain.  If I think the pills are taking too long, I’ll start drinking.  Sometimes at night I’ll smoke some pot.  Whatever it takes to make me feel “ready for Reality”, and able to handle the stares, the looks, the laughs, the whispering, all of which I perceive no matter where I go.  This even applies to situations, like parties, where the people involved are my friends; I still think they’re making fun of me, and I get embarrassed.  It’s incredibly uncomfortable to be in a crowded room-the jumbled roar of whispers contains my name and everything They are saying about me is negative.  They make fun of my clothes, my hair, my body, my face, my intellect, my personality, my whole being.  They point out specific flaws-like that mole on my face or the surgical scar I have-and torture me relentlessly with their insults.  I am humiliated, I feel like there’s a spotlight shining on me and everyone in the universe is laughing at me.  I can’t tell you how embarrassing it is when I actually do something physical-like spill a drink.  Oh dear God, now that really makes me turn red (and then I have to flee the room so I can cry).

This fear of embarrassment makes it impossible to relax in a social setting.  I am tense and on edge pretty much any time I’m out in public.  I try to hide as best I can-sitting in a dark corner whenever possible and wearing sunglasses indoors-but I still can’t escape the feeling I have of being scrutinized.  Now not only does the SAD make it difficult for me to go out, but add to that the paranoia and insecurity I feel at all times… OK, now multiply that feeling by 100, and you might get an idea of what it’s like for me to be around other people.  I’d move somewhere that had no people, but I’m afraid of being alone.  A walking contradiction.  Yes, yes I am.