A Candid Introduction
I wanted to create a longer introduction to explain myself a bit, and I welcome all thoughts, stories and comments that may cross your mind as you read this.
People change. How many times have I heard that? It seems like some people are stagnant for decades while others emerge from one stage of life almost indistinguishable from their previous form. What kind of mind, what kind of experience leads to such change or to no change at all?
When I was a teen, I would have described myself as extremely outgoing, a natural at making friends and a happy-go-lucky soul. Life gets to us all in different ways as we age: it molded me as a young adult into the hermit and introvert I am now. The onset of severe social anxiety—something I had never experienced before—was part of the ordeal, and it left me unable to speak even in small groups, paralyzed by fear at the thought of going down the street or driving. Eventually I stopped leaving my house at all. I stopped using Facebook. Being able to see these people as they ignored my pain, people that had loved me when I was well and abandoned me when I wasn't—it made me feel sick in more ways than one.
As my condition degraded I became more difficult to talk to or be around, and I started to resent myself and others. How could I expect anyone to want to be around someone full of paranoia, anxiety and sadness? But I didn't think I deserved to rot alone in my own mind for an illness that wasn't my fault. There was nothing to do but struggle with myself day after day, year after year.
Now, with the help of medication, I’m at a point in the long and ongoing journey where I can function in public again. I can seek out company, friendship and make connections without assuming the worst of everyone—without assuming the worst of myself. I'm still working on finding value in the little things: a passing remark shared with a stranger, a warm spring evening spent drawing, letters exchanged with a friend across the ocean.
Just a month ago, I laid on my couch sure that I’d spend the rest of my days stuck in an incontrollable panic—unable to eat or sleep or understand how things could be any other way. I will undoubtedly become sick again, but just knowing that it is possible to crawl out of the hole is a powerful, indescribable feeling.