Keep calm. Try to slip under the radar. Mask the anxiety. Don’t let the others pick up on it. Don’t get found out.
Talk. Laugh. Smile. Agree. Emote.
What do I do with my hands? Fiddle with something. A couple of them notice. Play it off. I try to take a sip of my drink, but my muscles twitch. One eyes me closely. I can’t do that right now. Stir the drink instead. Pretend like nothing’s happened. Ignore the peering eyes. Suppress the building tension and anxiety. Pretend I don’t notice them noticing my anxiety.
My face feels hot. Breathe. I will my body not to blush. My cheeks get hotter. I worry they’ll notice how red I’m turning. They exchange glances. What does that mean? Do they know something I don’t? Are they communicating something about me? Look off into the distance. It’s getting too much to handle. I see them watching me in my peripheral vision. Don’t mess up even more. Feign ignorance. Pretend you’re okay. Don’t glance in their direction or the anxiety will erupt and overflow. Let them perceive what they want. Look away. I still feel them watching me. Push it to the back of my mind. There are too many things overwhelming me right now. Judgemental eyes looming all around me. Loud chatter. Bright lights. Laughter. Strangers. Unfamiliar environment. Don’t think about it. Any of it. Focus on something menial. Anything. My muscles tense. My jaws clench. My body defies me. It twitches. Trembles. Scarlet blooms on my cheeks and chest. My ears are engulfed in flames.
Someone’s speaking to me. I can’t catch what they’re saying. It’s all a blur. Act like you’re present. Act like you’re normal. Act like you understand. It seems they’re waiting for an answer. Did they ask me a question? What did they ask? Quick, think fast. Smile and nod. They frown quizzically. That was probably not the appropriate answer. I don’t know what to do, so I look away. Do they think I’m rude? Do they think I’m dismissive? Do they think I’m stupid and obnoxious? Do they know that I’m anxious? Do they understand anxiety?
When I’m back home at last, into the cave of safety and solitude, I crawl. A peaceful place to rest and get away from the triggers and the overwhelming stimuli.
But the anxiety engulfs me still.
My heartbeat races for h o u r s. I’m exhausted but can’t get to sleep. Each time I doze off, my body jerks me back awake. I’m so incredibly drained and tired. I plead with my body to allow me rest. Please, just let me get some sleep! My body refuses to listen. It punishes and mocks me.
I jump at the slightest sounds. Hot flashes come and go. I hate feeling this way. It’s lasting for so long. My mind ruminates and races through anxious thoughts. Play, rewind, play in slow motion, analyse every little detail, spot the judgements, the rejections. The cycle goes on and on and doesn’t cease. I try to distract my mind by reading or watching videos, but I can’t concentrate. The incessant thoughts continue intruding my mind.
I don’t know what to do. I feel like I’m going out of my mind and am about to burst with anxiety. Maybe it was a little too much for me all at once. I regret it now. I thought I’d try challenging myself to overcome some of the anxieties, but it’s amplifying it instead. It’s getting too much to handle. I’d feel like a disappointment if I backed out. I’m stuck and going around in circles. It’s such a fine line knowing when it’s just the anxiety taking control and when it’s all too much too soon.
My days and nights are wasted on feeling anxious. Anxiety is such a pain.
“Multiple attacks of different intensities may occur over several hours, which might feel as if one panic attack is rolling into the next, like waves.” [link]
Limited symptom (panic) attacks are what I experience. Other symptoms I have are trembling, sweating, and numbing or tingling sensations in my limbs or face. At its worst, I was experiencing the attacks for 12+ hours every day for a week or two. The section above is my personal experience with social anxiety.