I must be insane…

Halloween meet up

First of all, I should probably mention the meet up that I went along to on Halloween. I was shaking with anxiety before I’d even left my grandparents’ house because I find being in pubs so difficult. It was incredibly awkward being in there at first because everyone in the group either has social anxiety disorder or is shy, which meant that no one wanted to make the first move in starting a conversation, so we were all (about 10 of us) just sat around a table in the corner of a pub, looking at the floor. I did manage to talk a little bit to the person I’d met at a couple of previous meet ups with the old SA group, and briefly managed to talk to the group organiser (who I’ve met once before) later on. I didn’t enjoy being in the pub at all and I actually considered leaving at one point because I felt so awkward but I managed to ride it out. I even managed to buy myself a drink for the first time ever. The pub was really busy (what with it being Halloween AND a Friday night) and there was a big crowd of people around the bar so this was probably when my anxiety was at its peak. Thankfully, the woman who I’ve met a few times before went up to buy a drink at the same time so it wasn’t as bad as it would have been if I was there on my own. I was still shaking when I handed the bartender my money, but at least I managed it. I realise that to someone without SA, this is probably something you do without even thinking about it but it’s a big thing for me. I still don’t like pubs though. I really don’t see what’s so great about them. But I still want to become more comfortable in them.

After being in the pub for just over an hour, we started walking to the Royal Mile to see the fire festival, which was the second part of the meet up. I got to meet the online friend who lives in Edinburgh for the first time, which was nice, but I wasn’t able to say anything except “hi” to him until we got out of the pub. I surprised myself by being able to talk to him just fine after that though (I’d met up with someone else who I started talking to online before and my anxiety was so bad that we had to text each other for the first 10 or so minutes because I’d gone completely mute). We lost the rest of the group in the crowd but the three of us (the online friend, myself, and another guy from the group) managed not to lose each other. We didn’t really get to see much of the actual parade because we were at the back and there were too many tall people. We met up with a few people from the group again once the fire festival was nearly over but no one seemed to want to do anything else and I was feeling quite tired so I decided to call it a night and get the bus back to my grandparents. I enjoyed the meet up overall, despite the anxiety in the pub. It’s so nice to just get out and do things with other people. Good meet ups/ positive social experiences boost my mood.

Interview tomorrow

I applied for a job at my uni which is pretty much a socially anxious person’s worst nightmare. It involves having to interact with the public, help with welcome events for new students, and potentially work at the campus reception. I don’t even know why I applied for this job. I must be insane. I really need the money, but still… I don’t know how I’d even be able to do that job without having regular panic attacks. You can choose when to work and when not to work, so that it fits around your coursework, but even then… I’m an idiot for applying for this job. It’s waaaaay out my depth. I’ve been invited for an interview and other activities at 9:15 tomorrow morning and I apparently won’t be finished until about 1pm, so goodness knows what kind of torture they’ve got in store for me tomorrow. I’m surprised I’ve mostly managed to block it out of my mind so far but I’ll be a complete mess tomorrow morning. Why was I stupid enough to apply for this? Just an interview on its own would be bad enough, never mind the other “activities” which probably involve a plethora of things that will make me anxious. I don’t know how I’m going to not have a panic attack tomorrow. I’m considering taking a low dosage of propranolol but as I’ve been advised not to by a GP, it’s probably not a good idea. I’m also going to a concert later on that night so I don’t want to feel out of breath and have chest pain just jumping up and down while there (propranolol gives me some worrying side effects which seem to last for a whole day, or even longer, after I take it). Ugh. Why? I really don’t want to go to this interview. I’m sure I’ll make an idiot of myself and have a massive panic attack. I’m sure I won’t be able to cope. I’m trying to look at it simply as being experience of an interview and other tasks which will help me with interviews in the future, but I still can’t get this feeling of sheer dread to go away. I don’t imagine I’ll get much sleep tonight.


This brings me to insane thing number 2: I’ve bought standing tickets to see a punk rock band tomorrow night (don’t judge me!). Yes, you read that correctly. I know I probably seem like the last person who would like a punk rock band but this particular band means a lot to me. The lyrics to some of their songs are what got me through my mid-late teenage years when I was depressed, my family didn’t understand my mental illnesses at all (and acted like it was my own fault that I was in the situation I was in), and I had no one to support me. The “fight” (as opposed to flight) in the music helped to get through each awful anxiety and depression filled day at school. Anyway, I’ve been to see this band live before but I got seated tickets because my anxiety was bad enough just doing that, never mind having to cope with being wedged in amongst a crowd of people and shoved all over the place. I was never in a proper mosh pit (something which was on my teenage bucket list) as a teenager (though the crowd did get pretty rough during ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ when I went to see Muse live), and I feel brave enough to try it now. I’m going with my sister so the anxiety should be bearable. I just hope that neither of us get trampled to death.

Maybe after reading this section of the post and the section before it, you think I must have lost my mind. And you’d probably be right. But hopefully I will at least have a good time at the concert, despite the inevitable anxiety. I love going to concerts because I always get a natural high from them. I just wish I could remember more of them and relive the experience. The only thing that annoys me about concerts is that they are usually dangerously loud, to the point of potentially damaging your hearing. This is especially true of the place that I’m going to tomorrow night, because it’s a fairly small venue. I have really sensitive hearing so I’m just glad that I have ear plugs/ filters.

In other (good) news, apparently I can still do the Christmas mail sorting job after all and can just miss the shift during which I have an exam. I’m just hoping that they don’t change their minds again.


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9 Responses to I must be insane…

  1. I know I don’t know you but I think it is amazing that you are taking healthy risks. Whatever happens with the job and concert is kind of incidental, just taking those first steps is an achievement. I hope the interview goes well. I did something similar (got a voluntary job as a visitor assistant in a museum) and some things I have found helpful include creating a work persona and focusing on the fact I won’t see many of the people again which means most of the ridiculous things I say won’t come back to haunt me (we don’t have too many repeat visitors so it is mainly staff I repeatedly see).
    As for the concert, I don’t think you are insane at all. I have a phobia of crowds but go to a gigs and festivals. You probably know all these things but just in case, some things I have found useful:
    -Most venues have maps of the building online if knowing where the exits and toilets are helps your anxiety.
    -You can get fairly close to the stage and have a good view if you stick to the sides. That also generally means you have an easy escape route if you start to panic and need to get out.
    -If you go down the front and panic then don’t be afraid to tell security (or ask your sister to tell them) you have an anxiety disorder and they should help you over the barriers to get out. It might be a bit embarrassing but they are used to it.
    -At the end, when everyone is leaving, standing still and letting the venue empty out a bit saves you getting stuck in a bottleneck queue.
    I hope you have a wonderful time at the concert šŸ™‚ I’m intrigued about which band it is.

    • Gemma says:

      Thank you. The interview/ other activities were awful but I did about as well as I could have. The concert was really good though. I’m usually not too bad in crowds but I can sometimes feel a bit claustrophobic when people stand too close. We did stick to the side and my sister somehow managed to get us to the front barrier, which meant we avoided the circle pit and most of the crowd surfers, while being within about 6 feet of the band. šŸ™‚ We thankfully didn’t have the problem of being stuck in a bottleneck because the venue had loads of doors. I wish I could’ve been less inhibited but I still really enjoyed the concert.

      Thanks for the tips. The band is Rise Against.

  2. I really admire you for applying for that job, and for working. I know how tough it is.

    • Gemma says:

      Thank you. I read some parts of your blog and I’m sorry to hear that you were bullied as well. The effects of bullying can be more profound and long-lasting than most people are aware of. I also very much agree that most people don’t understand how serious a condition social anxiety disorder can be. I get so agitated when people claim it’s “just shyness”. There are people dying from this disorder because it diminishes their quality of life so significantly that they feel suicide is preferable to living. I just hope that I can do something with this blog/ my life to raise awareness and educate people about SA.

      • Youre blog is great. Yes, we have to make people understand that it is a genuine illness, and that we’re not just being weak. Let’s all try to help each other. We can make things better. Nice to meet you, John

  3. Matilde says:

    I’m happy there’s a blog like this. And many other like it.
    Thank you for being so brave and opening up to others about your anxiety, I think that’s important…

    I blog about my own experienes with social anxiety and many other things like loneliness, stress, depression and so on.

    I write about self help and how to heal yourself from anxiety.

    Take a look if you’d like

    – Matilde


  4. Roberta says:

    Hi, I’m a long time sufferer of SA, and can relate to much of what you write, though I must admit my anxiety manifests differently from some of the symptoms and constraints you mention. Still, it calms me somewhat to realise I’m not alone in my suffering. I often feel like I’m the only person struggling with this.
    I’m actually from Glasgow, and I noticed you were from Edinburgh. I’ve been wanting to join an SA group for some time. Do you think you could send me the details? Thank you for your blog/diary posts. As I mentioned mentioned before, it soothes me somewhat to know I’m not alone.

    • Gemma says:

      Hi. šŸ™‚ I’ve emailed you the details of the group. If you don’t mind me asking, how does your SA differ from mine? I find it interesting that those of us with SA can differ so much in what we find difficult and in how we react to our anxiety. I’m glad that my blog posts have helped you a little. Reading other SA-related wordpress blogs helps me to feel less alone as well.

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