Monday, November 30, 2015

Anxiety Adventures: Social Anxiety is a THING

Many people don't understand social anxiety. Non-affected folks seem to think we uber-introverted, socially phobic people ought to just "get over it" or "not let it bother" us, or worst of all they say "it's not that big of a deal". We know. It's irrational. That's what makes it anxiety/phobia.

Here's the situation we're discussing this week. Our Home Teacher (for non-Mormons, this is a fellow church member who has an assignment to check in with our family each month and share a gospel message and check to see if we are in need of anything) sent my husband an email the other day. Instead of the normal "can we come visit you on such-and-such day", it said, "We've decided that December 3 will be the day for home teaching next month. We're going to meet at Jim's (restaurant) with two other couples at 6:00 for dinner, I'll pick you and your wife up." (I'm paraphrasing). 

My husband, Kriss, doesn't get off work until 7:00 p.m., at the earliest. This time of year, his quitting time varies greatly. So he told the HT this. The HT, not the least bit discouraged, said, "We'll meet at 7:00, then. Tell your wife that so-and-so will pick her up and you can just meet us there when you get off work." I'm trying not to freak out.

This is how my husband views the situation: 

  • mildly uncomfortable
  • can't get out of it
  • it won't kill us

This is how I view it:
  • I haven't been given a choice
  • I won't have a car-- no escape route
  • Kriss might not even make it until 8 or later, if the store is extra busy that night
  • I'm not even friends with these couples-- I like them, we're friendly, but not hang-out-together friends. 
  • Just over a year ago... or was it 2 years? My nephew got married, and at the dinner, a few different conditions conspired to severely trigger my anxiety: I was very high-strung about being on time, but the time got changed and Kriss made me go shopping because he thought we had all this time, but we didn't; when we arrived, dinner had already begun (we were the last to arrive-- the opposite of my normal life); my siblings were all sitting together laughing and hadn't saved my husband and me seats; I had to sit with strangers. I sat down and had the strangest panic attack- my heart was pounding, and my eyes started crying, and I couldn't stop them. Then I was embarrassed to be sitting at this table full of strangers, holding my breath, trying not to cry. I couldn't taste the food. Kriss asked what was wrong, and I thought I would melt into a puddle and die. I told him just to ignore me, please, I'll be okay, and he socialized and ate and picked up the slack for me. My point in sharing this is that the memory of this occurrence makes me think that something similar is likely to happen at the home teaching dinner thing and Kriss won't be there to save me and I'll have to just die alone.
  • I don't think there's enough Xanax in the world to make me enjoy such a dinner.
So what do we do? We don't know. We haven't figured it out yet. I think I'll just tell them not to come get me, that I'll just come with Kriss when he gets off work. 

Kriss thinks I'm being ridiculous. (He's nice, so he doesn't say this, but he does say other things that indicate it!) So this is how I explained social anxiety to him:
  1. Imagine you have to sing a solo in front of a group of professional musicians (this only works if you aren't a professional musician).
  2. The song you have to sing is difficult, and though you've worked hard on it, you still squeak on the high notes and miss the low notes. 
  3. You can't catch your breath.
  4. Stage fright beyond your ability to control grips your whole body-- squeezing your heart and pressing on your lungs.
  5. Did I mention you're naked in this scenario?
That's about how it feels. 

So, extroverted, outgoing, friendly and (frankly) pushy people-- have patience with those of us who aren't like you. It's not that I don't like people-- I do! It's not that I don't like to socialize-- I do, in situations I feel safe in. And it's not that I can't "control" my anxiety. I've spent most of my life pushing it down and suffering through situations that made me uncomfortable. However, as I've gotten older, my anxiety has gotten a lot worse. I never had a panic attack before the last 5 years. That being the case, I think a little leeway would be nice, here. 

So. Tell me what you think? How should I handle this situation?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Back to School

Short version: Me + College = Yay!

Long version: I've been taking the occasional odd class at the University of Utah on and off for something like 9 years now. A few years ago, I worked as an Americorps literacy aide, and one of the ways they "pay" you for that job is with a grant for college, but with a few strict rules. The grant is only a couple thousand dollars; you have to use it within 7 years of ending your Americorps service; you can't gift it to your child unless you're over 50 (I think) and you have to jump through a couple of hoops to get it.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Notes on Being Mormon: Out of the Mouths of Babes

Quick caveat for any who don't realize this: What I'm writing here is pure conjecture- not doctrine. Our opinions and speculation are just that. Maybe inspired, but don't assume I'm speaking for the church. I'm not.

Sometimes my family actually manages to have scripture study together. Hooray for us, we read together tonight and then had a discussion that went from interesting to profound, thanks to my children.

We read Helaman 5 tonight. Feel free to go read it. I'll wait.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Notes on Being Mormon: Lehi's Dream

Recently, Lehi's Dream has been on my mind a lot. I keep thinking, "Where am I?" Meaning, although I think I'm at the tree, having partaken of the ordinances and blessings of the gospel, am I standing there today? 
by Damir Krivenko

Friday, June 19, 2015

In Which My Son Learns That Parenting is HARD!

Yesterday, I took my kids to the local amusement park, Lagoon, with a cousin and a friend, and dropped them off. 

I was very nervous about this. My daughter will be 13 and son will be 16 next week, so I kept telling myself they are old enough to handle this. And I can't really ride thrill rides anymore, so it wasn't worth the $40 ticket to accompany them. This is what they wanted for their birthdays-- to take a friend and spend a day at Lagoon.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Notes on Being Mormon: Opinions, Love, and Truth

In the light of the very public surgical and medical transformation of a famous man into a famous woman, lots of opinions and declarations and words are being thrown around. I don't really want to address the issue of trans-genderism or the current societal popular opinion that gender is fluid. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Anxiety Adventures #14: Free At Last

The experiment with Venlafaxine is finally, FINALLY over. 

It took me forever and forever to taper slowly enough to not have mind-bending headaches, but I'm on my second day with no Venlafaxine, and I feel good. In fact, I feel slightly less fatigued than I have during the weeks of tapering. Yay!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Anxiety Adventures #13: Meds Meds Meds

It's been a while since I wrote anything, so here's an update. I'm slowly tapering off Venlafaxine. Two days ago, I forgot to take my pill before I left the house. I live about 40 minutes from Salt Lake City, and I was heading there when I realized I'd forgotten. Suppressing panic, I told myself I could make it there and back before I felt the repurcussions. I was right, but shortly after returning home I felt overwhelmingly tired and dizzy. Unbelievably, it took me two more hours to realize I still needed to take my dang pill. The rest of the day was spent laying on the couch, trying to calm my brain. I couldn't concentrate, had trouble focusing (mentally and physically) and was so dizzy I couldn't really do anything. It's outrageously frustrating to lose an entire day because of missing one little pill!