Me, social anxiety, and a little night out (in context)

To put this in context – I don’t go out much.

I go out with my boyfriend, and occasionally my best friend (she lives in another county), and very occasionally with my boyfriend’s family (my family live in Scotland). This is really hard to write as I know that people I have kept this from will be reading this, but here goes.

I avoid going out because I get really nervous. I get nervous to the point of feeling physically sick about it every day until the event, and then bottling it at the last moment because it’s all too much. The more important the event, the harder I try, the bigger the hurdle becomes. This has included every work’s Christmas meal for the last decade, my best friend’s wedding, well, everything really. The more I avoid, the harder it gets to go out, and the smaller the things that become insurmountable. It’s the classic vicious circle, and all my own doing. I am so ashamed at the excuses I have made up over the years. To everyone I have made excuses to, I am so so sorry.

vicious_cycle

The background

It all seems to stem from a meal out with friends where I panicked, out of the blue. I became unbearably hot, and I couldn’t eat a thing. The more I tried to eat, the more I couldn’t do it, and the more obvious it became that my plate was still full. I felt so embarrassed. That night I had an enormous migraine, the worst in a very long time. Now, in hindsight, perhaps that is why I couldn’t eat, and I should have explained that I didn’t feel well instead of failing miserably at covering up, but I really didn’t know what was going on.

To cut a long story short, from then on I avoided meals out (in case the same thing happened), which in turn became any kind of going out, particularly anything with food involved. To make matters worse, I LOVE food, but I physically can’t eat when I’m anxious. I worry so much about what people think of me, what I look like, what I’ve said, it just makes a night in on the sofa look so much more appealing, and so the vicious circle goes on.

The revelation

But, and this was a recent revelation to me, I actually enjoy going out and being with people. For years I’ve been telling myself that I prefer my own company, that I choose to stay in, which is much easier than facing the reality that to be happy I have to conquer this.

I think I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I struggle to tell the difference between events I want to attend, and events I don’t want to attend. I am so used to telling myself that I don’t want to attend anything that I’ve managed to convincingly fool myself. Apparently I need to go with my initial reaction – a quick flutter of excitement means I should go.

The invite

One of my dearest friends invited me to her leaving do, at a pub I hadn’t been to, with people I only knew a little bit, with FOOD. My initial reaction – I’d love to. I love this friend to pieces, and I wanted to do this to show her how much I care, and to show myself that I can do it.

A HUGE tick in the motivation box.

This is going to be a long post, so please bear with me while I write the next bit…

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28 thoughts on “Me, social anxiety, and a little night out (in context)

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  1. It was great to get an insight into how you feel about going out. I have a feeling my sister experiences something similar because she seems to always have an excuse to avoid social events. I don’t hold it against her because I can understand where she’s coming from and how she feels. I look forward to the next part of this. Thanks for posting- your posts are always so refreshingly honest.

    1. Oh, those excuses, I know them all too well. And the thing is that I want to go, I love being invited and worry people will stop asking. Could you ask your sister how she feels? Somehow I’ve found that being honest has taken some pressure off. Thank you for commenting (I’m hoping to add cat photos on Monday!)

      1. Yeah I’ve always felt I should ask her about it but she’s quite defensive. I love spending time with her but she has lost countless friends over this and I hate that for her so I really felt what you were saying.
        Can’t wait for cat pics!

      2. I really feel for her, hiding it (if that is what she’s going through) feels so important, I would have done anything to not let on. Does she blog?
        Haha, they are very excited about their debut!

      3. Sorry, I only saw this now.
        She doesn’t blog because she’s such a private person. It would do her good though, I think. She’s a great writer.
        We’re very different though.
        Your blog will have helped you hugely though, I’m sure?

      4. Yeah I suppose she could be, and she would certainly love to write about her kids. But I doubt she’d do it somehow.
        I’m glad it’s helped you though. I also find it such a release, it has fast become my favourite hobby.

    1. Thank you for your comment. You make a really important point that I’m slowly learning – other people, “normal ” people, can find social stuff tiring, stressful, would rather curl up on the couch etc. I thought it was just me because I’m not good at it. So many assumptions I’m now having to rethink!

  2. I’m with you. So many excuses and so many missed events. You can start to challenge it, but it takes small steps and lots of courage. Looking forward to reading the rest.

    1. And it’s such a waste isn’t it? It’s interesting that you say “challenge” as this is what I tried for 10 years, and got nowhere. I mean as in gritting my teeth. I’ll try to do the next post tomorrow. Has anything worked for you? Please stay in touch 🙂

      1. What I have found really useful, is actually telling some of my friends. I have tried to explain to them which things cause me most anxiety and how they can help. Some friends are better than others. A friend celebrated her 40th in December and was having a ‘do’ in an upstairs room of a pub. Lots of triggers for me: drunk people, unfamiliar pub, potentially no-one else I knew, unfamiliar town. My friend was great. I decided I would drive to give me some control and a quick escape. I picked up my friend and her partner so that I was getting to the pub with them and before the crowds arrived. I was then able to help set up which gave me more of a focus. I was introduced to a few people who were great, and then an old friend arrived whom I hadn’t seen for years. We spent the whole night gossiping and I was amazed when people started leaving and it was 12.30!! The only challenge I didn’t pass was going to the bar and getting a drink, but all the same, I was so proud of myself 🙂

      2. Same here, by having at least one person know, it somehow takes some pressure off. Your triggers sound familiar too, and the escape plan! Oh, and the setting up, tidying up, keeping busy and useful. I only stayed a couple of hours, but get you, 12.30! We have to hold onto that feeling of success 🙂 Thank you for sharing, I feel much less alone!

  3. “To everyone I have made excuses to, I am so so sorry.”

    Aaaaw, the excuses. I know them well. 😉 My friends and family know them well…

  4. Recently I read a quote that went something like this ” I used to walk into a room and wonder if anyone would like me. Now I walk into a room and wonder if I will like anyone” . And you are right in that the more we avoid social situations the harder it gets … good on you for getting out there. Dont forget blogging is social situation abd you seem to be well liked here .

    1. Thank you, yes I’ve seen that quote, I think I’ll try and incorporate it on here 🙂 I find blogging easy because I feel less judged, people can’t see me in my pjs, but you’re completely right, and it is getting easier, bit by bit.

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