Suitcase full of Social Anxiety

Traveling is in my blood. I’m currently writing this from Alaska, enjoying the new environment and sights. This past month, I visited four new countries and cultures. I even study in different country to that of my homeland. I pride myself in the traveling I’ve done and prefer these experiences over things and clubbing nights. I love learning about the places I go and their history. With a mindset like that, one would think that I do all of this with ease and love each moment. Yet, somehow, every trip I’ve been on, the views have been blurred and dulled.

Ask anyone who’s been on a trip with me and they’ll tell you that I love to plan everything about it. It brings me great joy to ensure that I’m making the best out of my time in this new place. That there’s a perfect balance of vacation and exploration; however, those scales are often tipped once I’m in the moment. When I am stuck with new people on a plane, train, or bus for hours on end. Or finding myself in the middle of a crowd, all gazing at the same landmark. Where I was once was excited and eager, I now feel anxious and lost. My heart begins to race and my thinking becomes jumbled. Thousands of scenarios begin to form and I can no longer think rationally. I feel embarrassed and fear the judgement of those around me. The world around me fades and the once gorgeous statue or building becomes nothing but a haze. My mind shuts down and the state doesn’t dissipate until I’m somewhere else in place and time.

Everyone needs their alone time, but if I go without it for too long, I break down. I discussed in my post on disassociation on how I am only recently beginning to understand what causes such an episode. This here, is definitely a case in point.

This disassociation, however, can be what enables me to push through such pain. Its what allows me to acquire and maintain leadership and public positions, simply because by disassociating, I go on “auto-pilot”, and am able to manage the social situation normally. Clearly this method of living is unsustainable and could lead to unforeseen consequences, but it’s what has worked for some time now.

This blog is to educate, but to also for me to understand myself and in writing this post I have learned a significant amount. I’ve always been open about most of my mental health with my friends and therapist, but others may not. Offer your help to those who may show signs of of social anxiety. Look for signs different behaviour when in public. Take notice of how they talk and act. You could help your friend from suffering by guiding them to help. With social anxiety and with other conditions, you can help. You can make a difference.

Maybe someday I’ll be able to travel without worrying about an episode. Be able to see the world as I please. I’m willing to work for this and I hope others too. Whether you experience social anxiety or know someone who does, be patient. It’s not easy, but humanity is about the things we share with those around us. Find those moments. No matter where they are.

More Resources

Social Anxiety Institute

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Image Source: Myself

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