In today’s entry I think I’m going to focus on social anxiety (anxiety is a condition often connected to bipolar). Especially because I had a HUGE case of it going on last night. it was the middle school spring concert, a time of fun and frivolity, mixed with a lot of tweets and honks and other loud sounds. It also brought with a lot of people. And when I say a lot I mean an entire brightly lit school gym full of people. Most of whom I didn’t know. For me it triggered my social anxiety something fierce! I wasn’t entirely ready to spend an entire two hours being “on” and social but seeing my kids’ concerts is really important to me so there I was, ready to enjoy the music, anxiety and all.
To help put the challenge of this in context there were at least a dozen parents there that I *did* know and I still didn’t get up and say “hi” because I didn’t know how to deal with the awkward situation of stepping into a conversation that isn’t mine to interrupt. I was afraid and that fear was driven by anxiety. I couldn’t make it go away, no matter how much I wanted to see these folks, most of whom I would even call my friends. It was just too hard.
Instead I stayed on the chair, said “hello” via FaceBook, listened to the music, clapped and cheered. Then, as soon as I could I left for the quiet solitude of the car so I could recover. I sat in the dark silence feeling relieved and ashamed all at once. I felt sad I wouldn’t be there waiting for the kids to run up to afterward, smiling and excited. This part hurt the worst. I used to be able to be there and now because the anxiety has gotten so bad, I just can’t. All the kids and parents running around after the concert talking and bumping into one another, well it gets to be too much. However, because I’m still an awesome mom I still managed to come out on top – Jack in the Box FTW! BTW, the new sirloin burger is pretty good. Just sayin’
Anyway, my point in sharing this is that it’s amazing what mental illness can take from us. Even in very small doses like the example above. Sometimes it feels like every time I turn around there’s something new that’s missing and that part, well that part is very scary. And that, my friends is a big part of why I need my care circle, to get through that fear and have confidence that even as pieces of me disappear the people around me won’t.