I have been thinking about my self esteem a lot lately. I feel that for the most part I am a confident person. But, for some reason I have a poor image of myself when I think of how other people see me. I have been reflecting a lot on why this might be. Bear with me while I ramble on trying to find the right words to express myself. This after all is why I have a blog, so that I may ramble on to try and express my feelings and sort through my life.
Anyway, here goes…. Keep in mind you have been warned that this could have no point other than my own self discovery and it will probably be really long!
Now I have been told that I do seem confident and sure of myself by many people. But, I don’t see it. See here is the thing for anyone reading that doesn’t know me or doesn’t know this about me. I suffer from anxiety attacks. What is that, you might ask? It isn’t like stage fright or nervousness, though I do call it that sometimes and it’s not really being shy, which again I call it that sometimes too. But, it is truly an attack that I cannot control. I know what things will set one off, at least for the most, and so I try to stay in my “comfort zone”. But things as simple as calling for a pizza or filling the car up with gas could set one off. And, I really just don’t understand that.
Meeting new people is the big thing that will just set me in to a huge attack. In 2003, I went to Chicago to meet friends of mine for a girl’s only weekend. Now keep in mind I had not met these people prior to this weekend. I belong to an online group of moms. So the first person I meet, I told her of this problem but told her to bear with me because it would go away shortly. After talking with her, I relaxed and felt the attack go. It wasn’t a bad one which surprised me because 1. I don’t fly often nor have I really flown much by myself. 2. I was going to a city I had never been to 3. I was meeting new people.
And recently with dating, I have now met two people from online dating services, so almost like a blind date. Both times I have had a mild attack… actually the first was really bad but I had talked with him about it prior to meeting and he was really cool about it and then very soothing when we meet. He didn’t try to hug me (second guy did, freaked me out!) or push me to talk right away. He was really patient. Second guy, like I said, hugged me right away and was like “you don’t talk much”. Umm, no.
Why am I writing this now? Because I’m going to met someone else new very soon. I don’t want to mess up the casual tone of our …. Umm… online chatting, I guess? by having an anxiety attack when we do finally meet. I also don’t feel comfortable yet to tell him (so just hoping he will read the blog and find out)…. which really is silly because he has been really easy to talk to and honestly I do feel comfortable talking with him. We do seem to have things to talk about and just seem to get along but that’s ONLINE! What about in person? I just don’t know and therefore I just hope I don’t have an anxiety attack the first time we meet because it could set the tone for potential future meetings…. If we were to choose to meet up again. I just don’t know and I don’t want to ruin anything a potential friendship or more. (not ready to define this at all yet or predict the future. Just enjoy it for what it is.)
So let me describe a typical attack. I start to feel like this “fight or flight” type of reaction. My heart starts to beat faster and faster, I get shaky, panicked a bit, like I just have to get the heck out of this situation (whatever it is). If I’m at a store and one happens, everything gets very tunnel vision like…. Like I can only see directly in front of me and everything around me is blurry. Sometimes my voice shakes or I can’t really talk, I can’t raise my voice to the point where people can hear me (Like whispering but I can’t make it get louder) or I might have the opposite problem, where my voice is just really loud and shaky. My breathing gets hard like someone is sitting on me. I might get cold or I might get too hot. Now not all of these happen each time, these are just the really bad ones. Usually I’m just a bit shaky.
I wish I could control this. I wish it was just that simple that I could think about it and it would stop. I have taken meds for it in the past but just don’t feel comfortable with that long term. My strategy is this:
- Stay in my comfort zone most of the time. (Routine is very good) My comfort zone is the Houston Area. Living in Fargo about killed me! (Oh and yes I was in the Navy but I didn’t really have this problem, or at least not like this…).
- But at times, force myself to do new things! Like meeting people. I rarely let these attacks stop me completely. I do try to push through it because I know the reward is on the other side. I had a great time in Chicago so much so I did it the next year too, but this time to Baltimore.
- I know my limits. I try to shop when I know there won’t be too much of a crowd and if I just can’t go into the new store today, I will try tomorrow.
Back to the point of self-esteem. I think this really influences it because it makes me worry that people will leave me or think that I’m strange for this and that why can’t I just control it? I can’t except with meds and I don’t feel comfortable with that long term but I have BTDT and I know it is an option if I were to get really bad. I have never been out of my mind with it. It’s just me shaking and nervous-like until I can get myself to relax. I can have normal thoughts and if my voice is okay, I can have a normal conversation. Unless you can tell that I’m shaking, most people probably won’t know. However, I might seem rushed or anxious though which might come off as rude or I might seem almost snobby because I’m just trying to hold myself together.
I hate this about me and if I had one wish right now…. Well I probably would waste it on getting a super model body but, if I had two wishes this would be my second wish… To not have anxiety attacks anymore!