Social Anxiety at Church

The pastor at my church is also the pastor at another church. For some reason, there are times when both churches will get together and have a combined service. I have never actually been to one before because they are always held in the other town and I skip church (I can explain why).

Today was the first time that I have ever been to a combined service because it was actually at our church. Even though it only meant a few extra people since both our towns are very small, I was still overwhelmed.

I do not do well in new situations, especially if I do not have a friend with me. That is why I have never been to church when it has been out of town. My social anxiety makes it difficult to be around people anyway and today was no exception. My friends were not even in church to make it easier.

After church there was to be a dinner. I knew quite awhile ago that I would not go to the dinner.  Not only would my friends not be there, but I do not like eating with unfamiliar people. I end up clenching my napkin tightly and contributing very little to the conversation, thus making me the first one done. Then, I sit there awkwardly, wishing I could leave.

The pastor’s wife asked me if I was going to stay and I told her no. She said she really wanted me to stay and I really appreciated the invite. But I knew that I could not bring myself to do it. So after church, while everyone was rounding the corner where the dinner was being held or hanging out until it was time to eat, I left through the main doors which are visible to everybody. I did not care though. I knew I was doing what was best for me.

It frustrates me that I cannot do something so simple as have dinner at church. How come I am able to do completely useless tasks or memorize complicated yet pointless information but be unable to sit down at a table with some familiar and some unfamiliar people? It is like my brain is not meant to function in a normal society.

Toxic Friendship

My counseling appointment on Thursday was a complete waste of time. So on the drive back home, I did some of my own thinking. I thought about something my friend had told me last week and how irritated I was about it. It got me thinking about our friendship and how maybe there are somethings that I can do about it.

My friend suggested that my students do something for the Veteran’s Day program. I was kind of irritated because I already had enough on my plate as it was. My life has just been hectic lately. I only managed to accomplish several things and then people (like the school) feel the need to give me even more work than what I had originally started with. The last thing I wanted to do was add something voluntarily and was something I had not wanted to do in the first place.

I had been dwelling on what she suggested for a couple of days and it was on my way home that I realized that this was a toxic part of our friendship, at least for me. My friend is a very take-charge kind of person. However, I am the complete opposite. Sometimes, I really appreciate her suggestions. After all, she has been teaching much longer than me and can offer advice. But sometimes her advice feels to me like bossiness and is not something that really works with me. I have always felt obligated to do it or to at least tell her I would think about it even though I had no true intentions of doing it. I was so worried about pleasing her though because she is one of my few friends.

I have decided that I am done being controlled by her. If I do not like her suggestions, than I am not going to give them a second thought. And that is why I am not going to deal with the Veteran’s Day program right now. I am the one that knows what is going on in my life and how much I can currently handle. And I am the one that actually has to carry through with things in my own life and in my classroom, not her. And if that means displeasing her so that we are no longer friends, than maybe we were not meant to be friends.

Maybe I Need Time to Think

The other day at counseling, I told my counselor that I was having problems with pulling my hair. She did not know that I had trich since I have only been seeing her for a short time since my last counselor got sick. I have tried dealing with trich on my own. I wear spinner rings, I carry stuff in my pocket to play with, I sometimes wear bandaids. But it is hard to stop something that you are not always aware that you are doing. When I notice I am pulling, I do stop. But my hands are like magnets and are attracted to my eyebrows. No sooner will I have noticed that I am pulling and put my hands down only to find them back on my face.

I currently think of myself as a pirate since I only have one eyebrow. I guess it is my way to making the situation a little bit better. It is not like I enjoy missing my eyebrow though. Especially when I know that I am going to slowly lose the other one.

I was hoping that the counselor would have some suggestions. Basically, she told me it was not noticeable (my friend has said the same thing) but that does not mean I still need to be walking around like this. Then, she told me that basically I have an addiction to pulling my hair and that I just need to find a way to distract myself.

What she said kind of hurt. I have never looked at my hair pulling as an addiction! How can I try to stop something that I am only semi-aware of doing? I am trying but I do not always have success. Shortly after telling her about my trich, she caught me pulling and I did not even realize it. That is what is so frustrating. People that do not have trich do not understand that you cannot just stop. If I could, I would not be pulling.

Since my appointment on Thursday, I have really been thinking about whether I should take a week off just to process what has happened on my own and do some reevaluating about whether I should continue with counseling. After all, we really did not have anything to talk about. However, it still bugs me that I am letting her opinion get to me. Like I said, you cannot truly understand trich unless you have it yourself. I just want to forgive her and move on.

Second Freelance Job

I have been offered another freelance writing job. I know I should be excited but after attempting the first part of the job, I am sure that the client will not like my writing and refuse to pay me.

I really debated on whether I should take the job in the first place. The requirements include four articles about this weight loss product. The website I was given to read was very difficult to understand and my first article had to be 1,500 words. So not only was I trying to understand the information, I was trying to come up with enough words (reminds me of college). However, I kept thinking about how I promised God that any money I made from published writing would be for Him. And when I think about donating it to the church, I could not turn the job down, despite the difficulty. Plus, I hope that someday, I will be able to get better jobs because I will actually have experience. Being a writer is hard.

Social Anxiety and Physical Illness

The community has been advertising a vender fair since maybe August. I was looking forward to it being over because I was tired of it being on my Facebook newsfeed. But then several times the last couple of days, I was asked if I was going to attend. I had never planned on going because I am not really into that sort of thing. Plus, since this was an unfamiliar situation to me that meant being around community people, I knew it would mean social anxiety. I said maybe I would go to keep those people happy. I knew it would really depend on how desperately lonely I was.

However, before I could reach that point, the school secretary called me this morning and asked if I wanted to go. I really was not feeling one hundred percent physically and not really up for the fair but because someone had invited me, I decided to go.

I have gone to another event once with the secretary in the past. I really like talking to her and she is really nice but I do not do well with her outside of a school setting, especially alone. However, I definitely would not have faired well going to the craft fair by myself. Imagine walking really fast past everything and never stopping to examine something more closely.

We were about halfway through looking at everything (thankfully the secretary never spent much time at any of the displays) when I realized that I was not feeling well. I was worried that I might pass out. I have done that before and it is rather embarrassing. I never say anything beforehand because it is embarrassing. It is just as embarrassing if it happens though. Thankfully, we managed to get out of there fairly quickly without me having to say a word. Then, I got home safely where I could then lay down and take a nap until I felt better.

Despite my social anxiety and the fear of almost passing out from not feeling that great from earlier, I am glad I got out. Now, when people ask me if I actually went, I can say that I did and not look like a small town community loner (not that I care).

Going Home/Talking to Mom

My parents always provided me with whatever I needed and a lot more. They had firm rules and expectations that helped me grow up into the person I am today. In college, I always used to look forward to going home on weekends and even more to longer breaks. But now that I am on my own, things have changed and I am not exactly sure of all the reasons why.

I do not enjoy going home because I am forced to sleep in my brother’s bed. Even though the sheets are changed, it is still not my bed and the idea of it belonging to someone else really bothers me. Plus, my brother’s room is usually a disaster as well as disgusting. I feel like I cannot touch anything.

That is the same way with the rest of the house. I realized one time when I went home that the house remained remotely clean when I lived there only because I did the cleaning. Now, I do not feel like I should touch anything.

It does not help that my mom has a slight hoarding problem and the unclean house is all the worse when you are surrounded by toys and clothes and books that should be donated to people that can actually use them.

Then, once I around the idea of the mess, there is the fact that I feel so disconnected from everyone. I grew up as the only girl in a large family. It never stopped my brothers from playing with me but they have since grown up and have girlfriends and are into sports and hanging with their friends. And I became the stressed out teacher that felt like a failure at her job. I always feel like I am harboring a secret from my family because of my depression, trichotillomania, and cutting. It is none of their business though. But because of my teaching problems and mental illness, it feels like I have nothing to talk about and that is just as bad.

Whenever I go home, I cannot wait to come back to my clean apartment and just be me. But then there are also the weekly phone calls I make home. Some people are shocked that I only call home once a week but that is even too much for me. I often think about cutting before and after the phone call. Again, I have nothing to say. I mostly listen as my mom tells me the same things from week to week. I feel bad that I am a failure as a daughter.

My parents are not bad people despite the mess and me being unable to talk to them. They did shelter me a lot though because I am the oldest and sometimes wonder if maybe there is some resentment that I was their test dummy and had to fight for the right to stay up late (I never did win) or to hang out with friends or try something new. I know I need to let go of it. But at the same time, does it really matter when I do not enjoy going home?

My mom was talking about Christmas break the other night and the idea of going home for several days just filled me with dread. Maybe it would not be so bad if I did not have to stay at home. But I cannot afford a hotel for an extended period of time and that would hurt my mom’s feelings. There is also no one I can stay with. My mom did mention though that she knew I probably would not want to stay at home the entire break so at least maybe that can be my escape. But just how long do I need to stay to be polite?

Good and Bad Craziness

I have been wanting to write for the last few days but it seems like my life is so crazy. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. Being busy kept me from cutting the other night. Being busy can be great if it is something I enjoy doing. But being overwhelmed is a different story and that is what can cause me to shut down. I know right now that it is probably the cause of me pulling my hair and leading to me only having one eyebrow.

Anyway, the first thing that has been keeping me busy is that I got my first freelance writing job! All I had to do was write two reviews for different products. It only paid five dollars and after upworks.com took their share, it only ended up being four dollars. But it is a start! Plus, I told God that my writing would be for Him so that meant any money would go to Him. I am really excited to get paid so that I can donate the money!

I am also working on applying for another freelance job so that has me excited too because it means that I could have even more work. That was a difficult application because I had to write a summary of a news article that took place in India. Despite the article being in English, it was still difficult to read.

On top of that, I am also a Christian book reviewer now. I don’t think it pays but I do get free books to review for Amazon and here. My book arrived today and I am excited to get started.

Last night, I ended up going to a neighboring town for a teacher conference. I am surprised I even signed up since teaching is not my passion and I am ready to be done. However, it was based on a book I was supposed to read in college and it is an interesting topic. But because of lack of passion, it made my teacher observation yesterday more relaxed because I honestly let a lot of things slide. Who knows if that is a good thing.

My teacher friend is trying to make my life more complicated by telling me that I need to get my students involved in the high school Veteran’s program. I am in charge of my life though and I will do what I want to do. And right now, my educational priorities are else where. I will make the decision when the classroom is not so hectic and I am sure that my students are all comfortable and capable with whatever I find for them to do. But I absolutely hate it when my friend tells me to do something. I do have a say in my classroom because there are very few standards at our school (not that that is necessarily a good thing).

Finally, my cat got declawed and fixed today. She can’t go home until tomorrow. I miss her so much. I won’t be able to pick her up until late tomorrow afternoon. 😦

Control

I spend every weekend alone. Ever since volleyball ended a few weeks ago I figured now my friend would have more time to hang out with me since she was no longer busy coaching. I hung out with her a few hours this weekend and desperately hoped that this weekend we could hang out again. I turned the volume up on my phone but somehow managed to keep myself busy and other than checking my phone quite often, really did not care that I spent all day alone and reading (I read an entire 350 page book; which I used to do quite often as a teenager but don’t have that much time in one day to do that much anymore).

Today though, the feeling was back. And at church, I was asked if I wanted to go out of town for a few hours and I did not need a moment to think about it. But then I was really disappointed when we arrived back in town and was told that there were household chores that needed done and then was wished a good afternoon.

I was extremely thankful that I at least got a few hours to hang out but I was disappointed that it could not be longer. But then I was reminded of the homework I had been given in counseling. My counselor told me to draw my hand and put everything that I can control in my hand and everything that I cannot control outside my hand. The cutting went in my hand because as hard as it is sometimes, I can control it. My mom’s hoarding  and the school’s requirements are things that I cannot control.

After making the list, I was astounded at how many things I really do have control over in my life. And the things that are outside of my control seem kind of dumb when put on a list even though they are not dumb when you are dealing with them. I realized today that I cannot control my friend calling or wanting to hang out (it is usually my friend that has control over that just because I go to their house to help with various projects or to visit their parents since there is nothing going on at my apartment and I have very few connections in this area and absolutely no family). It is right now a little upsetting to accept. I know it is still going to be difficult on weekends when I am all alone. But maybe with it on my list, I now have perspective and understand how I should at least deal with it.

My Brother is Engaged

I only call my mom once a week and even that can be too much for me. I don’t ever have anything to say. I cannot tell my mom that I spent most of the week alone or how I cut myself when things got difficult. I cannot tell her how I managed to pull out parts of my eyebrows or how I go to counseling. And when you take away all of that, there really isn’t much left to say. Sometimes these upcoming phone calls fill me with much dread and I usually feel like harming myself either before or after.

This time, I learned some news and I am not sure how I feel about it. My mom told me that my brother is engaged. He is the first in my family. And with all the pictures I have seen on Facebook, I knew it was going to happen. I just did not realize it was going to happen so fast. And I have met the girl. She seems really nice. Still, the idea of him getting engaged seems to leave an odd taste in my mouth.

I just do not know if I should feel happy or jealous or upset. I am two years older than my brother; not that it matters. I have never had a boyfriend. I have never been kissed. But that is ok. I have had boys that have been interested. I turned them away though because I do not want to get married. My parents never made it look any fun. With all the problems I have right now with depression and social anxiety, now wouldn’t even be a good time for a relationship. Still, I have been thinking a lot about the future lately and have realized that I am going to be old and alone. I will be a crazy cat lady. I am already lonely and the idea of spending the rest of my life that way is kind of disappointing. Life is already too much at times and that is my future? I do not think I like it.

Sometimes I think it would be easier for life to come with a manual. Then, I would know exactly how to feel and respond and act at every given moment. I guess it is a good thing I live so far away from my family. I have until Thanksgiving to get used to the idea and figure out my feelings about the whole thing (not that I need even more to think/deal with at the moment).

All Day Disrespect

I have felt like people have been degrading me all day. I am right there and do not get any respect.

First, there was this morning when my friend asked the new teacher who her mentor was. Since there are only four elementary teachers, my friend guessed the one teacher that was not there. I felt kind of insulted because I knew what my friend was insinuating. She was suggesting that somebody wasn’t doing their job. I am doing the best that I can. We have been in school for nearly two months though and she knows what she is doing. And when new things come up or she has questions, she feels comfortable talking with me.

Then, I was put down again this afternoon. It has been homecoming week. I never enjoyed homecoming week when I was in high school because my school went overboard. Here, since there are so few students, the elementary is expected to get involved. And that means making a parade float. I have never gone to much work and this year was no exception. It is always very windy here and today promised to be extra breezy. It is hard to get posters and things taped down. That is all I had my class do though were a few posters. I was gone for three days last week though for a mandatory conference and then there was no school on Tuesday. I had no time to do anything elaborate even if I had wanted to. But what made me feel bad was when my friend pointed out another class that had only done a few posters as well.

Finally, one of my students that I have had a very difficult time teaching is going to be homeschooled. He has been talking about it all week. But his parents have never said anything to me personally until today. She gave a reason for having the student homeschooled but I still could not help but feel that she thought I was a bad teacher. I know that is not true because she has another student in a different class. Still, the lack of contact until today with the official acknowledgement makes me feel like I am not a good teacher.

I just couldn’t take all the disrespect. I took control in my own way. And my own way was self injury. I managed to convince myself that I didn’t need to cut last night. And I thought about how I should not hurt myself right before I did it. I was just looking for another type of pain instead of the emotional pain I was experiencing most of the day.