Social Anxiety.

For months, I’ve sat on my bed, asking myself the same questions over and over again. Is this a good idea? Do people give a shit about what I have to say? Am I strong enough to do this?

Most of the times, I’ve said “no” to these questions. And I’ll still say “no” now.

But the more I think about it, the more I realise that I have to do this. There’s so much going on, and so much stuff that I want to talk about.

So fuck it. I’ll get straight to the point now.
I have social anxiety. :/

This’ll be a lot harder than I thought. In fact, just reading the words “I have social anxiety” on my screen has made me believe that weak, upset, vulnerable. I’m actually crying right now. Fuck.

Social anxiety has changed me. It’s affected my life, in more ways than I could ever have imagined. My friendships. My relationships. My aspirations. For a lack of a better word, it’s fucked everything.

So, in this, I want to tell you my story of social anxiety. My experience of it, and how it has changed me.

You might wonder “why am I doing this?” And the answer is… there are a few reasons why. First reason – some of my friends may read this and I want them to know what’s been going on, why I’ve essentially abandoned them.
Second reason – it should be good for me. It’ll be like free therapy.
And the last reason… because there have been a few times this year where I didn’t think I would be alive right now, let alone sharing my story with you.

Anyway, on that happy note… let’s move on. :/


However, before I start, I need to say a few things. 

I should emphasize that some of these sections in this may be upsetting or uncomfortable for some. I’ll try to make sure that it’s as easy to read as possible, and I’ll also add *TW* to the title, just in case. But please know that I’m not trying to hurt anyone. If I do cause a reaction, then I am so sorry. :(

Also, if some of this seems “rambly” or “ranty” at times, then again, I’m sorry. I’ll try not to, but there might be some parts where I’m using twenty thousand words instead of two.

Finally, if you have any questions about what I’ve written, or there’s something else that you want to ask, please feel free to write a comment below or a message on any of my social media accounts. And I’ll try my best to reply to them.

 

I think that’s all I have to say.


Selective Mutism.

“Selective Mutism is a complex childhood anxiety disorder characterized by a child’s inability to speak and communicate effectively in select social settings, such as school. These children are able to speak and communicate in settings where they are comfortable, secure, and relaxed.
Dr Elisa Shipon-Blum, Selective Mutism – A Comprehensive Overview

In secondary school, a friend asked me one lunchtime “Hey Matt. Do you remember in primary school when you never used to talk to anyone? It was so weird… like… I dunno… you just couldn’t talk to anyone.”

Now, I don’t remember how or why that question was asked, but I replied “I don’t know. I guess I was just really quiet.”

Quite a vague answer, I know. I’ve never been good with socialising. Plus, I wasn’t in the mood (that day) to explain what Selective Mutism is.

 

It’s difficult to explain Selective Mutism. When I was younger, around six or seven, I would talk to my family at home, but once I entered school, or one of my brothers or sister brought their friends ’round, I was silent.

It wasn’t necessarily just “I don’t know you so I won’t talk to you” (although I’m like that now); in some cases, I had this urge to talk, but it was like my brain was like “nope” and blocked me from talking. And then I would stutter, or open my mouth but words won’t come out (you don’t realise how tempting it is to quote Eminem now :D).

But both my parents and my primary school were supportive. My Mum came into my class every day just so I could talk in class (although I was quite embarrassed by it). I think I also had support classes as well.

And then, I gained confidence, started talking and became “normal”… right?

Yeah…no.

Don’t get me wrong, I talk more in class now (obviously). But if you look at any of my school reports over the last seven years, they’ll say the same thing. A good student but too quiet in class and needs to talk more.

Come to think of it, even now, I don’t talk to people I don’t know. If I’m in a conversation with said person, I’ll stay quiet and say as little as possible to them.

Maybe Selective Mutism is still a thing for me? Maybe it was one of the reasons I have social anxiety now? 

It’s possible. But the sad reality is, I’m just speculating. I’ll never know what’s going on in my head.

Then again… does anyone?


Secondary School.

Secondary school was a “missed opportunity” for me. Well, that’s what I feel like now, looking back.

I was one of those kids who took secondary school seriously. I would always try to do as well as I could, I revised for every test, I’d always do my homework.

And because of that, I made school a priority over everything else. Friends, family, relationships. I didn’t care. As long as I got good grades (which, to be honest, are now pointless. But I didn’t realise it at the time.)

When friends used to invite me to stuff, I’d always say “no” or make up some BS excuse like “I’m busy” or “I’m grounded”. And then, I became anti-social and never really left my house. Apart from playing football.

So I missed out on having fun – doing stuff with friends or going to parties. That kind of thing. I missed all of that. Because I stayed at home.

I just think that had I done things differently… I don’t know, maybe I wouldn’t be suffering from social anxiety now.

Maybe this is all my fault.


Nan.

Summer 2015 started off great. GCSE’s are finally done and now we all “couldn’t wait for college and meet new friends and party and do the subjects we like and not wear school school uniform and get jobs OMG college is going to be so good fuck school”

Hahahahahaha. If only we knew…

Then, we had school leavers’ prom, which was amazing. I’ve never felt more confident in my life. I didn’t get any pictures (which was a shame) but I was too scared to ask anyone, and anyway, I was enjoying myself.

In August, a month later, some of my relatives from America and Redcar (that’s up north) were coming to Swindon, and we were going to have a massive family get together. All of us, at my Nan’s house. It was going to be great.

However, a few days before the get-together, Nan was taken into hospital. Nobody knew what I was going on, whether Nan was okay or not, or if the party was going ahead without Nan there.

 

Anyway, the party went ahead on the 8th (without Nan there), and it was great to see the whole family… doing Jagerbombs around Nan’s table :D (I wasn’t allowed to take part :( )

But then, Nan “took a turn for the worst”… well, that’s what we were told multiple times. We didn’t know what was going on.

I guessed that the moment that I realised things were serious was when my family from Redcar came back down to Swindon and visited Nan at the hospital. And when my brother said to me “Expect Nan to be dead in the next couple of days.” Cheers James. :/

But I still had hope. I thought that Nan would make it, even if it was looking bad.

Except… she never did. And on the 11th August  2015 (two years ago now… wow…), we got the phone call. Nan had died. So all of the family went up to the hospital so we could say our goodbyes.

I’ve never said this to anyone before (and I’m not joking, either), but a month before, I had a really bad dream where Nan had died. And when I went to the hospital, it was like I had already grieved because of this dream… it was a weird feeling to have (and equally weird to explain, too. I’m sorry). But it genuinely felt like a normal day, and everyone around me was crying.

So a few hours later, when I got home from the hospital, it was only then that I realised that Nan had died, and I just broke down crying.

I think the hardest thing about Nan’s death was guilt. Guilt for not seeing her as much as I did.

 

I’ve told this story multiple times before, but I’m going to tell this story about my Nan (again).

At my brother’s wedding, a year before she died, she was drunk. And by drunk, we’re talking bottles of wine… by the afternoon. *That* kind of drunk.

At the wedding, my Nan shouted to my brother “It’s not too late to change your mind now!” as the bride walked down the aisle. Impeccable timing. Not really well received, but I found it hilarious. It made it more exciting and stopped me from wanting to read the Bible in front of me (yes, I was that bored. And by the way, the only way I’m religious is that I have fish and chips on a Friday.)

At the wedding reception, Nan broke down after we (me and my parents) left. “My grandsons don’t love me!” she said in her drunken state. “Classic Nan!” I cried.

 

But after Nan died, the more I realised that she had a point. Because I never visited her enough. In fact, that story right there? That’s the last time I remember being with my Nan while she was alive.

I felt awful. Because I didn’t do enough for her. For not visiting her, or sending her a text message asking how things were. I didn’t do that. And all I could think was that I was a SELFISH, STUPID CUNT.

 

Two stressful weeks later (which involved clearing Nan’s house and getting my GCSE results – which my Mum said were dreadful, even though I got four A’s, five B’s and three C’s :/), the funeral went ahead.

And then college started a week later. Just like that.


College (Part 1).

I guess it was time to move on – try to forget about Nan, and do stuff like find a job, go to parties, find a girlfriend, make new friends. All of the stuff that I should have done in secondary school.

Spoiler alert; didn’t happen.

I didn’t feel like I grieved enough from Nan’s death, and of course, I kept everything to myself and pretended like I was okay and things were getting better.

Another spoiler alert; I was a fucking mess.

  • College was too much for me (I found it overwhelming) – there were so many people.
  • I was borderline passing some of my A-Levels.
  • My appearance was terrible – I wore oversized clothes that my brother’s used to wear, I didn’t buy any of my clothes, and I used to cut my hair with scissors (which went well :/)
  • I wasn’t thinking straight, and can give a couple of examples of things that I didn’t mean to say/regretted saying.
  • Every time I went into the college canteen, I’d feel nervous and breathless in conversations, like I was going to pass out, so I avoided college as much as possible and stayed at home all day, which as a result…
  • … it meant that I didn’t make any new friends, nor did I catch up with my old friends either.

 

But again, I kept myself to myself, and didn’t tell anyone that I was struggling, because I thought I could manage on my own, deal with it myself.

I was so naive back then :/


Then Things Changed… (TW)

If someone was to ask me “At what point did things start to change?”, I’d answer with “Around July/August last year.”

There’s a couple of reasons why:

Reason #1: I was lonely. That’s all I could really say. For about five/six months in a row, I didn’t talk to anyone. I was focusing on my college grades (again, didn’t learn from secondary school :/), and because of that, I shut myself from everyone. And I was losing my mind because of it.

Reason #2: Reality hit me.  In June that year, I went on a Creative Writing residential, and it was amazing – I still have so many great memories from that trip.

Two weeks later, in mid-July, I had a week’s work experience at a local media publication, writing for The Ocelot and Swindon LINK magazines. Again, I loved that too.

But then, I had nothing to do. I had no purpose. And in that time, I had time to reflect. It made me realise that a) my life was shit and b) everyone’s lives are better than mine.

Reason #3: Job depression/rejection. When I realised that people’s lives were better than mine, I tried to do something about it. So I started applying for jobs, to go and get rejected from all of these places, even places like Primark, it makes me realise that “I’m actually not good enough” and “If I can’t get a job in Primark I have no chance anywhere else, so what’s the point?”.

Even now, it’s got to a point where I’m so scared to apply for a job. I start shaking just looking at an application form, and I have a mental breakdown… sometimes even punching walls. And I wish that was a joke as well. :/

Reason #4 – My college grades. Again, my parents were disappointed with my grades. But more importantly, was disappointed with my grades. When everyone’s like “Oh, I got ABB” or “Oh, I got AAB”, and I’m like :/ with my BBC (ah… fuck :D I’m never saying that again :D), I felt shit.

There is something else that I won’t mention (purely because I don’t want to make things awkward), but all I kept thinking was “I’m lonely”, “I’m sad”, “I’m not good enough anymore”, “Nobody likes me”, “I’m a disappointment.”, “My life is shit”.

“I want to die”.


College (Part 2). (TW)

One thing I’ve noticed whilst writing this is that I’m a fucking hypocrite. All I seem to do is make the same mistakes over and over again.

Take my second year at college, for example. When I started, I made sure that my only focus was getting good grades… you know, like I did in secondary school and regretted.

At the start of the year, I was doing 3 A Levels and an EPQ. I wanted to do well – mainly to make my parents happy, but for me too.

As it turned out, I made a huge mistake.

Within the first few weeks of college, I spent roughly eight to ten hours a day doing college work, whether it was research for my EPQ or writing for Creative Writing or English.

It got to a point where I skipped meals and sleep, just so I could finish off some work. And I couldn’t cope; the pressure got too much. In college, I was fine, but at home, I was struggling.

I think it showed with some of the stuff I was writing on my blog at the time – poems about how college was going to kill me, unrequited love, depression and suicide, and social media and loneliness. 

I was in a dark place. And I knew that I needed help, but… it’s difficult. When you’re like this, you reach a point where you’re scared, upset, and like you have nowhere to turn. You keep everything – your emotions, your thoughts – all to yourself. You’re scared of reaching out to ask for help, afraid of looking weak.

But my friend saved me.


Finally Getting Help. (TW)

While I was writing and sharing my “blog stuff” on Twitter, I didn’t think that any of my friends read it. I thought they’d go “Oh, Matt’s posted a link to his blog again. Ffs :/” and scroll past.

But what I didn’t know was that they were. Especially my friend Holly. And… she was genuinely worried about me, about what I was writing.

Around early October, Holly sent me messages on my phone, pleading with me to go and see my doctor and talk to them. And she offered to help me make a doctor’s appointment and write a list of everything so I could show my doctor.

I was so emotional; I cried for hours after, because those messages meant so much to me. To know that somebody was willing to help me get better, it was an amazing feeling. I honestly felt like I had been saved. And even to this day, I still believe that she saved my life. xx

 

We met up on 3rd October in Costa (which was harder than it sounds, as there’s a bajillion Costa’s in Swindon… as you can tell, I went to the wrong one – kinda embarrassing, not gonna lie). Holly tried to book an appointment at the doctor’s surgery on the day, but there wasn’t any. So then, she tore off paper from her notepad and told me to write the list.

I couldn’t do it. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t do it. There was so much I wanted to write, but I froze. And I remember saying to Holly “I can’t do this” and broke down crying.

And that’s when I had my first panic attack (well, technically second, because I had a panic attack before, when I nearly burnt down the house frying bacon – there was some greaseproof paper next to the hob, I turned the hob on, the paper caught alight :/ But not anxiety-related, you know?)

It was a traumatic experience, and even to this day, I can recall everything that happened. In Costa, I noticed that my breathing was becoming more erratic, and I was so scared. Holly held my hand and reassured me that no-one was looking at me, but it felt like everyone was.

Ten minutes later, we went outside and sat on a bench outside. I started shaking, my breathing came worse, I lost all feeling and strength in my limbs… I tried calming myself down by hugging Holly as hard as I could so many times – I thought that would help. But nothing changed.

Of course, a kid having an anxiety attack in the town centre would attract a *bit* of attention, so after a while, people asked if I was okay. Of course, I’m fucking not okay… Fuck off and leave me alone, I thought, but as I couldn’t really speak, I just nodded. Which made me want to leave even more, but I knew as soon as I tried to stand up, I would have collapsed on the floor.

But for all of that time, around forty-five minutes, Holly stayed with me until I was normal, telling people to move (not in a way that I thought) and putting up with me. She was amazing and an absolute godsend. xx

 

It also made me realise that I needed to talk to someone about how I was feeling, no matter how difficult it was going to be.
So a few days later, I decided to talk to my Learning Mentor; it sounds weird, I know, but I thought she would be able to help with my college stress and give some advice.

Cue my second panic attack in the space of three days.
As soon as I sat down, that was it. Another panic attack.

About half an hour later, she left me to get the college counsellor. She came up, controlled my breathing, and within minutes, I was calm.

She talked about the services that the college provided (which I’ve forgotten everything that she said to me) and called my Mum.

Then my Mum picked me up, took me home, and that’s when I told her about everything – the panic attacks, the suicidal thoughts. I don’t know whether she believed me; she made a comment when I talked about punching walls because I “had no marks on my hands”.

But my parents booked me an appointment at the doctors, and that was the start of getting the help I needed. xx


 Seeing My GP For the First Time.

What a shit clickbait title that would be. XD

I was so nervous going to my first GP appointment. As soon as I got there, I wanted to leave. Even with my dad there, I was shaking so much.

I don’t think it helped when the night before, I looked at every single mental health illness I could think of. Shit. I’ve got anxiety, depression, autism, OCD, schizophrenia and PTSD, I thought.

But what made the appointment easier was having the list of things wrong with me. All I had to do was show the doctor my list, and that was it. I didn’t have to say much then.

It was a good job really – I was a mess. I had such a low mood, I avoided eye contact with my doctor at all times, looking at posters or the floor. I was on the brink of breaking down (again). It was horrible, but I managed to get through.

And at the end, I was referred to see a mental health liaison later that month, and given 10mg Propranolol to take for anxiety.

So with that appointment, I was referred to see a mental health liaison and given 10mg Propranolol to take for anxiety.

 

I also spoke to my Learning Mentor again, who advised me to drop one of my courses, so there was less stress on me. I chose English Language (which I’ll pick up next month) and my EPQ, because they were causing me the most stress.

The hardest part of that was explaining to my friends why I dropped my courses, but to be honest, I’m glad I did.


Seeing the Mental Health Liaison.

Now, this is sort of relevant now, considering a few days ago, the place I went to see this mental health liaison (Sandalwood Court – also Swindon’s only place of safety) is closing down, which is disgusting. But I won’t go into that today.

Early November, I went to see a mental health liaison at Sandalwood Court. I was more nervous there than at my GP surgery, but I thought it would be useful.

So Sarah (that’s her name) started asking me questions – mostly basic questions at first, and then she asked about everything else, like my nan, college, etc.

I did show her my infamous list again, but she said “Ok, fair enough. But I want to hear more from you”, which I was like “…fuck.”

So because I didn’t prepare for this, when I was talking about college and unrequited love, I just broke down. I kept apologizing to Sarah – I was so embarrassed about crying in front of her.

But she was nice, made me feel better again, and about twenty minutes later, I went home.

 

“Dear Dr _____,

Thank you for referring Matthew to the Swindon Primary Care Liaison Service at Sandalwood Court on the 17.10.16. The referral highlighted low mood, diminished appetite, variable sleep and thoughts of self-harm, no specific plan, only possible trigger to low mood is bereavement last year and stresses at college, and a mental health assessment was requested.

Matthew attended an appointment for a mental assessment with myself on 7.11.16, no other persons were present during this assessment. Below is a summary of the assessment, subsequent recommendations and plan.

Matthew reported experiencing periods of poor sleep, tearfulness, poor concentration and panic attacks due to unrequited love. He is close friends with the individual he was in love with but they are in love with someone else, Matthew has found this difficult.

Impression/Formulation inclusive of risk

Matthew is a 17-year-old man living with his parents who he reports to be supportive of him. Matthew is currently attending college and studying A-levels, he has felt increased pressure to do well in his exams… Matthew reported a reduction of anxiety since commencing Propranolol and is happy to continue taking this as prescribed by his GP.

The risk to self: Matthew reported that he has had fleeting thoughts to end his life and thoughts to harm himself by cutting his wrists, he has reported no current intent or plan to act on these thoughts, he identified his family and friends as a protective factor.”

That was the letter I received in the post, outlining what we talked about in that session.

I would have scanned the document in, but she spent my name wrong (Mattew… I know :/).

Going forward, Sarah suggested that I should continue taking my tablets and to attend the CBT session I was booked for (must have done this at a doctors appointment\_(ツ)_/¯ ).


CBT.

From November to April this year, I attended around fifteen CBT sessions. These started as sessions I’d have at my doctor’s surgery every two/three weeks, but after New Year, my GP referred me for weekly sessions at LIFT Psychology, because I wasn’t feeling great at that time.

 

All of my CBT sessions were the same, really. They started with a questionnaire, where I ticked boxes for how I felt, how anxiety inhibits everyday life, etc. Then, the therapist would look at them, and maybe ask some questions, depending on whether I had a good week or not.

After the questionnaire, I would then talk about some of the stuff that’s happened over the last few weeks, like if I had a panic attack or suicidal thoughts.

We’d then do an anxiety-related exercise (like “Problem or Worry?” or SMART targets), and finish with going through my “home practise”, which is something I would try before the next session (for example, a breathing technique or keeping up a panic diary).

 

Did CBT help me? Sort of.

If I’m being completely honest, in all of those sessions, I only found a few things useful. I became more aware of anxiety (which I would explain but I don’t want to bore you to death :) But for those who want to know, there’s a diagram here that sort of explains it…?) and how to overcome it, like ‘on the spot’ breathing techniques.

But I think the most important part was that I was able to talk to a professional about my thoughts and feelings, and it was the only time I felt normal.

So even though I didn’t learn much, it was still very useful.


My Other GP Appointments

Is it sad that over the last 12 months, I’ve seen my GP more times than I’ve seen my friends?

Probably.

As I’ve mentioned before, my GP prescribed me 10mg Propranolol when I first saw him.

*puts on nerdy glasses* For those that don’t know, Propranolol is a beta-blocker, which is usually given to people with heart defects but also prescribed for anxiety too. The theory is, the tablets would lower my blood pressure, which would reduce my heart rate and the severity of a panic attack *takes off nerdy glasses and throws them in the bin*

 

When I first took them, they worked, but then I started getting panic attacks, even when I took more than one at a time (so I couldn’t just ask for a higher dosage). I was also feeling worse too – insomnia, low mood, suicidal thoughts. So I needed something different.

So about four months ago, I was prescribed Citalopram.

I know that there’s this stigma about SSRI’s and how nobody likes talking about being on anti-depressants (I don’t either), so I’ll keep this short.

For the first week I took Citalopram, I spent 90% of my time in bed. I would wake up early in the morning, crying in pain because it felt like my head was going to explode. I had little energy to do anything. I wanted the pain to end, it was horrible.

And after taking them for months… I don’t know. I don’t know if they’re helping or not.

It’s difficult writing this, because some days, I could be like “Anti-depressants are AMAZING”, but other times I’m like “They’re not doing anything”

Maybe I have to try something else again. I don’t know.


Okay, so I thought I would seperate this into two sections – the first section being the backstory, what happened before my social anxiety manifested, and some of the help that I have received.

The next part is the “Living With It” section, if that makes sense. So I thought I would talk about how social anxiety affects me… or try to anyway.

I don’t know. I’ll be honest, this wasn’t really planned, but fuck it -I’ll go with the flow :D


So What Symptoms Have I Had Over The Past Year?

Note: there are more symptoms below this, but I’m going to go into them in more detail.

Low self-esteem/confidence – Pretty self-explanatory, but my self-esteem was so low. I didn’t believe I could do anything anymore, like getting a job or leaving my house. I thought I looked ugly – that’s why it took me years to post a profile picture, because every time I saw myself, I felt physically sick.

I did go on a self-esteem course back in April; it was a two hour session every Wednesday for four weeks. Again, like the CBT, it helped me a little; I feel more confident about myself,  especially with my appearance. But my ability to do things… not so much.

Sleep issues – my sleep pattern is so inconsistent. I either sleep for three hours or ten hours, there’s no in between. Sometimes it takes me hours to get out of bed. Sometimes I need a nap in the middle of the day.

It can be for a number of reasons – mainly my thoughts (I’ll talk about that later), but  if there’s a lot of people in the house (avoidance) or if I have a panic attack, I need to take a nap.

Changes in appetite – again, my appetite is all over the place. It depends on what mood I’m in – if I’m feeling terrible or anxious, then I’ll comfort eat, or do the opposite and not eat anything.

Panic attacks – I won’t go into any more detail about panic attacks anymore, but I can’t count how many panic attacks I’ve had. I’ll guess thirty? Sounds about right.

Punching Walls (TW) – Fuck… looks like I’ll have to talk about this one.

I don’t punch walls all of the time, but sometimes when I get upset about something (like seeing something on social media or if I have a panic attack), I will punch a wall a couple of times.

I don’t do it until my knuckles bleed, but I do it a couple of times until my knuckes turn red and hand stings a bit.

But it does scare me when I do it because I don’t feel like me, I feel like a monster. And what if if one day I can’t control that anger, and I punch people instead of walls?

Changes in sex drive – yeah, don’t think I need to explain that one lol.

Doing the same things over and over again/Addictiveness. – this is a weird one. I have quite an addictive nature, and I feel like I do the same things over and over again. When I watch YouTube videos, I spend hours watching the same videos over and other again. In town centre, I visit the same shops in the same pattern. I check my phone so many times – like I’ll check Facebook or Snapchat once, then check it again a further ten times every twenty minutes, knowing that it hasn’t changed. But I can’t help it – I do it instinctively, and can’t break my habits.

Depersonalisation/Disassociation – it’s difficult to explain. It’s like sometimes, I feel disconnected from everyone. If I’m in a room with people, I feel like I shouldn’t belong there. Or that I’m not there.

Other times, I feel like a passenger in my own body. Not in a ” I’m having an identity crisis” kind of way, but it feels like my mind isn’t attached to my body.

If that makes sense (I don’t know. I hope someone will relate)


Avoidance.

I think I’ve got to a point that I try to avoid every single social encounter.

In fact, as I’m writing this, my four-year-old niece is downstairs and… I can’t do it. I can’t go downstairs to see her because I don’t want to be around people. Not even a fucking four year old. That’s how bad things are right now.

Seriously, the first thing I ask is “How many people are going?”. On my nephew’s birthday, there was a party and I didn’t go because I knew there was going to be people there.

If there’s ten people in my house, I’ll stay upstairs. If someone I don’t know that well comes to my house, I’ll stay upstairs until they’ve left.

And I think this summer, I’ve left my house about five times. That’s it. :/

 

 

Social avoidance is a serious problem for me, and I know that if I don’t do something about it, I’m just going to be one of those people that never leaves their house.

So I’ve been trying to push myself out of my comfort zone, because I don’t want that to happen.

I’ve started doing Social Experiments – no, not those shit YouTube (GONE SEXUAL) (GONE WRONG) (IN THE HOOD) (NEARLY DIED) social experiments. My own social experiments, where I push myself into going to a public place and record what’s my reaction like.

Something like this (although I don’t stick them on my blog. This is just an exception):

Social Experiment #5 – 15th July 2017

 

Apologies for the A* quality photography. But I hope I’ve shown you what a typical day is like for me in a public place (in this case, town centre).

Of course, some days are going to be better than others. Some days I’ll feel good and others I’ll feel shit (like that day).

Whether this is the right way to do this, I don’t know. But I have to keep doing these… especially if I want to go to uni; I’m going to be around thousands of people every day (maybe even a city with millions of people) and if I can’t cope in Swindon, then I’m fucked. :/


Talking to friends.

Whilst we’re on the subject of avoidance, let’s talk about something else I’ve been avoiding for the past year.

Talking to friends.

In one of my CBT sessions, I created these SMART targets which I’d have to complete. One of them was to send five different friends a message every week, because I felt like I was isolating myself from the world.

Now for some of you, that’s easy. You could achieve that as soon as you wake up.

But I I’ve never managed to complete it either – I think my highest is three?

Anyway, the reason why I can’t do it is because I find it so difficult to talk to people. On some of my bad days, it can take me twenty minutes just to send “Hey” to someone. I’ve even had mental breakdowns and panic attacks due to the fact that I want to talk to people but I physically can’t bring myself to type.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that I can’t have a conversation with more than one person at the same time. I’m not one of these people that can have 27423876783487 convesations going on at the same time. I can only have one. Any more and it becomes stressful.

 

And then I get the “Are you avoiding me?” message, because the person feels like I’m avoiding them, and in a way I am, but not in the way they think it’s just I want to talk to them but I’ve been feeling so shit lately and I don’t know what to say in case I say something bad and then they hate me and never want to talk to me again and I want to say sorry for avoiding them but I know that I’ll do the same thing anyway so I’m just gonna have a mental breakdown because I can’t talk to them and now I’m jsdhfdffkndfkjsdfjdvf.

Sorry about that. :/


Constantly apologising for everything.

I think the most common phrase I’ve used over the last year is “I’m sorry”. I apologise all of the time now, even for things that I shouldn’t apologise for, I do it anyway.

I don’t know why I do it. I guess that I’m always in a negative mood, and I feel guilty all of the time, like everything I do is my fault.

“Hey. Remember that thing that I said seven months ago? I know, it’s long ago and you forgive me. But it still hurts me when I think about it, and even though I’ve said it a million times already, I’m sorry.”

“Hey. I’m sorry I haven’t messaged you back lately it’s just… there’s so much going on at the moment, and I’m not in a good place right now. And I know that I should talk to people, it’s just when I’m feeling low I don’t want to say something to upset you or say something that makes me seem like I’m being rude when I’m not, you know?”

“I’m sorry it took me ages to reply back to your message. It’s just I sit there for twenty minutes editing what I’ve written to you, so I know that it makes sense and you know what I’m trying to say.”

“I’m sorry that you have to see me like this all of the time, and I’m sorry you have to put up with me.”

“I’m sorry if it seems like I’m ranting at the moment, it’s just there’s so much stuff that I need to talk about and I need to tell someone about it.”

“I’m sorry that I haven’t told you how I’m feeling lately. It’s just… I don want to say “Hey Mum, I just wanted to let you know that I’m having suicidal thoughts again” in a conversation. It’s difficult.”

“I’m sorry for being sorry all of the time. I can’t help it, andI know you’ve told me a thousand times already, but there’s so much to feel sorry about.”

“Hey. Do I seem annoying today? It’s just I haven’t taken my tablets today/I’ve taken my tablets today and I feel really weird. So I’m really sorry if I am annoying you, and if not, then I’m sorry for messaging you about it.”

“I’m sorry that I’m always saying that I’m a failure. It’s because it’s kinda true. I mean, I can’t get a job, I can’t talk to my friends, I can’t get good grades. In my eyes, I’m a failure Nd a waste of oxygen. I’m just sorryyou have to hear it.”

“I’m sorry if I’m in the way all of the time.”

“I’m sorry that I’m not being socialble today, and I’m just staying in my room all day. In my room, I feel safe, comfortable.”

“I’m sorry if I couldn’t make it to ______, it’s just there’s going to be a lot of people there and I can’t deal with people anymore.”

“I’m sorry I don’t have a job yet. And I’m sorry I haven’t got a job working in retail – nobody wants me and I’m not good enough… actually, who would blame them? Ah yes, let’s employ that kid with severe social anxiety. It will be like having a driving instructor with no arms or legs.”

“Hey I’m sorry I didn’t come to see you today. I would have done but I felt really terrible today and I know that if I spoke to you I would have a panic attack and I don’t want you to see me like this.”

“Fuck. I’m sorry. I forgot. My mind has been all over the place lately, and I forgot to do it. I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry that I wasn’t good enough for you”

“I’m sorry for everything.”


Feeling Suicidal. (TW)

This section is the hardest to write by far. Not only because I’m afraid that I’ll upset someone, but also due to the fact that I don’t know how much to share, what the repercussions of sharing this are going to be, and if people will take me seriously if I write it.

On the other had, I need to talk about it because I can’t sit there and pretend that everything is fine. Everything isn’t fine. That’s why I’ve written this whole thing.

So I want to talk about my suicidal thoughts here. And if you want to skip this part, I completely understand.

There’s no easy way to say this, but… I am suicidal. For the last twelve months, I’ve had suicidal thoughts almost every day.

These could be daydreams I’ve had, where I’ve zoned out and thought about… life. Or, these could be nightmares where I imagining myself… actully, I won’t go into them. I’m sure you can picture what I could be thinking.

But these thoughts have become normal now –  I just accept that they’re going to happen. Even though they still hurt and there’s nothing I could do to control these thoughts.

I should emphasise that there’s a clear difference between feeling suicidal and attempting suicide. And I can say that as of now, I haven’t tried anything.

But at my lowest, that difference was getting smaller. I started looking at second hand guns online. I wrote a list on my phone of all the people I would mention on my phone “just in case”. I researched overdose limits on tablets, and what would happen if I took Aspirin with Citalopram.

And I’ll admit, I was scared. I had no control over my thoughts at this point – it was like I was the passenger of my own body. It was terrifying. I genuinely thought that I would have been another figure in a national statistic.

That’s why I started taking anti-depressants. And sure, I still have suicidal thoughts now, and I’m always wondering why I’m a failure and why I should put a bullet in my head. But I’ve never done anything like that since.

Is that a good sign? I don’t know. Maybe. It’s too soon to say. :/


Coping Mechanisms.

That’s enough of the stuff I’ve had to deal with over the last year. Of course, there are a few things I haven’t talked about, purely for the fact that I’d double the word count on… pointless shit.

However, I want to talk about my coping mechanisms – the stuff that helps me cope when I’m feeling anxious, worried, suicidal, etc.

I should point out that a) I’m not going to talk about stuff that I’ve learnt in CBT or my antidepressants, and b) these things don’t always work, and if they do, it’s only temporary- for a few hours or so. But they still help :)

  1. Reading.

I loved reading as a child. I’d read every single day, and probably read the most in my class. But in secondary school, that interest just… faded. I think it was because the stuff we did at school was boring, and to “fit in with the lads” (more the latter), but I stopped reading.

Until this year. I’ve fallen back in love with reading again.

I started off  reading a couple of ebooks, but I realised that whenever I read, it took my mind off things, so I stole a bookshelf from my Mum, and tried to fill it with as many books as possible.

In fact, I’m so obsessed with reading, that I’ve started entering for free books just so I can read more and more stuff.

And now I’ve gone from a few books to this, in the space of a few months

But it’s like I’ve gone in a complete circle; before, I used to rather play games on my PlayStation than read, but now, I’d rather read than do anything else.

And now I really want to be a published author – like seriously, if I can go into Waterstones and shout “THATS MY BOOK I WROTE THAT” then that would be amazing.

Obviously not now, because my writing’s terrible :p But hopefully in the future.

 

 

2. Running.

I know that a lot of people who are reading this now – who have suffered with anxiety or any mental health issue currently or in the past – will have heard someone say “Why don’t you try exercising? It helped me”. And I’ll try really hard not to be that guy either.

I actually started exercising about a year and a half ago; my Mum got one of those crosstrainers, which I used even more than her. And because I was annoying her, I thought I would run outside instead, and I enjoyed it. I kept doing it, and I still run now.

It does help… a little. I’d say the thing that helps me the most is knowing that I’m pushing myself – not in terms of going further every time, but to go running when there’s other people around – it’s a big achievement for me.

Another achievement is how far I’ve ran this year – I don’t know far I’ve ran this year, but I’m going to say around 300 kilometers, which is just insane. Well, I think so anyway.

The only downside of running is that I’m fucking terrified of dogs now. Honestly, the amount of times where a dog has chased me this year – it’s ridiculous. Like, every time I see a dog, I have to slow down now, because… they scare the shit out of me.

 

 


 

Alright, not much more now. I promise.

So first of all, I wanted to say thank you so much for taking your time out of your day to read this. The fact that you’ve chosen to read this… it means a lot. Especially after spending so much time writing this. Thank you. x

Like I said before, I haven’t covered everything that’s  happened this year, so if you do have any questions, please feel free to ask me them in the comments or on my social media accounts.

 

So what have I learnt from doing this?

I should have done all of this in one day – instead, I wrote a bit, waited a couple of days, and wrote more. So some of the stuff I’ve written kinda refects my mood – I think even reading it, you can tell. Or maybe you can’t. Idk anymore.

Also, editing is a nightmare. I’ve rewritten this thing about seven times now… each with an average of eight or nine thousand words, so yeah…. a lotta words.

And final thing is that things change over time… I mean, had you asked me what I was going to do after this, I’d have said “spend time with my girlfriend” but er… that didn’t fucking happen.

I’m not going into detail about it, even if she wont see this (she blocked me on Snapchat and Facebook). I’m not a prick – I’m not going to talk shit about her. I get it. People move on. She’ll find someone better than me, no doubt. And that’s that.

But the first time, I had so many jokes and things about her on here, so obviously, I had to change it. Then

So… what am I going to do now?

Sleep?

I don’t know – I’ll just have to wait and see where life goes, and how my third year at college is.

Will I go to uni? I doubt it… well, again, see how I feel in a year’s time. If I’m feeling like this now then there’s really no point.

It’s weird because this past year has changed everything about my future plans. Uni? Doubt it. Become a journalist? Again, can I cope?

I’m just undecided yet – I’ve reached a stage where I have no specific goal in my life. Which is kinda scary, because I’m worried I’ll achieve nothing and end up homeless.

I just want things to improve basically.

 

And finally, I don’t think it would be right if I didn’t say thank you to everyone that’s helped me over the last year. Whether you’ve messaged me saying that you’re thinking of me or that you’ll be there for me, or if been there when I’ve needed you the most, it all means so much to me – I feel wanted, appreciated love. And I know it all sounds kinda cheesy, but it really helps.

So thank you thank you thank you to: my family, Holly, Beth, Chelsey (even if you won’t see this :(), Katie, Zara, Anna, Claire, Burroughs, Ali, Callum, Casey, Emily and anyone else who has helped me (I’m really sorry if I forgot to say your name :( )

Because without you guys being there for me, I wouldn’t be alive right now.

Thank you. xx

Matt ^_^