It's been a long time since I've written anything. It's been a long time since I've communicated much with anyone. For the last year or so I've just been empty. Not depressed, all's fine on that particular front (thankfully), but just... empty. Burnt. Tired. I've had a whole lotta nuthin' to offer anyone. This, then, is essentially an open letter of apology to all the wonderful people who have touched my life and who I have, frankly, neglected.
My anxiety issues kicked into high gear just about a year ago and have not gotten much better. I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty sure what I'm dealing with is a bit of the ol' complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My vague Agoraphobia became a lot less vague and panic attacks have been pretty regular. The fact that my job requires me to be outside has been stressful, though thankfully if I'm out with the dogs it's slightly less rough than when I'm out on my own.
I haven't left my immediate neighborhood in about a year, except for a doctor's appointment, my heart starts to race just thinking about going too far from home. The embarrassment of having to say no, to find excuses, to invitations to go out or get together, is exhausting. Keeping it a secret has become even more exhausting as has attempting to communicate with friends who I am sure wonder why I've essentially disappeared. The phone rings and I jump out of my skin, a text notification is less stressful but I still get nervous, sometimes so much that I will not even look to see who the text is from. Checking voicemails fill me with dread, and with guilt. It's the stress, the anxiety of social interactions that has me in hiding. There are a couple of people who can call me and cause me an actual feeling of relief, but sadly I find it increasingly difficult to initiate a call to them. Oh irony.
I'm sure this would all come as quite a shock to anyone who knows me out and about with the dogs. My 'public' persona is not what someone would associate with an anxiety riddled Agoraphobic. I chat with people on the street while I'm walking, I'm funny, entertaining (and clearly a braggart). But the level of emotional energy it takes for me to do that, to interact with so many people, often total strangers, is utterly draining to me. This is a good chunk of why I feel empty and feel I cannot offer anything meaningful in regards to a social life. The thing I try to do most is escape, so I can feel safe.
Safe is something I do not come by easily. There was no 'safe' in my childhood so I suppose I simply never learned what it could feel like. For me safe is being home and being alone. I've always needed a lot of solitude and that has become more pronounced in the last year. I can not seem to be alone enough.
I'm trying to find a way to pull out of this, it's no easy feat. I do have a few things that are helping. I'm practicing a sort of visualization that takes me to my first visit to Mexico whenever the flashbacks of the violence of my childhood crash in on me and it's been helping to calm things down (if I catch it in time). And I play games, mostly World of Warcraft. It sounds odd that a game with War in the title would feel like a safe place for someone who is in panic-mode most of the time, but it does. Go figure, huh?
For the most part I like to play alone, the games I mean, it's how I roll (obviously). But I've been interacting more with other people in WoW and it's actually (shock!) feeling okay. Sometimes a little overwhelming for me, but also sort of safe. I mean I'm home (good), but also in a fantasy world (good), and sometimes interacting with real people at the same time (good).
I wonder if I'm making any headway towards getting better and then I realize for the first time in four years I'm actually finding the energy to write a post on this blog. And I think, maybe, just maybe, that's a good sign.