Social Anxiety and Racing Thoughts

Monday, Summer, Age - Late 20s

I’m at the park again. I sit, hunched over my coverless journal. I ripped the front and back off in a drunken fit of rage and panic. The parrots, or maybe they’re parakeets, are squawking in their communal homes, high in the trees. Today there are not many people around. Except for the consistent traffic and ongoing construction. Walking here I could appreciate the tree lined one-way streets as the brilliant afternoon sun broke through autumn leaves still clinging to their branches. But just sitting here, I want so desperately to cry.

Social anxiety, I guess that is what it could be called. I wish it was just fear and awkwardness. The truth is that I wasn’t always this way. My therapist says I’m like this because I survived. I think it’s because I wasn’t supposed to survive, so now I’m broken. I can be doing fine and the moment something goes awry or I feel let down, I take it to the extreme. My psychiatrist suggested that I think less about “diagnosis” and instead to see myself as a person who, when things go badly, engages in self-harming behavior.

I need a reset. Been feeling overwhelmed and raw. I like that way of describing my emotional state. Not just sensitive, my wounds are bleeding. I want to traverse the city unremarkably. Nearly indistinguishable from other faces in the crowd, in a cloak of invisibility. I don’t want to be noticed, and when I am, I act ignorant to the attention.

Sitting in the park. Surrounded by people, yet so alone. There lurks a contradictory urge — it exists alongside this fear of people — a deep desire to be connected. On bad days, I am isolated in a room swarming with people who all know each other. Today I sought solitude in the park, as the hour has gone on, more people have gathered around. I fear others but I also crave them.

The leaves in the tree above are shaking in the ever so light breeze. The ground shimmers with the alternating shade and light. It affects the growth pattern of the grass. It is only here in patches. Dirt, cracking, punctuated by spurts of struggling green grass, looking up I remember I am not alone in this space. There are people everywhere and even though I’ve escaped into a park with grass and trees, the cars continue to rush by. There is no sanctuary of silence in this massive city.

It never ceases. If impatient drivers are not honking their horns, dogs are barking loudly in unison, or a raucous crew is screaming at a futbol game goal. The traffic is a consistent hum. It is never quieter here than that irritating buzz. Trying to explain it pisses me off. My jaw clenches and I want to fucking break something. The ability to be isolated here is a rare gift.

The park is surrounded by buildings so tightly constructed that there are no alleyways. One wall is the other side of the wall for a different building. Can they speak through the shared boundary? In an apartment, that feels normal to me, but what of an entire home? Knock on a wall and you’re knocking into a stranger/neighbor’s room. Are we, as humans, supposed to desire this closeness? I don’t know. I just observe.

I prefer to go under the radar than let people get close and reject me once they get to know me. I am afraid to be honest. I just don’t fit. I trust no one. Despite my lack of trust, I can easily be coaxed into divulging my secrets. Well, the “secrets” that other people might see as deep or shocking revelations. The real me is somewhere else. Unable to figure myself out in terms of my intersectional identities. My real secrets, the depth of my internal struggle and the truth of those dark caverns is rarely told. Afraid that my truth will scare people away.

Maybe I’m afraid of the backlash I might face if I was authentically and unapologetically me. In the bad as well as the good. I don’t fit into any group. I never really have. Does everyone feel like this? Sometimes I wonder if it is a common thing to feel like you are just faking it when you act ok and happy. It feels inauthentic, as if I am forgetting the terrible reality of this world. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I be happy? I really don’t want to drink today but I feel like I will. To push these feelings down. Drown them out.

My mind churns.


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