Suffering from social anxiety is no joke.
Life can be difficult when you’re simply not comfortable around other human beings.
Its worse when you’re like me, a relatively honest person who doesn’t like to lie.
Most social interactions start with some variation of the question “How are you today?”
This question can lock up my mind as I fall down a rabbit hole trying to figure out if they really want to know how I am, or are they just being polite.
At some point I’ll do what most other people do and say, “Fine.”
Social convention dictates that I repeat the question back to them. I usually don’t want to appear to be rude, so I will…causing yet another moral dilemma, in that I’m lying when I ask, because honestly, I don’t really care how they’re doing, and I’m terrified that if they are not indeed “fine” that they will dump their problems on me.
Then there’s the whole “leaving the house” thing.
There are times I don’t like leaving my house because it means interacting with other human beings. It’s not uncommon that I will refuse to leave the house for anything except work (and I can occasionally work from home, so there’s that).
You might think I’m overstating things…but I’m not.
A few years ago when I wasn’t in a good place emotionally I had my first heart attack.
It hit at about 3am. I knew it was an heart attack. I was a military medic for almost 20 years.
I didn’t call 911 for more than 3 hours because I just couldn’t deal with people. Seriously, from my medical background I knew that if I called 911 that I would have to interact with the paramedics and I just couldn’t deal with that.
Finally, 3 hours later, the pain got so bad that I figured I could deal with a couple of paramedics without having a complete meltdown I reluctantly dialed 911
10 minutes later I had 6 firefighters and 2 police officers in my livingroom.
They all wanted to know how I was doing
“Fine” I responded tersely.
It was another 5 or 10 minutes before I heard the ambulance siren approaching…I was so desperate to get away from the crowd in my livingroom that I walked out to meet the ambulance at the curb.
What was the first question they asked me?
“How are you doing?”