I have gone back and forth on writing this post because it feels deeply personal and it is a little scary to put this out there. I decided to write this hoping that it helps someone else explain to other people how they are feeling or that it helps someone understand another person in their life.
People who are close to me are probably not terribly surprised by the fact that I have an anxiety disorder. In fact, if you knew me as a child you would be completely unphased by this information. I was terrified of EVERYTHING. I thought this was just who I was as a human being and frankly became used to it. In fact, I hardly considered it a problem anymore until my doctor let me know it was absolutely a problem. I am not on medication currently, I’m trying to reduce the symptoms naturally as I discover what they are and what triggers them.
Here’s the thing, I thought I was a terrible person. I would always say “yes,” to social engagements. Having a party? Yes, I want to be there! A happy hour with nearly all the people from work? Of course! Your baby shower? Absolutely! Your birthday at a bar in downtown? Sounds fun!
And I did want to be there because I love my friends and family and I want to spend time with them. However, the day arrives and a realization sets in. I’m going to be in a room full of people I do not know, I’m going to have to make small talk (which I hate), it will be noisy. Then I feel sick to my stomach because my anxiety takes over my stomach and makes me want to throw up. Then I feel completely exhausted and overwhelmed and I’m not even at the event yet. So then, I cancel last minute and feel horrible about it. And a lot of the time the other person is understandably irritated.
Here is the situation, HSP and empaths absorb everyone’s emotions around them, which in itself, is an exhausting experience. Then throw the fact that many HSPs and empaths have developed an anxiety disorder and it is a recipe for emotional disaster and creating a total shut-in. This is why a lot of HSPs and empaths have a drinking problem. They are trying to desensitize themselves to everything going on around them. And of course, if you have an anxiety disorder, the alcohol actually makes that worse. So it’s really a lose-lose situation.
I have given up alcohol altogether unless it’s for celebratory purposes. This makes these social gatherings even trickier. I am more inclined to go if there are 3-4 people rather than a large gathering. However, giving up alcohol has helped my anxiety during my day to day existence.
It is hard for people to put their feelings into words and explain to you why they couldn’t come to your event, but just know they REALLY wanted to. They debated for hours about whether they could muster the energy to go. When they ultimately decided they couldn’t, they felt horrible about not being able to go. They probably even lost sleep beating themselves up because they feel like they disappointed you.
I’m currently working on starting a new blog strictly dedicated to health and wellness. I have become increasingly more interested in the topic with my own recent health journey (yes, I know I find the words “journey” and “path” overused too and kind of gag worthy but I didn’t know what else to use). I will have more information on that soon.
Until then, have a little grace for the people you have decided are “flakey” or disinterested. Have compassion for one another and try to show a little kindness to everyone.