I have this fear. It causes my legs to shake. I break out in a cold sweat. I go completely silent. My heart skips beats, and my head starts to swim. I think of the day ahead, where I need to go, who I will see, and what social interactions will be expected of me. This is my fear.
It all started when I was sixteen years old, I remember the first time like it just happened today. I was a social butterfly; I could make friends anywhere, and with any group of people. One day, all of that just stopped. It was a cold January morning, and I was ready to go back to school. I had been off for two weeks for the holidays, and this was my first day back. My parents had just split up, and I had spent my entire holiday in my bedroom, only emerging to shower and occasionally eat. This was my time to get away, time to escape the horror my home had become.
It was cold and very windy outside, yet the sun was shining so bright it hurt my eyes when I walked out my front door. When I walked into my school, I felt this panic wash over me like I had never experienced before, and it hurt. I started to sweat, despite the freezing temperatures outdoors, my legs went weak, like they had all of a sudden became useless, and my heart was jumping in a rhythm that made me panic even more. I was scared. My day had become a nightmare, and I did not, I could not, understand why.
As time went by, I dropped out of high school because of this new and intrusive panic that I had yet to understand, I no longer had friends. I no longer was the social butterfly that my mother had always described me as. I had a severe case of social anxiety. I made a choice at this time in my life to ignore my pain, my fear, and myself in order to continue living the way I had before. This was a mistake, and I quickly realized that it was in fact destroying me.
Three years later I was ready for a change. After two psychiatrists and an excruciating month long stay at a hospital, after illegally abusing alcohol for...