When Do You Feel at Your Weakest?


Social situations are hard for me. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and find crowds particularly daunting. When I am in a social situation with a lot of people that I don’t know it is really easy for me to shut down. I have to fight really hard to talk to anyone and, often, have to fight all of my instincts to keep from running out of the room. Noise is the worst. If everybody is talking while I am surrounded by people, or there is loud music playing, it can be too overwhelming for me to handle. These situations are when I feel at my weakest. The biggest problem is that people don’t understand. People often say things like “everybody is uncomfortable, you just have to ignore it and start talking to people.” Often I want to shout “why aren’t you listening to me? It’s not that easy” at them, but what good would that do? People don’t understand because it’s not something that they deal with. It’s a mental health issue, so it is still highly stigmatized and ignored. Many people assume I’m lying when I tell them my issue, so I have only really just begun to trust people enough to talk about it.Β 

My volunteering as well as my interest in writing have forced me to have to fight my anxiety in order to attend conferences and galas and other such events. I’m lucky to have one of the more mild forms of anxiety. I can sit in a room with 10 people and not know any of them without feeling much in the way of anxiety. I ca talk to the people around me and enjoy myself. The anxiety doesn’t tend to be unbearable until there are about 100 people around. That is when I begin to panic. But even then, I don’t have a lot of the issues that others have. I don’t become physically sick, I’ve never fainted. Given how weak I feel when I am suffering from my own anxiety, I can’t imagine how bad that feeling must be for those with the worse forms of anxiety.

It is hard for my partner as well. When we are at a conference we are there to meet people. It’s a networking event. My partner wants to walk around and talk to people, but he feels tied to me. I view it as a victory if I manage to talk to a hand full of people in a day, because it’s more than I used to be able to manage. But for my partner it is a wasted day. He could have talked to three times as many people on his own. It is upsetting to me, because those are the days that I am at my strongest. Those are my best days, the days when I feel like I have conquered my fear. When I am at my weakest, when I feel like a failure, is when I can’t get over the feeling of being overwhelmed. The days when I separate myself from the crowd and don’t talk to anyone.Β 

When do you feel like you are at your weakest? How do you conquer that weakness?

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15 responses to “When Do You Feel at Your Weakest?

  • EvolutionMan

    I thought I would stop by and see some of your writings. We exchanged comments on the blog “For Your Thoughts”. This is a great article and even though I don’t experience this phenomena I do experience situations when I feel vulnerable. I have some loss of hearing from loud music when I was younger and when I am in a bar with a group of friends I feel like I am by myself because I can not hear anything that is being said. I have not done anything about it as it does not occur too often. I do feel my weakest in these situations.

    I want to also thank you for following my blog.

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  • Authentic Motherhood

    I can totally relate to this post. I, too, feel I’ve had a good day if I’ve connected with people, whether it be on the phone (which I hate), or in person. It’s nice to know someone else is my kind of “normal”. πŸ™‚

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  • hughiegibson

    I’m still discovering my triggers. I was diagnosed one year ago last month with generalized anxiety and more recently specificly social anxiety. I know that noise and crowds really get me. My wife laughed at me over the weekend because we were playing Clue with my two daughters and I started moving pieces out of a room. She said what are you doing and I replied “moving pieces out of here, it’s getting too crowded”, I don’t even realize I am doing it.

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    • hessianwithteeth

      That’s understandable. It takes time to realize what’s going on. I hope your wife is patient and understanding. It’s hard to change behavioural patterns at the best of times. It’s worse when you’re fighting with your brain to do it.

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      • hughiegibson

        She is very patient and kind and loving. I don’t think I would be able to do it without her. Like everyone we have our ups and downs (mostly due to my issues) but she has stood by me. It is a little easier now with the diagnosis and the help I am receiving and with the knowledge I am gaining from talking to people with similar problems.

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  • nikeyo

    Thank you for this thought experiment. I haven’t explored my anxiety triggers, so this is good. I’ve taken most of my time exploring my depression triggers.

    Let’s see. Noise is a big one for me as well, but I do well with groups of people. A Television triggers me, immensely. My parents used to have the TV on from waking up, to going to bed. Now, I can not stand it and do not even have cable service at home.

    Another one is willfully ignorant people (or what I perceive as willful ignorance, most of the times, I will admit.) which I also get from my father. Usually, it triggers a lot of judgmental reactions in me, which I am not proud of (“Stupid bitch” is one I am not proud of, but exits my mouth a lot).

    I’m sure there is a lot more. Anxiety disorder is a new diagnosis for me, as is the awareness that my high blood pressure and heart palpations is a symptom of anxiety, and can be controlled. I used to ask myself what was wrong with me and thought it was a physical ailment… now I know it’s my anxiety and know that if my chest starts “feeling funny” that I need to remove myself from the situation causing me anxiety and work through my coping mechanisms…

    Bravo to you on knowing your anxiety triggers and doing what my DBT called “opposite to emotion,” and thank you again for sharing this thought experiment with the rest of us! I, at least, really needed it.

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    • hessianwithteeth

      Thank you for the comment. I was diagnosed when I was 13, which was almost 12 years ago. I’ve had a while to discover what my triggers are. I have a lot of social anxiety. Crowds and noise effect me the most. But I also have a problem with calling people. For some reason, I can’t stand talking to people when I can’t see them, but communicating through writing is fine. Driving is another issue. Other drivers freak me out. I suck at tests too. I can write a paper no problem, and take home tests and essay questions are fine, but short answer and multiple choice questions are terrible. Luckily I know where my problems are so I have effective coping mechanisms. I think that my being a naturally rational, as opposed to emotional, person have helped. I’m good at rationalizing my way through problems. Too bad it doesn’t cure me πŸ˜‰

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      • nikeyo

        You will find a relative “cure” in due time. I don’t know if I’ve found mine, but I’ve found that my logical side is not nearly enough. It’s caused me to forsake my emotional reality and thus create the anxiety.

        The fact that you can pinpoint your triggers is phenomenal. I’ve found a lot, but not nearly as much. Even for my depression, and I’ve had that for 13 years! It’s a process, as is life. πŸ™‚ We’ll all make it through and find happiness.

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  • kat

    although i do have some issues with crowds, like concerts or walmart, my real trouble with anxiety is with any person on which i must depend on to get a need met. for example, if i have to call or go in person face to face with the food stamp people to try to keep my benefits, or go to the grocery store to buy a reduced fare bus pass (for minors and disabled and elderly people only) a checker thinks she knows the ADA laws and bus pass laws better than me and tries to force me to prove i am disabled to buy one —this is especially upsetting one for me, because there is no such rule. i could be buying passes for my kids or a friend or whatever….so how could i prove they were disabled or minors? and why would a random person getting passes for someone else have proof of disability? this is just ridiculous….and i either become paralyzed and unable to even speak, or become furious and have to leave before they call security. so, for me, its the people with the power to give or not give something i need.

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    • hessianwithteeth

      That’s unfortunate. I had a similar situation trying to by a student bus pass. I look quite a bit younger than I actually am, so most people just accepted that I was a student, but one woman refused to believe me. I had left my ID at home that day because I was just working, so I didn’t know what to do. After that I refused to buy my bus passes when that lady was working.

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  • Sincerely Sam

    You are not alone!

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