There are many times I have used this reference. Usually when I was feeling like everyone around me was mad as the hatter and I was the only sane one. Funny thing is it was my anxiety reacting to my surroundings.
Too much noise. Too crowded. Other people enjoying themselves boisterously. Not feeling like I was supposed to be in the presence of others. The tea party left me feeling overstimulated and I shut down. Closed myself up and walked away or closed my eyes and wished I were someplace else.
My social anxiety was in full swing tonight. There were many times I was about to bolt and just go home. I NEEDED to go home. Home is safety and sanity and my own creation. Out there is some wild shit.
I did enjoy myself tonight. The company of two people helped me hold it together.
I was at a Drop-in for people with mental illness and there were various types of people with different diagnoses. Party type atmosphere with people feeling secure enough that they did not wear the masks they wear out in public.
It wasn’t mayhem or an old movie scene of an asylum. People were simply enjoying themselves without being judged. The problem was Alice (me) and her anxiety.
It’s not that I felt superior to the others at the table. Many had more degrees and were more intelligent than I. Mental illness will rob you of that sometimes. And you need to remind yourself of the accomplishments of the past. Or present.
I’m high functioning. To see me, talk to me or just be around me. You would think I had my ducks in a row and my shit was all together.
I’ve sat through conversations with people who judged and bad mouthed the mentally ill. I immediately corrected them about their one-sided observation without telling them I was BiPolar.
It’s none of their business. BiPolar isn’t who I am so why introduce my diagnosis into the conversation. I felt if I had they would think ‘oh, she’s one of them and that’s why she’s correcting us.’ Coming from someone who they considered to be ‘put together’ I felt at the moment the lack of personal information gave more credibility to my argument.
I’ve told people I was BiPolar and watched them walk out of my life. For that reason alone. There were no incidents. Just fear on their part. It didn’t matter that they knew me for many years. All of a sudden I became something to fear. I had magically changed into a STIGMA and not a person.
There was nothing wrong with tonight’s Drop-in. As I said, the problem was Alice or rather me. Overwhelmed. Tired and closed down Me.
Closing down is a defense mechanism. Close your eyes, block out the noise and fall silent. Shut down and regroup. Leave the tea party.
I sit here now with insomnia. Typing away and needing to sleep. It’s almost one a.m. and I’ve been up since five a.m. yesterday. I’m hoping that blogging will clear my mind and ease me into a relaxed state.
There will always be times I feel like Alice. I realize this and accept it.
It doesn’t have to be a room of people who have mental illness to make me feel this way. It’s happened at the most in opportune times. With ‘normal’ people. I would feel the room spin and the walls close in and there was just TOO much going on for my senses to handle. I couldn’t leave. Overwhelmed and stressed, I close down.
I get quiet. Politely nod my head and eek out a thank you or whatever is called for at the moment. Fight the intense urge to flee the whole situation and desire to run home. Sometimes you can’t.
Anxiety. Social anxiety. One is bad enough without the other.