So, a few years ago I was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. I knew I had it, because it was clear that I find social situations more difficult to handle than the average person. It leads me to avoid social situations. I don't enjoy meeting new people (I like people, but unless I have a "script", eg working in a customer service situation, I get anxious about what I'm saying). There are people who have anxiety worse than I do, and most of the time I manage. On a day-to-day basis, I can go to work, for example.
But every now and then my anxiety spikes. It becomes a challenge to even leave the house. At times it's been so bad that I haven't left my bed except for bathroom breaks. I've avoided the windows of my ground-level apartments, for fear that someone would see me. It's not fun.
There's a corollation between people who have a mental illness and abuse drugs or alcohol. I think it's called self-medicating, because the booze (or drugs) can provide relief in the short term, even though neurologically alcohol and drugs may actually make the mental illness worse. So, I might use a few drinks* when I'm out with friends to take some of the edge off, but my anxiety would be worse for probably the next week or so. Which means I have more motivation to drink.
Of course, even when I was drunk, the anxiety was still there. Which is why I much prefered to just get drunk when I was home, alone. The drinking would dull the anxiety, and because I was safe at home, I didn't have to worry about socialising with anyone. Also, booze at the liquor store is cheaper than booze at the bar.
Towards the end of my drinking, especially last summer, it was becoming clear that drinking was a failing strategy for dealing with my anxiety. I'm not sure if it was biological or what, but suddenly (I have no idea how sudden it actually was. I noticed it suddenly) drinking socially turned me into a passive aggressive paranoid asshole. I didn't like my friends, I didn't like myself, and I could tell that I was not a very fun person to be around. A few of us went on a camping trip and I was seriously a giant jerk the whole time. I was pissed off constantly, felt like all of their jokes excluded me, that they weren't listening to my ideas. I was miserable, and I don't think it's a coincidence that there are plans for a camping trip next summer that don't include me. I wouldn't have included me, based on how I was acting last year.
One of my hopes with not drinking was that it would help me get a handle on my anxiety and prevent things like that camping trip from happening again. I'm happy to report that socially I'm not so much of a misfit. I'm not angry at everyone anymore, and that's a huge, HUGE payoff.
The anxiety is still there, though. I'll feel it sometimes when I'm with groups. Sometimes it's just out-and-out fear, and sometimes it's a sense of...closing myself off, like the world is full of cotton and I just can't manage the effort to hear what other people are doing and just want to find a corner to myself. Sometimes, the happiest I am at parties is when the party is going on all around me and I'm left by myself. But sometimes the most miserable I am at parties is when it's going on around me and I'm left by myself. You can imagine how frustrating that is.
I'm experiencing some high level anxiety lately. I don't know how long it will last. I have 4 more days of work left, and I hope that that helps a bit. I'm worried that it will cause me to freeze when I renew my job hunt, which would be disastrous. I have an appointment with my GP soon, so I will probably bring this up...but since I will be unemployed and without a drug plan, I may just have to endure it until it passes.
*This is a typical alcoholic's dodge, by the way: there's no such thing in my life as "a few drinks". When I use that phrase, please substitute "a significantly large number of drinks".