Normally, sitting around my apartment, I would say my anxiety level is about a 2/10. I feel safe in here and unless I need to do something that I struggle with, the level is relatively low.
When I go out with a worker for graded exposure work, my anxiety about going out usually raises to about a 7/10 and by the time I get back to my home, is around a 5/10. It then slowly drops over about an hour until I’m back around the 2/10 level.
The reason I’m mentioning this is to give a baseline of where my emotions usually are and where they are now. With my impending trip to America, I have felt my anxiety creeping up and up as the date comes closer (only 9 days away now!).
On Thursday night, I took a call from my remaining client (my main income) who told me they needed me to start going in to their office one day a week. My initial response was to say ok (I have this problem saying no, even when it’s screaming at me as the only answer!). So because I agreed, I then had to call back and say I’m sorry but it’s just not possible. Bear in mind, this is a client. They never want to know about anything personal going on, it’s business and I’ve separated my life in exactly that way. When I was in hospital, I worked so they didn’t know any different and think that’s the way it should be.
However, I needed to now explain why I couldn’t drive for an hour and sit in a busy office (shared with other companies) without it making me sound like I wasn’t capable of any work. Last year when I first started to feel things were getting bad and I went to my GP, I also decided to take 2 weeks off. Naively, I thought that’s all I would need and things would be ok again and so I arranged to meet with this client to say I wouldn’t be available and handover anything that was needed. During this meeting they essentially told me that if I took the 2 weeks then they would have to get someone else in and I’d lose the contract. From that moment on, I knew I could never be open about it all with them.
Bearing that in mind, I knew that I had to explain myself as to why I couldn’t go to their office. I told him about my social anxiety and how I’m trying to overcome it, but that I have to put myself first. As expected it didn’t go down very well – his response “that’s a load of bullshit, you’re going to America in a few days” (of which by the way, I’ll still be working over there!!). I tried to keep calm and explain that I had been working hard to allow me to go to America and that my family are waiting at the other end and that’s a huge motivator.
He basically said that he’d have to speak to his business partner because that’s the role they have and if I can’t fulfil it then they’d have to get someone else in!!
So back to my anxiety levels. Normally I’d be a 2/10 and something like this would take me to a 5 or 6/10. However, because of America my starting level is about a 6/10 and this raised it to 8/10. I struggled through thurs night, I wanted to speak to someone but couldn’t pick up the phone as I was already too anxious. I waited until Friday morning and called to speak to my cc. She wasn’t in, so I spoke to duty. I just wanted someone to say my reaction was normal but they were too intent on telling me to distract myself. This wasn’t a time when I needed distraction, I needed to talk. After being told to make a piece of toast and a cup of tea (I don’t drink tea!), I said I was fine and left it there.
I guess what I’m trying to say in this really long winded post is that because my baseline of anxiety is quite high, any little thing is currently throwing my emotions in to turmoil. Like the fact that my GP has designated my prescription to one pharmacy and so because I couldn’t get there yesterday to collect, I’ve got to wait until Wednesday to get my meds. So now my anxiety is high, I’ve no medication to help and I might be out of work. Can you see why I felt my only option was to just get drunk and try and forget all about my emotions!!!