I loathed phone calls. I would avoid them at all costs to the point to where my adult responsibilities weren't being taken care of. I felt that I didn't understand the rhythm of a normal conversation. I would get so nervous which caused me to interrupt others, speak at the wrong times, say the wrong things, and make everything generally awkward for myself and the poor soul conversing with me. I would lay my head down or drop it between my legs when I got away after every phone call or social interaction and almost cry because I didn't know why everything seemed to go so poorly. I LIKE people so why couldn't I function with them? I would beat myself up over it. The parasite would start it's trail of feeding me thoughts of how I'm a fuck up because if you don't have good social skills then how are you going to make it in this world?
Everything made me anxious. Walking in the door at work, walking in the door at home, arriving anywhere. That's when the mania would kick in and I would have to make an overwhelming presence in order to deal with the bizarre fear my body seemed to have. It was generally at the expense of someone. I would make mean jokes or get really condescending to the people around me. I assumed that was just my sense of humor. It's not funny when the other person isn't laughing and I always felt terrible later. I wasn't afraid of anyone but my body and brain seemed to over rule that every time. I feared everything and everyone.
Most people shy away and keep to themselves, choosing to become loners in order to deal with it but I didn't. I'm a very social person- I thoroughly enjoy others and social evens and gatherings- that's why when the anxiety would hit it was confusing. I would usually be in the middle of something with a lot of people around. It didn't matter if it's friends or strangers- the mask does not discriminate, you are it's target.
I always tried to fight it. I tried not to shy away from people but the frustration from that just adds to it as it rapidly builds up. Alcohol helped a lot in calming it down but that's temporary and drinking all the time to quell anxiety ended in disaster about 30% of the time. I would get worked up and if something minor set me off all hell would break loose. That loss of control afterward would send me into a depressive state. I wouldn't want to see anyone or anything outside of my bedroom for a week. I had no control over who I was and I hated it. I wouldn't look into a mirror because I couldn't stand facing who started back at me.
Looking back now I understand that I spent a lot of time hating myself with all of my energy dedicated to trying figure out how to get away from that part of me. Not all of it was bad- I did have times where I leveled out or calmed down and I loved it. I figured that all the bullshit was over with and I get to figure out how to maintain the level headed person that I always strived to be.
It never lasted long. I would start avoiding eye contact at all costs everywhere I went. I would shy away from customers at my job. At all times I felt weak and vulnerable. I wore that mask and never knew it.
It becomes exhausting. It wears on your self worth which feeds into every other area the parasite has control of.
Now I can see it in others. It's displayed on their faces- I can read it right away. Walking down the halls of my therapist's office I see other people suffering in the parasite's grip. They pass me, fighting to avoid eye contact or even existing in the same space as another human. I become overwhelmingly empathetic knowing how terrible it was for me. I can see how far lost inside themselves they are. It's a mask they cannot take off and it has vicious barbs on the side that rests on our face.
I am the same person I now see in the faces of other struggling. It breaks my heart to see it pass me by in the hallway, it breaks my heart to see it on someone in a store, it breaks my heart any time I see it. I call it a mask because that's what it looks like if you can see how it affects a person. They're hidden but not lost. They're struggling but being overpowered and it rears its ugly head directly on the afflicted person's face.
I want to so desperately grab them by the shoulders and tell them if they fight hard enough with their Drs and venture down their own the personal road to recovery it can be defeated. You can pry it lose and you can win this battle. I want them to know that I had it and I had it bad but not all hope is lost.