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Where did the summer go?

When I was a child I loved summer. Not because it meant not going to school, most of my life I stayed home rather than going to school. It was not some sort of home schooling trend or anything, it was simply a case of the schools I had attended proved to be rather bad environments, so my parents chose to keep me at home.

Seriously, one school wanted to ship me nearly two hours over a mountain from the suburbs of Los Angeles to Watts on some kind of inner-city student exchange program and my mom said no way in hell was that happening. She was on the roof holding off the truent officers with a fire hose nozzel on the garden hose when my dad got home and calmed things down.

The second time my parents removed us from school was when the principle, of a different school up in Washington State, was caught in the little boys bathroom with a little boy. Yeah… no, my parents did not care to send me back to that school either.

So, yeah, I spent a lot of time being taught at home. Did not stop me from going to college – at least for three semesters. My anxiety more than anything else stopped that, but back to my childhood days. Days spent out in the woods, hiking up mountains in Washington, trecking actoss the Arizona desert with my dad’s dog. My childhood was filled with adventures.

My adult life… not so much. I am sitting here writing this and looking out at the trees and noticing that they are no longer the new budding green of spring, they are the yellowing leaves of late summer.

I’ve braved the outdoors a bit the past few weeks. Short runs out to the shed where I move one or two items before I hear a car, or just get anxious, and head back inside. I want to explore the world, I want to clean out the shed and fix the roof on it and get things ready for winter, but… it’s hard.

I’m still sorting through what it is that is going on, but being out around people is… hard. Being out where there might be people is hard. This has caused the summer months to just… glide past out the window with hardly a notice of the change of seasons.

I admit it, I have began to ask for help with figuring out what it is about people that makes me want to just flee when I am around them. I have also decided that I need to stop keeping this all to myself, I need to get it out there and share what is going on. Many years ago, back when I was a care provider for my dad, my mom told me that I should write on my blogs about what that was like and how I dealt with it. (I had a lot of blogs back then – 28 of them). My mom had said that if I was going through things as a family caregiver, then others were facing the same situations and could be helped by knowing they were not alone and reading about how I dealt with things.

It was hard. Talking about things that happen in the family was not something that was done. I’ve tried for a very long time to separate my blog from the personal life things that happen to me. This has resulted in my blog… well, you can scan back along the posts to see what it resulted in. There has not been much of a blog for a long time now, and when there is it is a bit erratic and sporadic.

I need to take my mom’s advice, however, and share what is happening with me. Not just my interestes in writing, video games, 3D modeling, and crafts, but… my life. My experiences. I need to share more of what it is like to live life with social fears.

(Image courtesy of Dez Pain)

Several years ago I found an article in a medical journal about a kind of accute social anxiety called anthropophobia. It was such a relief I went into the living room and spent a good fifteen minutes telling my roommate that I was not alone, there was actually a term for all of the fears and unease I experienced. It’s hard to describe how that feels, but it was so good to just know that I was not alone. Others had been experiencing the same things I had.

And if others had been going through it… then others had been studying it. There was a medical study in a psychological journal on it. It would have treatment plans. There would be a way to fight back against it. I felt tremendous amounts of relief. Then I went and hid in my room again.

Even knowing that there was a possible treatment for what I was going through, I still needed years to get to the point where I reached out, where I started saying “I need help”.

The tipping point actually came when I could no longer help myself. I’d lost my job, I’d lost all sources of income, I had no one that I could turn to for help. I needed to find someone that could halp me find a way to deal with something that I had been struggling with alone for years.

I’ve done that. I’ve reached out and found help. That is the hardest thing to do, but I think it was the best move I have ever made. People understand what I am feeling, how just stepping outside makes me feel, how badly I want to just go home and be alone. And now… anyone reading this will know. It’s a huge step. To say that something is wrong, to say “I need help”, but I am hoping that by my doing this, maybe others who are experiencing the same situations will know that they are not alone. They do not have to sit in their bedroom and watch the world drift by out through the crack in the curtain of their window.

What this means for this website is that I am going to stop worrying so much about what I am posting here, I am going to stop filtering out things that pertain to my life and how I am coping with day to day living. I am going to be taking my mom’s advice and this blog will be a raw look at what it is like to live with stress and anxiety and a fear of people.

I will admit, I feel like I am about to hypervhentilate and pass out as I write this, but I keep reminding myself that others out there are struggling with the same problems I am. Somewhere out in the world someone is trying to understand why they feel short of breath and want to run back to their bedroom when they have done nothing more than just walk to their kitchen for a glass of water and found members of their family already in the kitchen. The fears are irrational and impossible to put into words, but… they are felt by others. I have come to realize that if I am going to find a way to deal with my issues, I need to do more than ask for help – I need to open up and let others know that they are not alone. There are others who feel those fears and anxieties.

I am still not sure where the summer has gone to, but hopefully through reaching out I can stop living my life in a box and watching the world through a crack in the curtains. Maybe, someday, I might even dare once agian to explore the world beyond my safe place. I hope, if you suffer similar fears and anxieties, that maybe my openess can help you feel less alone. The world is a scary place, but fear should not stop us from being a part of it. (Much easier said than done, I know.)

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