J.R. Reed has withdrawn from his friends, his hobbies, and the world at large because of an anxiety disorder. But now, he insists, it’s time to get better.
I was full of overwhelming anxiety as I walked into a bar on Monday night. I was wearing the black L.A. Kings Marty McSorley jersey I bought back in 1990, and was there to meet my friend, whom I call “The Kings Fan” on my blog. We were going to watch game three of the Stanley Cup Finals featuring the Kings and New Jersey Devils.
The anxiety I felt was stupid, considering this cash-only joint with thirty beers on tap is my favorite place to eat a burger, drink a schooner and watch a game.
Was the anxiety because I’ve been watching the Kings since the original purple and gold days and this was to be one of the biggest games in franchise history? I wish that was the reason. But it wasn’t.
For the past few years I’ve had some recurring neurological stuff going on and the last year or so I’ve pulled away from pretty much everyone in an ignorant attempt to hide the fact that it’s getting worse.
To be clear, It hampers my ability to do some things but it’s not life threatening. On the list called “Problems You Could Have In Life”, it’s pretty low.
I’ve pulled away so much that I actually spend the majority of my day alone. It’s not from depression, it’s that I don’t want people to see me or have to interact with me when I’m not at my best.
The past few months have been extra tough and I’ve gotten to the point where I get freaked out being around people at all. My self-esteem is pretty much at an all time low (though I’m trying to fix that) and I keep imagining stupid scenarios that will never happen.
For example, if I decide to go to the grocery store I usually begin thinking about doing something stupid, like bumping into someone with my cart. For some reason I always imagine the other person getting all kinds of pissed and then I feel like an idiot.
At this point I’m generally still standing by the refrigerator and looking to see if I really have to go to the store or if I can put it off for another day. If I can put it off I generally will.
I saw my neurologist last week and he started asking a lot of detailed questions about what happens with me on a daily basis. After a few minutes he told me that I was definitely suffering from severe social anxiety and pseudo dementia.
I started to laugh it off but quickly realized he was right. It’s no secret that I’ve been forgetting a lot of things and what the doctor said made a lot of sense. I find reasons, even made up ones like the cart at the grocery store, to lay low and avoid people unless necessary.
I’ve been an automotive sales manager, finance manager and set up several successful Internet sales departments, which means I’m supposed to be able to handle anxiety and pressure. But I don’t handle it. At least not well.
I fight with myself everyday over the dumbest little things. I second- and third-guess myself more than former Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy the day after a Super Bowl.
The neurological stuff has kept me from working which means money is tight. Money being tight adds anxiety as does my health and both fuel my lack of self-esteem. My lack of self-esteem feeds my desire to pull back and be a hermit.
My going into hiding in turn adds anxiety because I feel like I don’t have a connection with what’s going on. It’s basically a never-ending cycle of unnecessary bullshit that needs to end. Now.
Why is it that I’ve stood face to face with the legendary Wayne Gretzky and pulled off an interview without sounding like a moron but walking into a dive bar freaks me out? I have no clue and can only say it makes me feel like an idiot to admit it.
I want to believe in myself but I’m afraid to. I want to be successful but I’m afraid of success. I want to have fun and be happy but the reality is that I don’t remember what it’s like to get out and have a great time and that scares me too.
I did have a good time Monday night and it wasn’t just because the Kings won 4-0 and took a 3-0 lead in the series. I wasn’t the most social person in the bar but I high fived a few people and quaffed a couple schooners of Modelo, with lime and salt of course.
I’ve pulled way back from my blogging and from social media in addition to pulling away from my real life friends. Putting yourself out there when you don’t believe in yourself is scary and I’m optimistic that I will get through this one of these days.
They say it takes a village to raise an idiot but I want to know what happens when that idiot pulls away from the village and tries to raise himself. I’m not saying that I’m the idiot. I’m asking for a friend.
Photo of man opening a door to a dark room courtesy of Shutterstock