*This post might be a trigger for those suffering from social anxiety or depression. Read at your own discretion*
I’ve missed you a great deal. I hope that you’ve been keeping well and if you aren’t, remember that I am a mere email away.
I’ve not been okay. It started with a little emotional tumble last year and has become this big ‘thing’ (for the want of a better word). I am in the throes of a long depressive episode that is exacerbated by the most crippling case of social anxiety yet.
For years, I worked on healing the wounds of the past and present in order to find a way to let go, forgive and welcome joy into my world.
At the end of 2011, I started on Curves Become Her. It has been a tremendous gift to get to know my fellow kindred spirits like you and have fun with fashion. It has been incredibly eye-opening with regards to challenging the stigma that is body shaming.
Along the way, my personal life has suffered a little. Last year there was a huge falling out, then a subsequent reconciliation. However cracks on a broken vase will forever be visible and so there was another upsetting period of time between the end of last year and the first few months of this year.
I spent a great deal of time focused on blogging and other interests as a distraction last year. I still did try to socialise although with quite some difficulty. Since my mid 20s, there has been a tendency to hide from the world out of fear of being judged. It was a fear that began after the fat shaming got worse and after numerous upsetting experiences when in social settings. I did not trust people because even the best of them had turned around to stab me in the back or become nasty. I think it was just a case of being unfortunate with not listening to my gut and therefore allowing all kinds of folk into my world.
As a child, I was so very happy despite limitations due to my poor health. No ice cream? That’s okay mommy, I understand. No playground time? Okay, I should be studying anyway.
As a teen, the struggles between pleasing my parents and peers very nearly killed me. It was a rude transition to ‘growing up’. People were so mean. They took words out of my mouth that weren’t there. Girls would ask me if I actually thought I was pretty because for a change I was peering into the mirror to fix my head of hair. Relatives would tell their children “Do you want to be like Aarti when you grow up?”. No it was no compliment.
I was so angry and raged through adolescence and early adulthood. Until I no longer had it in me to be That angry. But friends and family alike were so hurtful. I felt like a pariah, an alien in surroundings that ought to feel familiar.
I tried to find so many ways to escape from the fears and sadness. As the years passed by it became easier to succumb to episodes of isolation in order to be ‘normal’. I would let my friends know that I was disappearing for a bit and would be back.
Did it help? Not really. In fact it scared me away from people even more because interactions with them seemed to be exhausting and upsetting, no matter how much space I took.
After the wedding at the end of 2007, I became a complete recluse. I had been fat shamed so badly during the process of losing weight for the wedding. There were really upsetting instances involving the in-laws and my parents. I lost a few friends along the way because the wedding made me realise just how disgustingly self absorbed some of these longtime friends were.
Bad work experiences, strangers staring at my big body and telling their wives “See at least you’re not fat like this one”, friends giving you a discreet fat-scan and random people giving you advice on how to lose weight. It all just made me so sick of human interaction.
I knew the social anxiety was a big, big problem but I had to work on the depression first. That hit me earlier than being socially anxious, manifesting in my teens and blowing up in my face as a young adult. I have worked very hard at unravelling layers of hurt that are superficial scars now – forgiven but not forgotten. I am very proud of how far I have come.
When the social anxiety became a problem last year, it didn’t appear too serious an issue. I do enjoy solitude and being an introvert.
But you know it’s a problem when it isn’t about stepping into unfamiliar social situations anymore. You know it’s a problem when you fear speaking, let alone speaking your mind. You know it’s an issue when you have a crisis just from choosing the clothes to wear and you breakdown because you’d really rather not be visible to anyone but your husband, workplace and pets.
Yes it is hell.
The Diagram above is the easiest way to explain it. It may not seem like much of a problem..oh but it is.
People always refer to Depression as if it is the Big Bad Wolf. Social anxiety is another kind of monster altogether.
It has been very hard to come out and admit that I have this problem. It might seem strange since I am quite the open book with regards to my existence. But we all do have our hidden secrets tucked deep within.
Although there is applause for when you conquer it, there is shame when you first admit it. Especially when you leave your life stories out there for everyone to read and interpret as they see fit.
There is fear too.
Fear of abandonment. Fear of being hurt for exposing my vulnerability. Fear of being called all sorts of names for being open about this.
Fear of being left utterly and completely alone. It may be social anxiety that ails me, but it does not mean that I enjoy invisibility.
Why am I saying all this to you if it might hurt me? Because I am ready to heal and I want people to Learn that there is no shame in our stories. I am no less of a person for this suffering. I may be much braver than you think. It is time to seek some help from a professional because I am lost. And being a mental health professional myself, I can assure you that my damn ego did not allow me to ask for help for quite sometime. Which is so silly, so very silly. If I have been able to get by with chronic low grade depression, I don’t see why I cannot work on this.
This ailment does not steal my goodness. It does not steal my qualifications or credentials. It does not steal my triumphs and accomplishments. It does not take away the amount of good that I have done to better myself as a person. It is what it is. I seek help and work at exorcising this demon who is an unfortunate by-product of my life experiences.
This is why I needed to tell you what was going on. Also to explain just why the hell I have not been blogging. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE this blog space and I want to get onto the proverbial saddle. I just have not been myself of late.
I won’t plead with you to be patient with me. There are hundreds of capable bloggers out there who constantly dish out quality content. I am but a ripple in that wave. But do know that I love you guys and Curves Become Her. I have so many clothes waiting to be blog posted, so many ideas and experiences wanting to be expressed.
For now, I will simply leave you with take care and see you soon ❤