What it’s Like to Chill With A New Group When You Have Mental Health Issues

This story is solely based off of just one social anxiety experience that I have had. It does not in any way reflect the life of others nor is it exactly equal to every situation anyone, including myself, has experienced. 

Last night, I went out on a date. It was a second date with a guy I had just officially met the day before. He had invited me to go out with him and his friends to a pub and then we went back to one of their houses to play Cards Against Humanity. I felt like I was back in fucking high school, guys. 

I don’t mean by the way him and his friends acted, I pride myself on being one of “the guys.” I’m the girl that wears high heels and a ton of makeup but can crack one of the dirtiest jokes around. I win every time at Cards Against Humanity. I’m freaking hilarious and I’m able to be that way without demeaning anyone or lowering my moral standards. I think I’m pretty badass about it, actually. That is, until I’m met with a group of guys I know nothing about. They don’t seem like my typical guy friends, and I’m way out of my league. Shit. 

We sat around the table last night at the pub. Everyone with a beer except for me, keeping my promise to my readers that I would no longer drink. I was tempted, but I didn’t. Every guy there was nice, with his own twisted sense of humor. The racist jokes flying, the sexist jokes being created, and laughter all around. Even me, I can have a twisted sense of humor at times, too. But, not on their level, and not with people I don’t know. 

I tried here and there to make a sarcastic comment, I think I made one joke that was laughed at. I know I come off as a bitch when I’m shy and when my jokes aren’t taken correctly, I was making an ass out of myself all night. I think my date even “ssh’d” me once. Which, was totally called for if no one understood the sarcasm of my joke. Without the humor, it was just a plain out bitchy ass, rude comment. Or maybe I’m just over thinking things, who knows.

When you’re with a group of unfamiliar people, and you have social anxiety, you crawl into your shell. You listen, you pretend to laugh, but the jokes aren’t being well received through that outer wall you’ve built up. To make things worse, my afternoon medication, as I like to call it, in reality it’s an ADD medication, isn’t working at all. So, being in a loud bar with lots going on, I kept zoning out. I was not pleasant company. 

To top off the bar experience last night, not only was I struggling with my alcohol addiction, but my PTSD. See, normally I’d have absolutely no problem pulling someone aside and being like, you can’t make that joke around me. But, for some reason, I felt like I was being tested for how “cool” I was. So, I didn’t say anything. But then the date rape jokes came up and the nazi jokes ran wild, I wanted to break down. A little background on the PTSD and Nazi jokes, let’s just say that going to an old concentration camp will change a person forever. I believe everyone should go to at least a museum on the subject. 

After that was all said and done, we headed back to one of the guys’ houses. I thought this was my oppurtunity. There wouldn’t be the noisy bar to drown my thoughts, I could actually function. Damn, was I wrong. Turns out, my need for approval from this guy and his friends was so high, I could barely function still. He held my hand, he did small little physical things to show he was interested, but I was still a nervous wreck inside. I felt like every time I opened my mouth some comment would come out in a bitchy tone and I’d ruined everything. I kept apologizing to everyone, saying how sorry I was that I was awkward. I haven’t felt this way in a while. There were at least two times that night I just wanted to allow myself to have a panic attack. I didn’t want to seem overly emotional, so I kept quiet. 

After my date, I texted him to thank him for inviting me. I apologized again. And I’ll probably apologize again today. That’s just what anxiety has us do. 

I went to my best friend’s house last night at 3am because I needed to feel at peace. I needed to be around someone who understood me, so I didn’t feel so crazy and out of control. We hung out for a bit, cuddled up and watched some Netflix. Eventually, I passed the hell out. So did he. I woke up a couple hours later and came home. It felt good to be understood after that night, I needed it. 

Dating when you have a mental illness feels like a lot of mistakes, a lot of opening up quickly, and a lot of apologizing. I know I don’t need to do these things, but I genuinely like this guy, I want him to understand. I’ll try anything to help people understand. 

All in all, his friends were great and hilarious, I laughed and had fun. I just hadn’t been that shy since, well, my first boyfriend in high school. I was out of my comfort zone without the proper coping mechanisms. Okay, without my bad coping mechanisms. Guess that’s something to talk to my therapist about. Oh, also my date was super sweet, and I like his cuddles. 



Be Gentle with Anxiety

As someone with severe anxiety and panic disorder, I like to be treated as anyone else would be. I do appreciate the kind gestures when you say that it might not be best for me to join you in going to that rave. And I appreciate the kindness when I do step out of my comfort zone and you respect that I may need to leave early. Please, though, continue to treat me with respect and thoughtfulness. 

There is one thing I wish my friends and family could understand, though. When someone has an anxiety disorder, they process things much differently than you do. We process every emotion fully and we feel it deep in our souls. That’s why a lot of us tend to come off as, emotional. 

Speaking for myself, and anyone who agrees, the feeling of disappointment can be detrimental to our mental health and stability. I know I, at least, get very easily excited. Which, in turn, means I get very easily disappointed. And while I recognize disappointment as a thing of life, I still process it very differently than a “normal” functioning human. I disappoint myself daily to the point of feeling worthless. And that’s just because I didn’t wake up early enough! 

I grew up with a mother who has fibromyalgia. This means, whenever we made plans, she’d more than likely cancel them. It wasn’t her fault she was in pain, but because I process disappointment so drastically it altered our relationship forever. I used to use this as an example when explaining to my friends why disappointment hurt so much. When, really, it’s because of my anxiety. 

Yesterday, my friend made plans with me on the basis that he might possibly get out of work early. My mind doesn’t naturally process the, might possibly, part. Thankfully, I’ve taught myself to pick up on those words. Yet, when life happens and he had to stay at work, the thoughts began. 

The anxious thoughts start out normally, “oh well, life happens.” And then, with a flip of a switch they turn irrational. “He probably still did get off of work early and he found someone else to hang out with better than me.” When you’re someone who doesn’t have control over your anxiety, this can cause an anxiety attack. For me, however, after a decade I have began to learn irrational thoughts. I can recognize them and begin to counter them. Telling myself, “no, believe what this person is saying.”

So, to sum it up, be gentle when making plans with us. If there’s a chance it won’t happen, warn us. But, please, try and make solid plans. We understand life happens, it’s just this whole thing we have to go through to force ourselves to process why this event isn’t going to happen. 

However, we still make great friends. We’re understanding and caring. We love with every ounce of our souls. We believe in the best of people. We can have fun and enjoy life as much as the next person, just sometimes keep in mind, we process things more deeply than you can imagine. 


I’d Rather be Binge Watching Netflix

Someone once told me I should write a piece on dating. Ironically, I went out on a date with him. Unfortunately, I don’t think he thought that one through. Sorry man, you’re about to have your story told.

Dating is the literal worst thing ever. Like, I do not understand why people do this shit for fun! I mean, guy spends tons of money on girl. Girl has to make sure her friends know where she is at all times of the night. Plus, it’s like being at a damn interview about your personal life. Like, I don’t know what I do for fun. Sit around and do nothing, that is all I do. Oh, you go hiking? Cool. I can’t because I smoke too many cigarettes and will die.

I don’t have a way to meet people in person, I don’t currently have a job that has me out of the house and when I hang out with my friends it’s just me and my friends. So, when I first was single I decided to try Tinder. Worst mistake ever. Recently, I decided I’d try OkCupid. The guys I’ve talked to seem to be a bit more respectful, yet the process is the same. You text, you meet up, you spend a few hours awkwardly talking to each other, then you leave and probably never see them again. Even if you enjoyed their company, you’ll probably never hear from them again. At all. Ever.

The problem is, we all want instant gratification. With a dating app, the possibilities are endless as to who you can meet. Except, you know, someone actually looking to get to know you. Why? Because you get that first date, that’s it. You don’t get multiple dates to try and get to know someone, and if you do then you feel like you’re leading them on if eventually you decide they might not be the best fit for you. 

When I first started using Tinder, my roommate at the time had met her boyfriend through the app. I figured it was worth a shot to get to know someone new! And damn was I wrong. 

The first guy I went out with was sweet, yet he wanted to kiss me at the end of out first date. I had to awkwardly turn him down because, honestly, I didn’t know the dude. I’m not a touchy person. Touching people I do not know, and even some I do know, creeps me out. By the end of our second date, I felt almost trapped. I had to kiss him, there was no getting out of it. Okay, well, there’s always a way to get out of it and honestly, if you are not comfortable GET OUT OF IT. Being me, I willingly sacrificed my boundaries for him to be comfortable. (Never again.) Turns out, this was the worst kiss ever. It was just plain terrible. And he loved it. I could not get away fast enough! By our third date, he was talking about kids and a future. I couldn’t keep going. 

The next guy I tried to date, was just an immature ass. He doesn’t even get a story. Why? Because he had me meet him at 3 different bars just to stand me up. Online dating is the worst.

My last Tinder story is one of much disappointment. I went out for drinks with this hot guy, he even ordered my drink for me. Normally, I’d be pissed. But dang, do I love Jameson and Ginger ale now! We talked, there was no awkwardness and we got along. He even smoked cigarettes. After our dinner, we stood outside and smoked. Talked about our favorite movies and such. Earlier, he had described his home as looking like a place to take a girl to rape her. That was all that was in my mind as he asked if I’d like to go back to his place for some vodka. Yeah, no thanks. And I went back home. To my own home. 

Oh, also, I went out with a guy I’m pretty sure was 18 once. At least I hope he was 18, dude was not 24 like he said.

While my dates from OkCupid have been a bit better, they’re still nothing short of a total disaster. Much like my social life.

My first date went amazingly well. Sure, the guy talked a bit too much about himself, but it was okay. I saw him and I being more along the lines of good friends. But, I decided to give him a chance. I let him take me to Oktoberfest and we saw Lil John “dj’ing.” I was relaxed, we had some good conversation and then I found out how much of a Lil John fan he is. The guy I was with was dabbing. And I’m sorry, if you are dabbing it should have something to do with smoking weed, not a dance move. You look like an idiot. Well, we were watching some famous guy press a play button and yell cuss words at us.

That night didn’t end well as he had gotten a little too touchy for me. He did nothing wrong, except continued to touch me after I had asked him to stop. He also kissed me quite a few times. And while they weren’t bad kisses, I did not want to be kissed. I was being yelled at by Lil John. Not in the mood to kiss some guy while someone is yelling, “yeAHuh” into a microphone.  

Although, since he was nice I gave him a chance at a third date. And boy, do I regret that shit. The entire time we were on our phones talking to other people, hell I even decided it’d be a good idea to get wasted. Turns out, my carpet would say that was a worse idea than going on the date to begin with. My poor carpet. And poor me who had to clean up after my sick self while hungover and trying to not make an even bigger mess.

I eventually decided to text one of my good friends to rescue me. He came and saved my drunk ass and took me home. That was possibly one of the most awkward dates I had ever been on, oh, except for the one time it happened before!

I had actually met a guy through friends, and he was the worst date ever. I had to pay $80 for our first dinner. Never got paid back. Then, one night he took me out and got me drunk. I had to call one of my friends to save me out of that situation as well. Sitting in a bar with the guy to your left crushing on you, the guy to your right being protective, and you in the middle secretly crushing on guy who saved you, is definitely the most awkward thing ever.

Now, I have a date tomorrow with a guy who looks exactly like my father because he’s too nice and I couldn’t say no. Someone please, save me. 

The one thing I’ve learned from all of this is that manatee stuffed animals make better dates than boys do. Also, I’d rather cuddle up and binge watch the Ranch with my best guy friend for 6 hours than to sit through another meal I feel guilty for making a guy pay for.