S.A.D.

“SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER

Social Anxiety Disorder (social phobia) is the third largest mental health care problem in the world today. (Social Anxiety Association)

“Emotional Symptoms

The feelings that accompany social anxiety include anxiety, high levels of fear, nervousness, automatic negative emotional cycles, racing heart, blushing, excessive sweating, dry throat and mouth, trembling, and muscle twitches. In severe situations, people can develop a dysmorphia concerning part of their body (usually the face) in which they perceive themselves irrationally and negatively.
Constant, intense anxiety (fear) is the most common symptom.”  (SAA)
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Everyday Experiences Made Difficult by S.A.D.
My mother insists that a phone call has to be made to my college adviser about a missing financial statement. It’s someone I’ve met before and she seems nice enough. I like her and have less fear of judgement from her than many people. 
I beg and plead for my mom to wait until we get home so I can simply e-mail her.
She says no in a voice that there is no arguing with.
My hands shake as I dial the numbers. I have to erase everything and start over. Twice. I feel a blush creeping up my face.
The line begins ringing. On the third ring I hang up. 
It hurts to breathe. Oh God. 
She is simply looking at me like I’m being a baby.
My chest tightens and I am gasping for air as tears stream silently down my face.
The tears make me angry. Furious.
I toss the phone on the dashboard of the car. 
She looks at the phone and turns her angry gaze on me.
I dig my fingers into my thighs and focus on the pain to feel something other than abject terror.
I retrieve the phone. I can get air into my lungs now.
Taking a shaky breath I re-dial. It takes me almost a full minute. 
It’s ringing. I swipe at my eyes as if the person on the other end of the line can see me.
I give her a ‘please help’ look and she gives me an encouraging smile.
My throat is still tight and I choke back a sob. 
The line picks up and I plaster on a smile and delve into the conversation. I twirl my hair and fan my heated cheeks and get more annoyed as my accent thickens to near hillbilly. 
I stutter once. I nearly lose my composure entirely and I begin to bite at my nail.
The conversation soon ends and I struggle over whether to say “Goodbye,” “Bye!,” “Have a nice day,” or “See you soon.” I know it really doesn’t matter.
We hang up and I slump back into my worn, slightly fuzzy car seat.
I close my eyes and focus on slowing my racing heart before it pounds out of my chest.
I can feel the heat fading from my cheeks and my throat slowly opens back up.
“You did so well, I don’t know why you freak out like that. You are in college, you’re going to have to make phone calls more often.”
I recline the seat and push out a long breath. 
Embarrassment wells up in me and suddenly I have the urge to cry again.
I bite my lip so hard I almost break skin and the tears dissipate.  
I think about my inadequacy all throughout the day. And when I lay awake at 1AM I am still thinking about it and still angry with myself.
I have to set up a vet appointment tomorrow. 
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More than 200,000 people are diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder every year in the United States.
S.A.D. is a chronic mental condition in which social interactions cause irrational anxiety and can last a lifetime.

For people with social anxiety disorder, everyday social interactions cause irrational anxiety, fear, self-consciousness, and embarrassment.
Symptoms may include excess fear of situations in which one may be judged, worry about embarrassment or humiliation, or concern about offending someone.
Talk therapy and antidepressants can help increase confidence and improve ability to interact with others.
Social anxiety is the fear and anxiety of being negatively judged and evaluated by other people.  It is a pervasive disorder and causes anxiety and fear in most all areas of a person’s life. (SAA)

 

People with social anxiety usually experience significant distress in the following situations:

Being introduced to other people

Being teased or criticized

Being the center of attention

Being watched or observed while doing something

Having to say something in a public or formal setting

Meeting people in authority

Feeling out of place in social situations and not knowing what to say

Embarrassing easily (blushing, shacking, etc.)

Meeting other people’s eyes

Swallowing, talking, or making phone calls if in public

 

Those of us with Social Anxiety know that our anxiety is irrational. We know that it is strange and that we should be able to do these things like everyone else. We don’t want to be like this. We crave peace and freedom from constant fear while in public. We– I crave normalcy.

**Social Anxiety Fact Sheet: What is Social Anxiety Disorder? Symptoms, Treatment, Prevalence, Medications, Insight, Prognosis. Thomas A. Richards, Ph. D., Psychologist. Social Anxiety Association. web. (2013)

 

 

–Hestia

–The light will lead us

*** Photo credit: Marissa Farabee, Flightrisk Photography ® 2016.

A Cluster of Cells

Life. It seems like it’s a four-letter word for a reason. With all the possible meanings of the word “life,” is it possible that it loses its true meaning in today’s world, or is it perhaps one of those things that remains somewhat undefined?

Life:

  1. Some say that life started with the beginning of the world. In the bottom of a pond with a cluster of loose cells known as scum, or with a big bang, or by the hand of an (the) Ultimate Being (aka God.) Life can be defined by science as any thing that has the capacity for growth, functionality, and continual change preceding death. Plants, bacterium, animals, and humans are are on the list of things with “life.”
  2. A life can also be defined as a soul. ie. “10,000 lives were lost.” Is a life an intelligent being capable of rational thinking, reasoning capacity, a range of emotions, or a being capable of discerning right and wrong?
  3. Is life a currency? As in you kill my son, I’ll kill yours. A life for a life; a life for a debt? Is a life a reward (see 60 virgins upon death…)? Is life something that can be owned? I mean morally and ethically, not rationally.
  4. Is life a right? Does everyone deserve to live by some inherent right. Are we as humans from the moment our hearts start beating deserving of “life?”

 

Now my tale.

For the background, let me paint you a picture of a small town in the Bible Belt, population around 14,000 with most of those being cows. Rolling hills and green pastures with mountains in the background and mom and pop stores everywhere. One high school. No movie theater. Run down farmhouses and misused trailers next to multi-million dollar houses and cattle fields.

The preacher’s son is dating the school junkie, and the pregnancy stories here end with the girl being shunned: like Amish type shunning but meaner. The Pharmacist is a Bible-banging Baptist who is completely pro-life, but he definitely won’t support your unwanted child because he doesn’t believe in handouts… he’s got the only place in town that will carry what you need so desperately after last night’s party got way out of hand. That one small pill that costs $60 that you really can’t not afford. But are you really going to buy it from him? No, because he knows your parents and your friends’ parents and his wife is known to gossip. And even if you didn’t slink away from the counter in degradation, even if you did ask for the morning after pill… would he really give it to you? Probably not, because he doesn’t believe in it.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

The story begins during an X-men movie marathon. I get a call on a school night in the AM from my best friend, my sister, my other-half. I know she’s scatterbrained and I know that she often throws caution to the wind. I hear the hysterical sobbing though, and my first thought isn’t that she’s pregnant, but that her guardian has hit her again.

Through muffled sobs I get what she is trying to tell me. She thinks she’s knocked up. The father is definitely not the right guy, and she would never in her right mind want to marry him. She’s not a slut, but she is by far no saint. They used protection, but she tells me that the condom slipped and he didn’t tell her or pull out.*(A.N. In my mind this is a form of rape.)

With fear freezing up my lungs, I quickly go through different scenarios of what could happen to us in the next few months, because even though I didn’t make the mistake I will be dragged through the mud right beside her. She is my best friend, so I would proudly stand next to her, but… if people find out about this there is no way either one of us is getting out of this town alive. The people of this fucked up little place suffer from the Madonna/Whore syndrome in a big way.

We were raised Baptist, and along with the fried chicken, we were dosed with a huge hit of anti-liberal views. Abortion is evil. God will hate you. But within a few seconds of knowing what would happen, I saw no other way. I was ready to… not reevaluate my beliefs per-se, but to disregard them for a short time to get us out of this mess.

We eventually hung up, and all that night I lay sleepless thinking about where we would get the money for an abortion, and how we would plan it. Fake names, cash, and a borrowed car were on my to-do list the next morning. As I picked her up on the way to school I broached the topic of the abortion. She just looked at me a little stunned and quietly exclaimed, “I could never do that. Even if I don’t want it…it’s still an innocent person, and it’s mine.” She knew the repercussions, and I didn’t understand how she could be so naive or stupid. We were in college for shit’s sake with no support system besides ourselves.

She left me alone brooding for most of the rest of the week, and I found myself challenging every single thing I was taught in Sunday School and as a child. I thought about bodily autonomy, and women’s rights and all that stuff and I fell deeper and deeper into questioning my faith and my upbringing and my parents. Everything was literally crumbling apart in my hands like clay.

Two weeks after the phone call she tells me that it was a false alarm and she has her period. I’m relieved of course, but i am also near furious. My whole life has been set on edge and I didn’t even do anything wrong! Nothing is black and white to me anymore, so I fall back on what I’m learning in Biology and Anatomy at school.

Women’s Rights Activists make the point that a woman’s body is her own and she has complete control over it. They say that a fetus is just extra tissue growing in a woman’s womb until birth. At the beginning of the second term we discussed at great length DNA, RNA, m-RNA coding, etc. We learned that we inherit our mitochondrial DNA from our mother, however, we share many more traits with our fathers such as personality and temperament.

I discovered that we are not our mothers. A child before and after birth has its own, very distinct DNA . And if a baby’s DNA is not the same as the mother’s then that must mean that it is a separate being entirely. It is a human being and has its own rights and privileges. One of those rights is the right to a fighting chance.

I have recently come to a few conclusions to my questions.

  1. Life is anything capable of change.
  2. Living things are connected to every other living thing. The butterfly effect shows his quite nicely. And any action has an equal and opposite reaction. Some believe that the soul of the earth is tied to her children (humans, animals, and plants.) I believe that nothing in this world is a singular incident which has no impact on any other are of life. Everything and everyone matters.
  3. Life is often traded, sold, stolen, and ended.
  4. Every person and every animal is deserving of the right to come out of it’s mother’s womb and have a fighting chance at being “alive.” Let the Darwinian view of the ‘survival of the fittest’ work against every living thing that enters into this world, BUT LET IT HAVE A CHANCE.

 

I stumbled upon this video during my research, and though it is kind of extreme, he makes some really good points (mostly toward the end in my opinion). I will post the original video that he is responding to below.

 

 

–Hestia

—the light will lead us on