Hi there. My name is Elwin and I've just realized I have a moderate form of Social Anxiety Disorder. I suffer from mild panic attacks and extreme 'anger attacks'. I am also labeled as an extreme 'control freak.' This is my story. I'm not asking for advice, just sharing what I've been through to let others out there know they are not alone in their experiences.
I've always been a bit of a problem child. Growing up, I was the kid to throw tantrums in a toystore or to backtalk to my parents. Outside of the home I was reserved, but not exactly shy. I'd be fresh to teachers and violent with classmates. Once I changed schools in 4th grade however, I became painfully shy, and started to develop all the symptoms of a Social Anxiety Disorder. I'd feel terrified if I had a stomachache before going to school. I had an extreme and debilitating fear of vomiting while at school, probably due to a prior experience in preschool where it happened twice before My mother came to get me. It was also linked to the lack of control involved with vomiting, that it's something I couldn't predict or prevent. I started having difficulty keeping friends, constantly getting into jealousy-induced fights, and sometimes fights over them not treating me well. I was still having anger tantrums at home, I would become destructive, throw things, yell, scream, lash out at my parents violently. But no one else outside my family knew. I was outwardly a shy, and polite little girl. I learned bad coping mechanisms to keep all that anger and frustration inside.
Once I started highschool, things started to escalate. I completely ruined a friendship I'd had with 4 other girls for 7 years based on the ludicrous notion that they didn't treat me right. That I wasn't getting what I was supposed to from the friendship, that I was being left out, gossiped about, and purposely abused. In hindsight, none of that was true. It was my Anxiety Disorder driving me to think these things, to be afraid they were out to get me. Sleepovers at their houses had become stressful ordeals for me. I began to dislike and actively fear situations where I was not fully in control, like staying at another person's house or with other people.
I entered college. I knew there was no way I could possibly dorm. Sharing a room with someone, stories of the dorm's electricity or the heating going out, the plumbing messing up from friends gave me terrifying nightmares. Remember, I still didn't know I had a problem. I just thought this was the way I was. A new exposure to alcohol and it's effects on people made me hate it. I started to fear drunk people too, because they could say unexpected things, do unexpected things or vomit unexpectedly. I would have absolutely no control over anything that happened. I got a boyfriend. We broke up after 2 years due to constant money issues and my constant angry flare ups. That man received more verbal abuse from me than anyone should have had to tolerate. And what did I do? I left him.
I'm in my 3rd year of college and I've mostly avoided the social scene. I don't go out to parties, I refuse to go anywhere there will be alcohol. I don't stay over people's houses. I'm dating someone new, and he is a whole different sort of person. He, too had to go through and deal with anger issues once, and he handled my angry outbursts with as much patience if not more than was to be expected. I hated hurting him. The regret I felt after making him cry or shout was worse than anything I'd ever felt before and it jolted me somehow to know something wasn't totally right.
I started to notice my mother's behavior sometimes mirrored my own. She'd constantly nag and snap at my father, grow overly upset or agitated when we did not leave for an event on time, and detested staying in other people's homes, even if it meant saving money. She would always rather stay in a hotel, where she could be in control. I realized that my behaviors might possibly be influenced by her, or maybe even genetically handed down. She'd had a bout of depression once, and I knew I didn't want to endure that sort of helplessness if I could help it.
I started having long drawn out arguments with my boyfriend late at night. It would start innocently enough, but always end in yelling, crying, threatening, and unreasonable fears and insecurities on my part. We couldn't figure out what was going on. We both attend anime/comic conventions throughout the year, and for a few, it's mandatory to stay in a hotel. I'd stayed with my boyfriend and a bunch of his friends before in a room meant for 2. It was unbearable for me. Someone else had made the reservations and apparently claimed the entire King size bed for himself. Leaving the rest of us the floor. The unbelievable anger this stirred in me was almost dangerous. I ended up sleeping on one side of it anyway, due to a lie about having a bad back, but I still resented this guy for changing everything, for leaving me helpless, and making my boyfriend sleep on the floor.
After that, I pounced on every opportunity to control a hotel reservation. I made one almost a year in advance to ensure they had no choice but to room with me under my name. I figured this would give me full reign over everything that happened in the room. I could kick out anyone who drank, and anyone who wanted to stay up all night. I could have peace. I could relax, if I had control.
It was as I was telling my bf this that I heard myself for the first time and how scary I sounded. How out of hand my demands were. I got him so angry that night he lost his temper completely for the first time. I was no where near as angry. Something was rattled inside me. I had finally realized how wrong this was, and how something was wrong with ME.
So, of course, I googled it. And once I knew...I had relief. All those years and behaviors were still my fault, but less so because I simply didn't know. Now that I did know, I could work hard and fix it. I could make it all go away. I could notice the triggers and the anger attack before it became something ugly.
I'm already having success with meditation and breathing exercises, and I'm actually looking forward to my controlled exposure therapy that my boyfriend says he will help me with. Convention hotel room situations and alcohol situations, bring it ON. I've also apologized to everyone I've hurt, and told my mother she probably passed on the condition and should try to remedy her situation as well. Needless to say she didn't seem to listen. But I can only look out for myself now, and I know I can beat this. And so can anyone out there who has a Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Attacks, and Anger Attacks. Once you know the secret, it can no longer control you. YOU control IT. It's YOUR life. and living it stress free and worry free is the absolute best way to go! If I can do it, so can you!