Living With a Fear of People.

I can’t stand being around people, they freak me out (I think the clinical term for it is Social Anxiety Disorder, but I’ve never cared much for labels). I even get my own version of panic attacks if I’m in a large group for too long. I haven’t always been like this, I was pretty outgoing when I was a child, but somewhere in my adolescence that all changed. Before I knew it I was avoiding crowds and becoming very withdrawn. Even dealing with people over the phone was hard for me to do.

I hated going to the grocery store, and even walking down crowded streets was daunting. I practically never went into a mall when I was a teenager because there were always so many people that I felt claustrophobic. The only way I managed to get by was to make sure there was always someone else with me whenever I went somewhere. I don’t know why, but I found if I focused on a person I knew I could block out the masses around me. Not completely mind you, it still felt like I was being smothered, but it was better than nothing.

I thought that maybe over time it would get better, but it didn’t. It actually became worse as I got older. Probably because I found myself having to do more and more things without a “buffer”. Not having someone else around just seemed to to make the crowds seem larger and more suffocating.

I’ve managed to get a little better over the years by forcing myself into situations I’d usually rather avoid. That’s not to say I enjoy being around people more, I’ve just learned to cope with it a little by sticking with jobs that don’t require me to be around too many people, and using music as a way of blocking out those around me when I go out shopping. I’m still not comfortable wandering around with crowds, and I prefer tagging along with others when I go someplace, but I can function out in the world for the most part so I guess that’s all that really matters.



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