How to not let the monster win

 

I never imagined that I would be doing this, traveling by myself. The thought scared me, and it still does, every single day.

Most of you wont believe me when I say that I am an introvert, even my own mother laughed at me when I was talking to her about what being an introvert means to me, but I am. Even though you all see me as this argumentative, sarcastic and sassy woman who never shuts up, I’m a total introvert. Not only am I an introvert, but I suffer from the remnants of a very severe and debilitating social anxiety, which I have worked through over the past few years but has crept up again recently with the new challenges of traveling by myself.

The truth is, I love being alone and in fact I usually prefer it, but I don’t like being publicly alone. I really struggle with the idea of being in public by myself, walking around the shops by myself or having a coffee sitting at a table for one.

When I was a teenager, I had severe anxiety and depression followed by suicide attempts and my refusal to leave the house for months because I was so anxious to be around other people. I was medicated for a couple of years, sorted my shit out and now I lead a normal life, but the common misconception is that these tendencies to revert to these patterns go away. Yes, I can now go to the supermarket by myself and even wander around the shopping mall, but does it still make me anxious? Yes
Do I feel confident to have a coffee by myself? No
Do I make myself do it so that I can still live a normal life? Yes

The other day I was feeling really introverted, I didn’t want to leave the house or get out of my jammies for the day but I only have 4 days in Melbourne and I didn’t want to waste them so I made myself leave the house. Not only did I leave the house, I had dinner in a restaurant by myself which is something I have still to this day never done (talk about putting pressure on myself on a tender day but I like to mix it up). Yes, I was paranoid that people were watching me and I was wondering what they might be thinking but halfway into my meal, when another guy entered the restaurant and proceeded to eat his meal alone I realised something. I always think people are so brave and self assured when they do these things alone, maybe they think that about me too. Or maybe they don’t think about me at all because we’re all self obsessed douche bags that are mentally writing our grocery lists or wondering what we’re going to watch on Netflix when we get home.

Either way, these people have no idea who I am and the likelihood is that I’m never going to see them again. These people can’t see that on the inside I’m a crumbling mess trying to hide behind a bit of red lipstick and a nonchalant look to keep up the appearance of being a self secure adult, they probably are doing the same and think that I have it all together. And these people aren’t going to care if I have a coffee alone or if I stay at home starving because I don’t want to face the world by myself.

Even though I have not had the label of ‘mental illness’ for the last 8 years now, the anxiety definitely doesn’t go away, and if that’s the way your mind works then I think it just naturally swings that way in stressful or challenging situations. The only difference is now I don’t let the monster win, it might still be sitting next to me while I have my coffee for one (suddenly I’m not so alone after all) but it’s not going to stop me from living my life.

Because there’s something entirely daunting and overwhelmingly liberating in being alone – because you can be whoever you want to be and no one knows any different.

 

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9 thoughts on “How to not let the monster win”

  1. Thinking of you and your travels Nic have a great time the world is your oyster. Melbourne is a great city so much to see even just sitting in a cafe with a coffee looking out into the street is a real eye opener. If you ever need a chat just ph me. Xxxx

    1. Thank you so much Anne.. I should grab your phone number… Facebook it to me?

  2. You are such a strong ans amazing woman.
    I am so unbelievably proud and inspired by you

  3. I just love the way you are so honest and vunerable sweetheart, anxiety is one of the hardest things to deal with. It is so so common I see it in my office everyday. To be able to be more than the anxiety and push yourself through it is mastering it, having suffered with it myself for a number of years I know the pain of it all. It took me time to know i was not the anxiety it was just what was happening to me.
    You are such an inspiration and so brave, I am so proud of you.
    Remember what Poppa Dave said ” if you could see how amazing you truly were you would kiss your own feet.”
    Love you 💖💖💖💖💖

  4. Loved reading this Nikita. I’m not so brave to air my demons but kudos to you – you have an inspiring story to tell and reading it will give hope to those of us inhibited by similar challenges. I’m enjoying following you on your travels. BTW when I traveled around Europe with my mum I found it incredibly scary. I’m very geographically challenged (and so was my mum) and we were making it up as we went along using my smart phone and trip advisor. But we negotiated our way around a number of countries getting on and off trains and planes, couch surfing, backpacking, and the occasional hotel and meeting up with family. It was an empowering experience – and I can’t wait to do it again – but know I’ll probably be scared all over again!
    ⭐❤⭐❤⭐❤⭐❤⭐❤⭐❤⭐

  5. Wow that’s pretty awesome of you to open up and share your fears.
    Well I wouldn’t have known you to be a crumbling mess inside at all. To me you’ve always been this confident, outgoing, strong, intelligent young woman.
    I too have suffered living with anxiety and like you say when you put yourself in the situations that presses your buttons the monster is always there, waiting, and yes exposing yourself to those situations makes you stronger.
    To set off on your own to a new job in a different country is huge for anyone let alone someone who suffers with anxiety. Your very brave, many people would love to do this but don’t have the courage.
    Just remember we’re all here for you, keen to follow your journey with you.
    Love your adventures, photos and postings.
    Portland looks like a beautiful spot indeed!! 💖

  6. Oh noo…. So true, raw and honest. Proud of you every day my little ray of sunshine. Xxxx

  7. Wow if it’s okay with you can I share this with my daughter ?( she has been suffering and medicated for anxiety for 4 yrs now and she thinks it will never end this will give her hope) what a honest and brave person you are and look how far you have come xx

    1. Of course! I’d love for my experience to help others, tell her it really does get better, but it’s slow and gradual and you have to be persistent.. in a way the anxiety gets less but the bigger thing is the coping mechanisms and your will to fight it gets stronger, hence why there’s not a quick fix.. I spent 2 years in cognitive behavioural therapy and i still use those techniques and coping mechanisms today despite being out of therapy for years. Focusing on small accomplishments and being kind to herself will help

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