I envy extroverts. People that socialize effortlessly and stress-freely. They seem to really enjoy social gatherings. I used to be an extrovert, pre-2010, the year I was diagnosed with multiple autoimmunes. I used to accept every invite to every social gathering and I looked forward to each one.
Nowadays, when, IF, I accept an invite, it is met with much anxiety. Will it involve physical activities that I cannot participate in? Will there be food I can eat? What do I need to pack in my purse? Is the activity something that will affect my diabetes and that I should start planning for in advance, insulin-wise? What if my diabetes isn't behaving that day? Is it at someone's house where I may come in contact with one of my allergens? Do they have cats? Will all the food choices be glutened or cross contaminated, leaving me to eat my GF protein bar while everyone else enjoys a delicious meal?
These are just some of the questions that I must answer when considering whether to accept an invite or not. There are times when I feel my presence at an event may hinder the "fun," as in instances where many of the plans would need to be changed in order to accommodate my needs and so I may choose not to attend. I never want to feel like a burden and I also don't want to be viewed as a "downer" for having to constantly say " I can't eat that," or "I can't do that." Having multiple chronic health issues DOES alter your social life, and in my case, hinders my self esteem/self confidence.
On an average day, my life is good. I'm happy. I Iike my job. I love my dog. I enjoy cooking A LOT. I read a ton- books, blogs, magazines, journals, you name it. I like talking to family and friends. But when it comes to going out, my social anxiety seems to really take over things. I panic. I sweat. I don't want to go. I have cried before out of sheer anxiety. My life is good until I receive an invite to step outside of my bubble.
Situations that involve only family, or are one on one with a close friend do not cause me anxiety. It is parties, dinner invites at other people's houses, holiday gatherings, group gatherings and work events that send me into a panic. I will do just about anything to get out of them. And when I do get out of it, a wave of relief washes over me and my mind relaxes. I feel safe again.
I originally thought this was a phase I was going through and that once I had adjusted to living with chronic illnesses and allergies that this would all go away. Instead, it has intensified.
It is the one area of my life that I seek to improve. I want to be happy in ALL areas of my life, especially my social life. I'm working on it and feel confident I will overcome this anxiety.