Sometimes I sense that this photograph is an accurate representation of who I have become. Isolated and alone. A heart completely encased in cold, cold ice. From the outside I can seem aloof, unfeeling, and unapproachable. On the inside, I so desire to open up and reach out, but am all too often incapable. All too often frozen solid with fear and panic and uncertainty. It's kind of odd that those who are closest to me now, who know me as well as anyone else, would not guess this serious issue that I live with, a problem known as social anxiety disorder.
Social anxiety disorder results in an excessive and unreasonable fear of social situations. Anxiety and self-consciousness arise from a fear of being closely watched, judged, and criticized by others. The fear is only compounded by the fact that I lack social skills and experience in social situations. Too many times to count, this condition has manifested itself in a serious panic attack. Some even link symptoms of this type of psychological disorder to the autism spectrum.
It's kind of ironic that my disorder, which has led to the destruction of several personal relationships in my life, is also likely responsible for my analytic nature, my keen insight into problems, and my skills in science and mathematics. I have even read that, for better or for worse, my disorder is probably responsible for my "unique" sense of humor and observational wit.
So, before you dismiss me as hard and unapproachable, unfriendly and unfeeling, broken and unworthy, know that I struggle with who I am and how I experience life and those around me. Life is a struggle, but every once in a while, someone comes along who sees through the thick layer of ice and can touch my heart and awaken my spirit. To those past, present, and future, I give you my thanks and my love.
(Part 2 of 4)