What happens when you throw 350+ people in front of a Socially Anxious Agoraphobic? Well, if you’re reading this and you’re ACTUALLY Agoraphobic or have Social Anxiety Disorder then that already made you go into panic mode.
First, ask yourself. What does Agoraphobia and Social Anxiety have in common? Crowds, that’s what. They live off crowds. They thrive off crowds, they consume crowds for their food and energy, life and well being. Small crowds, big crowds, or medium crowds, it doesn’t matter. Put a person with either disorder (or both disorders as myself) into a crowd of people and you’ve put them into a living, streaming hell, free of charge. “Welcome to the Divine Comedy buddy!”
So, what sparked this observation (besides the obvious)? I’m gonna run over that right now, with loads of profane language included for your entertainment. But first, lets get something out of the way.
Social anxiety is extreme anxiety in “social” settings. To put it into layman’s terms: Be it 1 person around you, or 1000, if you feel anxious and uncomfortable, then Social Anxiety is the name of that game.
Agoraphobia on the other hand, is extreme anxiety of open spaces, crowds, and places you can’t get out of it (buses, trains, your room). You can feel trapped and have no way out, this causes great discomfort for the sufferer. In addition, it comes alone or partners up with Panic Disorder. Lovely stuff.
Both Social Anxiety and Agoraphobia play off each other, and at times its hard to know which one is acting up. At the end of the day though it doesn’t matter fuck all, cause honestly, its hell either way you look at it. The following story recounts the events of the evening that lead up to the arrival of the gates of hell:
It was a nice day today, pretty warm yet horribly humid, but that didn’t stop me from forcing myself out. It’s a pain in the ass to do it, but whatever. It was quiet and peaceful outside, yet my “gut” was telling me from the start “something was up” tonight. I was much more anxious before going out today then usual, but not enough for me to completely stay in. So I carefully got ready, and ventured into the wild city, alone as always and completely oblivious to what was about to happen.
Within a matter of seconds of stepping outdoors, I noticed an influx of people in the area (5-6, where there is usually 0-1 only) This raised an eyebrow, but I proceeded my regular route which I have changed up recently due to getting bored with the previous one. The thought of saying something to the people I came across did cross my mind, but I didn’t want to waste my time on bullshit and stress over it, so off I went.
As I proceeded I noticed an additional 4-5 people lounging around and chatting as I passed them. “Did I know them?” “Do they know me?” “Who are they?” “Are they from the area?” All this crossed my mind at once, even though my immediate thought was “hope nothing is happening…“. However, as I passed them that all quickly changed. I swung my head to the right, and noticed glow sticks, laughter, cheering, music and partying. All in the middle of the street. “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHIT!?” was my reaction.
Hundreds of people, packed into the night, congregating together, clustered on this tiny street. Not good. Too close for comfort. Anxiety sky rocketed. Fuel for the fire. Big crowd, big alarm within my head and body. So I swiftly picked up speed, looked in front of me, and passed them. “All over” I thought. Lasted a few seconds and it was done. But that thought was soon to be faced with another predicament….”what about on my way back?”
My excursion lasted 1 hour, and the whole way back home my mind was racing, “What happens now? What if they’re still there?. What if they moved into another area,? Will my route home be obstructed by them? What if there’s more people now?“… There was no way to escape the intrusive anxiety filled thoughts, and unbeknownst to me, within 25mins, the real nightmare would strike.
“I got a plan!”, I quietly thought in my head. It was ingenious, yet, avoiding in nature. “Who gives a shit.” At this point, the only purpose was to arrive home in one piece without hyperventilating and feeling like I’m suffering a coronary.
I slowed my pace, and proceeded to “calm” myself with deep breathes as a re-entered the area. The plan was simple: Level out my heart rate so my body was calmer and at ease in-case the crowd were to re-surface again. With my body a little calmer, relaxed and recuperated, I wouldn’t be out of breath to get myself through it. Common sense I thought. Thankfully, this was much needed.
I slowed the pace down severely now, and started my look out, like a hawk eyeing hungrily for his meal. I was roughly a few minutes away from home, but vigilant as fuck. The last thing I’d need now would be getting stuck within a mass-group of people. Trapped. Unable to escape. “Fuck that, not happening tonight” My gut was right, today wasn’t a good day to be out. Something “big” was happening.. the question was “where?”
Left and right, my eyes looked for possible threats of danger as I maintained my breathing. I was getting closer to my safe haven, but still had a ways to go. I know the area well, and I know where the best “loitering” spots would be for groups of people at this time of the night. “So far, so good“, the thoughts within my head repeated. I was now 1-2 minutes away from where I originally encountered them. The closer I got, the more anxiety flooded my blood stream. I tunnel visioned it, turned the corner, and focused all my energy ahead. “I don’t see them. The coast it clear!!!”. Relief. They weren’t anywhere to be seen. A few people out and about, possibility from the same group, but it wasn’t enough to get me terribly worked up and panicky. “How about I go around the block one more time since they’re gone” I thought. It seemed like a good idea now that it was proven they weren’t anywhere to be seen. I made it all the way to the end of the block, and then made a U-turn onto another street. I made my way slowly down, looking around at my surroundings, noticing taxi’s/cab’s, several drivers, and other pedestrians enjoying the evening. But something was off…
I was 8-10 minutes away from home at this point when I noticed there was a little too many cars parked on the side of the street for this time of day. Quite peculiar, “Alert alert” my body responded. Back to hyper vigilance mode. Left, right, front, back, my eyes scoured like a radar. “No threats found“. I’m anxious around people, not cars. So off I went. I took the gamble and proceeded on my way. Another car passed me, then another. A girl rode past me on her bike, as a dog walker cleaned the shit from the grass like a good samaritan. It’s better to be safe then sorry, and I knew the last thing I’d want to end the evening with would be a group people obstructing me.
I turned the corner, and perked up my radar again. “No danger found“. Good news for me, as this meant smooth sailing right until I got home……”oh noooooooo..”
“Oh fuck“. My eyes deceived me in the dark. Either that, or these people were playing tricks on me. “I need to turn back” I thought. “No, I can’t do that! That’s fucking stupid. You’re almost home you anxious wreck, you’ll look like a fucking idiot turning around now, stop panicking you dumb dick fart” ,I thought. Actually, I didn’t think anything. I was frozen with shock. My body proceeded ahead, even though my mind/brain said “STOP NOW YOU DUMB MOTHERFUCKER!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!!?!? YOU’RE GOING INTO A GODDAMN WAR ZONE!!!!”
350+ motherfucking people standing in the dark. In the middle of the street. The same assholes I saw earlier in the night. And there I was. Alone, approaching them. Mr. Socially Anxious Agoraphobic, parlayed in fear, yet walking into a a crowd of hundreds. Who the fuck does this to themselves? People with shell-shock that’s who. I wasn’t shot, instead my body was producing a rush of adrenaline so immense that I could feel the release happening in real time. I couldn’t stop, I just kept getting closer. Stupidest shit ever. It was too late to turn back anyways. I didn’t know the outcome and I didn’t know what the fuck was about to happen.
Mr. Taxi driver was behind me and trying to squeeze ahead of me, cyclist on the right, 100 people to the left, 100 people to the right, cars left right and center, and to top it off – a crowd of hundreds in the centre of the road, only leaving a meter or so to get through. “Now what?” Well, I wasn’t having it, and when Mr. Socially Anxious Agoraphobic is caught up in scenarios like these, he turns into a big giant prick. “Fuck everyone, I’m about to die, let me out, here I come“. It’s panic mentality and the outcome was quite simple:
Taxi boy got snubbed. 😀 I cut him off and went right for it. Hawk-eyed precision tunnel vision; “Fuck everyone, you’re all dead to me, get out of my way you dirty cocksuckers, get me the hell out of here!“. Life is a bitch and then you die. Every man for himself. Bam. My peripheral vision closed off, darkened corners of my eyes, I was only focused on the center now: “I’M MAKING MY WAY THROUGH THIS EVEN IF IT COSTS SOMEONE AN ARM OR A LEG!“. Taxi boy already lost, it was just me and the biker. He was next, but people were everywhere. “What the fuck to do?!” ..then out of nowhere…a guy jumps out, throwing his hand up in the air, “STOP!” Fuck that, I don’t have time for that shit. I’m going whether you like it or not bud.
Now, here’s where it gets scientific. The human body is cut out for survival at ALL costs. It doesn’t matter what the fuck is happening, it always tries to find a way “OUT” in dangerous or life & death situations, and the way it achieves that is absolutely incredible.
People were everywhere, the cacophony of noise from the cars, screams, music, and god knows what else was overwhelming. But I knew I had to make it to the other side (heh, “otherside”). Magically my brain scraped and mustered up all the energy it had left, went into survival mode and within milliseconds (no shit) came up with a devilish blueprint to cut corners, cut through and around people, get me out of this situation and do it as efficiently as possible. Mr. Socially Anxious Agoraphobic snubbed the “hand man yelling “STOP”” :), he snubbed the biker 🙂 and more importantly got through the full inferno of hell without running anyone over. 😀
Needless to say, once the whole ordeal was over, I spent another 15 minutes or so recuperating outside before I headed back to my four walled life.
I hate crowds. Hate, hate, hate.
Ps. Fuck off Fatspecialist. Goddamn spamming asshole of wordpress.