I worked eleven and a half hours yesterday. If I was smart enough to be a nurse or a doctor or something like that, maybe a half-day shift would seem life appropriate. At very least, I’d be making good enough money to concede long hours. I am but a humble Director of Operations for a small spa, so it just feels aggravatingly long.
My ability to interact with people gets sketchy as well. When I’m perfect rested and have utmost energy, I can function like a normal human being. I can function so well that I fool myself into thinking nothing is wrong with me. Mental illness is a figment of my imagination! And then the day wears on. I expend all of my energy into maintaining that semblance of sanity. As my energy wanes, though, my capabilities decrease.
At full energy, I can do it all. But it all takes effort. When I lose any bit of energy, I have to reevaluate what I’m physically capable of doing. I have to prioritize what aspects of normal behavior are the most important and drop the non essential. Smiling is withheld for only really funny moments or when I need to reassure someone. Longevity is impossible. The time I can spend with any one person is cut shorter and shorter. Eye contact, attention span, emotional stability, expressing compassion for fellow humans, sometimes actual compassion for humans – it all just slips away.
I don’t become this writhing, foaming, sort of humanoid. It’s more like I’m walking around in a shell of who I know I should be. I’m a college graduate. I graduated college with honors. I’ve worked for this spa for only three years, starting as a concierge, and now I’ve been the Director of Operations for almost a year. I pay my bills. I’m travelling to Europe in the fall. I know I should be competent and able to interact with coworkers, but sometimes I fucking can’t.
Yesterday, I was making sure everything was being closed down properly. Dishes were being washed. Laundry was folded and put away. Practitioners were taking out their trash and closing down their rooms. I walk around for thirty minutes, checking every inch of the spa before I lock up and leave. Part of this trek was walking down a hallway. It’s a wide hallway. You could technically stand four people shoulder to shoulder and walk them down the hall with no effort. But one of the owners has this plant set up. There’s also a couch. Equipment is hidden there so guests don’t see it. The hallway is shrunk so that two people can cross paths at an uncomfortably close distance when trying to walk by each other.
Well, uncomfortable for me, which was proven once again last night. A practitioner was coming towards me, heading to the break room. Two practitioners were behind me, leaving for the night. I could physically feel everyone’s presence, their beings, the bags they carried. I felt it pressing on me. But rather than feeling buried under it, my brain said, “Oh my God, you’re too huge of an inconvenience to be here right now. You’re in everyone’s way. They wish you’d just get out of the way.”
Less than two seconds after seeing the practitioner walking towards me and realizing two were behind me, I stepped onto the fucking couch. I stood there and let them pass. Two of them laughed and made a comment. I couldn’t quite hear it because of the anxiety thundering around in my head, but I know it was about me.
I wish I could explain in words what’s happening to me in those moments. I wish I could explain the actual fear of them I have and the absolute hatred of myself that’s happening in those moments. It’s not constant, but it’s there and very real for me. They see their boss standing out of the way on a couch and it’s funny. I get that it’s funny. Bosses don’t so that. It’s odd, and therefore humorous. If they bring it up in the next couple of days, I’ll probably laugh with them (hating myself quietly on the inside, obviously). Still, that panic and avoidance in those small moments are awful. It’s those little moments that really make social anxiety difficult for me. They are so small, but they always happen. When I talk about them to people who don’t have social anxiety, they always say shit like, “What’s the big deal? Just do the thing.” I don’t know what the big deal is! I don’t know why my body acts like I’m stepping on a land mine. I wish a fucking could just do the thing.
I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m a lot worse off than I want to believe, coupled with the inability to not outright lie other human beings about my level of illness.
Catch you next session.