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Monday, August 14, 2017

Duck and Cover: My Struggle with Social Anxiety

So, this was the weekend that I saw a gigantic duck.

No, I am not on drugs, nor am I having some sort of hallucination.  I really did see a gigantic duck.  Here's the proof below.

The reason for the duck is a small part of what was happening in my hometown.  As part of the Canadian sesquicentennial, there was a lot going on.

First, there was the reopening of Canada's very first railroad tunnel.  My hometown is the location of this historic relic, and until this past weekend, it was sealed up.  Now it has been reopened, and you can walk through the entire length of it.

We also had an old-fashioned fair that was set up near the tunnel that boasted a ferris wheel, a merry-go-round, and other fond favourites from our childhoods gone by.

The festival coincided with the annual RibFest celebration in which dozens of vendors tried to tempt you with offerings of spare ribs, chicken, and pulled pork sandwiches. 

And of course, the gigantic duck.  The duck, believe it or not, is the source of controversy as it was widely reported that it cost taxpayers a quarter of a million bucks to transport the duck across the country on its journey.  I'll admit that I question how a rubber duck could possibly be linked to Canadian confederation, but aside from that, I thought it was a neat addition to the festival.  And, considering that the duck is ten times taller than I am, it certainly was quite the spectacle.

I just thought I'd show you some snapshots of the one day that I attended the festival.  I didn't stay very long, and I worked most of the weekend anyway, but I did enjoy what I experienced, even though in some ways I felt a bit down as the same time.

I suppose I should explain.  I took a few pictures of my experience with the town festival, and I enjoyed watching my local friends do the same.  At the same time, I felt as though I was missing something.

I wish I had someone to share the experience with.

And when I say that I wish I had someone, I certainly don't mean a romantic partner or a family.  I've already come to terms with the fact that in my near future, I don't expect either to happen.  I just wish that I had someone to hang out with there so that I didn't feel completely out of place.

It sounds like a really ridiculous thing to admit, but I get incredibly self-conscious when I am in a crowd of people.  My self-consciousness increases tenfold when I see that I am the only one in that crowd who is without a plus one, or plus two, or plus twenty.  So, as a result I don't tend to enjoy myself nearly as much as I should.

I'm sure that I am not the only one who gets this way.  Far from it.  Social anxiety is a common part of life for a percentage of adults and children all over the world.  For all I know, there very well could have been other people at the festival who were extremely uncomfortable to be there as well.  But when you experience an anxiety attack, you don't think rationally about those sorts of things until after the fact.

A couple of months ago, the city held another festival that included various trucks that served poutines.  And as someone who cannot resist the delectable combo of cheese curd, gravy, and french fries, it was definitely my kind of place to hang.

But once I got there and I saw the huge crowd of people there...I froze in my tracks and had what I consider to be the mother of all panic attacks.  Shortness of breath, sweat coming out of every pore, the inability to keep it all together.  Yeah, I had every single one of those symptoms.  It took everything in me to try and keep it together until I got home.  It was such a horrible feeling that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

It wasn't until a family member agreed to go with me that I calmed down and made another attempt to go.  And as long as I was with them, I was perfectly fine.  I grabbed my poutine, I ate it, and I even grabbed some homemade donuts for a snack later on.  It ended up being a great day considering that just hours earlier, I was so anxious that I couldn't even go into the park where the festival was being held.

I never expected myself to be the co-dependent type.  Going through what I went through, I honestly thought myself to be fairly headstrong.  But I've come to the conclusion that I simply don't know how to relax and have fun by myself. 

I know what you are saying though.  I could have simply asked someone if they wanted to go with me.  But I also know that most of the people I am close with have their own families and their own relationships and I would feel as though I'd be getting in the way.  The last thing I want to feel like is being a third, fifth, or thirty-seventh wheel.

Now, why have I decided to tell you this?  Well, I want some of you who have had these attacks of anxiety before to know that you aren't alone.  Trust me, social anxiety is very real, and its effects can be quite devastating.  My social life isn't as rich as it could be as a result of it, and while I agree that part of it is on me...there's also a part of it that isn't.

It's also very difficult for me to admit this on a public forum such as this blog.  By me admitting this, I essentially am putting myself out there with a great big sign saying "these are my faults and yes I have them".  But I'm hoping that if someone else has had these feelings and has successfully conquered their fears and anxieties, maybe I could learn from them how they did it and put it into practice.

There's no shame in asking for help or assistance.  And maybe it's time I figure out why I get so panicked in large crowds of people.  

After all...if I can handle a sixty-foot tall duck, anything is possible, right?


  1. Have you went to a doctor about your anxiety?

    1. I have talked about it a bit with a doctor, but at that time it didn't seem serious enough to consider treatment at that time. Though, I'm thinking it might be a good time to do so. Thank you for writing!

  2. Great article, I myself have social anxiety and panic attacks about 2 years ago I was taking myself to the hospital every other day because I didn't know what was wrong with me I thought I was dieing,after many hospital visits,a CT scan, heart specialist, heart monitor, MRI and a million other tests all coming up negative I came to the conclusion (not any doctor) that I was having anxiety attacks, I went to my family doc and she asks me a series of questions on a piece of paper she printed off and came to the same conclusion and gave me a prescription, I do not like taking any form of drugs so I never filled it but I did learn to help myself by not thinking bad things are always going to happen to my loved ones and self meditation and positive thoughts (its a lot of talking to myself all the time but who cares I'm getting better) I still have attacks but not every day like I used too!! I hope I have helped you some and it takes time

    1. It is nice to know that there are others who are dealing with this too. So often we feel like we're the only ones who know what it's like. I thank you for replying. :)