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A mile in my shoes.

Posted 24th November 2011 at 20:28 by Matt_1983

Sometimes I leave my little flat and venture out for a walk. I live pretty centrally in Exeter so as I step outside I'm faced with a relatively busy road, people walking and cars going by. There are times when I do this and I feel fine, ill walk down the road arms swinging, head held high, and I breath in the fresh air and off I stroll. At other times, ill round the corner from my building and as I hit the road anxiety strikes and I become a nervous mess. Its as if I've never walked before, like a baby taking its first few tentative steps. My arms don't know what to do and I move along all in a jitter. My breathing shallows and I struggle to hold my head still. I wonder what I look like to the people I pass, do they notice my nervous shuffle, do they know what's inside my mind.

Chances are nobody really cares, nobody even looks long enough to notice. As they say, everyones got their own worries and thoughts, why should they care about mine. But in my mixed it doesn't matter if they notice, it doesn't matter what they see. To me this walk is an anxious walk and my thoughts begin to spiral, a hurricane or worry and doubt. Nobody cares yet to me they all do, even though I know that they don't.

I tell myself to keep moving and they anxiety might leave, the fresh air will loosen my tight chest and my heart beat will slow. I try to focus on my breathing, to follow the steps a therapist once taught me: deep breath and count for four, in through the nose and hold for four, then release through my mouth for another four. It helps a little but often not enough. Its hard to slow a pulsing heart and control such awkawrd breathing. It feels like the air that goes in won't go further than my chest, not down deep to my stomach where I try to take it. And by attempting such controlled breathing surely people will notice me even more, notice the concentration on my serious face as I count for four and pant for four.

The further I go the busier it gets and my thoughts hit yet harder. Stop, turn around, retreat to the safety of the flat, shut the door and relax. Its a compelling arguement, but it doesn't often win. I've fought this fight too long, I've walked this walk a thousand times with a stealy determination to kill these thoughts and release my body of its anxious hold. As I walk yet nearer to town and the foot count increases and pavement space narrows, its horrible to not have relaxed control of where I put each step. It sounds so silly but its as if I've not walked before, like a miracle cured paralytic released on his own for the very first time. My arms seem to move of their own accord, swaying and jumping, back and forth, hands all a flutter.

People without social anxiety will never understand this state. Maybe they've felt this way on the short walk up to a graduation stage, or into a job interview. Maybe then their body has reacted in this frightened way. But would they ever believe that I feel like this now, on a walk into town in a city I know and love, a safe city full of smiles and calm. It would seem so insane to them to know the thoughts littering my little head, a pool of doubt and dread. Dreaded steps away from home, knowing that one step forwards is one more to get back.

Who would have thought that such a fundamental action such as walking could be so difficult and use up so much energy in the fight against flight. What's so more worrying and crazy is my job. I'm a postman of 4 years, I walk up to 8 miles a day 5 days a week.
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  1. Old Comment
    Great blog - this sounds exactly like me, it's like I'm looking in a mirror when I read this!
    Posted 30th January 2012 at 14:17 by Trixie26 Trixie26 is offline

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