Growing up, I always had an overactive imagination. Not to mention I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was in middle school. These two things were already creating a problem with school. As I look back, I realize those weren’t my only issues. I’m only now realizing I’ve had social anxiety at least since high school [I believe it really started after some bad shit went down in middle school].
So for a while, I would use video games and draw as a distraction from the outside world and its expectations. Around high school is when I started to write stories based on my drawings. My imagination was creating all kinds of backstories from my drawings, and I had to get it out. It helped me deal with my issues for a while.
Drawing and writing were fantastic ways to deal with my issues. However, they are isolating. And over the years, my social anxiety as worsened. Now, as an almost 30-year-old adult, I still have crippling anxiety when forced to interact with new people. As an example, I was laid off from my previous job last year. When I started to apply for new jobs, it wasn’t the new job that terrified me. It was having to meet new co-workers and adjust to another working environment. I wasn’t afraid of the job, I was afraid of the people.
There is always that tiny little voice in my head that screams, “No one wants you here!” Or, “They’re only pretending to be nice to you.” This happens even with those I’ve known for years. And usually, they’ll tell me it’s not true, or I’m crazy for thinking these things.
Here’s the thing: I can’t control those thoughts. At least, not all the time.
So, I would write. I traveled down my mental staircase again, and write.
I would write death scenes, chaotic scenes, and even party scenes. Writing dialogue I wish I had used at a previous event. Or even just the internal monologue of the struggles of dealing with people. By writing these things, it made me feel better. But by the time I had finished writing, it’s days later and I haven’t really spoken to anyone.
I’ve been in my office or living room, writing for hours, listening to music that made me cry, and sometimes enjoying a glass of whiskey with my characters. I’d talk out loud but in the voice and mind of my characters. I’d act out scenes that aren’t real, to see where it will go.
It made no sense, but that’s how I handled my anxiety. So when I was finally ready to rejoin the world, I could try again.
Yet, the thoughts would always return.
“You’re not good enough.”
“You’ll always be alone.”
“Everyone secretly hates you.”
And once again, I’d write.
Because of those anxieties, Dead Dreamer was born. And although that was a big accomplishment for me, it didn’t cure my fears and anxieties. I’m still almost mentally crippled in social situations. Interacting with new people still exhausts and scares me. But I’ve found a way to cope that was productive. Maybe one day I’ll be able to overcome these fears. But for now, writing is my only escape. And I love it.