Monday, 15 October 2012

Alone in a Crowd

Yesterday I took a walk into town, partly to take a photograph for my 365 day project; partly to get some exercise for my foot, which is causing me a lot of pain at the moment; and partly to get away from Star Wars on the television!  I took my book and planned to stop for lunch in town before walking home again.  From the time I left the house I felt as if I was being watched.  This is never a good thing; it seems to be a kind of anxiety-based paranoia that means I constantly feel that people are looking at me and judging me.  I feel desperately unattractive and that other people will be offended by my presence.  At times like this I would love to just be invisible.

I managed to get some nice photographs and even managed to ignore some funny looks as I took this one in town where it was quite busy.  I am trying to use my love of photography to overcome my paranoia and anxiety, with mixed success.  By the time I made it to Costa I was definitely ready to sit down!  I ordered and made my way to a table, being somewhat upset on the way by a man deciding he was going to sit at the table I was heading for and all but pushing me out of the way.  I struggled to concentrate on my book as I was feeling very anxious and conspicuous.  Eating in public is something I have a problem with, even on a good day, so eating when I was feeling so fragile was worse.  I felt guilty for eating and as if everyone was looking at me and thinking "no wonder she's so fat".

Some days I can relax in a busy environment, finding some anonymity in the crowd, but other days, like this one, I feel so devastatingly alone that it is as if there is a big neon sign above my head declaring my pathetic lack of company.  Every where I looked there were couples; families; groups of friends; but no one I knew.  There is a lot of truth in the saying that you can be loneliest in a crowd and that is exactly how I felt.

The feeling was crushingly oppressive, as if the world were closing in on me.  Walking home was difficult as the wish to be invisible was overwhelming.  In town where it was busy was bad enough but once I got closer to home and there were fewer people around it was even worse.  Being lonely in a crowd is horrible but it is preferable to the agonising feeling of walking past the only other person around.  When the road is quiet I feel the most threatened by the few people that are there and, even worse, the people that might be there that I can't see.  I know that my fears are irrational and I know that I am not in the least bit interesting enough for anyone to want to look at me but that doesn't change the feelings of panic and fear that assail me when I am out.  I wish I could just curl up in a corner somewhere and let the world pass me by.

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