Sandra Tournemille is an animator and illustrator who lives in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.
As an illustrator, she communicates visually through art expression more than in words.
Because I wanted a diversity of voices and expressions, I invited her to contribute to the Staying Sane series.
This is an anxiety that has ruined many opportunities in my life.
The definition of social phobia is the fear and anxiety of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment, humiliation, and depression.
I feel overwhelmed at the thought of going to large social “mixers” or parties.
I love live music, but I really can’t handle the crowds anymore.
When I was a teenager, I would binge drink at parties to feel “normal” and try to fit in with the party mentality.
Now when I look back at this, I realize I was trying to calm my nervous system to function around large groups of people. Deep down, I was convinced there was something terribly wrong with me.
As an adult, I am less self-destructive – although you won’t find me at a networking event without a drink in hand if it’s available.
Or you may find me hiding in the bathroom for most of the evening.
I am guilty of cancelling events at the last minute because the thought of being in social situations is just too much.
Even at the expense of finding new business or meeting up with dear friends with who I would generally love to spend time.
During the pandemic, you would think I would thrive under such anti-social lockdowns.
But in fact, it’s been the opposite.
Although I am a mess in social situations, I need one-on-one time with close friends, and small gatherings of 4-6 people are necessary to my survival.
When the conversation has a chance to move deeper than small talk, I feel so very human.
And my mental health is restored.
How’s your pandemic lockdown going?
I’m over here experiencing an identity crisis of sorts: severe anxiety over my business and my hot and cold desire to burn everything to the ground.
I decided to draw about my internal excavation project.
It’s ongoing. It’s painful.
I feel quite a bit of shame for being in my mid-forties and still not understanding who the hell I am.
Isn’t your 20s the time for self-discovery?
Some would call this a mid-life crisis. I can’t disagree.
But I would also like to mention that the added spice from our lovely global pandemic, combined with the financial and emotional shit show we’re experiencing, is something to consider.
But you know, suffering is typically a ripe time for creativity.
So, why should I hold back?
Also, art expression is an excellent tonic for mental distress.
Connect with Sandra