The minute I stepped into church, I felt anxious and jittery, a little light headed.
I went into the hall, and there were so many people. I sat down next to the only familiar face I could find, rivka, who was new to our cell.
I rested my head on my knees and closed my eyes. She asked me if I was okay, and I told her I was tired.
I couldn’t laugh at any of the jokes. I couldn’t smile. I just felt so dead.
I left the hall for a while during the testimony sharing. I’m not sure what it was exactly that I couldn’t bear. The people? The tension? The uncanny focus on just my breathing? It felt like social anxiety.
I only smiled when ps Joey talked about how his daughter prayed for a teacher and her hand actually got healed.
Then we had to discuss some pointers after service, rivka went to the toilet and it was just me and sis rho, who was sitting next to her. Sis rho asked me if I wanted to sit next to raymynn, who was sitting alone. I went.
I sat down, and I said,” my friends in uni hate Christians because of the street E stuff.”
Raymynn said something which told me she wasn’t in the mood to discuss. Well I wasn’t either. She said she had to leave the hall for a while because she couldn’t take it. I told her me too.
“I kept feeling like I was going to cry.” I said. And then I started crying.
And it got worse. I didn’t want to open my eyes. It felt like people would be staring, I felt so ashamed. I kept my eyes closed all the way, with mucus flowing down my nose. Someone gave me a pack of tissue, it was probably sis Rhoda. I threw it on the floor. But then I picked it up again when I realised just how much mucus was coming out.
I waited for the time when everyone was invited to stand up, and I got up and rushed to the toilet. But there were people there. At this point I was heaving. I tried the cry room behind, but there were two ladies in there talking. I tried the level 3 room but it was locked. I swore in my head. Why couldn’t I find a single place that I can be alone without anyone?
I went to the agape hall and found a chair behind the printer. It felt like I couldn’t really breathe. And I kept crying and crying.
What the hell was wrong with me?
Was the only thought that kept going through my head.
How am I supposed to continue on like nothing’s wrong during the cluster dinner later?
I felt bad for leaving raymynn alone, without any way for her to contact me. I remembered the last time this happened and people were worried about me. so I quickly got up to the hall to grab my bag. I kept my eyes down to the floor, it was so bright and it was so noisy to the point of my head hurting. I hated it. The echoey laughter. Voices of people everywhere and all around. It felt like too much to handle. And I wondered how I even could bear with such a suffocating noise normally.
I went to the corner behind some chairs and sat down. I tried to stay there but I couldn’t, so many people were passing by, I just wanted to be invisible. I went to emergency staircase and sat down.
Finally I was alone.
I searched up “social anxiety only in church” on google.
Not that I wanted to self diagnose but I just wanted to see if I could find a narrative by someone going through something similar.
I wasn’t sure what this was.
A spiritual attack? A biological mental condition? A psychological thought pattern? Or was it just me?
A common theme I found in the accounts online was fear. There was a fear of being judged, perceived negatively, of not appearing a certain standard.
I just find it odd, I’ve cried many times in church in front of everyone already but somehow this feels different.
At this point I was still crying non stop, mucus still flowing. I texted raymynn and told her I’ll need a while before I can calm down enough.
I texted Sam, and he prayed for me. But I couldn’t even bring myself to pray to God. I just felt something blocking me.
After some time I calmed down enough for nothing to be flowing out of my eyes and nose. I went down to the cafe area, and when I saw all those people, I felt it again. The jittery feeling, my breathing becoming faster, feeling lightheaded again.
I went to the carpark and sat down at the table. Raymynn came over and told me to take my time.
I decided to head out again, still feeling lightheaded, I tried to smile, I tried to make eye contact with people. But I really couldn’t. I felt like I was just going to burst into tears again. I felt so pathetic. I told raymynn I’d just ruin the mood if I went, and told her I didn’t think I could do it and I’m sorry.
She said it’s okay, and I should go home and rest for tomorrow.
I cycled back home.
And past this field of grass and the sky was beautiful and the wind was so fresh. I felt so much better.
I wasn’t really thinking about much.
I had half the mind to give up on going to agora tomorrow.
But then Sam texted me. He told what the pastor at the revival service of the church his army friend invited him to was talking about.
I thought that it was kinda like narrative therapy. I had to separate the problem from the person.
Part of me was just afraid of making excuses. “It’s not me it’s the devil!”
But nothing’s been working, and thinking that way made me really want to go for the event tomorrow. And to not give up.
Think I need to think really hard about what I’m afraid of. Because there’s definitely something that’s causing me to feel so anxious only in church.
Anyways the sunset today was really beautiful. I tried talking to God through the sunset. Somehow I could then. God felt a bit closer and more real. And I thought maybe I should talk to sunsets more often.