Meeting new people

Someone I admire greatly, and hope to one day call a friend, has recently been tweeting about meeting new people in social environments. Like me she is extremely introverted and has asked for people to share strategies for

making new friends / meeting new people in your personal lives. Particularly those of you who are huge introverts (like me) trying to be quiet & observant in this loud and overwhelming extroverted world!

First up, I think her description of the world is exactly right for those of us who are introverted. We get intimidated by the “noise” of what appears to be an extremely extroverted world. Everything we see nowadays tells us that the world is “all about me” and that I need to look after me first. This does not always fit in with the thinking of an introvert. We want to just to wander through the world, and for the most part, not being noticed. However, everybody needs friendship. We are beings that require relationships with others. So how do we achieve this.

I too, like my friend find it extremely hard to meet new people. Those of you who know me will understand that I will think the worst is going to happen in any given situation, especially social ones. I am petrified of looking like a fool. However, when I actually get around to meeting new people nothing bad really happens. I do sometimes say absolutely stupid things and yes, sometimes people do laugh. But I have come to realise that they are not laughing at me, but are trying to ease the situation.

I have been visiting a psychologist (again) for many months now and for me with my extreme social phobia there is no magic cure for meeting new people. There are some strategies to make it a little bit easier, but really the best strategy is practice. So what have I been doing? I have been deliberately putting myself into situations where I have to interact with new people. Scariest thing ever for me. But after the initial few minutes and introduction I tend to settle down and the interaction gets easier. I still have to excuse myself after about half an hour to calm down a bit. But its the knowing that these people are mostly just like me, sometimes scared as well, that helps to continue to meet new people.

I hope this little bit of personal experience helps others who are finding it tough. It is not easy, it is tough, but it is short term. And it is far better than not meeting other people.

A scared man,

Eccles

Melbourne excursion

I think I could live in Melbourne. I grew up in country NSW in a smallish town, the son of one of the town doctors. Hated it. Went to a boarding school in Sydney when I was 15. Changed my life forever. Living in the city was exciting, everything I wanted.

Currently I live in Canberra and have done so since 1992. Don’t get me wrong, Canberra was the right place for us to start and bring up a family. I have great friends, a good job and and it is where my private life started and blossomed. But it is not a Sydney or Melbourne.

In a previous post you will know that I decided to go to Melbourne to see a gorgeous lady. This is about that trip.

6:15 I fly out of chilly Canberra. I love travelling but don’t get to do it often enough. 7:25 arrive at Melbourne airport. 90 minutes later (I had forgotten what city traffic can be like) I arrive at the Park Hyatt in Melbourne. I felt like some indulgence. I leave my bag there and venture off to the city for a day of discovery and preparation.

First stop breakfast. My doctor had recommended a place called Cumulus Inc on Flinders Lane. Magic. I decided on the bircher muesli, I just couldn’t bring myself to have the English breakfast (blood sausage/black pudding). The coffee was excellent. I can recommend this place, for breakfast at least.

After breakfast I wandered the city to try and get the lay of the land. I also had to buy some stuff for the evening/nights rendezvous. Being of the person I am I tried to plan out the best way to travel the city and pick up the items I wanted. So what did I need

  • A particular vintage French champagne
  • Dark champagne truffles from Haigh’s Chocolates
  • Some fruit to go with the above items
  • A new pair of pants
  • A new pair of shoes

I found myself outside David Jones on the Bourke Street Mall. In I go to find some clothes. Up to menswear and to the Gazman collection. I like Gazman, they not only look good, wear well but do a size that fits me well (yes, I am a bit overweight). Pants, check. Looked at the shoes, couldn’t find anything I really liked. So down to the food hall and check out the liquor department. Couldn’t find the champagne I was looking for so opted for another one I had tried before and really enjoyed (picture later). Champagne, check. Added bonus, the food hall also sells Wensleydale cheese. Love my Wensleydale and yes I am a Wallace and Gromit fan. I will be back later to get some of that.

A friend had suggested I go to Queen Victoria Markets to get the fruit. Okay, time to figure out the trams. Lo and behold, trams are free in Melbourne CBD; best idea ever. So tram down to Elizabeth Street and then another up to the markets. Man, nothing like this in Canberra. I wandered around for a good hour and a half. Found the fruit I was looking for, check.

Lunch time, what to have. Out goes the twitter call and back come the answers. Off I go trying to find the N Lee bakery and get a Grilled Pork Vietnamese roll. Absolutely delicious. Do get one if you’re in Melbourne. Mine didn’t have the chilly but I believe they are just as nice with the chill.

Now, where is Haigh’s Chocolates. Oh look just around the corner, yay my feet were getting sore. Pick up the champagne truffles and then back to the hotel for a rest and to prepare for tonight.

No details about the evening other than it was great to catch up with my lady friend. We talked, drank, ate chocolate, and…

After my companion left I couldn’t sleep; I was happy, satisfied, content, I was enjoying myself. I read and eventually went to sleep and dreamt of my lover and times yet to come.

I woke at 8 the next morning eager to get this new day started. I wandered down to The Commune for breakfast. No muesli today, bacon, eggs, sausage and rosti. And another great coffee.

Back to the hotel, pack and check out. I had a ticket booked for the David Bowie exhibition for 11am. Left my bag at the hotel and wandered into the city to find another coffee. It started drizzling. Damn, my umbrella is in my bag back at the hotel.

I am listening to Heroes right now while writing this and remembering yesterday. I have tears on my cheeks at the moment.

I found a nice “alley” full of coffee shops. Picked one and sat under an umbrella in the rain, had a coffee and started journaling. Some of you will know that is one of my favourite activities and I do it several times a week. Out of the journaling comes these blog posts.

Down to Federation Square to see the exhibition; half hour early but they let me in anyway. Absolutely fabulous exhibition; one of the best I have ever seen. It covered his whole life. All his outfits were on display. I got to learn more about him as an artist. His music and videos were everywhere. As they give you your ticket they say it will take one to one and a half hours to go through the exhibition. Ha, more than two and half hours later I emerge – an emotional wreck (see previous post). Watching everybody and they reacted to the exhibition was great; us older people were dancing along with the music while reading and absorbing. Enough said other than if you can make it to Melbourne before 1 November then do.

Because of the way I was feeling I decided I had better get to the airport and wait out there for my plane. I spent a couple of hours at the airport, had a couple of drinks and started my blog posts. Not the way I planned to end my trip to Melbourne.

Overall the trip to Melbourne was a great break and I enjoyed it very much. Melbourne, I will be back.

Still recovering,

Eccles

Oh my God

I have two posts to blog. I thought I would start with the dark post first and then the lighter post. I have released them at the same time as they are related. These posts will show just how quickly moods can change in someone suffering depression, and at the end you will see why I think this happened to me. There will be no background for what I am saying here, if you need some background for this see the next post.

This afternoon I found myself at the “David Bowie Is” exhibition at Federation Square in Melbourne. All of a sudden I was crying. Not just crying, sobbing. Sobbing uncontrollably with my whole body and mind. As far as I can remember this had happened only once before when a very good friend had died when we were 28. I had a reason to cry then, but why was I sobbing now.

My depression had caused me to cry before but nothing like this. The tears were streaming down my face and falling to the floor. I couldn’t breath and my body was trembling. This was scaring me, but what came next was worse.

If you have been following my blog posts you will know I have two lives, one I have been living for the past 30 years, the other, which only you guys know about, started at the beginning of this year (although my other life has been around for years just inactive). I realised during this episode that the last 30 years of my life have been a lie and if I leave Melbourne I will be returning to that lie.

“I don’t want to do this. But what can I do? I have to go back to my lie, to my family, friends and job in Canberra. I have to, don’t I?”

Is there an alternative? Could I stay in Melbourne? It seems to be a nice city and I “know” some great people there. But how would I do that? Quick get outside and think properly.

Outside the sun was shining, it was raining when I went indoors. This is good, this will help me feel better. I looked around and saw Melbourne again, It still beckoned me to stay, it still said I shouldn’t go back to Canberra. If I stayed what would that do to the people I cared about in Canberra. Would I survive a change like that. Okay, I can’t stay and I don’t want to go back, what to do. Only one thing left for me. Time to stop this life, but how? Oh shit, the scary monster is back.

Put my action plan into action. Find a friend and talk. I got on a tram and sent a message to my Melbourne friend who had helped me out before. But he was getting ready for a night out and I didn’t want to bring him down. So the conversation was just a brief chit-chat. I didn’t tell him what was happening. I think he knew. Just having the chat with him was enough to distract me.

How quick did it take me to get into the scary state, about 10 minutes. How long till the end of the episode, 90 minutes.

Epilogue: I now know why my doctor keeps emphasising that I should not miss taking my medication. I was sitting at the airport later and opened my blood test kit so I could check my blood sugars. There, in my kit so I wouldn’t forget to take them, were all my medications for the last two days. I am hoping that forgetting my medication for two days was the reason for the episode. I will be visiting my doctor to find out.

Eccles

Watching life

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Its been a pretty good week this week. There have been good times, bad times, a time of reflection, a time of embarrassment, a time to seek help, times to just sit and chat with friends, and times to just sit and watch. Like now.

I have a coffee and I am sitting in the middle of the shopping centre watching people go to and fro, watching expressions on faces, looking at fashions and catching snippets of conversations.

The nerds wander past, long hair, jeans, jackets, talking of their latest victories in their games.

Two friends wave at each other across the food hall. They brighten with happiness as smiles engulf their faces. They hug, kiss on the cheeks and head to one of the coffee shops.

A family of six wander past, grocery shopping done. Three young kids have light up shoes, Mum has a baby on her hip. Dad is not smiling, he does not look like he is enjoying himself.

A smartly dressed 30 year old lady walks by. All in black, except for her camel coloured ankle boots. Black slim handbag with gold trim. She is very elegantly dressed for the shopping centre at midday on a Saturday. I wonder where she is going, who she might be meeting.

An older couple shuffle past. Quiet, hunched, arm in arm. A smile crosses my face. How long have they been together? What could they tell me about life? Are they still enjoying life?

Ah, there’s the young couple in love. Fairly well dressed, smart casuals, they obviously don’t live together and are spending some time together. Walking along hand in hand, they stop, share a hug and a kiss and continue on their way.

I love watching life happen around me, watching people go about every day activities. I like to wonder about who they are, what is their life like, do they to have secret lives. The meaning of the name I was given at birth is “watchful”. I like to watch.

A watching man,

Eccles

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