Today is a Saturday I have booked a appointment at my local salon i am terrified from the ordeal of going to a hair salon for a protracted period of time. The fear of gazing into the hair seeing my gnarled disfigured face for up to an hour. The fear of having to make basic small talk with a confident gregarious women trying assiduously to conceal my social anxiety. I have been dreading this visit to the local salon for weeks now slowly the anxiety has been rising in me like a volcano waiting to erupt. It was a month ago when I suffered a psychologically scaring panic attack on my short journey to the dentist when i was hit with a panic attack that was the consequence of the enormous anxiety of attending the dentist. That left me for days afterwards in a state of disquietude not knowing even another attack would befall me. Having nobody to confide in to talk about my social anxiety my fear of another traumatic attack.
Today though i will face the storms of the outside i will venture into unknown waters and face a prolonged visit to the salon. I need a haircut my hair has become unkempt and far too long. I have requested a short pixie cut no hair colouring just maintaining my dark brown hair aesthetic. The worst aspect that gives me trepidation is looking into the mirror that is directly adjacent to my eye line. I intend to look past my hideous visage and to attempt to not gaze directly into my eyes. If I’m successful i wait avert a panic attack and mitigate the anxiety of the trip to the salon. Theres only two social functions that are more anxiety laden its a night out with my student friends and attending a dental appointment. The salon though is a close third with the staring at yourself the staid incredibly uncomfortable small talk with a virtual stranger who’s full of spunk who’s the antithesis of my introverted self conscious personality.
I get myself prepared for the travail of a hour long stay in the salon. For the majority of humans a routine social outing such as going to the hairdressers or the local convenience store is a stress free mundane occurrence. For me its fear it’s heavy erratic breathing its hands shacking it’s unrelenting paranoia its a toil a exhausting endeavour. Hence i am now prepared i have the requisite attire and makeup to assuage my anxiety. I am clad in back looking like a goth without the black lipstick. With my long black coat and black knee length boots and black shirt i am set to visit the salon. I refrain from gazing at myself in any mirror i am ready for the ordeal of a simple appointment at my local salon.
I leave my safe space leave my home and brace my fragile mind for the outside world. My anxiety has in the past months increased in the severity the panic attacks have been occurring with alarming regularity. Now its at least once a month i hit with the nightmare of a panic attack. Last time it was a trip to the dentist on over occasions its been nights out with friends or simple rudimentary everyday tasks like going shopping cause me to suffer a psychological deleterious panic attack. Now i am outside walking with trepidation having soothing classical music that’s blaring into my ears to negate the anxiety of the uncertain outside world.
I look up at the sky its a bleak overcast melancholic english spring day. No possibility of sun appearing from the dolorous English skyline. The dark forlorn weather is in perfect congruity with my anxiety laden depressed mood. I walk at a lethargic pace with my lumbering feet unable to walk any faster from the anxiety that’s pulsating round my body. I am diligently attempting to control my breathing i alone not in close contact with strangers so i feel free to take long deep breaths. Breathe in and out trying to maintain my balance to avert the numbness in my legs and feet that occurs when a pernicious attack hits me. I am so profoundly self conscious walking wearing my makeup my mask. I can perceive the contemptuous gazes of other humans looking at me at this inhuman freak. I try to appear as a normal trying to hide my anxiety i stop the deep breathing techniques i stop all these idiosyncratic quirks that are a symptom of my anxiety. I stop shacking my leg so profusely stop the shacking of my fingers all in a attempt to present myself as a normal not a social leper living with a anxiety disorder.
Keep moving now at a more frenetic pace as i can make out the salon I’m nearly on time for my appointment. Sweat appears on my brow I have trouble breathing i remove my Bluetooth headphones from my ears I have to be fully prepared for the hell of the next hour of the hairdresser appointment. With my unkempt long hair and gothic outfit i saunter into the salon with my body overwhelmed with nervousness. I hide this with my emotional repressed english manner appearing stoic calm and aloof. I enter the daunting entrance of the salon i am greeted by a smiling effervescent extroverted young hairdresser who exudes confidence and warmth the complete anthesis of my introverted self loathing personality. I nervously responded to her exultant hello by saying thank you as the hairdresser Susan kisses me on my cheek and invades my personal space. I say nothing never expressing my discomfort in being kissed. I sit down in the vacant chair and get ready for the commencement of my haircut. Susan asks me politely if I want my hair washed as getting a pixie cut will be considerably easier with wet newly washed hair. I acquiesce to her requests not wanting to come across as odd. My demeanour is controlled and stoic i hide all the anxiety the neurosis the thoughts of dread ruminating in my consciousness.
She washes my unkempt dry damaged hair in the sink i catch glimpses of my pallid repulsive face I shudder in horror. Despite the ample makeup I’ve applied i am still a homely unappealing freak. As Susan is ebulliently washing my hair words reverberate in my damaged mind ugly ugly you freak you freak i want to die i want to die. The horror has only begun the washing of my adult hair is the appetiser the main course is when will have my hair fastidiously cut by adept hairdresser. Then i will have to stare at myself i will have to gaze into the abyss of my ravaged soul.
Susan has completed washing my hair it takes her to minutes to apply and rinse the shampoo and conditioner. Now the hell begins i am face to face with my grim visage. The haircut begins i look at myself i cant avert my gaze. I try to look past my face to squint my eyes but it’s their this ghostly apparition in the mirror. Susan is so kind and gentle she never tells me how ugly i am. She is a professional and is cutting my hair making small talk for which I respond despite the increase anxiety. We talk on a myriad of mundane topics such as the bleak weather how i doing at university and i enquire how is the local business in a attempt to move the conversation from me. All the while I can feel the anxiety surging in me i feel the onset of a panic attack. I look in the mirror the words of ugly freak are ever present in my mind. I try to numb the anxiety the disquietude but its like a sad disgusting feeling that wont abate.
I have trouble breathing my fingers are twitching my left leg is tapping repeatedly. I cant hide the signs of my anxiety my panic attack is Susan or the other people inside the salon establishment fully cognisant of my peculiar behaviour. I cant breathe i cant breathe i cant breathe a million thoughts hit me at once my chest feels so tight. I am trapped in a paralysed state there’s no feeling in my legs is this an actual heart attack or another panic attack so my acute untreated anxiety disorder. Still i cant breathe as my hair looks short and presentable. In the midst of this attack I’m careful to hide my attack even within close proximity to other people i suppress my condition. Never do i bury my head in my hands or show myself struggling to catch a breathe. I have become proficient in masking my illness never disclosing this social debilitating disorder. As i am in hell sinker into deeper levels of torture Susan is completely ignorant of my panic attack.
She carries on with the conversation I responded laconically with monosyllabic responses to her questions. The attack is still happening i feel like I’m dying drowning in a ocean of despair unable to see any way out. I think to myself is this madness will I have recover from this. Then after a eternity of numbness of my nervous system shutting down and a foreboding feeling of death. The attack diminishes in the severity as my neurotic body reverts to a normal feeling of worthlessness and utter revulsion for my appearance. The haircut is nearly complete Susan is meticulously completing the final touches to my new hairstyle. I catch glimpses of my haunted listless eyes in the mirror there’s no life no beauty in me I’m a freak a monster doomed to wander aimlessly without love in the vast wilderness.
However the haircut looks amazing Susan has done an amazing job in revitalising my previously bedraggled adult hair. All the split ends are removed i look my face again i thank Susan for the amazing job shes done in my characteristic reserved style. Without smiling without any physical contact i show my pleasure i then pay the requisite money for the haircut and hair wash. I vacate the establishment still with the scaring remnants of the attack in my body the staff the customers I’m certain are utterly unaware that i suffered another harrowing panic attack. I kept my breathing difficulties and my heightened anxiety hidden even in the apex of a pernicious panic attack. I vacate the premises and walk frantically to the local lavatory. I get inside collapse on the seat of a filthy cubicle i start to cry uncontrollably the anxiety is killing me. I cant go out i cant socialise with my friends even attending my university lectures or simple humdrum tasks like shopping have become unbearable onerous experiences.
I still camped inside the cubicle for nearly an hour until i can cry no longer. In my exhausted state i get up leave this germ invested public building. I keep saying the same mantra in my head get me home get me home get me home. Then there are other words that circulate in my mind freak ugly worthless subhuman unlovable. The traversal home is a short journey only 10 minutes but in the aftermath of a terrifying panic attack it felt like journeying into a treacherous foreign land. The cold inhospitable streets i walked with trepidation averting my gaze. My head was glued to the floor I wanted to be alone sequestered away from human contact where’s there’s no risk of unrelenting torturous anxiety. I want the solace of my private alcove where I’m free to suffer in silence. With frenetic pace i walk aware that the illusion of normality is slipping away as the desire to be secluded from the prying eyes of people is greater. I walk with increasing fervency almost speed walking then i reach my destination. My heart is beating my arms are shacking erratically I’m struggling to stand upright as i reach for my house key. I enter my shared accommodation rush upstairs open my room assiduously lock the door then collapse on my floor whisky holding my pink childhood teddy bear.
The tears cascade down my face like a waterfall of unexpressed sadness. That simple task was torture i may never leave my room again. It getting worse the attacks are becoming habitual every month nearly every week. I cant go out anymore as i retreat from society as i eschew seeking the help of medication or therapy. The condition has rendered me a virtual recluse unable to partake in romantic relationship seeing my studies suffer and my beautiful friendships drift apart from the detrimental effects of this disorder. I lay paralysed on my hard cold bedroom floor calling myself a freak ugly freak ugly i cant stand myself any longer. The anxiety the depression is slowly killing me like a noxious gas slowly poisoning my body.