I’m Not Anti-Social, I’m Just Overstimulated :: How My Social Interactions Have Changed In The Wake Of Postpartum Anxiety, Covid, And Getting Older

I’m Not Anti-Social, I’m Just Overstimulated :: How My Social Interactions Have Changed In The Wake Of Postpartum Anxiety, Covid, And Getting Older

Maybe it’s the fact that my ADHD really became apparent after a long and somewhat severe bout of postpartum anxiety after my son’s traumatic birth, maybe it was the forced isolation during Covid, maybe it was me protecting my very fragile mental and emotional state while my husband was deployed during Covid, or maybe it is emotional fatigue from decades worth of people pleasing and insecurity in myself. Honestly, it is likely a combination of all those things. But whatever the reason, in recent years, I have gone from an outgoing social butterfly to a somewhat self isolating introvert. To be fully transparent, it’s not that I don’t like social gatherings. It’s just that I have reached a point where large, loud gatherings overstimulate and drain me. 

This is especially true if I don’t really know many of the people at the gathering in question. Deep down, I think I have always been an introvert. Someone who values deep connection over casual acquaintance. Perhaps this is why I’ve never really “dated,” and have rather been a serial monogamist. I find it hard to find a balance between oversharing, and making small talk. This has always been INCREDIBLY hard for me. Because if I genuinely like a person, I want to truly know them. I want the kind of friendships / relationships where they know they can call me at 2am because of a family crisis, and vice versa. Conversely, if I have an incredibly hard time making small talk with a person, it makes it hard for me to envision a meaningful relationship forming. In those instances, I feel I have to “mask” and admittedly that drains me considerably. 

I Wasn’t Always This Way…Or Was I? 

In my youth, even well into my thirties, I forced myself to mask. I felt my self value was dependent on an ability to do ALL the things. I searched for security and validation from others because I wasn’t at a point where I felt secure in myself. In more recent years, and after LOTS of therapy, I can finally say that I feel comfortable in my own skin. I feel confident enough to admit when a social gathering feels like too much, and I feel comfortable saying no when invited to certain events. I’ve also come to understand that we don’t have to justify our “no” because it is enough on its own. I do still enjoy being involved, but I find fulfillment from being in the background rather than out in the front lines. 

So I volunteer often at my kids’ school, I write for New Orleans Mom and am one of their executive team members, and I own my own Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy business. All things I can do without being in the spotlight, and help other things thrive without needing to be “the face” for the entity. And as far as owning a business … I realize that I am in fact “the face” of that entity. But because it is my “baby,” I can run it in a way that protects my peace. I can set my own schedule and decrease my caseload occasionally if I am feeling particularly overstimulated. I’ve even found that many of my patients appreciate my honesty about that. Because I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this. And in my opinion, openness about being socially overstimulated can help others who feel similarly not have shame about those feelings. 

I’m Better For it

In many ways, accepting my introverted nature has been a blessing. It has allowed me to slow down, find healing connection with myself, and grow deeper relationships with those I love. It has made me a more present mother, wife, and friend. And it has made me happier overall. Then again, isn’t that what usually happens when we start loving ourselves as we are? I know I am not everyone’s cup of tea, and that is perfectly fine. In fact, I sincerely value people who can still be kind and inclusive but understand they don’t have to be best friends with everyone. I also value authenticity over everything else. So if you tell me that you cannot come to an event I invite you to because you just have too much going on, or because you simply don’t want to go, that’s great! I’d expect nothing less from a genuine friend, and hope you’d be equally as understanding if the situation were reversed. 

My Wish For You Is To Find Peace In Yourself

To all my fellow introverts out there… I hope that you find peace in yourself, and can let go of that overwhelming pressure to mask. I hope that you are able to form profound relationships with people who will love you as you are. But most importantly, I hope you are able to love yourself! 

I’m Not Anti-Social, I’m Just Overstimulated :: How My Social Interactions Have Changed In The Wake Of Postpartum Anxiety, Covid, And Getting Older


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