I was fifteen years old when I first began to experience uncontrollable anxiety. I remember walking down a street and two girls were walking toward me. I don\'t think they really paid much attention to me as I passed them, but I felt incredibly self-conscious, and found it difficult to walk properly. I was wearing a short denim jacket and I felt strangely exposed. I wanted to put my hands in the jacket pockets, but they felt too high up. Afterwards I began to wear longer jackets, which made me feel more comfortable, although I continued to experience the same anxiety. So that\'s my earliest memorable experience of anxiety in public. I\'m sure I had earlier anxious experiences, but that memory in particular has remained with me.

Part of my self-consciousness is connected with my height. I\'m over six feet tall and pretty skinny. I was probably a few inches sorter back then, but I was still overly conscious of my height, and I developed an embarrassing walk, that I\'ve never been able to fix. I walk stooped slightly forward. When I was seventeen someone actually referred to me as the giraffe. I can laugh about it as I sit here typing, but it has and continues to cause me a lot of pain. I try to make a conscious effort to walk more upright, but somehow I never seem to get it right. It always feels like my walk is ridiculous, and every once and a while, someone comments on my walk and laughs about it. So I avoid going out as much as possible to avoid this ridicule.

This is only one of my problems. Every possible alternative or escape from anxious situations seems to come with its own set of difficulties. There\'s no escape from it, and the knowledge that it\'s not entirely delusional, and that I have literally dozens of such physical and psychological flaws, tears me apart inside. Inside I\'m not the same person. I wasn\'t meant to be this way. All I can do it learn to accept who I am. But I truly hate who I am–at least, the person everyone seems to think I am.


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