BJJ and Social Anxiety - My Experience

Original Reddit Post

I posted this piece on Reddit about a month ago. I was more embarassed by this type of thinking a month ago, so I used a "pen name." Now, I'm proud of this piece. I decided to publish it here mainly so I don't end up losing it somehow. So either click the link or above or read it (copied and pasted) here:

 For me, the entire battle happens well before any grappling takes place - the real fight is simply showing up to BJJ class.

My social anxiety and depression are lazy, stagnant enemies. They have no new weapons. But the ones they do have are strong, sharpened with years of successful victories. My inner monologue is often long-winded and articulate, but the jist of it is a single blade: “Nobody likes you.”

Lazy enemies only beat lazy heros. When the illness says, “you suck,” I'm only beaten when I agree. If I’m in a state of disrepair, dulled by sloth, gluttony, and addiction, I agree. I agree because it’s easier than disagreeing. When I agree, it’s really goddamned hard to show up to JiuJitsu class.

When I show up, though, the razor-sharp blade stops cutting and loses all power. It usually takes about 60 minutes.

If I’ve gotten in my car, I’ve basically won. I will still have temptations to drive anywhere other than class, but I’ll end up at the gym. Walking through reception is a small concern, but a concern nonetheless. The girl at the desk will smile or not. Then I’m on the mat waiting for class to start. I’m new at this gym and stretch off to the side, avoiding eye contact.

During warmups, I start dreading the part when we pick partners. I think about who’s in front of me and who’s behind me and hope I don’t end up in the dreaded group of three. But then warmups are finished. I look at a guy and nod or vice versa and all of the sudden my entire false reality of fear and rumination falls to pieces. Forced into the present moment, I’m no longer thinking about what could go wrong or what has gone wrong.

We drill, reconvene, drill, reconvene, drill, reconvene, roll, roll, and roll. And then we line up and I realize I get to go home. I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. And I forgot about all my bullshit for a little while, at least.

My depression was telling me that nobody likes me and that I’m lazy. But that’s a lie that can be uncovered with reality. When I give in to my reclusiveness, the evidence I’ve gathered all my life that people like me fades into the background and my inner demons get louder and more convincing. If I can get a dose of reality though, I remind myself of the truth, and the blade misses its mark. I look at it and say, “Is that all you have? Not today. Maybe tomorrow. But not today.”