I stand back stage, my head throbbing, dizzy, cold sweats. I've never set foot on stage without feeling a need to go to the bathroom even if I just got back from there which is usually the case. I don't get nauseous but that may be the only symptom of stage fright I'm free of. I get an ache in my bones, a cold panic that feels like a real physical presence behind my eyes. My wrists hurt.
Sometimes, when it's bad enough, my memory shuts off and I do my act in a black out state. I will, afterwards, only be aware of succeeding or failing with the audience but I will have no recall of what I actually said or did onstage. I have to trust that the words that came out of my mouth were those I wrote and rehearsed for this occasion. It is rarely this bad anymore.
I have ulcerative colitis according to the doctors, but it seems to be a hysterical form of the condition as it only flares before performances or other stressful occasions, mostly performances.
If I go onstage at least once a week it stresses me less and less; wait a month and I may as well be going up for the first time.
It doesn't matter the audience. I will stress just as bad before a twenty person crowd at a dive bar as before a 1,000 person audience in a nice theatre. And then once in a while I get no stress in a situation where the patterns of the past tell me I should be a mess. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to these much appreciated and rare bits of relief.
I must REALLY like hearing the laughs and applause to keep going up. I ask myself "Why do you do this?" over and over and the only answer is, "You'll remember why after its done."