I was in bed this morning and my mind decided to mull over the instances in my life where my social anxiety affected me in every way but positively. It made me think back in my life to try to trace exactly when this all began and for what God-forsaken reason. The times where I’d literally avoid ordering my own food, or where I’d sweat profusely when I had to do some form of public speaking… Or even when I had to meet up with someone for the first time (sorry to all the people that had to witness me sweat like that and still stayed in my life, y’all are real). Well, unfortunately, I haven’t come up with the answers for that yet lol but hopefully with further self-evaluation and meditation, I’ll come to a solid conclusion (hopefully)
I’m writing this post however, to shed some more light on the concept of Social Anxiety Disorder (S.A.D) (how fitting) because I personally feel as though the different aspects of social anxiety are rarely touched on. Also, I’d like to bring a sense of seriousness to the topic because lately anxiety has been formed into this social media fad that needs to be stopped ASAP. Nothing is cute about feeling like panicking or starting to feel as though, you want to disappear when you are around a number of people.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Social Anxiety Disorder can be defined as “…intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation.”
The article also went on to say “Many people with social anxiety disorder also experience strong physical symptoms, such as a rapid heart rate, nausea, and sweating, and may experience full-blown attacks when confronting a feared situation. Although they recognize that their fear is excessive and unreasonable, people with social anxiety disorder often feel powerless against their anxiety.”
Shyness and social anxiety disorder can be easily mistaken for each other, but what we have failed to realize is that social anxiety is like shyness but it can quickly get to a point where it no longer becomes cute or quirky.
Social anxiety is your heart racing when you’re late for class because you know everyone is going to stare at you when you get there so you skip it.
Social anxiety is watching all your friends have a fun conversation but not bothering to butt in because you want no sort of attention on you for fear of stumbling or eating up your words.
Social anxiety is turning down that job offer because you realized that the job requires you to socialize and provide a lot of input and opinions into the daily operations of the business.
Social anxiety is crying in bed battling thoughts of rejection and ridicule in your mind and wishing you could just disappear and never return.
By writing this post, I hope that somehow it strikes up a sense of urgency in the hearts of those that read this. There are people around you that face this issue and it hurts them when we simply nudge away the issue and tell them “Stop being shy.”
There are persons that are autistic, that have Major Depressive Disorder, those that have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, that have this tremendous burden called S.A.D™ that they have to face every single day and it hurts me to know that no one pays attention to those with mental illnesses.
Mental Illness is literally comparable to a cancer of the mind.
Let’s start treating it as such.
Here are some wonderful and brave people that decided to share their experiences with social anxiety.
“DO YOU SUFFER OR DO YOU THINK YOU SUFFER FROM SOME FORM OF SOCIAL ANXIETY? IF SO, HOW DOES IT MAKE YOU FEEL EMOTIONALLY AND PHYSICALLY?”
“Sometimes I think I do, sometimes I think I don’t. But when it does happen, I feel slightly embarrassed because I can’t do what’s simple to some people. Physically, too much people drain me in a matter of minutes.” –Anonymous.
“Do I suffer with social anxiety right now? On some level, *yeeeeah*.. But I had it terribly worse, in my secondary school days. I couldn’t let people know what was going on in my life and to this day, I feel disregarded by my family/friends. At least on some level when in the midst of a conversation, and notice the blatant dismissal that they cloud me with. I’m not sure but my social anxiety and depression went hand in hand against me and everything I desired. I would be in bed and have zero interest toward living life because to me, nothing I believed in was possible. My emotions were hard to control and physically, I was sore and tired on average. Nowadays, I’ve found it easier to convey my thoughts and understand people again…by confiding in my loved ones. Also, changing the way I eat made a big difference altogether. I still get sore at times but I’m healthier and glad to be conscious of those dreams again.” –Marjani.
“Yes I do feel as though I have long suffered from a form of social anxiety. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been challenged in the area of speaking in public and social interaction and the feeling is exhausting. Very social settings (e.g. parties, clubs, events) are draining even if I’m having a good time. My difficulty in maintaining a social presence then leads into self-esteem issues, in that I feel weak, underdeveloped, and even so far as pathetic. In terms of physical feeling, the weakness extends to that realm as well and I can feel my body wanting to give out in social environments.” –Anonymous
“Yes I do think I suffer, but I don’t think it’s social anxiety. I think it’s because my personality traits cause me to suffer more than other people; I feel more. Things hit me a lot because I give a lot. Basically I have anxiety yes, but not always in a social setting. Sometimes it’s in a setting where I feel a lot of pressure or I feel overwhelmed. I do get anxious when I go to places by myself. If it’s crowded I panic, even if I’ve been there a million times.” – Evie
“I do suffer from anxiety but it’s triggered by an extremely emotional state. For example, there was a situation at home that unfortunately just reiterated the fact that I don’t like to open up to certain people, specifically in relation to my step dad. Usually I struggle to breathe to the point of crying; my body starts shaking and it takes a lot to get back to normal. Sometimes my body gets really cold too, but I haven’t had any experience since last year, thank God.” – Salien
“I used to be like that but I don’t think I’m like that anymore. I just learned to be more assertive and commanding most times. In situations where I’m alone are where I feel anxious. When I’m just out alone, outside, shopping or whatever, I feel like I’m being judged or I feel like I should monitor my moves; basically I’m just overthinking in those situations.” – Shayne
“Being introverted I find that I could only be around people for so long until I need to like disappear whether it be like I disappear mentally or I physically leave the room and go be by myself. If I’m around people too long I get anxious, agitated and moody and I just need to leave. Apart from that though I have to plan ahead. Even though I say I go with the flow, I do but majority of the time I plan. And it’s the simple things too. I take my money out before I even reach by the cashier. If I don’t know the price it makes me anxious because then I have to scramble and get the amount. If I’m driving, I time myself when to go in what lane because I get anxious thinking like “What if I miss a turn” or whatever even tho I passing there everyday. That shit is exhausting mentally because your mind is always going and you’re always thinking and planning shit you don’t need to be. Physically, it’s the same thing, I just don’t be having the energy. And that together with my anemia and school girl I be a hot ass mess.” – Celine (Best Friend) (She requested that lol)
“It makes me feel physically tired because I waste a lot of energy overthinking and my heart starts beating triple time. I feel sick too, like I wanna vomit. Emotionally, it makes me realize how annoying my mind is and I kinda dislike myself for it because I think “WHY IS IT A THING?” and “WHY IS IT IN ME?” – Riyad
“Sometimes. But only under certain uncontrollable circumstances. I feel out of control and like I need to get things under control this instant or I won’t be able to breathe.” – Anonymous
“I do actually. And it makes me feel sick so I guess it affects me physically wise. I get very sick like my mind starts thinking all sorts of stuff and I feel like I can’t breathe. I feel trapped. I just wanna go home and curl up in a ball.” – Anonymous
THANK YOU ALL FOR READING! Don’t forget to like, comment, and share to raise awareness of Social Anxiety Disorder.
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*If you’d like to read up more on Social Anxiety Disorder, check out ADAA’s article on it! The link: Social Anxiety Disorder