Good evening everyone, today I would like to discuss something that is often misunderstood; social anxiety disorder. I’ve always agreed and stated that this blog is a personal outlet, my space to discuss my mental health journey and hope that others can connect with and discuss their own. I have no interest in monetising my blog, and instead use it as a diary of sorts whereby you (the reader) are more than welcome to contribute your own experiences or opinions.
From a young age, I was always the ‘shy’ kid at the back of the class. Unable to make friends, unwilling to attempt communication, and I would much rather find a quiet spot to either study or read. However, if ever a group task occurred and it became necessary to talk with my classmates, I would. Although of course, I would always have the least ideas to contribute to any discussion yet I was never self-conscious of this and I was simply ok with being me. I believed this to be shyness, a sort of personality trait of mine: I didn’t consider it as a mental illness or disorder.
This all changed in my later teen years, there was a sudden shift that I noticed about myself: I became anxious. The physical symptoms would be there, including sweaty palms, palpitations, the fight or flight response, etc. and the ongoing thought processes, constant overthinking and self-judgement. All of sudden, while I was previously happy to take a back seat in any group discussions, I felt incredibly anxious at even the idea of talking with others.
Let me give you an example: Eating. This was my worst nightmare. The part of the school day I absolutely dreaded. Not because of anything to do with the food as such, more the continuous and frankly annoying negative thoughts that I would experience. I’d manage to convince myself that simply standing looking for a table was embarrassing, I’d analyse myself and think how ugly I would look, whether my clothes looked scruffy, whether my body posture was all wrong. When sat at a table, I’d convince myself that my friends don’t really like me, that I’m embarrassing myself and them, that they’re judging my food and the way I’m eating eat, that other people on other tables were judging me, that I was holding something wrong, doing everything wrong. It was impossible.
There would be so many moments like these in my school days, social anxiety really does impact your life. It stops you from enjoying what would and should be perfectly happy memories. It prevented me from accepting opportunities, asking for help, challenging myself. I’m happy to say that I no longer experience social anxiety as bad as I did during my school days. I think this may be due to finding that, in my experience, people outside are school are less judgemental, and there’s little risk of any rumours flying or nicknames being invented, etc. It’s still there, but maybe the emotional numbness and depression have now taken over instead, as I feel depression much stronger than anxiety now, while before it was the other way around.
If you’re experiencing social anxiety, or any mental illness for that matter, please consider reaching out to friends, family, loved ones, just anyone. I know it’s hard. I really do. But taking that first step feels powerful and like you’re fighting back, or at least it did for me.
Take care, Sophie x
As always, please bear in mind that I am not a mental health professional or any other type of professional, this is a hobby for me and is for informational purposes only and shouldn’t be seen as any kind of advice. I am not liable for any consequences as a result of this information and if readers rely on any of the information on my blog, it is at their own risk. I cannot confirm that all information is correct, accurate or reliable. The information is true to the best of my knowledge, yet there may be omissions, errors or mistakes. This information isn’t intended as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have, or believe to have, a mental illness, please contact a mental health professional.
This picture belongs to Wix.