I’d say I’ve lived with social anxiety for most of my life, but for most of you reading this, you won’t have any idea what I mean.
My social anxiety in a nutshell:
- Feeling you don’t have/deserve any friends/loved ones
- Feeling worthless and unlikable
- Worry how you’re coming across to others
- Struggling to do things as normal because of these.
- Thinking you’ll always be like this and it will never get any better
Many others are afraid of an audience seeing them go red or shake while speaking. It can make you feel sick or just make you want to hide. It’s not pleasant but it’s not hopeless either.
What you need to know as a sufferer:
- It’s okay to struggle –you can’t help how you feel and you certainly didn’t ask for this!
- You are not worthless – Just because not everyone experiences what you do, it doesn’t make what you experience any less. You don’t have to set yourself by other people’s standards – find ones that work for you and go from there.
- You are not unlovable – Everyone deserves to feel loved and accepted, including you, and everyone is capable of it, especially you.
- You can’t know what other people are thinking of you – Everyone’s thoughts are hidden, and this means you can’t begin to predict what they think of you.
- If you are feeling bad, it is not the end of the world, but DO GET HELP! – asking for help was one of the most important steps I took towards feeling okay again.
- Even just going to a good friend (believe me, you will have one somewhere!) and saying a little of how you’re feeling can make them more aware that you’re not doing so good.
How I live with my social anxiety:
It doesn’t go away completely but with a little, frequent work, I can manage it rather well:
- Getting out of that room – even going to make a cup of tea or into some green space makes the world of difference sometimes.
- Find what you’re afraid of and challenge this –Support is essential for this bit, and there’s lots out there.
- Fake it till you make it –Act like a confidant, perfect you, the one you want to be – copy the body language, way they’d behave and what they’d say and do.
- Do what you’ve been putting off – Having a mountain of work that you’re behind on is the worst thing for anxiety. Start with one thing and break it down into tiny steps – sending a text, opening a page– and focus only on the step you’re on. You’ll get to the others later.
I’ve lived with social anxiety since I was pretty young, but it flared up a lot when I moved away from home and went to University, combining with depression for a few months too.
It’s been the hardest experience overcoming these, but I’d like to share how I did it for anyone who’s new to these horrible, confusing conditions, and let them know that it really is possible to live normally again.