My Social Anxiety​ Life – Part One

Part One

I decided that this will be a first in a series of blogs about my social anxiety. After going to a live show for the first time in a year and a half I thought this would work as a series.

Anxiety comes in different forms depending on the person who is dealing at any given time. I have written on the subject of anxiety before, and I have written a poem on the subject. But, today I want to go in depth of my own struggle: Social Anxiety.

I can trace my social anxiety to my teenage years, and more specifically when I was a freshman in high school. Before high school, I had a decent amount of friends. When high school came around that changed. I had what people call “friends,” but they were always just at school, and I never hung out with these people outside of school. It became an isolation thing that I couldn’t control. A part of me is very introvert, but the other part of it was my social anxiety. There are times that thoughts cross my mind of what could have been if I knew what I know now about anxiety now, but I digress.

As an adult, my social anxiety has only gotten worse. I have people in my life that I consider family, and maybe a few friends, but it’s a very small group of friends. My social anxiety gets so bad at times especially when coupled with depression, that I have gone weeks, months, and even years of not leaving my house. The thoughts that overcome me in social situations have always haunted me and I can never really totally let them go no matter how well I can manage now.

To try and tackle to issue of social anxiety I have tried so many different things that have helped, but most of the time its temporary   solutions. Listening and focusing on my breathing when I am in a social situation has been helpful. Also, taking an Ativan right before a major social situation has been effective for me.

When I have met new people, it is almost instantaneous that I start to feel self-conscious about the situation. I can feel the judgments washing over me even when these thoughts are unfounded. I prefer to stay within myself because I’m an introvert. These feelings can make me feel inadequate or embarrassed because I feel that I can’t function in any normal social situation.

At times, I will make plans and then as the event comes closer, I will find any reason to get out of the situation. This happened this very weekend and it is what prompted me to write this blog post so that I can gain some perspective on why my social anxiety does this to me.

So far, I have been having catastrophizing thoughts about the event that will happen tonight (I have had tickets for the Jo Koy comedy show for months at my local theater.) My thoughts have ranged from thinking have a panic attack being in a room full of so many strangers, to what will those people think if I suddenly have a panic attack? Can I enjoy myself when I will immediately feel self-conscious about the situation? Will I have enough Ativan given the situation is  so many strangers? And ultimately can I enjoy myself?

It’s a lot to think about, as my social anxiety always does this to me. I know at some level these thoughts are worst-case scenarios and I will most likely enjoy a much-needed night out. I have worked so hard just to get out of my house for a couple hours a day lately, but it’s always in places that are safe like coffee shops. It worries me to be in a packed theater with so many people. The last time I went to a movie theater was well over a year ago, and I barely made it through the movie.

It will be a challenge for me, but I think that it will be important to see this event through to the end no matter the thoughts. I have canceled on so many plans recently I need to stick with it this time. How will I go about this? I can use my breathing techniques before the show starts and in the beginning, I can use what I have learned so far in CBT to change my thoughts and to analyze these thoughts that I can find the meaning being, and have my Ativan and water on me always because for me those two things make me feel better.

I would love to hear your take on social anxiety and anxiety in general. Are there tips that you use to get through something like this?

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit Joshua Earle

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40 Replies to “My Social Anxiety​ Life – Part One”

  1. I recently made a commitment to myself to follow through on all the plans I make, and right now, I make sure they’re plans I know I can handle. For example, my husband and I are going to the movies tonight. I wouldn’t, however, go to a yoga class tomorrow even though I really want to because I know I’m not ready.

    I’ve also started meditating using the (free) Insight Timer app. They have plenty of guided meditations for anxiety. And I’ve been reading a book called Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffries, PhD. It’s been helping.

    Incidentally I only heard of Jo Koy recently, after my brother saw him live. He and my sister tell me that Koy is really funny 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Koy really is funny. It’s great that you shared Barb. Its cliche but you really do have to just take it one day at a time. It’s good that you know your limitation and you don’t force things.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I felt like I was reading my own life story! I suffer from social anxiety as well and like Barb mentioned above, I make sure I make plans on things I know I can handle. I too, feel self conscious about everything I do. I have been told that I have little to no confidence in myself. Ordinarily, I’d be upset about that criticism but in this case, they are absolutely right!
    One thing that helps me is reading my Bible and finding verses on peace. It really does bring a big comfort to me. 🙂 God knows my weaknesses and He is always there for me. 🙂 I’ll be praying for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing, I know it can be tough talking about social anxiety. I like that you have your faith, that is a powerful thing. Even though you believe that your confidence is low (as I often do) in my mind we are stronger because we know our limits.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. For myself, I find that social anxiety is due to my self-esteem issues. Always thinking people are judging me. Always never feeling good enough, stemming from childhood experiences which has grown bigger into adulthood. I find that working on self-love helps a lot. Whenever I feel anxious in a social situation, I remind myself how good I feel and look and that people are looking at me in a good way. Maybe they find me interesting? And I think about the times where my friends used to tell me how scary and unfriendly I looked, that I was so intimidating but after they got to know me they realised I’m a super fun person! So it reminds me that whatever first impressions people have of me are not important and that somehow calms my heart rate down and I feel better 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is some great advice and it’s a great way of looking at life. I think at times I have really bad self of steam issues as well. As if I won’t laugh the right way or say something wrong. I am really bad at using sarcasm as a way to deflect in social situations and people get offended at times until they get to know me.

      Thank you for sharing your experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I cannot imagine what it is like for you in social situations. I am more of an introvert than an extrovert but it is a choice I make deliberately. I have had only one panic attack in my enter life and that was a month after my ex-husband died. There is a story behind it to explain but it is a little too private for me to put out into cyberspace. Anyway, I recovered within 15 minutes so I even cannot say I completely understand your attacks. Has a doctor tried other cognitive treatment for all of this?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. My therapist has been working with me on cognitive behavioral therapy and it has helped. In last 4 months I finally started leaving my house and what I have learned has been really helpful. Still, my social anxiety is something that will take therapy and getting out of the house for longer period of time to get back under control.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you for sharing. I often feel judged and isolated among a group of familiar faces and it’s one of the worst feelings. I’m working on going to gatherings with an open heart. Instead of focusing on myself (do they like me, do I sound stupid, am I funny, am I too weird), I focus on getting to know those people better (how do they think, why do they feel that way about this issue, etc). I also try to cut short my meeting time because a 2 hour meet up can fully drain my “social energy”. I believe my social anxiety is relatively mild compared to others, so I hope my attempt at coping with anxiety is helpful to someone out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Not that I don’t feel for your struggle, but it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who sometimes goes so long without leaving the house or seeing anyone. I hadn’t dealt with constant anxiety and attacks for many years. Though lately I also do not leave because of other health problems. Thanks for being open.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am sorry for your own personal struggles with your health, and with your anxiety. It can be such a crippling thing. At times when my anxiety is really bad I barely notice I am not leaving my house until its been days and sometimes weeks. Thank you for sharing with me! I hope you get your health problems under control.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You know when I read this, a sense of peace came over, but a sense of sadness too. The peace came in seeing that I am not alone in the world. I have been told for years that people (at least those who truly take the time), that I am not a “freak” but it is so hard not to feel like a jerk for canceling last minute. I love my friends dearly and thoroughly enjoy my time with them, but most days the prospect of simply leaving my home, or sometimes even just my bed, terrifies me and I feel like a caged animal when I have no choice but need to go (like specialist appts I cannot miss).
    I am sad, because I know exactly how this feels and would not wish this on my worst enemy. Blessings to you and thank you for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean about people not reacting well when I don’t leave my house. Most of my closest family and friends understand but sometimes cancelling at the last minute just happens. I was so bad at the start of this year that I hardly left my house for two years. Eventually I got better, but it was after a really bad hospitalization. Thank you for taking some time to read my blog.

      Like

      1. You’re welcome. I also write about this and many other things that plague me in my blog. I have been hospitalized a few times and locked myself away in my place for months and sometimes years too. Its frustrating because you don’t choose to be like this and annoying when others just feel you can “get over it”… at least I get that a lot still

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I could have written this. You have described my thoughts befit going into a social situation so perfectly, my friend. I have to go to a baby shower this weekend where I hardly know anyone. All I’m thinking of is 1. What excuse I can make to stay home, and 2. My exit plan if I DO go.

    Can’t wait to read posts 2-6 all in a row.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Like PTSD you can not cognitively heal this.

    Distraction can help but does not address the underlying issues.

    It is an invisible prison that I have wrestle with a had success

    Recently it popped back up
    From a
    Stressor

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can remember. I believe it’s why I started migraines at such a young age. Going to new places are the worst situations for me. That and a movie theater. Being in the darkness with someone sitting so close seems too intimate to me. I commend all that have sought out the help of a mental health practitioner. I have worked with a psychologist for a year and a half learning to reframe my anxiety among many other things I needed to work on. Because of my psychologist teaching me life skills that I was lacking, I really feel like I’m kicking anxiety’s butt! Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I feel just like you about blogging: if I only help one person it is worth being transparent and vulnerable. I look forward to reading more of your work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your story with me. It makes me feel good when people can relate. That’s all I want is to help one person. If it helps more people then it’s worth it too, but if only one person is helped by my writing then I am okay with that. I write for two reasons. It’s therapeutic for me and I can share my experiences.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I was diagnosed with anxiety when i was 11 and then after therapy i didn’t have to deal with it again for years until about 3 years ago when it came back and peaked. I just packed my bags and literally left my country. what was actually just an escape really helped me but of course you can’t run forever so since i’ve been back i have been trying to find ways to deal with it and its crazy to me how much it helps to read other peoples stories and being able to relate. because even though i know better i still think im the only one going through this sometimes

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I know the feeling. It feels like that sometimes. I know when I am out in the word it feels as if I am the only one dealing with anxiety.

      Like

  12. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, James. I look forward to reading the rest of these posts. I have a lower level of anxiety than I used to thanks to medication and a lot of therapy in the past. I used to go to Barnes and Noble’s cafe’ a lot when I was taking my kids to classes. They are both grown and working full-time now, and my daughter has to use our car every day. Right now I am always fighting anxiety whenever I have to drive my husband’s truck to get anywhere. It is uncomfortable so I feel stuck a lot. Thank God for the internet! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I truly appreciate your blog and am so happy to have come across it. Social anxiety is something so many people struggle with myself included. I just chalked it up to being flakey. It’s hard for me to commit to plans because I never know how I will feel on that day or at any given moment. Anxiety and depression for me sometimes pop out of nowhere. Once I’ve grounded myself and realized anxiety was the driving force behind a choice or a behavior I can step back and analyze how I could have changed my own personal response. I feel like anxiety and depression is a daily mental battle. And it’s absolutely exhausting at times. I know for me I personally set one goal a week where I do something that makes me uncomfortable whether it’s going to a new place I’ve never been before. Making a phone call I’ve procrastinated on. I feel a sense of accomplishment and a personal victory against my own inner struggle. I’m a firm believer in getting out in nature. Using oils to calm my heightened senses when I’m having an off day. Good luck to you in your struggles. Thanks for sharing such an honest perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words as they help me though my own issues knowing someone else knows how it feels. I like your strategy, is something I can apply. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Wow….I have been curious about social anxiety because I can tend to isolate a lot more than is probably good for me, and because I can tend to feel extremely anxious in certain specific situations (I have horrific math anxiety and as of the last few years, pretty bad interview anxiety). After reading what you go through, I am not sure if I do or not to be honest. I don’t feel at all bothered by the presence of strangers and often think nothing of striking up random conversations (I am sometimes a bit of a smart ass).

    But I do have a strong tendency toward self-consciousness and feel very awkward when my presence is sort of an anomaly and everyone around me takes notice. Going out to eat alone is no big deal, everybody has to eat, right? But in situations where people usually do things in pairs and groups, I feel like I stand out too much. Like I have to justify my presence and assure everyone else that I’m not there to be a creeper or a terrorist lol. It’s not to say I like big noisy crowds either, I really don’t, but I’m mid-range on the extroversion scale, so I do like being around people.

    I’m amazed at how much courage it must have took for you to write and publish that post. Everyone who responded and are going through the same thing you are, all of you have tremendous courage too for speaking up. I know what it takes for me to go through with job interview, but you all have to go through that just to do the things I haven’t so much as batted an eye about.

    Please know I judge you all….Amazing.

    Like

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