As I type this, I feel nervous and all of the negative thoughts associated with SAD are kicking in. However, one thing I have learned in the past 8 months is that strength can be found in numbers and when more stories are told, more power can be drawn from it. I hope that by stepping out of my comfort zone (via telling my story) strength and support can be provided to both the reader and to myself.
I have been dealing with social anxiety since I was 12-13 years old but I wasn’t aware of it. For many years, I thought I was just a weird shy kid. Growing up, I recall getting nervous and getting anxious over the most minute of things. It would take me two or three classes before getting the courage to get my test slip signed from my teacher. I very rarely asked for help even when I supremely needed it because of the social anxiety. I overall interacted with people on a need to basis: it was either I talk to my teacher or I didn’t graduate. After I graduated high school, it did get better but I was still struggling. Every conversation I would have with someone felt like a life or death situation (including situations where I knew I wasn’t being judged). I would replay every conversation in my head and find all the things I did wrong, which in turn would ruin my day. I tried so hard to control myself physically when I was nervous but I didn’t know how to so, I was a hand shaking, heavy breathing, heart racing mess in many of my human interactions. I’d often think that people thought I was an inconsiderate rude person but the truth was, I was scared and didn’t know how to react to social situations. It took not one, but two different people telling me that I had anxiety issues before I considered the possibility that I might have an anxiety disorder.
Even then, it took over a year after being told that before I started to see a counsellor. With my counsellor, I learned about CBT and for the past few months, have been using it to help deal with the overwhelming feelings and negative thoughts I frequently get. My journey has started but it’s far from over. I hope that one day, I can do the things that I only dream about right now due to my social anxiety.