Social anxiety. Raise your hand if you experience it. *raises hand*
Social anxiety. Raise your hand if it takes over your life. *raises hand*
Social anxiety. Raise your hand if this is something you’ve battled for years. *raises hand*
Stomach cramps. Headache. Nausea. Shakiness. Sweating. Bathroom breaks. You name it, and it’s probably been one of the symptoms I experience when I have plans. It doesn’t happen all the time. Sometimes it depends on the actual social situation. Sometimes it depends on the person (that’s rare). The majority of my anxiety around social outings comes down to the actual physical setting. I might have been out with the same person, or group of people, multiple times. But going somewhere new? That takes a lot more courage than normal.
I’ve experienced this on and off my whole life. I’ve missed birthdays, Friday night club nights, weekends away, casual gatherings – everything. I’ve spent weekends holed up in my room, dealing with the different symptoms, instead of out living my life. For a while, I was full of regret about it. But I can’t regret the things I can’t control. I don’t control my anxiety. My anxiety controls me.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to admit that it doesn’t. But in a world where we are now speaking up in regards to mental health, I’m admitting it. Anxiety controls a lot of the things that I do.
I was on the way home from work today with a co-worker, one who I’ve come to love very much so, and I opened up a little bit about my past. I make it sound so alluring and mysterious. It’s not. But I just let her in on some of the anxiety I struggled with throughout primary school and middle school – and a bit into high school. I’ve grown up so much and have gone through it so much that I’m able to cover it easily – to the point where she was surprised that it was my past. She had no idea. And not many do.
I want to be open. I want to be honest. I suffer from social anxiety. More often than people think. And I want to share it because I want others who suffer from it to know that they’re not alone. And I want people to be aware that it is such a real thing, and know how to react – or not react.
If I cancel plans with you last minute, I’m sorry. Last minute means I tried hard. I really tried to deal with the motions of the anxiety but I just couldn’t do it. Please don’t make me feel guilty. I feel guilty enough as it is.
If we do make it out, and I’m a bit off for the first hour or so, please bear with me. I’m settling. I’m adjusting. Once I get out, and I get somewhere, sometimes I just need that little bit of time to adjust to where I am. I promise I’m lots of fun by the end of it.
If I start getting antsy and want to go home – please let me. But also know that I’m not expecting you to end your night to accommodate me. I’m okay being on my own. I promise that you can enjoy your night and do your thing. I just need some time to myself. It might be a little overwhelming wherever we are.
If we are out, and I’m completely okay – don’t worry about me. You’ll know if something is up. But if I’m enjoying my night, then hell, let’s enjoy our night.
I’m not fragile, trust me. But sometimes I just need some time. I need some patience. It’s not you, it’s me. It sounds like a bad break up line (been there, done that), but it’s true. It’s not you, but maybe it’s the room. I might just need some air.
Social anxiety is real. It’s overwhelming. It takes over. It consumes. And I do my best, I really do. I try to get through it, and push through it. I’ve been getting better at it, and I’ve got some great friends who have been able to see the signs, and have been able to handle the situation better than I could have ever asked. I just ask that you understand, and that you don’t judge. And know that I’m trying. Every day I’m trying. Some days, I don’t even have to try because I’m just rocking it and being an absolutely rock star. Some days I’m not.
I prefer the days that I’m the rock star. But, you know, you win some you lose some.
Disclaimer: I, by no means, say that this is the opinion of all. This is my own personal opinion based on personal experiences and feelings.