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Social Anxiety | Devon

By Littlefashionthoughts
Social Anxiety | DevonToday's post is something completely different and well off topic of what this blog is supposed to be about, but I want to talk about social anxiety as it is something I suffer with massively and no matter now much I try to explain people around me do not seem to understand. But if you do not wish to read this, it is understandable, just ignore. 

The definition of social anxiety is: "Social anxiety is the fear of social situations that involve interaction with other people. You could say social anxiety is the fear and anxiety of being negatively judged and evaluated by other people.  It is a pervasive disorder and causes anxiety and fear in most all areas of a person's life.  It is chronic because it does not go away on its own.  Only direct cognitive-behavioural therapy can change the brain, and help people overcome social anxiety."I will start by today, my tutor, who obviously doesn't know I have this condition, she just thinks I am shy, which is not her fault by any means. Today she said to me, "it's not the hardest thing to stand up in front of the class and speak." When as a matter of fact to me, this is one of the hardest things. So hard, I just can't do it, it's not something I understand, it's just when I get up there it is not easy. I panic, I can't breathe and I feel as if so many eyes are on me. I hate being put in the limelight, I would much rather stand behind a curtain and let someone else shine and so doing a presentation is literally so hard, because people are watching you, they are listening to every word you say. And in my mind {although they may not be} I feel as if that person will be laughing or judging and so many thoughts go into my head and make me paranoid. It is pretty extreme and doesn't just occur when I've been asked to give a presentation, it happens in everyday life. My dad took me to get a contract the other week for my phone and he wanted me to talk to a woman in the shop and I literally had a panic attack outside, because he was trying to force me into something I just cannot do. In a shop I would rather leave without the thing I want than go up to someone and do the simple thing of asking someone where it is - I just can't do anything like this. When I was at school I would actually sit there and rehearse the word, "here", in my head to make sure I said it right when they'd say my name on the register because it was the only word I would say throughout the day. I have been going to college for over a year now and I get on well with my class, but even in a small discussion, I feel like I can't give my opinion because I'm scared people won't like it or because I'm scared it will be ridiculed. There are many ways in that social anxiety can be triggered:

  • Being teased or criticized
  • Being introduced to new people.
  • Being the center of attention
  • Being watched or observed while doing something
  • Having to say something in a formal, public situation
  • Feeling insecure and out of place in social situations 
  • Swallowing, writing, talking, making phone calls if in public

I think it also really upsets my mom to see me this way, because I used to be this confident child who was quite loud and always laughing, I was basically the class clown for a long time. But now I'm the complete opposite and it genuially upsets her and it upsets me. All my family tell me is "stand up for yourself", "you're better than them", "believe in yourself", "be confident". I am sorry, but I can't just flick the confidence switch when you want because that's not easy and that doesn't work. One day I understand that I will get there, but that one day could be in ten years time and today is now and now sucks and I wish I could control this. And I know I come across as 'disinterested', 'rude' or 'unsociable' but what people need to understand is I would give anything in the world to be able to talk to someone without any issue, I find it incredibly difficult to talk to people - even if I've known them a long time, I would love to just get straight in and get involved in a conversation and talk to people easily, but it's just something I suffer with. A male tutor of mine said to me last year - because I did a presentation of social anxiety as a charity/cause - he said "why are you even on this course if you suffer with social anxiety?" It pissed me off so much, because whether or not someone is suffering they should be able to do what they want! And comments like that do not help at all, and a lot of people just do not think about these things. For example, again, today, it took me a lot to say to my tutor, 'I don't understand' and I explained why and then she mimicked me after saying "I don't get it, I don't get it, I don't get it." In a petty voice and that makes things worse! Is there honestly any surprise why I am the way I am because she made a prime example of why I am scared to speak up.And if you suffer too, I hope that one day, I hope very soon, everything works out for you. I know it's hard because it feels as if we're going to be terrified of these things forever, but I hope that we all find what we need to get through this. We all have something we can show the world, we just need the courage to do it.

If you have, how have you overcome social anxiety? 

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