My So-Called Life with Social Anxiety Disorder
Monday, December 11 2017 Cheryl Slavin
My life with social anxiety disorder (SAD) isn’t much of a life. When faced with strangers, my social phobia causes me to avoid physical proximity, eye contact, and small talk. Though normally well-spoken, the attention of others causes me to stumble over my words. Thoughts of job interviews or parties send me into a panic. I am often frightened when faced with a crowd. Daily life with SAD is unnerving and often unpleasant.
Life with Social Anxiety Disorder Is Hard
My fear of other people began in the sixth grade. Classmates verbally and physically bullied me daily. A distrust of the general public remained, and this distrust eventually grew into SAD. I fear verbal criticism and public humiliation. I have seen what others are capable of, and it fills me with dread. In my former occupations, life with social anxiety seemed to mock me every day, and it went beyond discomfort. Each new customer or co-worker brought a fresh wave of social anxiety, and I found that in certain customer service positions, I could not function properly.
My life with social anxiety disorder distresses me every day, whether I'm picking my daughter up from school or simply running errands. Going to the grocery store presents an enormous struggle depending on the day and my level of social anxiety. The fear is real, and it goes beyond a certain type of sensitivity. I often panic and have an overwhelming urge to flee to a more private place. Even asking a question of strangers is out of the question when I need help, though I am often told that other people don’t bite.
Unsolicited Advice Regarding Life With SAD
As a person who openly discusses daily life with social anxiety disorder, I am offered a lot of unsolicited advice. I am told that the people I fear are people, just like me. That we, as human beings, all have similar experiences, and I must keep our similarities in mind and not be afraid. But I’ve had many bad experiences with other people, especially considering my background in customer service. My social anxiety overwhelms logic in many situations and I can do little to fight it.
Gradual Changes Have Helped Me Cope with My Life with Social Anxiety Disorder
My life with SAD, at one point, left me so debilitated that I was agoraphobic. I could barely leave my house because my SAD made me so afraid of people. In modern society, there are many ways to avoid human contact. I enjoy hiding behind a keyboard in my house. But I’ve found that embracing change gradually is a healthier alternative.
There are several ways to conquer the fears that SAD can provoke, and taking small steps can lead to greater successes. I’ve found the following steps helpful:
- Plan outings with a few people around to start with.
- Gradually increase the number of people you can deal with.
- Invite a friend or family member to come with you.
- Keep taking medication and attend therapy, if possible.
Though my life with SAD presents a daily struggle, I have hope. I’m hopeful that conquering new social situations will lead to greater accomplishments. I also hope that instead of worrying about of the weight of social expectation, I can eventually be calm and collected in public.