There was a new episode of True Life on tonight and I watched it. Most of their new episodes really suck. I love the old ones that seemed to deal with real, raw horrible situations but the new ones are all fluff. This one though, was really good and real… called “I have social anxiety”!
While I am not nearly as affected as the two people profiled, I could relate to their situations in different ways. I felt for these two individuals so much I actually teared up. Social anxiety is horrible and debilitating, and I’m constantly struggling against it. Luckily for me, the older I get the more I seem to grow out of it, without medication. Others are not so lucky. I still have little flare-ups every now and then though. I’ll walk into a store and suddenly I feel suffocated. Everyone is staring even though they aren’t.
The worst for me are malls. I never go to the mall. When I’m there, for some reason, I get extremely hot and red and I have to get out of there. Going into each of the little stores brings terrible waves of anxiety over and over again. When I was younger, I couldn’t order in restaurants without feeling really embarrassed. What was worse was going to places where you had to stand there and order off of a menu on the wall, like a fast food place or something. The idea of this still kind of scares me, but it doesn’t stop me from doing it. I’m lucky enough that I’m just able to power through these horrifying scenarios but others can’t even leave the house and I feel so bad for them.
The more we isolate ourselves in our homes, the more comfortable we get just being in the company of ourselves. I get like that from time to time. When I get invited to go out and do something with others, I start getting kind of nervous and shaky at the prospect of it. Once I’m there though it’s usually ok.
Job interviews are usually pretty bad too. I think for me, it’s knowing that several people, or even just one person, are focusing their attention on you and only you. It’s not fun! I tend to get in the habit of using alcohol as a crutch. Not always, but sometimes. (Not for job interviews, ha.) It’s not a good habit to get into at all. When you’re drunk or even just a little tipsy, the feeling of a bunch of eyes on you isn’t so bad. In fact, it can be welcomed.
So be careful with that… alcohol may help, but then your mouth takes off at its own pace and can’t be stopped. The more you talk, the more people look at you, and sometimes the social anxiety kind of breaks through the haze of alcohol and you realize that people are staring at you. So then you have to drink more to smother it again, and things can only get worse from there. It’s kind of scary if you think about it…