Thanks to “V”, this week’s guest blogger who chooses to remain anonymous, for submitting his writing to The Worry Games. Find more of V’s writing at the links I provide at the bottom of this post.
Social anxiety disorder (or SAD) is very common – something a lot of us must battle each and every day of our lives, but it isn’t like the common cold. Two teaspoons of Robitussin won’t make you the life of the party.
Your mind is a powerful thing, and only you are responsible for how it behaves. There is no manual to tell you how to work it. You must falter before you can succeed. You have to test your limits, see what you can and can’t handle, then make a list of “do’s & don’ts” to help you keep in mind how much interaction you can take and to remember any coping tools that you have found to be helpful.
For example, if I am going out to the movies with friends, and they bring people along that I consider to be “strangers” – then I’m taking my own car. If it’s just us, and I still feel nervous, then again, I’m taking my own car. I have to stand up for myself or nobody wins. The last thing anybody wants to do is just sit there, arms crossed, with their ability to speak seemingly stolen by a witch.
My social anxiety ordeal is messy, just as yours probably is. My therapist and I talk this out constantly. The reason why I compare life with social anxiety disorder to being stranded on an island is that you cannot explain the complicated details of living in such a state without actually experiencing it. Heck, even after living with it, I still struggle to describe it sometimes.
Each of my therapy sessions is punctuated by my inability to accurately articulate my emotional and mental turmoil – what goes through my antsy mind when I’m in a situation that shortens my breath, stifles my balance and makes me quake in fear. A bunch of “uh’s” and calculated statements are made about how anxiety conquers every aspect of my life: how “chaos” is the only way for me to deal with an attack – in my eyes anyway. I am weak and vulnerable to social anxiety even when a day is spent in the quite, familiar confines of my home.
Like every human being on this planet – suffering from anxiety or not: I have so much to say, and no idea how to say it. The perfect words to describe this beast come when I’m all alone debating imaginary people on the subject. Oh, the pretty pictures my words paint. You’re gonna have to take my word for it cause you will probably never hear what I say to myself!
“I can’t do this anymore!” is a common phrase that I use that heightens my panic.
“Are you okay?” I ask myself.
“No. I’m not.”
So much energy expended on making myself worse, rather than taking the road I cannot see clearly laid out for me.
The alternative is to climb the steep hill and attack this monster with reason, patience and bravery.
“I’m not okay right now. And that’s fine. My brain is protecting me from stuff that could hurt me; I do not need you right now, Brain. Thank you for keeping me safe. I don’t know what I’d do without you. But as of right now, you’re causing me more grief, so please take a load off. I know you’ll be by my side the second I truly need you.”
I could look at myself in the mirror and repeat this over and over again.
Would it help? I need to first find the courage to try it.
“Hold on a minute! I think I’m wasting my time reading this garbage,” you may think. “you didn’t even try this technique and you have the gall to give me advice?”
Correct. I have not tried THIS technique before, but I have tried others with varied results. For example, I sometimes sketch in the midst of panic, in front of friends. I may look crazy, but I don’t care. For if they truly judge me for how I cope with anxiety: they are wrong. Doodling Mickey Mouse or other caricatures eases some of the tension. It allows my mind to escape, reassess the environment and come back with a clearer head. Sometimes it works. Other times it does not. At one point this technique may no longer do the trick for me. And that’s okay. Failure is good. It allows you to know what does and doesn’t work.
My therapist is trying to organize a group session in where many people ages 18-60 suffer from the same issues I am right now. I may have fun – or cower in the restroom tearfully waiting for the session to mercifully end. Failure – it hurts, but it also gives us new information on ourselves.
On the island, you are the only one who can conquer your demons. Social anxiety will never leave your body. Ever. And that’s okay too. You may think “I have the worst anxiety out of anybody in the whole wide world.” But no matter how bad it gets, remember you’re not alone.
6.8 percent of people on the planet suffer from social anxiety disorder. 15 million souls very different from ours, leading different lives, share a character trait that in a way binds us all together. We have the power to make ourselves believe the apocalypse is happening right now! Yet we do not truly understand that we can use our brainpower to limit the power anxiety holds over us.
Family & friends get easily frustrated when they see their attempts to deal with our anxiety fail. In my life, theirs and my own countless failed tries to change my thinking led me to going to a therapist to help me deal with this.
Another cause of failure leading to something greater.
There will be days where the “perfect storm” brews…..when all comes tumbling down, and we are left to walk past the wreckage of what we once thought was a sturdy house. From that, anew must be built. Always. No other option. We’ve all got lives to lead. Dreams to chase. Experiences to…..experience.
You’re brave just for waking up everyday and accepting that you’re you.
You’re a human being and your life has value. No matter what you tell yourself. Your life matters. Just because social anxiety is a part of it, that doesn’t diminish you as a person.
Links to V’s Tumblr: