*disclaimer – prepare for an essay*
my social anxiety developed when I was 19 and in my first year of university. i studied drama and i used to be an extremely confident person – i used to act, sing and dance. but in that first year of uni a ‘friend’ of mine began to bully me and suddenly my whole life changed.
who on earth gets bullied at uni? we were all adults now – this kind of thing was only supposed to happen in high school! she turned my friends against me, people would shut up when i walked into the room and i felt people watching me and laughing at me all the time because i was pathetic. i couldn’t even have dinner in the canteen because i’d either have to sit a) by myself (and people would laugh at me for being a loner) or b) sit with people who didn’t like my anyway and would make me feel awkward. i started ordering takeaway food to my room every night. i drank a bottle of wine every night. it was awful.
eventually i quit my course. or rather, i was encouraged by the university to put it on hold for a year, take a year out and go back when i felt ready. but even when i got home, my fears were still there. suddenly i had become nervous around my old friends who had never been mean to me before, and i was scared they were thinking the same things about me that others were. i stayed at home and didn’t do anything until one day i realised that enough was enough and i had to do something about it.
i started by going to see a ‘therapist’. i use that term lightly because she was a trainee and didn’t really do anything but listen to me talk for an hour – but in that one hour i got so much off my chest that i didn’t even realise was there – that was really good for me.
the second thing i did was buy a book. it’s called overcoming anxiety and i cannot tell you how much it helped.
it made me really question every part of my life that my anxiety was affecting, how it made me feel, and how to take steps to overcome it. it was hard at first, but soon i began understanding how i was behaving, and then i slowly changed my responses and gradually got better.
i started inviting friends to go out with me, not the opposite way around (still struggle with that one, but it’s getting better), i would accept invitations to things i wasn’t keen on going to and learned that i did actually have a good time when i went!
i started writing a blog, too. that was good because when i wrote down my positive experiences it helped being able to look back and remember how i felt on good days, and reminded me i could do it again.
it’s been 7 years since i first developed social anxiety and i must say that the majority of it went away after 3 or 4 years. it was completely down to will power, though, and sheer determination. i didn’t take any meds for it, and i actually cut out alcohol in that first year to help me keep a clear head.
nowadays i still struggle a little bit. my friend’s hen party is a 3 night weekend and although i can’t really afford it, it terrifies me to NOT be there in case they’re all bitching about me behind my back on one of those nights. which is absolutely ridiculous. but i live 300 miles away from those girls now so if they want to bitch about me they can do it any other night – so why i worry that they’ll do it then is beyond me.
the worst possibly thing to do is give in to your insecurities. i have a friend who enables the social anxiety of his girlfriend and it’s made her so much worse because she doesn’t have to deal with the consequences of her actions, which in turn makes her worse because she thinks it’s ok. it’s not okay – he will ruin his life if he keeps on pandering to her every need but she doesn’t want help and so she can’t be helped.
you have the power to change this yourself. it won’t be easy, but you CAN do it. BELIEVE ME.
this is pretty long… whoops… but i hope i’ve given you some helpful info! if you want someone to talk to i AM here – don’t go thinking i won’t want to talk to you. i saw your post on my phone and i jumped to the computer just to answer this post because i know how good it is to have someone there for you. so please – if you want to talk, do. in fact, i ENCOURAGE YOU hahaha.