I am not a social person. Today I’m talking about how it feels to be social from an anti-social person. I’m talking about an anxiety disorder that affects so many people.
I feel uncomfortable and awkward. It seems as if I forget everything, including even how to talk. My heart races and beats so hard that my chest literally hurts. I want to talk. I want to be friendly and kind, but nothing can make it past my mind and out of my mouth. From the outside, I very well may look stuck up. Maybe I even seem unapproachable or unkind. It’s completely unfair how quickly people come to conclusions based solely on what they see. For people like me, who are not very comfortable in social settings, we are often misjudged.
When I’m in a position that I’m forced to be social, it leaves me feeling like I’ve been hit by a truck.
My head hurts, my eyes hurt, my whole body hurts, and I can’t handle hearing anything. To take care of myself I need to be in silence. My mind screams and it literally feels like there are bugs crawling all over me. I know that’s very vivid, but it’s really how it feels. As I sit there shaking, scratching, wanting to silence what is screaming at me, I try so hard to be stronger than the monsters, but they win every time.
This is what it’s like every single time I’m forced to be in a social setting. This is what it’s like living with this anxiety disorder.
Many things are avoidable, like parties, and concerts, but there are many social settings that are unavoidable like grocery shopping and attending appointments. Visiting the pharmacy to restock meds or even just getting a haircut are all social experiences that can be very exhausting. Because there are so many unavoidable settings that might force you to be social, I thought I’d share how I handle them and how I cope.
Enn’s Tips For Coping Through Social Situations When Struggling With This Anxiety Disorder
Don’t overwhelm yourself. I use to try dong as much as possible in one day, just wanting to get it over and done with. I do not recommend this at all. Now I make sure to schedule things with time in between. For example, I wouldn’t do a doctor’s appointment and a dentist on the same day. Or an appointment and any sort of shopping. I’ve learned that I can only handle comfortably, 1 social situation in a day.
Take care of yourself before, during, and after. The time leading up, make sure to do some self-care. Keep your mind as calm as possible. Reflect about how you’re feeling by journaling or talking. Notice your feelings during the event, and afterwards allow your mind and body to rest and settle. I think this is very important to avoid overwhelment. For me, feeling overwhelmed can lead to a fast downward spiral with my mental health.
Recognize your feelings and put a name to them. I recommend doing this before, during, and after the social event. Doing this can help you to not get overwhelmed with your feelings. You may find it helpful to write it down.
If you are someone who is a support person to someone who struggles in social settings, here are some things you can do to make it a better experience:
understand that social anxiety is real
don’t pressure the person into partaking in anything they don’t feel they can
listen to what they are saying
learn what triggers them so you can help them prevent any crisis situations that may happen
listen when they’ve said they’d had enough
don’t make them feel like they need to explain – social anxiety does not always make sense and is not a rational illness
focus on their feelings – not figuring out what triggered their feelings
So what is social anxiety?
It’s real, and it’s really important to understand the best you can. It’s having a significant fear in everyday interactions. Feeling self-conscious or embarassment, It can affect your entire life.
It can disrupt someones entire life, and it’s really hard to live with.
If you know someone who struggles, please think of this and be kind and understanding.