Sometimes you can’t win. It might be a board game, an argument, or that proposal for new PCs that you’re trying to get approved for your favorite remote location. My favorite example of this is the debates I have had with some people on whether or not my social anxiety is really a problem that warrants therapy and medication.
To be fair, most of those in my inner circle have at least some grasp on what I’m going through. I have friends who suffer from it to lesser or greater extents then I do, as well as family members. Then there are others who just don’t get it.
“You have what? I would never have guessed it, you seem to talk so well with people!”
“Everyone gets social anxiety. I don’t like speaking in front of a bunch of people either!”
“I’m sure you’re fine, you’ve never acted like you had anxiety.”
Are some of my favorite responses so far as I’ve went through the motions of telling those who weren’t aware about my current situation. One person in particular seems to just refuse to understand that it is a viable issue that has a drastic effect on my day to day life.
To be fair, I do seem to talk to people very well. However, a lot of people assume this because I’m good at listening. Let’s face it, in our day to day lives we generally run into more talkers then listeners, so when people do run into one they think they are just amazing conversationalists. Listening has never been my problem. Expressing my opinion and being assertive in an argument is what gets me.
The vast majority of people do deal with some form of mild social anxiety in their life time. This is usually in relation to giving a speech in front of a group of strangers. If this was the only thing that made my stomach tighten up in knots and force me to run to the bathroom 10 minutes before the anxiety inducing event, I’d give that one to you. Alas, going to my own birthday party makes me nearly hyperventilate. I’m pretty sure that’s not normal.
Apparently, I don’t give off a “I’m completely socially awkward and scared to death to talk to you or anyone else.” vibe. This has been a comfort to me to find out, but has made convincing certain people that I really, honestly have a real problem I’m trying to work through really, really hard. It’s like the person who says they are depressed when they walk around with a big smile on their face giving chipper hellos to everyone. People don’t see it outwardly so they don’t believe that there could possibly be a problem internally.
All of these things are not only a bit frustrating, but if you are depressed about your situation with social anxiety can make you actually doubt you do have a real problem that you do need help with. Over the years I have told myself I was silly, stupid, idiotic, irrational, and a sissy to feel the way I did and that everyone went through it and I needed to suck it up. The thing is, not everyone goes through what I experience everyday. Those of you that do may go through it to lesser or more extreme extents then me as well. You may have different things that trigger it, different patterns you have to avoid it, and you may tell yourself different lies to justify it. That does not mean it’s not a real problem that you may need help to overcome.
If you aren’t sure if you have social anxiety, check out WebMD’s article on it. Also this is a good page to visit for some examples of situations that cause people social anxiety. You may relate to some of them, or you may relate to all of them. I personally relate to all of them and it was finding websites like this one that gave examples of how people felt in certain situations that really helped me see that this was a legitimate problem I had.
If you are looking for support for your social anxiety, check out the Social Anxiety Support forum. I just recently signed up there myself and they are very welcoming group who can relate to what you are going through. This is a great place to start if you need guidance and support!