Friday, March 29, 2013

Social Anxiety

  I stood there frozen, like a deer in headlights. The tears started to fall. Then the tears turned into sobbing, as I  begged my mom not to make me go. The fear was so intense that I felt as if I might pass out.  I was wishing I would pass out; then I wouldn't have to go. Time seemed to stop as fear took over and my insides started to tremble. She said she only needed me to pick up a few things, but that didn't matter. The battle of logic and terror raged inside me. The thought of even walking into the store, of people looking at me, made my heart race and my hands sweat. What if someone asked me a question? What if they looked at me wrong?  What would people think of me?  What if I do something embarrassing or say something stupid? I was 16 years old at the time, and all I had to do was walk into a store.

       For someone who has never had social anxiety, this may seem unreal. For me, it was very real and debilitating. Some may call it being shy, but this went far beyond just being shy.  The sheer terror I felt when having to talk to someone I didn't know was overwhelming. Even going out in public by myself was very, very difficult.

How did I start to overcome social anxiety? 

     I sat in my car praying for the courage to go into the collage admissions building just to pick up paperwork I needed.  I tried to tell my self  "Go now,"  but nothing happened. I  told myself, "This is ridiculous. No one's going to hurt you. So what if they think you're silly."  My heart was beating so fast. My hands were sweating, my insides were shaking, my face was red, and I felt as if I would vomit. The battle raged on. Finally,  I was able to get out of the car. I hoped I wouldn't run into anybody on the way.  I wanted to go back to the safety of my car, but I pushed on.  I arrived at the admissions office, and I immediately dropped my eyes to floor, hiding my self from the world. If I couldn't see them, then maybe they wouldn't be able to see the terror I felt. I asked for the paper work.
   
      That's how I started overcoming social anxiety.  I literally had to force myself to do small things,  things I wouldn't think twice about doing now;  grocery shopping, calling the doctor or an acquaintance.
  
      After I got more comfortable with the small things, I moved on to harder things. I wanted to try out martial art for many years, but was too afraid. So, I convinced a friend to try it out with me. She didn't like it.  I loved it.  Now I had a choice to make.  I either had to face going by myself, or stay in my comfort zone and miss out.  I choose to go, even though it was really difficult.  I am so glad I did. It was a wonderful experience, and sometimes I still miss it. 
 
    Now it was time to try something else outside my comfort zone. For quite sometime, I wanted to become a pilot. I went down to the local airport and started taking private pilot lessons.
Next, I moved away to a city 1,120 miles away from home. I lived with my cousin and my grandmother there, so I did have some security.  I found  a church to go to, and a job at a preschool. Even though all these things were hard to do, I was able to do them.  Sometimes, I still had to sit out in my car, and pray for courage to do something or go somewhere, but it was easier now. 

   I met my husband at the church I attended, and we were married in less than a year. We have since moved to a little tiny town a few miles from nowhere. Every year the anxiety is less of a struggle. 
*Update
I first wrote this post when I first started blogging. I find that this blog has been "therapeutic" in my journey of overcoming social anxiety. When I first considered blogging, I was horrified at the idea.  Every body can see your thoughts, your writing mistakes, and it really opens yourself up for judgment. Now it's not so horrifying. I  do try to play it safe though. I would have never started blogging had it not been for my husbands encouragement. Anybody who enjoys Sword Fight and Tea Parties can thank him.

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