Living With Social Anxiety

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Most people confuse Social Anxiety with simply being Shy. This is quite irritating, because most people don’t quite comprehend the immense difference between the two. Being shy means you’re reluctant, or uncomfortable, with meeting new people and or going up in front of the class. However, social anxiety is something that is much more  challenging. It’s basically a phobia. A social phobia that makes my life difficult, especially when my main goal is to meet new friends and find that “one”. People I’ve talked with about my disorder, say things like “I don’t know what having social anxiety is like, but you should just do…” At that point I kind of stop listening. Imagine how someone with arachnophobia covered in spiders might react. Well, when under this extreme fear, there’s mainly two things that this person might do. One, he will run like crazy waving most of his or her body parts trying to shake those baddies off of him/her. And there’s also the other thing, the thing that usually happens to me, the person would freeze and think, “Maybe if I don’t move they’ll go away.” I have the same feeling when being around a lot of people, or even a small group of people if they happen to have their eyes fixated on me. Mainly the worse is when thinking of confronting a person I don’t know in person. Sure, talking to a lot of people at once is frightening, but it’s not as personal as a one on one. That’s what makes meeting new people, or just talking to someone even more frightening and I try to avoid it when I can. When I can I try to take the run away method, but in situations where I’m forced to do something I’m not comfortable I unintentionally have the second reaction; freeze. My memory completely betrays me and I start blabbering b.s. or just read what I wrote in my PowerPoint. And due to my social anxieties, I often have panic attacks at school.

Physiologically, there are a lot of symptoms that I have during this panic attack. My body begins to tense up, my muscles start shaking, I begin shivering, and my fingers go numb. Not to mention my racing heart that feels like it’s going to stop at any moment. Mentally, I don’t even know where to begin. My train of thought is being rushed by extremely fast, and I can’t keep focus one thing. I try to think of what to say, and in a conversation (and presentations at times) I never really say what I was thinking. Mentally I’ve said one thing, but that isn’t what comes out of my mouth. I think so much that it kind of feels like I’m not really thinking at all. These thoughts just fly by so fast and there’s so many of them that I can’t really pay attention to any of them. This is an experience that I really hate, not being able to really control my actions or thoughts… it’s terrifying. So, I do what I can not go through it. I don’t really talk to people, and even kind of make me seem like someone who you wouldn’t want to talk to, because that’s how I’m most comfortable. Most comfortable, yes, but not more happy. I’m not shy. I can’t just go up to her, at least not without thinking it over about a million times. And even then, the approach is never what I wanted it to be as far as what I wanted me to be able to say. I’ve also tried talking to people through Facebook, and when that doesn’t seem to work. I feel much more comfortable expressing what I want, but maybe too comfortable and I let out something unusual about me that scares them away. It might just be weird (or creepy) trying to get to know someone through Facebook in general that causes them to refrain, either way not the way I’m going to go at it for making friends from now on. I wish I didn’t have this disorder, but I am willing to settle with this. An informative little “letter” explaining why I look so scary in the corner of class. An explanation to why I am in class during lunch listening to my iPod and writing in my notebook. Hopefully, also an explanation to why you may not know me. Just of me.

Nervously,

Tristan

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