This is one of the million questions ruminating through the mind of someone dealing with social anxiety disorder. Social anxiety disorder can be described as an extreme fear of being judged, criticized, and closely observed by anyone you might have to interact with in any environment. The idea of being looked at is just enough to spark the horrific sensations accompanied with social anxiety disorder. This is a mental disease and should not be taken lightly because it does cause negative emotional, mental, and physical impacts.
According to NIMH some of the signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder are;
- Declining social events
- Physically hiding when possible
- Cancelling appointments
- Emotionally detaching from family members, friends, and co-workers
- Sweating profusely when engaging with others, especially in person
- Rapid heart rate
- Shaking or trembling
- Unable to speak or complete a full sentence
- Complete fear of being judged
As the overwhelming fear continues to take over your thoughts, the idea of even leaving the home is far too much to bear at times. Speaking from experience, I became a recluse who was terrified to look at my own shadow. I declined invitations to social events, general family gatherings, phone calls, doctor appointments, walking my dog, taking my son to school, and going to my mother’s home. It took me almost 4 years before I could enjoy a movie in a theater again and about a year before I was able to enjoy a nice dinner at a restaurant with my husband. I was consumed with the idea that everyone was staring me, when in fact everyone was staring at themselves and too busy taking selfies!
In my opinion, this disorder can be debilitating, emotionally and mentally draining, and cause a sense of loneliness. Eventually, your peers will ostracize you after declining numerous invitations to social events and this will add to any negative feelings you already have about feeling judged. I don’t want you to fall prey to your own mind if you don’t have to. Here are a few of my coping strategies:
- Ask for help
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Daily Affirmations
- Taking walks with my dog
- Attending social events with a trusted relative or peer
- Engaging with community members
As you can see, most of my coping skills revolve around therapy and facing the disorder one step at a time with a strong support system. If you find yourself in need of help, ask! Contact your doctor, family members, or peers, and me, as I’ll be happy to help you find local support groups that might fit your needs.
Did you know there are approximately 15 million adults in the United States dealing with social anxiety disorder? We can all learn from one another. So, you’ve read some of my coping skills for social anxiety disorder. What are some of yours?
© 2017 By Heidi Sullivan-Inyama
Picture sponsored by Pixabay