How I Came to Terms with Social Anxiety
I can still vividly remember the day when I accepted that there might be something not normal about how I responded to social interactions. A simple remark can send me into isolation for days. Surviving university was difficult for me. I studied on my own, I had no friends and always slept in my dorm. My classmates thought I was just shy. When I finished my degree, I could not get a job because I was too scared to be interviewed by a possible employer.
And then came the greatest opportunity of my life. I got accepted to interview with a publication. It was nothing short of a dream job. The night before the interview, I was already creating scenarios in my head, and the next thing I knew, it was already six in the morning. I panicked. I spent the next four hours crying on my bed instead of showing up for the interview.
Right then and there, I knew that I was more than just a shy person. Acceptance came easy but submitting to treatment was difficult. I looked online if there were any therapists in my area. It took me four months to finally get the courage to call them up, but I dropped the call as soon as I heard the stranger on the other end of the line.
My family was integral to me accepting my condition. My sister was the one who held my hand throughout the battle against myself. She was the one who encouraged me to get tested. She was also the one who admitted me to therapy. I knew I can be more if I overcome the fear of doing great things, which I can do, but I kept on holding myself from doing so. I normally start something but fail to follow through. That was when the people I love and people who care about me decided to step in. And I realized I needed help, and the first step is acceptance, not just of the condition but also of help that people offered.
Finding Myself During Therapy
After knowing that I indeed have a social anxiety disorder condition, it became clear that I have to go through therapy. I could not allow myself to spiral into the depth of depression and loneliness. And this resulted in much more anxiety at first. But my support system was strong.
Connecting to people with a similar condition
I was also introduced to people with a condition similar to what I have. We constantly share experiences and milestones. We also practice how to react to situations. Over time, it became easier to apply what I learned in real life. Having a group of people who understand you, did lessen the fear of facing other people. Talking to them conditioned my brain towards a more confident way of seeing real-life situations.
I know that I need to train myself to be confident, or at least help others realize that I have that confidence in me. My family was also by my side. They gave me reassurance. They walked me into therapy during times that I gave up. There were days when I felt like there was an endless session of therapy ahead of me before I finally learned to integrate and function with the society, and then I crumbled into a ball of fear again. I might have given up at some point, but my family never gave up on me. I continued talking to people about the difficulty I face.
Discovering a talent
After twelve sessions of therapy, I discovered that I can break my anxiety cycle when I have a hobby I can work on. I started picking up watercolor painting. I immediately fell in love with the process. I began drawing flowers and applying colors, and then the next thing I knew I already have tens of finished artworks. But I was so apprehensive about showing people my work.
I continued working on the artworks during idle times when I am most prone to having attacks. What I love about art the most is discovering that I have the ability to create something beautiful. From watercolor, I am now learning to paint with acrylic. I am also planning on working with oil. Recently, I got offered by a friend to have my designs printed for their shop.
Aside from taking up a hobby and talking to people, it also became an important part of my healing that I did not rely on medicines. I knew that if I turn to medicines every time I get the attack, it will start another unending cycle of addiction. I knew I will not be totally cured by medicine and that they work only to mask what you are feeling. When they rub off, you will be left with the same feeling again. I needed the holistic healing. I knew that I could do better with therapy without reliance on medicine.
I can honestly say that the whole ordeal was not easy without the help of people who cared for and assisted me. This is the reason why I am currently working to return the favor by helping other people with social anxiety disorder. Having gone through the condition and overcoming the disorder, I truly understand how difficult it is to live in a society that you fear. It is important that we talk it out. It is important to care about what other people feel. Acceptance that there could be something wrong with you is difficult, but accepting help can get difficult, and I want to help make it easier for people to get tested and admitted to therapy.
They say that no man is an island, I realized that this is true. I cannot just continually lock myself in my room out of fear of people. I cannot just procrastinate all day thinking about what other people might say about me. I cannot just give up on my dream when I know I can make it. I cannot let social anxiety stop me, and other people from moving forward in life.
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