Social anxiety is not a term I use lightly. I understand that it’s not just a matter of dreading going out on a particular night or outing. According to Social Anxiety Ireland, Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) can be defined as:
“…the persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which one is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others, and where exposure to such situations provoke intense anxiety.”
Some level of anxiety in social situations is normal, I know that, but for me it’s more complex than that.
Yesterday, I had two birthday celebrations to attend. One started at 3.00pm and I had planned to simply drop in for an hour. The next was at 7.00pm. I ended up attending neither of them.
The first birthday celebration I justified cancelling because it was at least a 45-minute drive from my home and it felt pointless because I wouldn’t have been able to stay that long.
The second one I cancelled on very last minute. My sister could see how much I was dreading it and suggested I cancel, otherwise I would spend the whole time leading up to the party in constant dread and anxiety. She told me to accept my anxiety and to not apologise for it. Thankfully both my friends were cool about my cancellations, but I’m not sure either of them know of my anxiety, or if they do, they certainly don’t know how bad it is. Believe me, I’m still beating myself up.
Perhaps my social anxiety isn’t as bad as other’s, but it can be quite debilitating. My fiancé wishes he could cure it for me but I think what I really need to do is accept it and not see it as the enemy. I’m starting with this book:
According to Foran, trying to find a “cure” for anxiety is pointless and will only worsen your symptoms. Her advice, as I mentioned above, is to accept it as she did and say: “alright, anxiety is something I’m dealing with, it’s not fun, but it’s here, and the more I resist it, the more it rears its ugly head.”
I admire her attitude and look forward to exploring her method of “befriending” my anxiety, which I’ll be sharing here and will hopefully help others who are in the same boat. As Foran puts it, it’s time own it.
K is for Kitty!