Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz.
It’s crazy to believe that we are already in month six of 2019, and about to start the summer season in a couple of weeks. It just comes to show just how fast time goes, and the same is true reflecting back on this time last year.
On June 6th, 2018, I was officially diagnosed with social anxiety disorder.
Social anxiety is probably one of the biggest disorders people have nowadays for many different reasons. While social anxiety can be “cured”, there are some cases where it can’t be; it’s chronic. My social anxiety is chronic.
I wasn’t surprised when I first got the diagnosis; a part of me always knew that I had some form of social anxiety, and as the years went on, it just got worse. To finally get the diagnosis didn’t really change how I felt, it just made a lot of things more clear – especially the things I was confused about.
It doesn’t mean that life got easier.
To be quite honest, the diagnosis made things a lot worse for me because it was hard for me to adjust to the fact that this wasn’t just “anxiety everyone deals with”, I experience anxiety on a clinical level, and adjusting to that while trying to explain to my loved ones what was happening was a difficult transition.
After many confusing nights and days where I felt misunderstood, I started to regret even getting the diagnosis. You got the diagnosis and just ran with it, Liz.
In simpler words, I didn’t know how to live with this new information and accept it for what it was. It took me getting on medication and some intense therapy sessions to finally realize and ultimately tell myself that I am not my anxiety, I just have it, and it’s going to take a long time to adjust being more aware of my own unique patterns and behaviors regarding my anxiety.
A year later, and I’m definitely doing a lot better, and I really have to thank the process of going to therapy and taking my medication. I say this, in all honesty: yeah, I’m going to have my episodes where I don’t want to do anything but lay in bed and escape the stressors of the world, but those days don’t last as long as they used to.
Quick story about the epiphany I had about my progress: Last week in therapy, I explained to my therapist that the day before my partner’s birthday, he had a couple of family and friends come over to ring in his birthday with him at midnight and although being in a social setting like that with a handful of people would normally be overwhelming for me, that night my anxiety didn’t even cross my mind. Talking about it made it more real for me, and before even speaking about it it didn’t register as progress, but I left her office feeling so proud of myself for being able to socially interact with other people without feeling any sort of anxiety. It’s definitely moments like that where I feel like I made the right decision to seek therapy a year ago.
Of course, I am far from the end. My mental health journey does not end once I conquer just one aspect of my anxiety. I’m still a working progress, and I hope that with the months to come in 2019 that I am able to conquer those other aspects, and truly see the growth from now, until then.
Of course, my experience with therapy isn’t the ideal experience for therapy; it’s uniquely my own. Not everyone is going to have a positive outlook on therapy and maybe therapy isn’t in the plan of their own healing. I still do believe, though, that everyone who is going through a hardship in their life that they can’t get through on their own should at least try therapy to see how it feels for them. Some will be successful, and others may not. It’s about how the process works for every single individual.
Personally speaking, it’s been some of the hardest work I’ve done, yet some of the greatest work I’ve done in my life.
I really do have to thank my sibling, Megan, for continuously telling me I should seek out therapy for the issues I was having late 2017 into 2018 due to grad school. Of course, I wish I took their advice earlier when I was actually in grad school, but things happen for a reason, and I believe I had to go through what I went through in grad school to get where I’m at now.
I also want to thank my therapist, Cathy, or getting to know me as a person and telling me without a doubt the truth to the situations and behaviors I was experiencing. She taught me a lot on how to fight my inner demons and I’ve told her some of my darkest trauma secrets, yet she is still there to help me get through them along the way. Although she is now on maternity leave for the season, I really cannot wait to show (and tell her) the progress I’ve made since she’s been away.
I also wanted to thank my temporary therapist, for the time being, Andrea, for taking the time to get to know me and try to pick up where I last left off. Although it took some time to get comfortable with her and allow her into my “world”, as I say, she’s has been a major help and always keeps the atmosphere lively and energetic. I’m definitely in the right hands until I return back to my regular therapist.
And the support I’ve gotten from my family and my partner: it means the world to me that I have people in my life willing to understand my SAD, depression, and not judge me for it. I appreciate the efforts that you guys go through to understanding and support.
So, with that being said, here’s to going on year two of bettering myself and my mental health.