Hey guys, welcome back to TNTH!
In the recent weeks, I’ve been on this new path to bettering my mental health now that I don’t have much distraction in my life. For the past year, I’ve been noticing this “downward spiral” of anxiety that kept creeping up on me, and it wasn’t until the past couple of months that I began noticing my anxiety get worse. I finally started to seek out professional help to find ways to overcome this newfound anxiety… well, anxiety that I always had but just recently became out of hand.
In a couple of posts before this one, I mentioned that I got diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. In a way, it’s an umbrella term that describes a whole variety of different fears and phobias. When I went to see my psychiatrist for the first time, she ultimately deemed me as having Social Anxiety Disorder. At that point, I went to do some further research on it, and might I tell you, it explains a lot more of my anxiety than I ever thought it would. To be more exact, social anxiety is more than just being “shy” or quiet” in social situations. It’s the incapability to not go out or interact with other people because you get anxious doing it, even with the closest people in your life.
Honestly, it explained a lot of the questions I had in why I was behaving in the way that I was.
Just like depression, anxiety is always misinterpreted as something else that people think is easily curable. People who don’t have SAD may find themselves wanting to stay in instead of going out for reasons that are actual reasons: they are busy, they are tired, or maybe they are just not up for it. People with SAD find themselves staying in because they are already thinking about the hours in advance, worrying that something bad might happen for they might get an anxiety attack in the middle of a social event, even if it’s with your closest friends or even your significant other. People with SAD tend to stay in because it’s more comfortable and safe to be by themselves instead of around other people.
Please understand that Social Anxiety Disorder is more than just being shy and quiet and “socially awkward”. It’s a chronic illness that can be treatable, but it doesn’t go away on its own. Plus, only 5% of the U.S population is actually diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder, yet its considered the most common anxiety disorder because so many people who live with it are not diagnosed. The reason for that being is even people with SAD feel like it’s such a ridiculous thing to have and our behavior is ridiculous that we often feel ashamed for being this way.
And extroverts, your introverted friends who may have SAD may feel discouraged because of you.
We are not asking you to be our therapists. We are not asking you to constantly ask us if we are okay if we are out for dinner or at a party. We are not asking you to speak for us in social situations (unless requested) and most importantly, we are not asking you for your unsolicited advice on how to “get over it” in order to live like a “normal” person.
We are asking you to be supportive of us. We are asking you to at least understand the words that come out of our mouths. We are asking you to be okay with the fact that yeah, maybe four months ago we were okay going to that restaurant across the city, but our anxiety has gotten worse since then and the travel to get to that restaurant is a lot of us to handle. We are asking you to be informative on what we had at least at the basic level. No, we are not asking you to know every little thing to do when faced with someone with SAD, we are asking you to at least know what we are going through when we are feeling anxious, and that we are constantly fighting to try to overcome such ridiculous feelings and worries about something that is supposed to be fun. We are asking you to not change who you are to us and change the friendship, we simply just want to feel as if you have our backs while we deal with it. You’re saving us a lot of worries if we absolutely know you will not judge or belittle us for not being able to control our behavior and emotions.
THIS DOES NOT MEAN that you are doing us a favor when you don’t invite us to hang out or to important events in your life just because you think you are doing us a favor or if you think we are going to always decline on your invites. People with SAD are not happy when we don’t have to face social interactions or situations; we hate that or anxiety holds us back from having a good time. In most cases, we want to actually go out and have fun; what human being doesn’t? We want to go out to birthday parties, we want to be around other people and hang out, we want to have a good time in the same way you want to, the difference is our body and our mind circulates the “what if” questions to the point where they will only stop if we don’t go. If you are our friends, we want to feel like you are our friends, so even if we do decline an invitation time to time, know that we appreciate you still are thinking about us.
All in all, we appreciate you and are very thankful to have you in our lives. You balance us out and we look up to you for being so outgoing and unapologetic for being who you are. As different we may be, we are able to connect with you for the qualities that you have, and although you may not understand how we feel about dealing with SAD, we understand that you try your best to be present and available for us while going through something so weird and confusing like SAD.
We value your friendship more than you ever know, even if we have a difficult time showing it. We value your presence in our lives.
A “SAD” Introvert.