Social anxiety and other anxiety related disorders are fairly common to hear about these days, and it’s not strange if you think about the fact that today you can pretty much live with the least amount of face-to-face interaction possible, it’s far from ideal, but it is possible. Nonetheless, you’d figure that anyone who suffers from this would want to get better. I know I did, and it took me some time, but I was able to accomplish that. For those of you who are not familiar with social anxiety, you can think about it as a crippling fear of screwing up in public, and being perceived in a negative light by others. That means that if you’ve never, let’s say, called to get a doctor’s appointment you are terrified of doing so because you might not know what to say or how to handle the situation. For me, that meant that in the first 17 years of my life, I could not do anything by myself. It meant I was so self-aware that I could not get out of my house without thinking people were going to look at me and judge how I dressed, how I walked, and how I did my hair. It meant that public transport was my worst enemy. That I did not go out until I was in college, so I missed out on the whole high school experience. I remember worrying weeks before any event that was even slightly nerve-inducing.
Being socially anxious can be hard to overcome because by definition you struggle to get out of your comfort zone, and getting help is definitely out of anyone’s comfort zone. However, I kid you not, it is one of the most effective ways to make a change. In my case, I started psychoanalysis on a weekly basis. Why that branch of psychology specifically? Because in my experience, cognitive behavioral therapy (the type of therapy generally associated with social anxiety) will make you face your fears, and you will get used to doing stuff on your own, but your issues will remain unresolved unless you understand and come to terms with the root of your problem. If you can’t afford therapy, that’s alright too: you can discuss it with someone close to you, be it a friend or parent, or you can even arrive to a conclusion by yourself, but you do need to figure out why this happens to you before moving forward.
Something else that really helps is changing your environment if it has proven it is not good for you. For me, that was living with my father instead of my mom. My mother was overwhelmingly overprotective, and while I love her, she did not help me at all, quite the opposite in fact. I had to shut her out of my life for a while before I got better, and although she didn’t understand at the time, sometimes we have to put ourselves first. In a matter like this, I believe you need to prioritize your mental wellness, it doesn’t make you selfish. You’ll have time to make amends later, but think about what you need at the moment. If they know what you’re going through, your loved ones will understand.
Patience is also essential in a process like this. We’re all eager to be happy and well, but things take time, especially if it concerns your mental health. It will take a while, you will desperately want to go to THAT party and find that you’re still not quite there yet: don’t despair. There will be a time when all of that will be long gone, if you are really determined to get better, and allow yourself to be helped, there’s really nothing standing in your way.