Social anxiety is no joke. According to ADAA, about 15 million American adults have the disorder. Thousands of people are being diagnosed with it every single day. It is a potentially debilitating disorder that can lead to a lot of confusion, isolation, and depression if not treated correctly. But with the right help, treatment, and support, it can make the journey a lot easier.
1. Just get out of the house, it will make you feel better.
There are some times when those of us with social anxiety know we need to be alone in order to calm down. Trying to tell us how to stop a panic attack, overcome our disorder, or “feel better” can send us over the edge. Social anxiety is not like the common cold. There aren’t tips and tricks that can easily make us feel a different way. We know our body and our mind must stay in balance, so sometimes we need space. Let us have it.
2. Why are you such a buzz kill?
We who have been diagnosed with social anxiety recognize that we are different. I would do anything to avoid a panic attack in a crowded room. Stop making us feel worse.
3. You need to be more social.
Yeah, we know. The pressure isn’t helping our mounting anxiety over the fact that we are disappointing you. Stop.
4. It’s not that bad.
Until you’ve walked in our shoes, you can’t speak about our pain. Social anxiety can be one of the most debilitating illnesses, because it can become paralyzing. We might want to go out, let loose, and have fun. But we can’t. Because whenever we are around people, we are constantly analyzing the situation and our brain feels like it will explode. Until you’ve had a panic attack in the middle of a party, had to leave an event because you’re about to pass out, or avoiding social interactions because the thought made you physically ill: stop degrading our disorder.
5. Just suck it up and go have fun.
There will be no fun to be had if we just “suck it up.” Because anxiety doesn’t work that way. We have to mentally prepare ourselves to be social. It might sound strange to you, but that is our reality. Getting myself ready to go out is not a quick decision, it’s a determined decision. I have to give myself a pep talk, practice deep breathing, and prepare. Otherwise it’s not fun, it’s torture.
6. Social anxiety is just an excuse to be antisocial.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this one. I honestly wish it were that simple. But social anxiety is a disorder that can affect every aspect of your life. If you love someone with this disorder, please know that they can’t help it. Most importantly: it is not their choice. When you trivialize someone’s disorder, you trivialize that person. You say they are not enough. And trust me, a person with social anxiety already feels guilty for missing out on everyday life. Give them the space they need to become their best self.