I had Social Anxiety Disorder. I think, I still have it to an extent. Suppressing Social Anxiety Disorder becomes easier with age, at least I feel that way.
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What is Social Anxiety Disorder
If you are not familiar with the term Social Anxiety Disorder — it is exactly what the words literally mean — a disorder that makes one anxious in social situations. It is more than shyness and discomfort. Social Anxiety Disorder makes a person fearful and anxious of many daily activities that involve other people. It is mostly fear of being judged by others.
Effect of Social Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder disrupts daily functionality. It may lead to avoidance of social interaction with people. Social Anxiety Disorder can limit the potential of a person. Work, school, and other activities become harder for a person with Social Anxiety Disorder.
How did I recover from Social Anxiety Disorder
I made friends with people who are good listeners. I avoided people with “bullying” attitude. One of the causes of Social Anxiety Disorder is the people with “bullying” attitude around. If one has some negative experience of being judged by a “bully”, the fear of being scrutinized grows — it grows so much that it becomes a chronic fear.
Making friends with people who listen more than they talk is a great solution. I did not make friends with listeners intentionally. I guess, the survival instinct automatically makes a person with Social Anxiety Disorder become friends with people who do more listening than talking.
Did I seek professional help?
Nope. I did not know that being afraid of being judged by others is a disorder. I became familiar with the term Social Anxiety Disorder only a few years ago. By that time, I overcame this (or, more like I became habituated with it). I have grown a strong sense of — with whom I can speak and with whom I cannot. Well, that implies I still have Social Anxiety Disorder. Hey, I still have Social Anxiety Disorder to some extent … I am not willing to speak with my doctor about it because I have an anxiety about speaking about my anxiety with anyone. 🙂
What symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder do I still have
There are a few. While I enjoy meeting my colleagues everyday and some neighbors now and then, there are situations like the followings when I still try to avoid interaction with people.
Speaking with unknown people over phone
Am I saying it clearly? Will I be able to make the person in the other end understand what I am trying to explain? What if the person hangs up? Thinking about speaking with people over phone who do not know me is a nightmare.
Hiring someone to do plumbing, landscaping, or some minor home repairs
I am willing to learn the skill and do the work myself, for which I will have to hire a person. Definitely, doing the work myself saves some money but money-saving is sometimes not the main reason why I do it myself. It is more like — yeah, I have to speak and deal with one less person to survive in this world. 🙁
Attending social gatherings
I feel so uncomfortable in social gatherings. In some gatherings, it is more than just “uncomfortable” — it is anxiety. I am even uncomfortable meeting many of my relatives. Why do they have to tell everyone in the party that I could eat a whole chicken when I was sixteen? Is really eating a cornish chicken that hard for a sixteen year old? Well, I do not know whether it was cornish or some other type of chicken but that is not the main point. The main point is — why is there an attempt to make me look like a person with a voracious appetite?
Dear Wife says that my relatives like me a lot and that is why they adore those stories. Probably Dear Wife is right but it seems people like some of my relatives are the reasons why I have Social Anxiety Disorder in the first place. Well … my siblings do not seem to have Social Anxiety Disorder but why am I anxious about social gatherings? The answer is — I do not know.
Returning items to a store
Unless it is Costco or a big chain where I know that no one will question, I am not willing to go back to a store to return anything. I fear that I will be told to get lost when I will try to explain why I want to return the item.
What should you do if you feel that your child or a dear one has Social Anxiety Disorder?
Bringing this to the attention of the doctor of the anxious person will be the right thing to do. The doctor may refer to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or a counselor. Sometimes it may be diagnosed as just shyness, sometimes it may be a case that needs a treatment. The summary is — seek professional help. I have overcome my Social Anxiety Disorder (or, may be I made peace with it) after being constantly in fear for decades. No one should have to go through this experience.