How I was before


How do I even know I had social anxiety? Well, I don’t know how I was being perceived at the time (probably as being a bit shy) but subjectively, from the inside, it felt TERRIBLE. Being around people was so stressful for me that I hated it. Having simple conversation with anybody could leave me shaking, sweaty, physically exhausted.

When I think about it now, I can see that a big part of the problem was the self-reinforcing nature of social anxiety. Put simply – the less you do something, the shittier you become at it. Because talking to people caused me to suffer, I avoided it. But the more I retreated from social interactions, the more difficult it became for me to function in any social situation. As it progressed, it came to a point when I literally didn’t know how to have a conversation!

All of that took big emotional toll on me. Most of the time I felt shame, anger and frustration. I could spend hours analyzing past situations, my reactions and people’s responses, despairing about inadequacy of my emotions, feeling sorry for myself and furious at the world.

I felt very emotionally unstable. I could be sitting somewhere idly, thinking about anything and being bored in one moment, and then a moment later feeling a rush of stress hormones, my heart racing, face red, all caused just by being approached by a stranger and asked a random question…

I remember watching a video online of a guy talking about his experience of social anxiety and how his words struck me: he said that if he were to win in a lottery, he wouldn’t spend the money the way most people would imagine, but would use them to buy himself a secure seclusion from the world and its people. He would actually run away from having to interact with people, such was his anxiety. And I dreamt of exactly the same thing!

My view of ideal life was this: to have enough money to not have to work (and not have to be around people!), live on my own in a big house, to which I would invite only my closest family members… Isn’t that the saddest dream ever? To win lottery to be able to run away from people…

People often say things about themselves such as: I like good music, reading books, watching movies, but also meeting new people. When I had social anxiety I couldn’t wrap my head around the last one – how could you possibly like meeting new people? At the time I could barely deal with the handful of people I already knew, but actually going out and actively meeting new ones would feel like a self-imposed torture.

You cannot really be happy with social anxiety. Even you think you can fill the gap that avoiding people leaves in you with all the solitary hobbies you can think of, you can’t. On the one hand, loneliness dug a hole in my soul, on the other, being around people was unbearable. The end effect was a life of anguish…

But that is now past. I have overcome social anxiety and I feel normal. Complete. Happy.

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  1. Pingback: How I am now | Social anxiety overcome

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