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Experience a Day in the Life of Someone Who Suffers from Social Anxiety Disorder
Below is a recollection of my struggles with social anxiety. I am sharing this to give an insider’s view of what those with anxiety disorders have to deal with. Hopefully before disregarding these mental issues, or putting them off as normal everyday problems, you consider this.
It’s five-thiry AM. My alarm goes off and I grunt – another day, another nightmare. As I brush my teeth and shower for school I get excruciating pain in my stomach. One would think the problems with social anxiety disorder would be all mental, but this isn’t always the case. After eating breakfast I hurry outside to catch the school bus.
The bus pulls up around seven AM, late as usual. As I get on the bus I notice there aren’t any empty seats. This happened several times and, to a normal person, wouldn’t seem like an issue at all. I try to ask the one girl sitting down if I can sit with her, but nothing comes out. I walk towards the back of the bus, hoping someone gets the message that I need somewhere to sit. After walking back and forth through the aisles several times someone finally feels bad and moves their things on the seat. This is what it came down for me during my freshman year of high school; I couldn’t even ask kids my own age a question as simple as “Can I sit with you?”
Once arriving at school I usually was over the embarrassment experienced on the bus. Every morning I would pass teachers in the hallways, and every morning the same thing would happen.
“Hello.” one teacher says, as she smiles.
“Hu-uhhh-hi.” I blurt out.
School was tough. I had several friends I talked to, but if they weren’t in one of my classes or were sick that day I would sit quietly all period. Trying to focus during class was difficult. I was never one to be paranoid about people, but I always felt like someone was staring. I would quickly dismiss the notion of being stared at, only to have the same thought several moments later. Then I went through my checklist; I brushed back my hair, fixed my shirt, and ran my tongue over my teeth to see if anything was stuck in them. I wasn’t insecure with my looks, yet I still always checked myself to see if a hygeine problem was to blame for the suspected staring by classmates.
If I heard someone whisper or laugh, it always had to be me. This was the case with everyone, even with people I didn’t know. I despised the walks through the hallway every fourty minutes when class ended. This meant I would have people walking in the opposite direction, possibly looking at me. Were those two girls telling a hilarious joke they heard in a movie? Not in my mind. According to me, they were laughing at my big nose or something.
Like at home wasn’t much easier either. I would arrive home at the usual time – around three o’clock PM. This was the usual time because I absolutely never stayed after school or did anything. The remainder of my day would involve doing things alone and dreading tomorrow. The only time I went out of the house was with my parents. If we went to a restaurant for dinner they had to order my food. It killed me inside knowing at fifteen years old I needed my mother to order my food. Trips to the doctors were the same way. I recall one year having painful urination and going to visit the doctor. I had a genital exam with my own mother in the room, and to make things worse she needed to tell the doctor I was having pain “down there”. I couldn’t talk to adults or go in stores alone – ever.
Halfway through my teenage years things weren’t getting much better. In my sophomore year of high school we were permitted to get our learner’s permits. The thought of driving, even with an adult, thrilled my classmates. I was terrified of even the idea of driving. One Friday afternoon I decided to do something about it and looked for the phone number for the driving school I had an appointment with. I dialed the number and waited, palms soaked with sweat, as the phone rang.
“Hello?” a man asked.
“Uhhh….hi…” I awkwardly replied.
“Can I help you?” he said.
This is when I hung up the phone. Yes, even using the phone terrified me.
By the end of my sophomore year of high school, after the possibility of the first kiss, school dances, birthday parties, and hanging out with friends, I decided to seek treatment. It took ages to convince my parents that my behavior wasn’t normal shyness. I was like a caged animal. Heck, I even felt nervous while alone. I eventually went through two years of behavioral therapy and was prescribed medication. I am now happy to say that I am relatively “normal”. I do what I enjoy on the weekends, flirt with the ladies, drive my own car, have a job, volunteered at a local hospital, and now go to college in hopes of becoming a doctor. Oddly enough, many people describe me as an extrovert.
I have no idea how I survived those days.