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I am a 22-year-old college student and I am one of the many people who suffers from Social Anxiety. It has been giving me a hard time but I am not letting it win. AMA!

DanitheGirl
Jun 17, 2017

Growing up, I had always been a wallflower. I was timid, never the center of attention, passive, never assertive. I thought kids were naturally that way until I realized that my friends outgrew their shyness and I didn't. I was scared to make a lot of friends. I was afraid to speak out and to be, afterwards, judged. I refrained from social activities and I, for a time, turned to vices to cope.

Just a couple of years ago, when I realized I needed help and how my thoughts work were not how a normal person's should, I consulted a volunteer psych and from then, I came to accept my Social Anxiety Disorder but am working on living a more positive life despite it.

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Hello, Reading your comments, i think i have social anxiety too that led to OCD. Each time i am surrounded in a close room with people or even in the middle of the bench. I feel back and turn out that i want to go to the toilet. Most of the time, it's the wrong feeling but despite knowing it, i can't stop. I do everything i can to decrease my fear. I don't know from where it comes. You've been talking about baby steps, i did many of it. I just can't control my urge to "pee" if i am in a stressful moment. I did have a complete crisis of anxiety once. I felt better after it because i understood that i made all my stomach feeling situation up. but i still don't feel confidence enough to be social in random places where i don't know where is the toilets. even if i will go there only once, in my head, i need to have that option, it is so frustrating and a real handicap.

Jun 18, 11:34AM EDT0

How have you learned to cope with anxiety?

Jun 18, 6:52AM EDT0

HiJunior! I copy pasted my answer to a similar question. I don't have enough resources to go to therapy so I do my best to be positive myself to help myself get through it.

"Yes I have! Though I really cannot afford to undergo therapy sessions, here are some things that I've been doing.

  • Literally surround myself with words of encouragement: I know that my SAD branced out from my low self-esteem, I downloaded and printed words of encouragement and plastered them around my room! I also placed the best ones as my phone's screensaver
  • I take note, no matter how awkward or sad it is, of the the tthings that SAD is hindering me to do: Public speaking, Walking on the streets with the clothes I want to wear without thinking of what others would think, Voicing out my opinions in a debate, etc
  • Make baby steps!! I know that this is a battle just within me so only me can also be the one to stop it! I tried being a little more confident with my clothes, I tried engaging in discussions online (using my personal accounts)// I know they seem petty but I swear those are huge steps for me!"
Jun 18, 7:17AM EDT1

Have you had any extreme episode of social anxiety where you had to flee the place and seek solace somewhere?

Jun 17, 2:17AM EDT0

Thank you for the question. AND YES I HAVE. A little background about me: I love writing. The energy and feelings I fail to show through voicing it out, all are transformed into writing.I had a speech communication class in college and our final was a persuasive speech. My classmates' papers were just about cats vs dogs, coke vs pepsi but mine was a thoroughly written piece about faux-feminism of a well-known singer, imagine that. I wanted to ace it so badly I practiced for a whole week. I almost memorized it (though that's not recommended). I made sure my outfit was perfect and I researched how to block the audience as if they were not there once I do the speech.The sad thing about my anxiety is I know how insanely irrational my fear is but once you're in front of people, you'll still feel helpless. Sadly, that happened on the much awaited day. I was on my seat and I was actually excited and feeling confident to speak because I really know and am passionate about my topic.But when I went infront. I stuttered, my supposed 20-second introduction turned into a minute. A few sentences more in, I can feel my whole face reddening and I can feel my blood pumping in my brain. I disregarded that my hands were shaking uncontrollably, I was just about to get to the body of my speech when my professor, whom I look up to and is usually at awe with my writing, has dissapointment plastered on his face. I managed a silent thanks and the sad part was people whom I don't know in class were patting my back, I didn't know that I was already crying. I quickly ran to the restroom and let it all out. That actually was the first time I cried so much my tears formed a puddle on the floor.Writing about it still makes me sad. Can you feel how disappointing this is? :(

Jun 17, 2:57PM EDT0

Do you suffer from inferiority complex or are just plain shy?

Jun 15, 11:16AM EDT0

Hi Jay64! To be honest, even before me knowing that I have Social Anxiety Disorder, I know I suffer from inferiority complex. I'm from a family of over-achievers. We have doctors, lawyers, professors and it's so unfair that they're all good looking too!! I know that they worked their way to get where they are now but there's a permanent thought bubble in me that kept on saying that whatever I do, I will never amount to them. It's a constant battle of knowing that you can do better with your performance, with your looks VS accepting defeat that you're dumb, ugly and a waste of space. I sound like i'm making it cheesy but that's how I see it.

Jun 17, 3:06PM EDT0

Did you ever had trouble in social situations during your childhood and teen years?

Jun 15, 10:49AM EDT0

Hey allison01, YES AND I THOUGHT THAT WAS NORMAL. Almost all the time, it were adults who were culprit behind such occurences. Adults, even my relatives, would pick on me on how fat I was, how ugly my buck-teeth were, how stupid my comments were because I was a"child". My cousins, siblings and I are all subject to these so I thought that this phase was normal and that in time, when we get older, we'll all blossom into smart, beautiful people who'll have the chance to pass on the tormenting to those younger than us. I have no other social interactions growing up to be honest, I was timid in school and my parents never allow us outside the house.

Jun 17, 3:11PM EDT0

Do you have faith in psychotherapy as a method to cure or reduce the symptoms of social anxiety?

Jun 15, 3:18AM EDT0

Good question! I really want to try psychotherapy but unfortunately it's really expensive for me. But I really do believe in the systematized methods of inculcating correct ways to function or think to the brain using science.

Jun 17, 3:15PM EDT0

Have you done anything concrete to tamp down the feeling of social anxiety?

Jun 15, 2:24AM EDT0

Hi Peter! Yes I have! Though I really cannot afford to undergo therapy sessions, here are some things that I've been doing.

  • Literally surround myself with words of encouragement: I know that my SAD branced out from my low self-esteem, I downloaded and printed words of encouragement and plastered them around my room! I also placed the best ones as my phone's screensaver
  • I take note, no matter how awkward or sad it is, of the the tthings that SAD is hindering me to do: Public speaking, Walking on the streets with the clothes I want to wear without thinking of what others would think, Voicing out my opinions in a debate, etc
  • Make baby steps!! I know that this is a battle just within me so only me can also be the one to stop it! I tried being a little more confident with my clothes, I tried engaging in discussions online (using my personal accounts)// I know they seem petty but I swear those are huge steps for me!
Jun 17, 3:23PM EDT0

Do you have any tips or help for others who suffer from social anxiety?

Jun 14, 11:01AM EDT0

I really just started being positive about myself since I know that my SAD branched out from my esteem problems and insecurities. I showered my self with encouragements, plastered quotes on my walls, and I removed the negative people in my life. This is not totally gonna work but it is really helpful, connie61!!

Jun 17, 5:09PM EDT0

Do you feel dizzy or lightheaded when forced to handle a social situation?

Jun 14, 10:55AM EDT0

IT'S A BIG YES WALLSLANCE! On numerous occassions when I thought I already championed the fight, I would feel almost faint, my blood pressure would soar, my face would redden and all my joints would stop working as joints and be wobbly. It's a really sad picture. :(

Jun 17, 3:28PM EDT0

Have you sought support from your close friends to help overcome this problem?

Jun 14, 4:14AM EDT0

I never really liked being the center of attention, Sean99. :( As much as I want to open it to them, I think this is something major and they wouldn't let it go. I know they will all mean well but I'm not yet ready. I want to figure this out on my own first before I let them in on this.

Jun 17, 3:30PM EDT0

Do you think you are incapable of doing various tasks as efficiently as others?

Jun 14, 12:12AM EDT0

Yes, Julie Hicks, sadly. If I am exposed to trigger, my mind would be out of focus, i could only think of calming myself down and before I can achieve it, people have already taken notice (it's hard not to notice, with my face reddening and/or me being jittery and/or me sweating intensely and/or suddenly looking pale and faint) and it is impossible for me to regain composure and do things "efficiently" :( 

Jun 17, 4:11PM EDT0

Have you tried any treatment options or medications to help you with this problem?

Jun 13, 9:01PM EDT0

Not yet, Michael Odom. I found therapies and sessions too expensive. Hopefully soon, I'll be able to!

Jun 17, 4:40PM EDT0

How do you manage to interact with your fellow students and professors at school and college?

Jun 13, 6:36PM EDT0

Thanks for the queation Joes Singh! I had no problem if I'm seated alongside them or if I give out one word answers to the professors. I'm a silent applauder in class. I rarely volunteer. When a professor asks a question that needs a lengthy answer, almost always I have an answer in my head that I edit again and again to be ridicule-free and correct but by that time, somebody has already answered. It's hard to want to showcase your intelligence vocally when you have SAD. Things that I hate are asking to write something in front, speaking in front or being singled out and being asked for my opinion when I didn't volunteer to do so.

Jun 17, 4:42PM EDT0

Does your family help you overcome your fear of social situations?

Jun 13, 6:24PM EDT0

Hi Heidi Smith! My family still do not that I have been diagnosed with SAD but they know that I'm a shy, reserved person who keeps to myself. They always blame my love for books, sometimes I do too. 

Jun 17, 4:44PM EDT0

When did you first realize you suffered from social anxiety disorder?

Jun 13, 4:15PM EDT0

It was in 2015 when I did a backtrack of my life during my deliberation for a position in one of my organizations. I realized that even though I'm one of the oldest members, I haven't landed a position yet. That's when I realized my fear of voicing out opinions, speaking in front when it's a necessity especially for a Philosophy Organization. I then realized that I've been doing that not only in my orgs but also in class and that I work hard for every preparations for Org Events but disappear on the events itself. It's not that I hate people, I'm scared of interacting and them finding me boring and dumb. So I asked a colleague who's finished psychology working as a volunteer and was finally told that I have SAD after 3 Q&A sessions.

Jun 17, 4:48PM EDT0

Do you believe you will be able to work at a regular job which often lands you in social situations?

Jun 13, 3:58PM EDT0

I'd love to believe that I would, Maria. But I do not want to risk my character and the quality of service expected from me by a company just to test out what I can and can't do. So as of now, I just stick to jobs requiring less to zero social interactions such as article writing and other online jobs!

Jun 17, 4:49PM EDT0

Are you comfortable using online forums and making friends in an anonymous manner?

Jun 13, 7:35AM EDT0

YES, Zhudson, Thank you for that question! I have anonymous blogs and even for this #AMA I'm anonymous! But still it's frustrating that I find it hard to establish myself, my skills to other people because of my SAD.

Jun 17, 4:51PM EDT0

Are you comfortable interacting with just a few good friends?

Jun 13, 7:15AM EDT0

Yes I am Crosbysean but I just recently found out that I still feel very anxious when we are talking casually and I'm to speak continuousy for more than a couple of minutes! I hate the feeling of being the center of attention and that all eyes are on me. Ugh, just thinking about it makes me feel like I'm shrinking.

Jun 17, 4:58PM EDT0

Which situation actually makes you anxious and unsure to face?

Jun 13, 4:52AM EDT0

Omg, Amanda there are a lot!

  1.  Saying stuff about myself or any topic in front of people for more than a minute
  2. Sometimes, walking down the street is hard with all the people looking and staring. I easily get drained when I feel anxious.
  3. Standing up for myself in social situations that I am being riduculed
  4. I usually am the one who listens since I'm not good with conversations. I can't make a convo flow. I just always nod and smile and laugh when needed but it doesn't mean I'm uninterested.
  5. Even just by standing when all are seated or vice versa. I hate standing out.
Jun 17, 4:56PM EDT0

Don't you think your career options will be limited unless you opt for some solo jobs or tasks?

Jun 13, 3:54AM EDT0

Thanks for the question, Tyler! Yes I do think that. I really do not want to risk losing a job just to test out what I can and cannot do so as for the moment that I am not yet 100% okay, I'll stick to jobs that I know I can be good and efficient at.

Jun 17, 4:52PM EDT0

Were you open and friendly with children your age as a child?

Jun 13, 2:54AM EDT0

Not really, Gregg. But I think you can tag me as a normal shy kid. My symptoms got really intense though when I got into Uni. As a kid, I wasn't allowed to play outside with neighbors. I only have my siblings, and barbies and mostly BOOKS! I kept to myself a lot, I drowned in the wonders of books and I would in an instant exchange the chances of playing with other kids for books!

Jun 17, 4:14PM EDT0

Have you avoided dating as you suffer from social anxiety?

Jun 13, 1:08AM EDT0

I didn't really avoid dating, Nelsonkimberly. I'm only human and I want somebody as my #otp. Haha! But boy it was a struggle. Aside from SAD, I have inferiority complex and self-esteem issues, all these combined isn't healthy if you're dating. I always felt worthless and easily replacable. Not that I'm fishing for compliments but I always needed validation and assurance while not sounding too clingy. It's a struggle when your partner loves the spotlight and it seems like you're holding him back when he wants to go out on a double date for date night when you'd rather watch a movie at home. As I'm writing this, sadly, my relationship is a bit rocky and I think my SAD and esteem issues are a factor.

Jun 17, 4:19PM EDT0

What kind of work are you interested in, given that you suffer from social anxiety?

Jun 13, 12:22AM EDT0

I love love love backstage work! Thanks for asking this Dustin. What I do do not involve social interactions. I write articles for numerous clients. I think I'm good in writing. I make scripts, I draw. I teach english online. Even in college, I always do the reports while the others present them in front. I hold the camera as they act. But given that my job right now can be done at any time that I like, I thought of taking a day job. I just applied to a call center where I am supposed to work in a team. I hope I do well though!

Jun 17, 4:23PM EDT0

Did you face some catastrophic event which made you fear social situations and settings?

Jun 12, 10:32PM EDT0

Actually, Drobertson, I think it's a compilation of instances that made me like this. I got bullied and ridiculed by my own relatives to somehow, toughen me up. I hear how people judge other people, noticing even how their hair isn't in place! I have experiene where I've done my best but other people still bested me. I've been too harsh with my self regarding my goals that I started having problems with my esteem and eventually led up to SAD. It was a gradual transformation until I snapped in college and totally veered away from social interactions.

Jun 17, 4:26PM EDT0

Are you comfortable meeting people on one on one basis?

Jun 12, 9:18PM EDT0

Thanks for the question, Phillipsarthur! Actually, it depends. Sometimes i'm comfortable if the person is someone I've known for so long or someone who's a subordinate or somebody whom I know is inferior. I only get triggered if the person is somebody I look up to that I think I need to prove them something, or somebody who has a louder personality than mine whom I've met for the first time.

Jun 17, 4:28PM EDT0

How do you handle and manage when/if you are required to give a presentation at school?

Jun 12, 8:02PM EDT0

Amora, omg that question!! My performances fall under 2 categories:

  1. I beg my groupmates to switch tasks, I can do the report while they can present, My pleading usually works. But if it's a solo presentation, I can say 90% of the time, I end up having low marks because my trail of thoughts would be all over the place. I would forget my lines, I would shake in front. Basically I just shut down and wait for my time to end and rush to the nearest restroom and cry.
  2. THIS HAPPENED ONLY ONCE. It was a business-pitch for my business class, it was a group project but I was the only one who did the entire thing, I though it was unfair for them to get points just by presenting it so I took the job to present it as well. IT FELT SURREAL to actually brave speaking in front (*although we were only 12 in class) but I can actually hear the sound of my blood rushing to my brain and I can feel my hands shaking but I still went on speaking. At the end of my presentation, people were laughing and clapping. I found out it's because my face was sooooo red (I'm light-skinned). I gave out a sob but it was because of happiness and embarrasement at the same time. This instance never happened again, though, sadly.
Jun 17, 4:34PM EDT0

Did you ever seek the help of a doctor to overcome social anxiety?

Jun 12, 6:15PM EDT0

As much as I want to, UCOLE, I can't afford it. It's really expensive for me.

Jun 17, 4:35PM EDT0

Are you regularly taking any beta blockers, antidepressants or anti anxiety medications?

Jun 12, 4:03PM EDT0

No Charles, I cannot afford such therapies and medications yet. Hopefully soon!

Jun 17, 4:35PM EDT0

Were you ridiculed over anything during your childhood or teenage years?

Jun 12, 3:55PM EDT0

Oh yes Patricia53! My relatives would pick on me, my hair, my teeth, my weight. My classmates would bully me for not being really social and for being a know-it-all. I know I'm smart but school and life isn't all about grades and I had a hard time balancing that.

Jun 17, 4:39PM EDT0

Do you manifest any physical symptoms when you are in the company of people?

Jun 12, 2:21PM EDT0

Thank you for the question, Catherine Miller! Yes embarassing as it is, I do! Sometimes I begin to stutter, my face reddens (it's hard not to miss out since i'm light skinned), my hands and legs shake uncontrollably, even just by sitting with gazillions of thoughts running through my head, I run out of breath and hyperventilate, worst would probably be to cry even though I really didn't want to cry. It's as if my tear ducts and brain are ganging up on me.

Jun 17, 5:12PM EDT0

Have you ever tried psychotherapy to help you overcome social anxiety?

Jun 12, 2:21PM EDT0

Not yet Millerhayley because I cannot afford them yet. I found a few centers with a more religious and spiritual approach but I don't dig that.

Jun 17, 4:36PM EDT0

What kind of grades did you get in school and how were you overall as a student?

Jun 12, 1:20PM EDT0

In gradeschool and highschool, I was an overachiever. Out of 250 students, I was in the Top 20. I had no problems regarding SAD, I still haven't experienced intense symptoms until I reached college. I got accepted in the top university of my country and that's where I started to self-loathe, be insecure and let my insecurities eat me up.

Jun 17, 3:54PM EDT0

Do you realize social anxiety if left untreated can lead to some serious complications?

Jun 12, 12:48PM EDT0

Yes, I do, Millercurtis. My goals as of now, is to encourage myself to accept that I have, SAD, take note as much as I can about my triggers, about possible causes of my SAD, things that SAD is hindering me to do, the steps I took that I think are helpful in battling SAD. And once I have enough resources, I would love to undergo therapy. 

Jun 17, 3:52PM EDT0

Have you found, of the three possible causes of social anxiety, which cause is most probably in your case?

Jun 12, 10:53AM EDT0

Hello, Christopher! Thanks for the question but I'm not really sure what those three are so I googled them. I found these: Inherited traits, Brain structure, Environment.

I think, on the 3rd. I know for sure that my SAD branched out from my low self-esteem and really bad social skills (because we were not allowed to attend social events until I was 17). But I'm not really sure, I haven't really had a session with a therapist/psychiatrist about this.

Jun 17, 3:58PM EDT0

What kind of negative impact has social anxiety made on your daily life?

Jun 12, 10:24AM EDT0

These are only a few, Jessica32.

  • I'm an expressive person and I turn to writing for that. It's a battle to be as vocal in person as I am on paper. It's hard to showcase your thoughts and opinions no matter how right they are when you're afraid of an audience, social interaction and chances of being judged.
  • I know I'm pretty, I know I'm smart. But to come up with those realizations take effort. I need validation and without those, I'm nothing. And when my confidence is already at its highest, a simple criticism is all it takes to take me back to square 1.
  • A more general assessment would be that I give too much weight to what others think of me or what they might think of me more than I should. I believe this is where it all stems out from.
Jun 17, 3:46PM EDT0

Which kind of social situation are you never ready to face?

Jun 12, 9:26AM EDT0

Kenneth60, thanks for the Q! Facts about me is English is a 2nd language where I am from, I can speak it fluently, my grammar and diction is waaaaay superior than most and I love every opportunity that comes where I can showcase them. I LOVE the thought of me speaking in front of a lot of people, I LOVE  the idea of me hosting a party because I know I can, I believe I can. // UNTIL I'm up on stage. It's very very very frustrating when Ican't do something I'd love to do because of silly downer thoughts that race in my head everytime I go infront of an audience. I've done a few milestones in battling SAD but speaking in front of an audience is yet to be ticked off my list.

Jun 17, 3:39PM EDT0

Has anything worked or helped you control your social anxiety disorder?

Jun 12, 8:46AM EDT0

It's a battle within me, SpencerHurley and the sad part is I know what would help and I know how to counter the measures I'm taking to overcome SAD. I'm an overthinker and as much as I refrain from it, I'm very judgemental. My partner (he's the only one who knows) told me that maybe my fear from being eyed, criticized and judged is because I am judgemental myself that I notice everything everyone does and interprets them. For example, an outgoing friend belts a song on the karaoke but is out of tune, my thoughts would be like, "Isn't she ashamed her pitch is horrible?" or "I'm embarrassed for her." etc etc. I end up being uncomfortable thinking whether somebody else is judging me the same way I'm judgin my friend. And after that, I'm gonna think "Even though, she's out of tune, and aware that everybody heard her, she's still having fun because at the end of the day, nobody will remember and she doesn't give a fuck because she's having fun!!" The frustrating part is I always end up resolving my thoughts but I struggle in applying them to myself. But I'm still not giving up. <3

Jun 17, 4:06PM EDT0

Does social anxiety run in your family or do your parents or other relatives suffer from the same problem?

Jun 12, 8:17AM EDT0

Hi, Robert02! To be honest, I really do not know. Mental health issues are still a tabboo in my family. I've heard them talk about it and they considered such people with mental health issues as weaklings who just have different titles. It's saddening and one day, when I have already sorted things out and mustered my courage, I would open up to them and explain to them that Mental Issues are real and such people need help.

Jun 17, 3:35PM EDT0