Social Anxiety Disorder: A Day in the Life (University)

What follows is a post that I wrote a couple of years ago now, for another site, but was never published. I’ve decided to post it on here while I’m working on mega-updates on everything that has happened in my life (SA-related and otherwise) since the last time I updated my blog regularly. It’s amazing to see how much things have changed for the better since I wrote this post.


 

“This isn’t so bad”, I say to myself as I sit eating lunch in my university’s canteen. My hands are shaking, and I’m sitting alone while almost everyone else in the room seems to sitting with friends, but at least now I can actually stay in the canteen without having a panic attack. I would never have been able to do this way back during my first year of university. I look around the canteen and see other students talking and laughing with their friends and classmates. There seem to be hundreds of indecipherable conversations going on all around me. But I don’t need to decipher them to know that all of those students can do what I cannot. A wave of sadness and acceptance washes over me. “Try not to think about it”, I tell myself, “Think of the progress you’ve made. Things are better now”. Yet the progress seems like nothing at all compared to the misery, anxiety, and loneliness that I still feel on a daily basis.

I am 21 years old and about to go into my final year of university. It has taken me a year longer than most to get to this point, due to how difficult my mental health issues have made university for me. Everyone always says that these will be the best years of your life. So why have my university years been one of the most lonely and miserable periods of my life? I feel like an alien compared to other students. I have never been to a nightclub or student party, and my social life is almost non-existent. I spend my entire weekend at home. Even the thought of going out socially with a group of other students is enough to make me feel sick with anxiety. I have not managed to make a single friend at university, despite having been there for four years now. At least I do have a small number of friends now. I didn’t have any friends at all (except one online friend) until about a year ago. The friends I do have are still not close friends, though. I only see each of them about once every 2 or 3 months, so I am still very lonely and isolated. Making friends has always been difficult for me. I’d love nothing more than to have a group of close friends to spend time with and talk to, but my anxiety prevents this from happening. I don’t even have anyone that I chat with at university, so university is an extremely isolating experience for me. My anxiety has also prevented me from ever being in a relationship. Much like friendships, this is something which I long for intensely, but it is still an impossibility for me. I can’t even have a basic conversation with a member of the opposite sex without suffering from intense anxiety.

I have had social anxiety disorder for as long as I can remember. It has made life difficult in a lot of ways, throughout every stage of my life so far. Throughout my time at university, my anxiety has gotten in the way so much. Just sitting with other students in a lecture theatre is enough to make me anxious. I almost always sit on my own, as I am too afraid to sit with other students. I worry that they wouldn’t like me. I worry that they would take one look at me and then wonder why the socially awkward loner is disturbing them. Tutorials are even worse. I hate group work, because this usually involves me awkwardly having to go up to another group of students (if I can manage this without a panic attack) and ask them if I can join their group. I’m usually too anxious to contribute anything to the conversation. I used to have panic attacks during classes, and had to leave the room. I was convinced that my classmates and tutors could all see what a freak I was, and that they all thought I was pathetic. Group presentations were even worse, and would have been completely impossible without the aid of propranolol.

In addition to the anxiety, I have also suffered from episodes of severe depression since I was 14 years old. I believe that the depression results from all the ways in which social anxiety disorder limits my life. When I was 17, not long after starting my first year of university, I had the worst depressive episode of my life. I would get back from university each day and cry because I could not even have a simple conversation with anyone. I could not make friends. I was alone and miserable, and no one seemed to even notice me. I would cry myself to sleep most nights, until eventually I was no longer even able to cry. I thought about suicide a lot. One day, I decided that I could cope no longer. I had a really bad panic attack at university, left, and then decided that I would commit suicide by jumping from a suspension bridge (something I had been thinking about for months). Thankfully, despite my intense anxiety, I do have one good friend (who I met through the internet), and they, with the help of someone else, managed to talk me out of suicide. I continued to feel the same for months afterwards, but was somehow able to get through it. In some ways, that part of my life feels unreal to me, made real only by the scars on my arm. Yet in other ways, in spite of all my progress, I am still alone, still have no close friends or any chance of being in a relationship, and anxiety still pervades my life.

I am brought back to the present moment as I notice the girl sitting diagonally across the table from me. She sits alone, with her head down, shoulders hunched, and earphones in. She looks like a first year. I wonder if she too has social anxiety disorder, and if she is in the same personal hell that I am in. I wonder how many other people have to go through this loneliness, anxiety, and misery on a daily basis, longing for friends and human connection, but unable to obtain them. Social anxiety disorder is the third most common mental health problem, thought to affect 7-13% (Bryce and Saeed, 1999; Furmark, 2002) of the population in western countries. Yet the condition is almost unheard of among the general public. In my experience, the vast majority of mental health professionals do not know how to treat it, and many have never even heard of it, and refuse to accept that it a serious, life destroying disorder which can lead to depression and suicide. That’s why I’m writing this article. I want there to be more awareness of this crippling anxiety disorder. I want there to be more help and support available, and therapy that actually works. I don’t want anyone else to go through all of the pain, loneliness and misery that I have been through, and continue to go through.

A guy comes over to my table and asks if I’m interested in a gym membership. I manage to surprise myself by actually being able to make eye contact and not stumble over my words. I reply that I’m not interested. It’s not that I don’t like to exercise; it’s that my anxiety prevents me from exercising in front of other people. I still haven’t been able to face this fear. “Try not to focus on it”, I once again tell myself, “Focus on all the progress you’ve made”. While social anxiety continues to control my life, it is true that I have made considerable progress over the last couple of years. To give just a few examples, I passed my driving test, went along to some social groups, went along to a couple of job interviews, and even managed to get myself a job in a supermarket (a socially anxious person’s idea of Hell). While working there has been very difficult for me, it has also helped me a lot with my anxiety. I feel a lot less anxious in shops and other public places now. I just hope the progress can continue and that I won’t be lost to social anxiety disorder.

I remind myself that despite all the pain that comes with having depression and an anxiety disorder, despite all the times I felt I couldn’t go on with life and that suicide was my only option, I am still here. And I wouldn’t still be alive if I didn’t have hope that things can get better. If you’re struggling with social anxiety disorder or depression, I just want you to know that you’re not alone. I want you to know that you are stronger and braver than you know. You have to be to live with these conditions. I hope that someday, mental illnesses will receive as much care and attention and physical illnesses, and everyone who suffers from social anxiety disorder will be able to get the treatment they need, and go on to live a life that they can be content with, free from chronic misery and loneliness. I have decided that even if I achieve nothing else with my life, it will not be for nothing if I can raise awareness of social anxiety disorder in some way.

 

References:

Bryce, T.J. and Saeed, S.A. (1999). Social Anxiety Disorder: A Common, Underrecognized Mental Disorder. American Family Physician. 60(8): 2311-2320.

Furmark, T. (2002). Social phobia: overview of community surveys. Acta Psychiatricia Scandinavica. 105(2): 84-93.

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Sad But True

The memory now is like the picture was then,

When the paper’s crumpled up it can’t be perfect again

– ‘Forgotten’ by Linkin Park

If someone tells you something – whether that be that you’re ugly, worthless, a freak, no good, too horrible to have friends, etc – eventually, it becomes truth. So blindly true, in fact, that you don’t even question it. Especially if you are told these things when your brain is still developing (i.e. childhood or teenhood), and you lack the critical thinking skills of an adult. It is all the more true if you are told these things day in, day out, by multiple people. And the lies turned truths are even more effective if you have no friends to refute them, and to shield your highly fragile adolescent self-esteem from cruel words and actions. It’s sad but true that what someone says to you when you’re 13 years old can profoundly affect you for the rest of your life. The legacy of being bullied can last a lifetime.

Being bullied leaves an indelible mark. No matter the progress, the doubt – both in yourself and in others – will always remain. Perhaps time, and repeated positive social interactions, will help to heal. The memories will never go away, but perhaps with some hard work and luck, their impact can be blunted over time.


Edit: This post was taken from some “free-writing” I did a while back. I hope to FINALLY write more (mainly far more positive) blog posts soon.

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I Opened the Window and Influenza

As previously mentioned, I’m really out of practice with blog-writing/ writing in general, so I’ll stick to writing (or attempting to write) fairly short posts over the next few weeks. These will probably be a bit random in terms of subject and chronological order.


I mentioned in a previous post that after coming back from Namibia, I seemed to be coming down with repetitive bouts of the flu. One day at work, at the end of November, this lead to a rather dramatic (and somewhat embarrassing) turn of events.

The weird thing about this particular flu-like illness (other than that it kept coming back over the course of a month or so, after me feeling like I was completely back to normal) is that I would go from feeling completely fine to unable to get out of bed, in the space of only an hour or two. During this particular shift at work, it suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks. I started to feel very run-down and very cold, so I told my manager I that I wasn’t feeling well, put my work fleece on, and had a short break for a few minutes. A couple of my colleagues could see that I was unwell and said that I should probably just go home, but having always been a conscientious person, and not wanting to let my colleagues down, I tried to just keep working.

A short while later, I started to feel very dizzy and like I was about to throw up, so made my way back to my department as quickly as I could. My manager and team support people were busy as I got into the department, and so, feeling awful, but not wanting to be rude, I ended up leaning over one of the trolleys (as I felt like I was about to pass out), hoping that someone would notice me and ask what was wrong. It’s both funny and alarming that even when I’m feeling really unwell, I’m still anxious about interrupting people/ getting the attention of other people. After a few moments, my manager turned around, and I simply lifted my head up from the trolley and casually asked “Is there something that I can be sick in?”, then told my manager and another colleague that I felt like I was about to faint. A look of horror suddenly came over my manager’s face, and she and the other colleague rushed over to try and keep me steady. At the same moment, I felt like I was about to faint there and then (I had tunnel vision, just like I did before I fainted/ nearly fainted in the past), so I immediately sat down right where I was. I actually felt better (in terms of no longer feeling nauseous) once I had regained my vision, but because I’d nearly passed out, had a temperature, and still felt unwell, 3 first aiders were called to my department, and my manager (who seemed really worried about me, especially as I had recently been to Africa) decided that an ambulance should also be called. I started freaking out about my health at this point, as I really didn’t feel that things were serious enough to call an ambulance, but started to worry that something may be seriously wrong with me. This wasn’t helped by one of the first aiders telling me that the rash on my right hand/ arm looked a lot like insect bites. They also pointed out that I was shaking (due to the adrenaline kicking in to keep me conscious), but for a change, I actually wasn’t that bothered about it. Normally, having someone notice my shaking (or other physical symptoms of anxiety) would lead to me getting even more anxious.

The paramedics arrived really quickly and took all my vitals, and my blood sugar. They could find nothing physically wrong with me other than a raised temperature. However, given my recent African adventures, they decided that I should be taken to A&E just to be on the safe side. As I had been sat right at the entrance to our department (thus preventing my colleagues from returning/ processing trolleys), my colleagues all had to wait outside the department until my manager asked that they take an early break. I was taken out of our department in a wheelchair (just in case I fainted or felt faint again), with most of my colleagues looking on, which was rather embarrassing. I sheepishly said hello to one of the colleagues who had advised me to go home as I left, and she basically said “I told you so”>

I ended up sitting in A&E for about 2 hours before (thankfully) being told that there was nothing seriously wrong with me and being discharged. The doctors/ nurses reckoned that the weird rash on my hand/ arm was just some sort of allergic reaction, probably related to my eczema. Although I was much relieved, I felt pretty awful about the whole thing, as my sister had to miss classes at university, and my mum had to take the rest of the day off work, in order for them both to pick me up/ make sure I was okay. The member of staff who told me that it was likely just a flu-like viral infection seemed quite annoyed with me as well, and – even though it wasn’t my decision to call an ambulance – I obviously felt really terrible about wasting the time/ resources of an ambulance that could have gone to someone in a much more serious condition. I just hope that the medical professionals I’ve seen before about my fainting/ near-fainting problem are correct in saying that it’s related to anxiety, rather than a sign that something is physically wrong with me. In the CBT group that I attended, the therapists told us that it was practically impossible to faint when very anxious, due to all the adrenaline, so I do find it all a bit odd. Perhaps I’m just someone who faints easily.

I was sort of the talk of my workplace for days after my near-fainting episode, which was quite embarrassing. It’s nice to know that people care/ were concerned though. Honestly, the lengths I will go to just to skive off work, eh? 😛 The only good thing about the whole ordeal was that I got to relax, stay in bed, and do nothing but sleep and binge play Oblivion (the Elder Scrolls game) for three days. (Yes, I’m a massive nerd, and this is probably part of the reason why I didn’t have a boyfriend until very recently. 😛 But I make no apologies for that. It’s an old game but it’s a good game). Unfortunately, playing video games is something that I only get to do once in a blue moon these days, and I do miss the sense of adventure and escapism that they bring. (Again, nerd alert! You’re all free to run away now.)

Anyway…sorry for the word vomit. Life has been crazily busy lately (in a mostly pleasant way), hence the lack of posts. I haven’t forgotten my blog though.

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23

Amazing still it seems
I’ll be 23
I won’t always love what I’ll never have
I won’t always live in my regrets

– ‘23’ by Jimmy Eat World

I rediscovered this song on my ipod the other day (after having not listened to it in years) and it reminded me of how much progress I’ve made over these last few years. I remember frequently listening to that song, and couple of other songs from that album, when I was 16 and severely depressed, wondering what the state of my life would be like when I was 23, and wondering if I would even still be alive then. It was a negative song for me back then; a forecast of a bleak future, in which things would be even worse than they were when I was in high school, and in which I would still be just as incapacitated by anxiety, still be suicidal, still be self-injuring, still have no friends, and still have no chance of being in a relationship or holding down a job. I didn’t think I’d ever have any semblance of a social life, and I definitely didn’t think that I’d ever be able to travel to a different continent all by myself. Like the song lyrics say, I thought I’d be alone and lonely forever, trapped in a vortex of depression, and with suicide being an eventuality. I never imagined that things would be so different to how they were back then.

Now, at the age of 23, listening to that song reminds me how far I’ve come and how much better life is now than during my breakdown at the age of 17. It’s like night and day. This is the longest period of me feeling good about how my life is going since my last year of primary school. I do still have days where I feel as if I’m starting to sink into (mild) depression again, and I start to really worry about the future. I worry because I know just how bad things can get, and how easily everything could fall apart again. If you have ever experienced a mental health condition that has greatly reduced your quality of life, you’ll know that fear of relapse all too well. I fear my anxiety worsening again, and losing the progress I have made. I fear another episode of severe depression most of all. I’m not sure I could get through that again. However, things have certainly been snowballing in a positive direction over these last few years. I’m hopeful that if I can keep challenging myself and using what I’ve learned, this progress and positivity will continue. Even if things do start to slide backwards, I’ve gotten better over the years at recognising when this is happening, and taking steps to address it. If I’ve recovered from depression and greatly reduced my anxiety in social situations before, it stands to reason that I can do it again if life throws me a curveball.

I haven’t had suicidal thoughts since before I left university, and it’s been much longer since I seriously thought about self-injury. While my anxiety does still impact upon just about every area of my life, I can do A LOT more now than I could a few years ago. On a day-to-day basis, my anxiety is certainly a lot more manageable. Without meaning to sound overdramatic, I’m so glad that I didn’t end my life 5 years ago. I would have missed out on so many happy/ positive experiences. I have been very lucky, and I’m grateful every day, for every little thing (for example, yesterday I was able to start a conversation with a colleague that I don’t normally talk to). I will never take the SA-related stuff for granted. Life isn’t perfect, but I have a job (where I’m gradually getting better and better at talking to colleagues and customers), some more travelling planned, a boyfriend, FRIENDS (we aren’t close and I don’t see them very often but have been seeing more of one of my friends in recent months), and I have a social life. All of that is huge!  I also had great birthday this year (I normally don’t really look forward to my birthday as in the past, it served as a painful reminder of how far behind everyone else I am and how socially isolated I was/ still am to an extent). I felt loved by the people in my life, and was spoilt rotten!

I only hope that I can help to raise awareness of social anxiety disorder, and help other people who are in the situation I was in at my lowest point, or worse. My heart truly goes out to you all, because I know how painful and isolating a condition this really, and how life-destroying it can be. I really wish there was more I could do, though I am encouraged by the number of people who have commented on my blog or emailed me to say that my blog has helped them to feel less alone, understood, and/ or more positive about the future. I’ve had a couple of people email me with requests for interviews before, but have been too anxious to go ahead with anything so far. I’m also torn between doing something like that to raise awareness/ educate people, and losing the relative anonymity that I currently enjoy on this blog. I like my privacy, and I’m not sure that I would want my family to read this blog. Though perhaps in future, once I’ve reduced my anxiety even further, I will be ready for that sort of thing.


EDIT: I’m sorry if this post sounds really melodramatic and/ or self-pitying at parts. I just try to write as honestly and openly as possible about my experiences. Please also bear with my terrible writing, as I’m still trying to re-learn how to write blog posts after not blogging regularly (or writing at all) in so long. (My brain having turned into mince as the result of a brainless job is not helping – I swear my vocabulary and intelligence are decreasing by the day). I’m going to make an effort to try and write a new blog post at least once a week for the foreseeable future.

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Someone call the papers!

I mentioned in a previous post that I was attempting online dating again and that I might be meeting up with a guy from one of the sites. Well we did end up meeting up, and things have gone really well so far. I’ll need to write about our first date at some point, actually, as it makes for a funny story, in terms of how mortifyingly/ hilariously (depending on how you look at it) awkward I am. We’ve been going out for almost two months now, and I now have a boyfriend (!!!) Trust me when I say that no one is more surprised than I am! I was thoroughly convinced that I would never be in a relationship, given my mental health issues, unattractiveness, and low self-esteem. I still can’t really believe it now. This is a very prolonged and elaborate dream that I’m having. I really don’t want to mess this up, but I’m worried that all my issues that I mentioned above will inevitably ruin things. He knows all about my social anxiety and history of depression, and has so far been extremely patient and understanding, but it is still a worry. I have zero relationship experience (and not even much experience with friendships), and, as I mentioned before, being in a relationship/ getting close to someone is the area in which my anxiety and low self-esteem are most intense. I am also absolutely dreading meeting his parents (he has already met all of my immediate family, but his parents live up in the Highlands, so it will be some time before I have the opportunity to meet them, if everything continues to go well), even though they seem like lovely people. Everything in a relationship is so new and daunting to me.

While I’m of course really happy about finally having found someone I really like (and who apparently likes me) enough to be in a relationship, I am having huge issues with cognitive dissonance. For example, I can’t believe him when he says that he really likes me or that he finds me attractive, because most of my previous life experiences have taught me that I’m unlikeable/ unlovable, and that I’m hideously unattractive. Therefore according to the sum of my life experience and conditioning, he’s lying. And then I get suspicious and start to worry about what else he might be lying about. Stupid brain. All of this has made me realise that low self-esteem is my biggest issue/ obstacle. I’m currently reading a book on self-compassion in an attempt to address this. Another thing that I’m worried about is that I have intense anxiety/ issues around physical intimacy (I find it really difficult to talk about that kind of thing, but will hopefully write about it in more detail at some point, as I imagine it’s quite a common issue in those of us with SA). Even though he’s been super patient and understanding about this so far, I worry that my issues with this will eventually cause his patience to run out. Anyway…negative rant over.

It feels so great to finally have someone special in my life. I thought that romantic relationships would only ever be something that happened to other people, not to me. I’ve been so lucky to find someone so caring, patient and understanding when it comes to me and my mental health. I had the courage to be open with him about my issues, and he has accepted me, anxiety and all. I feel like this is someone that I may actually be able to trust and open up to completely. Although there are a lot of things about getting close to someone that make me really anxious, I have become so much more comfortable around him already (probably like a different person compared to how anxious I was on our first date), so I am hopeful that I will continue to improve and won’t let my anxiety get in the way of this part of my life. Even if things ultimately don’t work out, I’ve still really enjoyed our time together, and have some new happy memories to add to my collection. Any friendship or relationship that I have in my life is very precious to me. I won’t take this for granted, and I will certainly cherish this far more than most people.

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Life is Good (update)

I suppose I should begin this post with an apology – sorry for being a bad blogger! I’m finding full-time work (still at my supermarket job) much less stressful, but much more physically exhausting, than university – I seem to average about 7 miles of walking (to and from work, at work, and then walking my dog afterwards) in the average work day, and sometimes walk as many as 10 miles a day. The good thing about this is that I’ve lost weight, and – despite eating so much lately – have managed to maintain the weight. I also feel really fit (compared to my high school days anyway) and I’m probably in the best shape I have ever been right now (though there’s still a lot of room for improvement). The downside of this is that I always seem to be exhausted, and I also never seem to get anywhere near enough sleep these days, though this is also partly due to actually having some semblance of a life over the last couple of months (!!) I hope to make more time for blogging, because I really do miss it, and I have countless updates/ subjects that I want to write about.  However, I’ve had writer’s block every time I have attempted to write a blog post recently. I’m really out of practice, so please bear with me as I spew word vomit all over your screens.

Also, have some optional cheesy background music. Because, let’s be honest, it’s a nice change from the less upbeat songs I normally post on here. Also, damn you WordPress for no longer letting me post youtube videos without parting with my hard-earned cash! You’re just another greedy, elitist corporation!


Life is actually going really well in some areas at the moment, and I don’t think I’ve enjoyed life as much as I do right now since my last year of primary school. Why? For a start, I’ve actually had a social life over the last couple of weeks. After not seeing/ hearing from any of them in ages, all 3 of my friends met up with me in the same week, a couple of weeks ago. I can’t tell you how nice it is to be able to have a friendly chat with someone or watch a film/ play a video game with a friend at their flat. Life would be amazing if I had more friends, and/ or if I could meet up with my friends on a more regular basis. Even doing something with a friend once a week would be fantastic. I will hopefully be meeting up with 2 of those friends again over the next couple of weeks, which I’m looking forward to. I’m also hoping to do more travelling this summer – around Scotland, possibly around some of Europe (my youngest sister and youngest cousin were talking about this, and I may join them if they decide to go), and possibly back to Africa for a bit as well – but I haven’t planned/ organised anything yet. I don’t know if my work would let me have my job back afterwards, but if they wouldn’t, I’d still much rather go, and have the experience of a lifetime, than stay in the same monotonous and often frustrating job. I hope to start coming up with actual, concrete plans over the next few weeks. Other reasons as to why I’m enjoying life at the moment include feeling more like I am part of the family, being a lot less stressed since leaving university, and one other reason that will become apparent in my next post. I always felt like the black sheep of the family throughout my teenage years, but (although my mental health seems to be a bone of contention and something that they may never fully understand) I do feel more a part of family life, and more understood by/ involved with my family members. And my mental health/ life in general has certainly improved ever since getting out of that hellhole (university). People used to tell me that high school and university would be the best days of my life, but those were definitely the worst parts of my life so far. Things have improved greatly since leaving those days behind me. I know that my experiences can’t speak for everyone, but I just thought I’d clarify to those of you that have severe SA and are still going through high school/ university, it being “the best days of your life” is utter bullshit. Just do your best to hang in there and get through it. Life is much better now, and I don’t think there is a single day from those years that I’d like to repeat.

Although things are going really well at the moment, I’m still feeling rather discouraged about the possibility of making new friends. There seem to be very few people my age on meetup.com in my area, and I still haven’t gotten weekends off, so I still can’t even go along to the women’s cycling group that I’ve wanted to go to for ages. I went along to a different meetup.com group last month, but I found myself wishing that I hadn’t gone. I was the youngest person there again (though not by decades this time), and was the only female there until the organiser (who was over half an hour late) arrived. I couldn’t really relate to/ converse with anyone in the group, and was so tired from work that I was just about falling asleep. I did manage to eat a meal in front of a group of strangers, which was no mean feat, but I spent the entire meet up just waiting for it to be over, so I could go home and sleep. So yeah…I don’t know how on earth I’m going to meet new friends that I can truly connect with. I can’t just give up though. I wish there were better ways of making new friends available to me. I even thought about starting my own meet up group, but I still don’t feel ready for something like that. It’s still too scary.

I still have not the faintest idea what I’m going to do with my life after travelling, and I start to feel really down any time I start to think about it. I meant to see a careers advisor at my university a while back but I ended up getting too upset about the whole thing. I need to see someone about it soon, and start asking myself some soul-searching questions, or I may be stuck in a monotonous job that I dislike for the rest of my life. I know that I tend to catastrophise this sort of thing, and that I’m currently enjoying life even with a monotonous and frustrating job, so life will not necessarily be unbearable (in my head it will be) if I don’t end up in an enjoyable/ meaningful job. I would very much like if I could do something meaningful with my life though.

I’ve stopped seeing mental health professionals after completing a 12-week group CBT programme a few months ago (I need to write about this at some point), and (as no one I saw ever helped me much, and I’m doing so much better on my own) I feel this is the right decision for me. I still have so much frustration over the way I was treated by people who were supposed to be helping me, and over all the years I wasted in pointless therapy sessions. I hate that the potential misdiagnosis of autism is still hanging over my head as well. I never felt truly understood by anyone I saw, and some of them had not one iota of empathy. But that’s another rant…

In other news, my mum started dating again around this time last year, met a really nice guy, and they are now engaged. I was a little bit shocked that they were engaged only 8 months after meeting each other, but I’m sure they both have enough life/ romantic experience to know what they’re doing. He (my future stepdad) moved in with us a couple of weeks ago. Having so many people living together in a fairly small house is a bit of a nightmare at times, but he is a really nice guy and has made a real effort to get on with my siblings and I. I was so nervous the first time he came round to the house that I actually went and hid in the kitchen, but I’m so, so much more relaxed around him now. I’m really happy that he and my mum are both happy. We – the six people living in my household, and also my dad and his friend/ flatmate – are all going to Florida for a 2-week holiday in May (I had never been to another continent before I went to Namibia, and now I’ll get to experience 2 new continents in the space of less than a year!) I had worried that it would be awkward with dad being there, but he and my mum have remained really good friends, and he can always go off and do other things with his flatmate if he wishes. While I’m really looking forward to the holiday, going to Florida most likely means that both my future stepdad and my dad’s flatmate will have to find out about my scars, which I’m dreading. My mum, with my permission, has already told my future stepdad about my scars (though he hasn’t seen them yet), and thankfully, he does seem fairly understanding when it comes to mental health problems. But I am absolutely dreading having to tell my dad’s flatmate about it. I’m not sure he will be so understanding.

My mum and stepdad are also going to sell our house (though it may take up to a year or more for it to be ready to be put up for sale), and buy a new house about 2 or 3 miles away. There will still be enough room in their new house for my siblings and I to move in if we so wish, but lately, I find myself wishing that I could move out. My youngest sister has also spoken previously about wanting to move out as well, so we could possibly move out together and maybe with our other sister as well. It’s going to be so weird to see the house that I’ve lived in for the last 22 years of my life going up for sale; the house where I grew up. Everything is changing lately. But it all seems to be changing in a positive way. I have some more big steps ahead of me.

Posted in Life Story, Positivity, Social Anxiety | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Social Anxiety on This Morning — wE’Re AlL mAd HeRe

I just wanted to share this, just in case anyone missed it the other week there. The author of wE’Re AlL mAd HeRe discusses her own experiences with social anxiety, and her new book (a guide to coping with and beating social anxiety). I found this incredibly inspiring, and will definitely be reading her book at some point in the near future. It’s refreshing to see a book written by an actual social anxiety sufferer, for other social anxiety sufferers, rather than by a mental health professional who thinks that they understand but have no first-hand experience of the condition. It’s also very inspiring to see her coming across as so calm and composed on live TV, despite her anxiety.


Yesterday I appeared on This Morning to talk about my book and my experiences with social anxiety. Was I nervous? Let’s just say that during the journey to ITV studios, I forced Dan to have a ridiculously in depth conversation about all the potential plot twists in Westworld. Literally EVERY single one. (It was 8:30am, […]

via This Morning – the day after… — wE’Re AlL mAd HeRe

Posted in Social Anxiety | Tagged , , | 6 Comments