A few years ago my sister and niece came to visit, my family went out for a meal, everyone except me, my niece didnt understand so my sister had to try and explain to a 9yo girl why I coudn't face going out, basically she just said i was extremely shy........
I wish social anxiety was that simple,
I'v lived with social anxiety most my life, I was always that strange kid that never talked much, didn't have many friends, and so that has continued into my adult life
Dont get me wrong, I was able to control it for many years, fooling myself into being 'social' but deep down it was tearing me apart,
But the last decade has been hard, I'v rarely left my house on my own, only venturing out once a week with my mum to do the shopping, and it takes a lot out of me just to do that, I have to really focus on mum being there by my side or I wouldn't cope, I never really engage in talking to others, my mum is pretty much the only person I do that with, anyone else I have to dig deep to say the simplest of hello's,
I never make phone calls because it freaks me out, I answer the house phone because I know its mostly either for mum, or a cold call, so I know I'm only gonna say hello and that's it, either pass it over to mum or put it down.
The internet for me has been a huge revelation, using this I can talk to people, I don't know why, maybe because its just words on a screen, and not an actual person, so for me now, socialising is coming online and talking on social media, I text people on my mobile too
But any physical situations where I have to go out cause me major stress, I panic, suffered many a panic attack in my time, my breathing gets heavy or shallow, I hyperventilate, I get pins and needles in my whole body, I go dizzy, I get pressure pains in my chest, I get sweaty,
Living like this is a hell, I'm pretty much trapped in my house, though over the years I'v found little ways of coping, music plays a big part in my life, if I'v got my mp3 player or ipod on and headphones I can leave the house, this is a very basic distraction technique, I focus on my music and I'm away, it blocks the surrounding out, but that is until i gotta face people again, once at my destination (such as a cpn's clinic) the panic and anxiety builds up again
Over the last year I'v been seeing a cpn every 2 weeks, though for the last 2 months it was 3 weeks, this has ended now because shes done all she can, luckily I got to know her so it was almost ok to talk to her and go see her, yes I still needed music to get there, but once in the building there wasn't the anxiety bout talking to her.
Now I have to take what I'v learnt and put it into use, these are things like controlled breathing techniques, cognitive behaviour techniques, basically its like having a toolbox of things I can call on when I start to feel anxiety
So I guess really rather than saying anxiety HAS ruined my life, I'm at a stage where I can now say anxiety HAD ruined my life, I'm now looking into the future for the 1st time since childhood,