Life

How to recognise Social Anxiety and strategies to help….

Anxiety….. argh, it sux!!! There’s really not another word quite so appropriate really. It comes in all shapes and sizes, affects people of all ages, gender, race and economic status. It can come on seemingly out of nowhere but there is always a trigger, even if you are not consciously aware of it.
It can follow a physical trauma, an emotional upset or after becoming a parent in the form of Post Natal Depression. You might be thinking, hang on she’s talking about anxiety not depression……that’s true and they are best friends that tend to play together regularly. Anxiety is difficult to deal with at any age but more so with children that are not old enough to understand what is happening with them.Social Anxiety Do You Know How To Cope With It

*****One of the main points I need to stress is if you believe you may be dealing with anxiety and or depression yourself, please seek medical advice. I make it very clear to you that I am NOT a Dr or Councillor of any type, I am simply a person that has and is dealing with both depression and anxiety, therefore I speak from personal experiences.****

I have had the odd bout of anxiety and panic attacks over the years but over the past few months I have been dealing with almost crippling social anxiety or social phobia. Like most things that happens in life, if you have never had to deal with something yourself you really have no idea of how it affects people.
That being said, I thought I knew all there was about anxiety from previous incidents but no, I still had and have more to learn. Up until recently I didn’t really that an anxiety attack and a panic attack have different characteristics. Today I’m going to take you through those differences and also look at the symptoms for you to be aware of, for yourself and others.

SYMPTOMS & TRIGGERS

SYMPTOMS

  • High levels of fear
  • Dry mouth
  • Blushing
  • Excessive sweating
  • Shaking and tremors
  • Racing heart
  • Irrational fear of normal situations

TRIGGERS

  • Being the center of attention
  • Meeting authority figures
  • Having to sustain eye contact
  • Being observed or watched while doing tasks
  • Public speaking
  • Making phone calls and talking to strangers

COPING STRATEGIES

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has proven to be extremely successful for social anxiety.
  • Rational thinking therapy
  • Mindfullness
  • Breathing control
  • Exposure within a safe setting to recognise how irrational fears are and detrimental to recovery.

As some of you already know, I have spent more than half my life as a performer, so being out in public was never a worry for me. When I got this latest flare up of my fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue I was forced to be at home 99% of the time. In the early stages last November I only left the house to attend Drs appointments for myself and my mum who was also very ill at the time. I did all my communication and socialising with my fingers……the only time I made real phone calls was to my mum.
As Christmas drew closer I couldn’t bare to be in a supermarket with so many people and resorted to doing my groceries online. Can you believe it? Me the people loving person couldn’t cope with people!!
As I mentioned above I would attend Drs appointments, after all I was there so much it was, in my mind a safe place. After a while I would also go out alone if I was heading to the beach or the lake to take photos. I would literally hide behind my camera. I have to say, my photography improved because of it and I was able to share my new photos on social media for everyone to enjoy. That’s being social right? No it’s not, but in my mind at the time it was social enough.
If I ventured out anywhere else I always had someone with me. My son, my mum or a very trusted and empathetic friend or friends. I am not one to shy away from a challenge and I’ll be damned if this crap was going to steel my ability to do my groceries forever. So I forced myself into the car, to drive to the supermarket, which is literally just around the corner and do my shopping.
Was I calm and relaxed? Hell no, I would be sweating, trembling both inside and out, I’d be dizzy and hyper aware of my surroundings and others in it and by the time I returned home I usually had a severe headache or migraine coming on. But I did it and still do, regardless of the anxiety I’m feeling.
Only last month I had a dinner to attend with my regular Crazie friends and I had known about it for a couple of weeks prior. The night before, I painted my nails ready for my ‘big’ night out………early dinner seating so we could get home early 😂😂😂
Anyway, about 4 hours prior to dinner in crept the anxiety attack. That buzzing in my head, the heart palpitations and the shaking, inside and out…….’Maybe I shouldn’t go, maybe I should just message them and tell them I’m not well’ or ‘maybe you should stop being so scared and get in the shower and get ready’!!!! Which is exactly what I did. When I got out I was still shaking, breathing fast, giddy and I started to put my makeup on…… it’s such a treat doing your mascara and eyeliner with the trembles, but I did it. I chose what I was wearing and had time for a cup of tea before I had to leave.
Still when the time came, that flight or fight feeling was pounding away. ‘You will get in that car and go to dinner’ ……’these are your friends and you need to see them’…..I did get in the car and headed for the restaurant. Still trembling, still sweating and hyper aware of the traffic around me as I drove……I arrived at the restaurant safely. I felt a little relief when I saw and greeted a couple of my friends and we headed into the restaurant together, safety in numbers at this point. It wasn’t until I sat down at the table between my two male friends that I started to feel the attack subside, it wasn’t instant but it happened. I’d made it, I was with great friends that care about me, don’t judge me and most of all…I am safe. Dinner went by with no more attacks and an incident free drive home.
I can honestly say, choosing to attend was the hardest decision and I’m more than happy I did, not only for the chance to see my wonderful group of friends but to prove to myself I could…….I would have regretted my decision if I’d chosen to stay home.

This is just a snapshot of a few hours, but imagine feeling like that for days, weeks even months at a time and you can hopefully start to see what a life changing condition it really is. Spare a thought for those you know that suffer with social anxiety or anxiety of any kind…..it really does suck!!!!!

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