I am nineteen years old. And a few months ago, I came to know that I suffer from this condition called Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). Even though this mental illness is recognized, there is very little awareness about it. So people with this condition don’t realize that they have a genuine problem and most don’t get treatment for it.
Social anxiety disorder is an anxiety disorder in which a person has an excessive and unreasonable fear of social situations. A person with social anxiety disorder is afraid that he or she will make mistakes, look bad, and be embarrassed or humiliated in front of others. As a result of the fear, the person endures certain social situations in extreme distress or may avoid them altogether.
I had a normal childhood. I grew up in a loving family and was well cared for. I am an extremely quiet person. I end up standing alone in the corner of the room at parties. I would never participate in the class, even though I knew the answers. I often find it impossible to express myself in front of people.
Living with this condition is very difficult. I feel like I am in a spot light and everyone is talking about me. I am unable to do normal things that other people find so easy. I can’t imagine initiating a conversation. I will convince myself that I am not hungry when I walk into a restaurant and it’s crowded. I have very few friends and am not very close to them. Sometimes when I talk, my voice trembles and my limbs shake.
I am indecisive. I worry about things going wrong constantly. I rethink so much that it’s exhausting. I shy away from responsibility because I am not assertive.
And it is painfully isolating. I have no one that I can talk freely with in my life, because my ailment doesn’t let me form bonds with people. People think that I am arrogant and aloof and I hate them. The reality is that I am dying to be friends but because of my anxiety I run away from them.
I have a mental disease and people around me will never know what I go through each day. Suffering from a mental disease should be treated like a physical disease. A person with cancer is never given a guilt trip about having it, or somebody who needs glasses is not told to try harder at seeing clearly. But when people notice that I don’t interact much, they tell me to just get over it and they think I am doing it on purpose. Because of the stigma, I have to hide the fact that my brain releases chemicals that make me anxious and I need help. I didn’t choose to have SAD, I just had it.
Luckily, this condition is recognized in today’s age, and it is highly treatable with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and medication.
I want to say to all the people who have SAD or some other mental disorder, that you are not alone. Please get help, because you deserve a painless and fulfilling life.