The emerging blogger series is aimed at community building through giving mental health bloggers who are early in their blogging evolution the opportunity to have their work seen by a wider audience. It’s also a way to introduce you as a reader to some newer members of our community.
This post is by Aoife from Twenties Tales.
Social anxiety: A day in the life
I am a student at university. I can’t drive, so my first obstacle of the day comes in the form of public transport to uni. On my way to get the bus, I am worried that I won’t have the right change. I will count it over and over and over again, at the bus stop, in the queue. I will practice what I have to say to the driver continuously in my head, despite the fact that I say the exact same thing every single morning. When I’m standing in the queue to get on the bus I will get physical signs of anxiety. My heart will be racing, my stomach will have butterflies, I will feel the full fight or flight adrenalin take control of my body. When I get on the bus I’m worried that I’ve said the wrong thing, that people are staring at me, that I haven’t moved quickly enough from the line.
My next obstacle comes in the form of where to sit. I usually go to the top deck, so I have time to plan where I can sit and what route to take. If somebody sits beside me, I spend the whole journey worrying about how I am going to get past them to get out. I practice what to say over and over in my head and get a surge of anxiety before I can speak to ask them to let me past. I will have already pre planned my route to the front door of the bus, but I will still worry if it is very busy, that I might slip or fall or not be able to get out on time and embarrass myself in front of everyone.
Before entering a classroom in university I always get a wave of intense anxiety. Even if I have friends in the class, I still feel the rush of adrenalin take over my body. I will have to pre-plan my route to a seat. If that seat is taken, I will get nervous and embarrassed, sometimes I can feel myself turning red. Though lucky for me I usually have a good layer of makeup on, so it’s not so easily detected!
When I am with my friends in class, I am often talkative with them. I am not really a shy person; I am quite talkative and bubbly when I am around people, I am comfortable with. I think people often get confused and think that it is impossible for somebody who has a bubbly and chatty personality to have an issue with social anxiety. However, this is completely inaccurate. Lots of seemingly outgoing people also suffer from social anxiety. Social anxiety is an illness, it is not a part of a person’s actual personality. The two things often get mixed up with each other, however they are quite different aspects of who a person is. I am chatty and giggly with friends, however if I am asked a question in class or have to give feedback in front of everyone (which is often the case in my classes), I am dying on the inside. My heart starts to race, I start to plan my answer, I can barely hear anything else that is happening and can’t focus on anything, my stomach gets butterflies and a surge of adrenalin pumps around my body. Sometimes it is enough to make me feel like I can’t breathe or that I am going to faint. I Often go to speak but my anxiety physically affects me and makes my voice crack with nerves, which only leads me to become more self-conscious and embarrassed. I often feel my face flush after I have spoken, paranoid that people are still looking or talking about me.
At lunch when I want to get something to drink, I always order the same thing. Tea. Plain. Although even this can be problematic. I am constantly worried that I am not going quick enough in line, sometimes I will get so nervous my hands will shake and I won’t be able to get my money out. If I have to use my card, I worry they will only take cash and I’ll have to leave without my tea embarrassed in front of a line of people. This in spite of the fact that I know they do take care because I go to the same place every day (but what if the machine has broken since yesterday?)
For the trip home I will have to get the exact change I need for the bus, as to not draw too much attention to myself in the queue or hold it up for a long period of time.
When I walk home from the bus, I have to walk down a busy main road, which makes me extremely nervous. I am self-conscious that every car is looking at me and I try to keep my head down when I walk past other people. I try my best to look at my phone or something elsewhere to avoid eye contact.
When I arrive home most days, I can’t bring myself to do much socialising with friends, because I’m already exhausted from all the worrying I’ve done. I find my social life becoming less and less prominent as I constantly cancel on friends.
When I go to sleep, I will usually find myself over analysing situations I’ve been in that day and cringing at things I’ve said; one wrong move can keep me awake for weeks.
I wanted to write this post to show that if you are suffering with these kinds of issues, you are not alone. It is physically and mentally exhausting just trying to make it through a seemingly normal non anxiety provoking day. The trick is not to shy away from these things. I know it is easier said than done and some days it feels like the simplest tasks are going to make the walls cave in. However, the more practice, the less anxious you become. By at least trying to go about your normal life you are already taking steps to help yourself. Instead of putting yourself down, try to be proud of yourself for the little battles you win every day, even if they’re as small as just being able to get the bus! The most important thing to remember is you are not alone and the more you tackle it the easier it will get. It is an uphill struggle, but one that you can fight, Keep going!
You can find Aoife at Twenties Tales.
Thanks so much Aoife for participating in the emerging blogger series!
You can find a listing of all of the posts in the series here.
Do you want to be the next emerging blogger?
- personal blog focused primarily on mental health and illness
- relatively new blogger, with WordPress following <100 preferred
Interested? If you fit the criteria above:
- email me at mentalhealthathome (at) gmail (dot) com
- let me know the topic you’d like to write about and include your blog name/URL