How I cope with my social anxiety

Discussion in 'Mental Health Disorders' started by arielle, Dec 14, 2009.

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  1. arielle

    arielle Member

    When I was in middle and high school I was a wreck when it came to my anxiety. I could rarely go shopping with my mother because large crowds would give me panic attacks. I would become downright unruly at times because the more tight the spaces, the more people around me the more I felt a sudden, urgent, desperate need to flee. To hide and not be seen and if I was prohibited from doing so I would get very anxious and snippy. I got in trouble with my mother a lot because of it... because sometimes I would lash out and say mean things to her and not really mean it...I was just desperate to do something to leave.

    On the other side of it, like in school, I rarely made friends. I was a wallflower of several groups but never truly fit in. I never was invited to parties which made me feel like an outcast. I think a lot of that stemmed from the military family I was in...where we moved very often I had difficulty making strong attachments to anyone. I knew that there was something wrong with me and I found solace in responsibility.

    In my sophomore year of High School I joined the Anime club. The club needed a secretary and I ran for the position and was very surprised when I won. It forced me into a marginally social role because part of my responsibility was to take attendance and minutes of the meetings. Under a responsible role it gave me something very specific to talk about and boundaries of my duties. These things were very comforting and helped to ease my anxiety with talking to others because I had at least something to talk about... and I knew that the people surrounding me in the anime club that we had at least something in common--anime.

    When I graduated however it was the end of the anime club for me. I was no longer a student and lost that social network. I got my first job at Blockbuster where I was forced to deal with the public on an all day basis. I developed a persona. I pretended to be this energetic, friendly individual and forced myself to interact with others. I rehersed conversations in my head about what I was going to say as well as memorizing scripted selling techniques and such for upsales at the job. I became very successful as a salesperson and I think a lot of that was thanks to this alter ego... this false persona that was friendly and how often I would repeat my mental "script" to all my customers. If you ask every person you meet for a dime...even if one person says no the next person might say yes I guess.

    It's not a perfect solution. There are still times I get hit with the anxiety of before--particularly around the holidays with the huge shopping crowds. My solution is avoidance in those cases where I do a lot of my shopping online or in off-peak hours. My biggest problem is using public restrooms. I can't stand those open stalls where you can hear EVERYTHING around you... I freeze up whenever anyone comes in so sometimes I'll sit there for a half hour unable to pee just because someone has come in the room or I hear someone in the hall who may come in.

    It's a work in progress.... but my alter-ego persona helps me get through it most times
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