“…it’s a taboo topic. I have to sugarcoat it and say, ‘I have trouble talking to people,’ rather than, ‘I have social anxiety and depression.’ Sometimes it’s just awkward for people to have conversations with me because of that.”
Reading Time – 3 minutes
Describing Depression and Social Anxiety
Social anxiety is basically… you get incredibly stressed out about social interactions with any person. It makes it really difficult to get anything done. And depression just zaps all your good emotions. Depression makes it harder to cope with the anxiety… they go hand in hand.
I’ve had social anxiety for a very long time, since childhood, but it didn’t hold me back then. It started getting really bad around 10th grade, into high school and college. In the past, the anxiety would be bad when I started a new class in college. I thought people were all thinking about how I was not good enough to be in the class… or that I was too stupid to be in the class. I thought I would be exposed for not being good enough. These negative thoughts flowed through my head and caused the stress.
My first year of college I never got time to myself, so I had all these bottled up feelings and emotions. I didn’t really feel much of anything. I wasn’t enjoying life or what was around me, just moving through life because I had to. It’s like there’s a wall behind you… pushing you forward… instead of actually walking forward yourself.
On Talking to Others About Social Anxiety and Depression
I talk to close friends and family about the social anxiety and depression, I guess. With other people I feel like I have to be more discreet, because it’s a taboo topic. I have to sugarcoat it and say, “I have trouble talking to people,” rather than, “I have social anxiety and depression.” Sometimes it’s just awkward for people to have conversations with me because of that.
I’m on Prozac, and it’s been moderately effective. The anxiety is still there, but it doesn’t hinder me as much. I don’t notice any side effects. Therapy is a great way to get your thoughts out… the anxiety thoughts swimming around in your head. It helps you to realize them… and that the thoughts sound ridiculous once you tell somebody else. But… you have to be careful labeling them as “ridiculous” like that, because you don’t want to make yourself feel bad for not being able to complete a task or deal with things. Therapists encourage you not to use the word “should” for that reason.
On Stigma and Being Gay
It [being gay]… was the main cause of my anxiety to ramp up. My anxiety started from me being different… getting picked on… then it got a whole lot worse. There’s some stigma associated with that word… It’s difficult even now… I can’t say… the actual word… the other word…
[Interviewer] If I may ask, why aren’t you comfortable saying the word “gay”?
Uh… I guess it’s just because of… being in denial for so long and treating it like a plague. It’s like… a part of you knows that it’s there inside of you… but your body is like, “Don’t even mention it.”
In the beginning I was suppressing it, but it got harder and harder to ignore. Sometimes I’d literally forget I was that way… because my mind was in such bad denial. I would try everything to get past it, finding a loophole… changing it somehow. But eventually I came to accept it. And once I started to accept it, it got better and better and better. I’m not in denial anymore, but I still feel very guarded.
It’s important to know that it’s a lot harder to notice the improvement within yourself than in other people… you might not even notice the change at all. People would be like, “Oh, you’ve improved so much!” And I’d think, “I don’t see it.”
I want to continue to put myself in uncomfortable and unfamiliar situations, so that I get used to it. Today I went to a career fair, and recently I started going to a new tennis club. And I try new restaurants now. Before, that kind of stuff was completely horrible and difficult. I would go by myself, and the anxiety was crippling. I wouldn’t eat at all, but then I’d get hungry and have to go out. Now, I can actually try new places and enjoy it.
It’s a good idea to find someone you can trust and do stuff with. They can drag you out when you start to chicken out. And there’s also the obligation… that you don’t want to cancel on them. You’ll get anxiety for going out at all, but you also would get anxiety for breaking the obligation, so you might as well do the thing that actually helps you.
Comments are highly encouraged!
Inside Our Minds will relay all comments and questions to the participant, to respond to at their discretion.
Thanks for reading!