This is a very personal blog post and was rather hard for me to post but I want to help people and get it out there.
For many years, I have struggled (and still do) with Social Anxiety Disorder and it is only recently that I went out and faced my fears. Now the problem has gotten extremely better and for me, it is a great achievement. I almost forced myself to do the things that I was scared of because I realised that it is was stopping me from achieving my goals.
Everyone has their own way of describing what Social Anxiety feels like but for me, it is a crippling fear of being judged by people whenever they see you. It almost feels like they are going to laugh at you whenever they see your face and so you try and avoid that by not going outside and for years, I avoided going out. I had a fear of the outside world and just shut myself out. When I did go out, I had a lot of awful symptoms such as stomach cramps, blushing, shakiness, feeling sick etc… I would say ‘no’ to everything because I was scared of people and whenever I was out in public, I used to get panic attacks and had to run away to a quiet area to catch my breath and reassure myself that people are not laughing at me or judging me in any way. This was of course an irrational behaviour and that is was anxiety is – thinking negative irrational things.
Weirdly enough, the BBC made me gain so much confidence in myself. I have wanted to work for the BBC ever since I was little. I did an internship at my favourite ever radio station – BBC Radio 4 in 2012 and since then, I have had so many great opportunities coming towards me – career wise. I realised that my career means so much more to me than anything and I cannot get to where I want with Social Anxiety. It is time I let it go.
Prior to my BBC placement, I did get help. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). I do not like CBT. I cannot say it helped so since my placement, I decided to face it myself. I went out and did all these work placements which made me gain so much confidence and self-esteem so the moral of my story is…Feel the fear and do it anyway! I am not saying it was easy. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life but it was so worth it.
These are some of the things that helped me overcome this issue and might help you too if you suffer from Social Anxiety…
- Seek professional help – CBT.
- Do at least ONE thing everyday that scares you – in other words, challenge yourself everyday.
- Say YES to anything that comes your way (sensible things of course).
- Do something that you normally would not do – go to a place you have always wanted to go to but was too afraid. Take someone with you but challenge yourself to go by yourself. I go to music gigs by myself and this has helped me so much in terms of meeting new people and gaining confidence.
- Journal – write everything down. Let it all out.
- Talk to someone
- Listen to some hypnosis
- Read self-help books
- and finally – FEEL THE FEAR AND DO IT ANYWAY. The more you avoid something because you are scared the more bigger the fear will get so JUST DO IT NOW.
I still have a long way to go but I have overcome so many of my fears and that already is such a big achievement for me. If you can overcome this, you can overcome and get through anything.