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Social Anxiety Disorder
"When Everything's Scary"

SA Story

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My Story

For me things started to get scary when I was about 7.

Suddenly it felt like everyone was watching me, listening to me all the time. I felt embarrassed. I hated music class when everyone had to sing, I was sure my voice stood out, and Gym class, all that running and competing, I couldn't deal. Back then everyone thought I was shy. I'd heard of shy kids, I even knew some, I thought I'd grow out of it.

Well, in 6th grade when I passed out during an oral report I had to give on the human body, I knew I was way beyond shyness. Suddenly I knew what is was! I was convinced I was some kind of a freak. What else could it be? I mean, this was NOT normal. No one else waited till the bathroom was empty before they peed, got nervous eating in front of their friends (especially male ones) or kept themselves from saying they're boyfriends name.

As I got older, it worsened, I made excuses so I wouldn't have to attend parties, sleepover's and dances w/ my friends, I panicked when I saw my boyfriend in the hall, so I'd take a seperate hallway to avoid him (now, that's true love!) When I went down south for a week to meet my in-laws for the first time I ate 1 banana, a chicken tender, a bowl of grapes and monitored my liquid intake so I wouldn't have to use the bathroom that much. I held it in and got up at 3:00 am to pee then, so no one knew. When I got home, I did ton's of research, and figured out what was wrong w/ me and that there was a name for it: Social Anxiety Disorder, formally called: Social Phobia.

After I terrorized my inlaws w/ my weird habits, I married their unbelievably supportive son, but still continued to get worse, I couldn't eat in front of my husband for months, and I didn't say his name in front of him for over year, I used nick-names and yelled 'Hey' when I needed his attention. When I finally said his name for the first time, he cried. I'm on medication now which helps and I see a therapist, but everyday is a struggle. As a children's librarian, just doing my job could induce a panic attack, storytime in front of 70 kids! Sometimes I don't know how I make it through the day, but I give myself a pat on the back everytime I pee w/ out turning the water on, or go into a store alone. It sounds silly, but this is life w/ SA.

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?:
SA is an extreme fear of being judged by people for simple everyday tasks that you do: using the bathroom/ speaking/ writing/ eating/ talking on the phone/ etc. These fears keep you from everyday tasks and interfere with work, school and home life. Some of these things may bring on Panic Attacks involving: shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, shaking, blacking out, ringing of the ears, profuse sweating, nausea and occasionally resulting in loss of conciousness.

How Common is Social Anxiety Disorder?:
About 3.7% of the US population is affected by this disorder, that's roughly 5.3 million people. It occurs twice as often in women than men.

How is Social Anxiety Disorder Treated?:
Usually through medication, and psychiatric or behavioral therapy.