For people with social anxiety disorder, everyday social interactions cause irrational anxiety, fear, self-consciousness, and embarrassment. (Source: Mayo Clinic)
Growing up I was always very outgoing, although I went to 4 elementary schools it never affected me, and in my high school years it ended up being a benefit going to many schools with so many different people. I’ve always had a large group of close friends.
It wasn’t until I turned 20 I started noticing small differences in my personality. The first big memorable anxiety attack happened right before an interview. I had been working at Subway for 4 years already and had gotten an interview at Old Navy, obviously that would of been a big opportunity for me then.
Come the day of the interview I had to work lunch at Subway, I got off at 2:30 my interview was at 3. Already I was feeling rushed and off my game. I pull into the parking lot and it felt like I hit a wall. My lungs got tight, my palms sweaty and shaky. I parked far from the door as our Old Navy is along a canyon. My windows were down and the music was off, noise made it harder to breath. I started crying, I was so angry with myself for freaking out. In my mind was a war unlike anything I had experienced. My legs literally wouldn’t move I stayed in the parking lot for an hour, and I couldn’t get out of the car.
For the next 3 years I tried to get another interview. By the time I did land another chance I was more seasoned in the work force. I had worked at Rue21, and Spencer’s Gifts. I was ready this time, I had several more attacks in the 3 years and had learned to cope with them. I walked into the store this time! A big smile on my face, “I’m here for an interview” the cashier looks up, “have a seat with the other girls, the group interview will begin soon” and right then I died a little inside. Needless to say I didn’t shine bright in the interview and was not hired. However walking in was a huge step for me.
Flash-forward to today, I have been blessed with a loving husband who also suffers from social anxiety. Having just this one human who understands my every thought before it’s spoken is a gift I repay to him everyday. Tonight I had a smaller attack and it freaked me out, like not again! I was explaining to Andy how my heart was racing and I was feeling so rushed, and he comes up with the idea to make a hand signal so the other person knows when its time to GO. We joked about a few and landed on, two fingers on the knee.
Seriously how did I get so blessed? Over 200,000 new cases a year are reported in the United States alone. Yet people still don’t know how to react or what to say in the situation. Let me make this clear at times there will be no “right” thing to say, and sometimes its all just wrong. Here are my tips:
- Let them know you don’t judge them. They have to feel comfortable around you and be able to trust you. A simple, you can talk to me might go along way.
- Never point out their anxiety. It only makes the attack worse for them.
- Be forgiving. It takes time and effort, you wont see a huge turn around the next day but when you do see improvement a little praise is good.
There is so much information on the web I’ve linked my favorite. If You have a story I’d love for a guest post. http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/tips-for-friends-family
After all, everyone needs a friend. Let me be yours.