“Well, I wish I could go in there, but I can’t.”
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Transcript for Easy to Pretend It’s Normal
I wasn’t really even aware I had social phobia for a while. I think to a certain extent, everyone who has social anxiety, like really bad social anxiety and social phobia, it’s easy to pretend that it’s normal. Because everyone experiences some level of it. Everyone, you know, hates giving speeches and projects and doing goofy, embarrassing things in public. That’s normal.
It took me a while to figure out that I was experiencing anxiety on a level that was not normal. I was at like the mall, and my brother went into a store that I really wanted to go into, but I took a couple steps in and it was incredibly crowded. And it freaked me out, and I couldn’t…I couldn’t handle it. So I walked out. And I just kind of, um, walked away and just sort of stood by the, the fence and looked in. Just kind of like scoped it out and was like, “Well, I wish I could go in there, but I can’t.”
I ended up having to take a year off between high school and college, just to like, take some cognitive therapy training. And take the time to figure out what was going on. Um, the year off was a really hard decision, uh, for me to make. I was having a really rough time my senior year. I was pretty severely depressed, and I had applied to a couple colleges and not gotten in to the ones that I had really kind of set my, my heart on. So, uh, I was talking to my counselor, and I was just depressed about it, you know. I was like, you know, “I didn’t get in anywhere I wanted to go, and I don’t know what I’m going to be doing, and I feel like I have no idea what I want to study.” And she looked up at me, and she said, “Well, why don’t you just take a year off?” And the…I thought about it, and almost immediately, I felt like a sense of calm just kind of like settle over me, and I was like, “Oh right.” You know? “That is, that is something I could do.”
I worked really hard on my anxieties for that whole year. But I, I didn’t really tell anybody about it, except for like my really close friends because there’s something kind of embarrassing about it. Um, and obviously that’s intensified by the fact that you have social phobia. Right? So the, the fear of being judged socially makes you a little reluctant to tell people things about you that could lead to being judged.
My best friend was really cool about it, and she actually helped me a lot with the desensitization program. So part of it was, you know, I had to go into stores. She’d go with me to K-Mart and we’d loiter for a couple hours just to kind of help me get acclimated.
But most people really didn’t know, and it wasn’t until I got it under control and really under my thumb that I started feeling more open about it. Because now I can talk about it in the past tense. You know. It used to be so bad that this this this, instead of I can’t do this anymore. So, I, I feel a lot better talking about it now than I did then.