Sunday, 1 May 2016

15 Things People With Social Anxiety Want You To Know

1. I’m sorry if I come across as rude - I promise I don’t mean to be. When my anxiety flares up, I start second-guessing everything I say and do. A million thoughts start rushing through my head, and I don’t know which ones to listen to and which ones to shut out. This makes it hard for me to know exactly how to act - so I might become quiet, or reply in a way which seems odd or abrupt. It’s not because I don’t want to talk to you – it’s because, in that moment, I don’t know how. So, if my behaviour ever seems rude or stand-offish, I’m truly, truly sorry.

2. I get tired a lot. (No, seriously. A lot.) Anxiety is *tiring*. Every day is a struggle, every small task takes a huge amount of mental exertion, and panic attacks put a hell of a lot of stress on your body. All of the added stresses that come with day-to-day life can make it pretty exhausting.

3. Being anti-social is not the same as being socially anxious. Mental illnesses and personality traits are not the same thing. Remember - illnesses don’t discriminate. Social anxiety can develop in even the most social, outgoing people.

4. Sometimes, I’ll go quiet, or appear to ‘zone out’. I promise I’m not disinterested, bored or moody. When I go quiet, it’s probably because there’s a lot of anxious thoughts running through my head, or because I’m focussing on calming myself down.

5. Spontaneous plans are hard for me. Really, really hard. I need time to mentally prepare myself for social situations. Having something sprung on me last-minute is almost guaranteed to send me into a panic. If you want to understand, imagine that you had to give a huge presentation to a room of a thousand people. You’d want to be prepared, right? Now imagine that you only had ten minutes to prepare this presentation. Yep. That’s how it feels.

6. Oh, and I need plans to be detailed, too. Where are we meeting? When are we meeting? How are we getting there? How are we leaving? Again, I need to mentally prepare myself for all of these things. Not knowing what’s going on is TERRIFYING. Will it be awful? Will it be easy? There’s no way of knowing until solid, specific plans have been made. So I’m sorry if I seem uptight or pushy when it comes to arranging things. I’m just trying to ease my anxiety. I don’t mean to be a pest!

7. I get “people hangovers”. The added effort and difficulty that comes with socialising takes a lot out of me. Socialising is easiest when it’s done in small bursts – and after that, I’m going to need some time to myself to recharge my batteries.

8. Talking on the phone is HARD. (And I’ll probably just ignore your call.) If you want to talk to me, messaging is probably your best bet. Soz.

9. I WILL assume that you don’t like me, no matter what. It doesn’t matter how often you claim to, or how often we speak to each other… deep down, my anxious thoughts will always have me convinced that you don’t actually like me.

10. Which is why I’m so bad at being the first person to start a conversation. If I don’t message you, it’s not because I can’t be bothered to make an effort with you – it’s because the whole thing turns me into a bundle of anxiety. I assume that you won’t want to talk to me, or that I’ll annoy you, or that you’ll just laugh about it behind my back.

11. I’m also really bad at replying to messages. (Don’t take it personally.) Reading and replying to messages also makes me anxious. That little notification to say that I’ve got a new message? Terrifying. The whole thing feels like so much pressure, and I can put it off for days. But don’t worry - it’s not you, it’s me. It’s all me.

12. Social anxiety isn’t “cute”, “quirky” or “trendy”. Social anxiety can ruin relationships, opportunities, your social life, your confidence and your happiness. It’s not a label to adopt because you think it makes you different, or because you want to get some attention. The reality of the illness is far from “cute” or “endearing”. Trust me – it’s not a label that you want.

13. Making me feel stupid for my anxieties is one of the worst things that you could ever do. I don’t WANT to be like this, and I don’t need you to make me feel worse about it. My confidence is low enough as it is, and I already beat myself up every single day. I don’t need you to make me feel as if I’m stupid or pathetic, all because of an illness that I never asked for.

14. I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I can be difficult. I’m sorry that I can be hard to understand. I’m sorry for the invites that I’ve turned down, the plans that I’ve cancelled, and the times that I’ve made things harder than they needed to be. I’m sorry for every time that my problem has become your problem. I’m really, truly sorry.

15. Kindness is absolutely invaluable to people suffering from social anxiety. Pleasant people lead to pleasant social experiences - and this is exactly what someone like me needs when we’re feeling anxious or discouraged. Making our day that little bit easier is absolutely invaluable to us, and it won’t go unnoticed. So be kind, and spread that kindness wherever you go. You might just change someone’s life.


  1. I agree with every single one of these points so much! I am glad someone else understands! I wish I could send this post to so many people! Thanks for sharing xx