Stigma Fighters: Miriam Drori

Pressing the Button

It was one of the hardest things I’ve done. Clicking the button that would say: “I’m one of you. Those thoughts you have, about the world, about yourself, those depressing, self-deprecating thoughts – I have them, too.” Did I really want to expose my private thoughts? Did I really want to link myself with people who admitted to having a mental disorder? What about the consequences? What if people I knew discovered this secret? What would they think of me?

But I was doing it anonymously. How could anyone find out? Would they get into my personal computer and spy on me? Would they somehow link me to a made-up name on a forum? Over there were people who would understand me like no one I knew. Did I want to lose them?

Was it even so much of a secret? If I was going to be truthful with myself, I knew it had to be obvious to everyone as soon as I opened my mouth that I had some sort of problem. They wouldn’t have been able to put a name to it. They wouldn’t have been able to describe the problem beyond what they saw and heard: someone who was weird, quiet, closed up, hard to relate to. But they knew, and I could tell they knew from the strange expressions on their faces.

Eventually, I clicked the button and my post went out to an amazingly large number of distant, unknown people who had similar thoughts to mine – thoughts shared by no one I’d ever known previously. As far as I knew.

A friend had told me about social anxiety. A special friend who had come back into my life after a thirty-year break. A set of circumstances helped to bring that about. The distance between us, which meant that we communicated only by email. Her feeling of guilt about having been one of those who caused me to be as I was so long before. Her specialised knowledge about my condition. My readiness to begin to open up. Her readiness to help me.

Clicking the button that connected me to like-minded people opened up a new world for me. And not just for me. Each person who joined this online forum wrote, “I thought I was the only one.” On the forum, I read about people in situations much worse than mine, all caused by social anxiety, all of which could have been improved with a little help. That led me to want to write about this disorder that, by its nature, is little known and even less understood, even though it’s really very common.

It was only after years on the forum that I began to lose interest. The same topics came up again and again. Finally I left the forum and set up a blog, in which I wrote about social anxiety, among other subjects. At first the blog was anonymous. Much later I added my first name, later still my surname. And guess what? I haven’t had one negative comment on the blog. Not one. No one has said, “Snap out of it,” or “Don’t be so stupid.”

That’s not to say there are no negative comments around or even that I’ve never heard any. I was talking to a woman a few years ago about a man who hardly spoke. She must have seen signs of compassion on my face. “Oh you don’t have to worry about him,” she said. “It’s his choice to be like that.” I didn’t reply. I hope I would reply now if someone said something similar to me. People who live with social anxiety are as varied as any other society. We have different problems from each other, different views and outlooks on life. But one thing I can say categorically about us all: None of us chose to have social anxiety.

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Following jobs in IT, as well as marriage, three deliveries and more, Miriam Drori is now a full-time writer. Her first novel, Neither Here Nor There, published in June 2014, is a romance with a difference. It doesn’t relate to social anxiety, but Miriam hopes to do that in a future novel or two, as she is very keen to help raise awareness of this disorder. She also enjoys singing, dancing, walking and reading. Miriam has been blogging for nearly six years at http://miriamdrori.com/. She can also be found at these places and elsewhere:

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/miriamdroriauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MiriamDrori
Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Miriam-Drori/e/B00L11J6D4/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1421604857&sr=1-2-ent
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4829682.Miriam_Drori