When I’m at a party, I usually find one person to talk to or I find a dog, a cat or even an iguana to talk to. The reason for my behavior is that I have severe social anxiety. I appear to be extroverted, but in actuality, I am an introvert. I would rather be in my own head, reading a book, writing a poem or story or talking to a close friend. It takes so much energy for me to sit in a room with a group of literal strangers and pretend to be comfortable. Sometimes, I don’t even pretend; I’ll make a sarcastic joke to the person I am talking to. For example, I might say “Well, this isn’t overwhelming at all for a person with anxiety.” I often use my sense of humor to diffuse a situation where I feel anxious AF. It’s not easy, but it seems to work.

I’ve been seriously considering utilizing an online counselor for my social anxiety. I’ve spoken to a couple of friends who use Skype therapy and they say that they find it helpful for their social anxiety. I’ve considered using online counseling with BetterHelp. Because I live with chronic anxiety and sometimes that means panic attacks. It’s difficult for me to leave the house at times and sometimes I need to be kind to myself and just do what I am capable of doing. Having panic attacks means resting as much as possible and I need to take it easy at home. If I had an online counselor I could take care of myself in this way. Social anxiety does impact my life in the sense that I often find myself having to skip out on events that I’d actually like to go to.

Social anxiety is a difficult thing to deal with. I find that my loved ones have a hard time understanding it unless they deal with it as well. I try to be patient with the people in my life who don’t have anxiety, but it’s challenging. I often feel resentment when I’m not understood. I’m strongly considering talking this out with an online therapist. I have a face-to-face therapist. But I’m considering targeting my social anxiety with online therapy. It makes more sense to do that for me. I speak with my in-person therapist about deep issues such as PTSD and going deep into my family history. These are valid and crucial concerns. So is my social anxiety and perhaps I can work with an online therapist on my concerns with being around people for long periods of time.

According to two researchers at The Smithsonian Institute, social anxiety is effectively treated by online therapy. The program mentioned in this article is based on the CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy modality). CBT was effective for me in combating my anxiety and depression. I’m interested to see how online therapy can assist me in managing social anxiety. And that’s the thing, social anxiety doesn’t entirely disappear, it’s something I will continually have to manage.

To any of you living with social anxiety, I understand you more than you can know. I hope that whatever coping mechanisms you are using are helping you.

-Sarah Fader
Stigma Fighters