Living with (Social) Anxiety

November 21, 2014

Today is going to be a different kind of post, no beauty, no make-up, no hair - just me talking to you about a serious topic, (social) anxiety.

It seems that the past few years, anxiety has becoming more and more present and a lot of people suffer from it or know somebody suffering from it. Loads of people on youtube have been "coming out" and telling the world their story of anxiety, panic attacks or depression to raise awareness and let other people know that it can get better - it will get better.

Since recently I have been confronted with my social anxiety quite a lot again, I felt the need to make a blogpost about it to let you know my story with social anxiety and if I can at least help one person with this, it was worth taking my time to sit down and write this post.

When I was still a kid I had this time where I would not leave the house without my mum, no matter if it was my best friend I knew since I was 2 years old who wanted to go outside or if it was my grandma who wanted to go to the park with me, I'd never leave the house without my mum coming with me. I wasn't even 10 years old at that time. It stopped and I'd go out again but I had always been a momma's girl, whenever I had to leave for school or w/e, I felt terrible being without her. Getting older it also got better but this depressing feeling of being alone with people I don't know, having to go on 3-day school trips with all those people who bullied me for years, it made me feel so bad. I'd always use any kind of excuse to stay at home from school and I'd never come on school trips because I couldn't even think of being without my mother for 3 days. The care my mother always took of me is incredible, she is the best mum ever, but some things just weren't right. She always made and still does do all my phone calls for me, whenever I need to see a doctor I tell her to call for me because I just can't do it. Sometimes she'll say no because she knows I'm suffering from anxiety so I should slowly start doing those things on my own but it puts me through so much stress. It takes me around 10 minutes to actually pick up the phone and call, and then when I hear it beeping I panic and feel like I need to throw up, it just scares me to be on the phone. Which is why I mostly try to avoid those situations and keep telling my mum to do any phone calls for me (which seems quite ridiculous even to myself). I still to this day cannot go out with a boy/or even a girl on my own. As soon as my best friend is with me, I know I can do it but when I get asked "Hey, you wanna hang out? Go grab some coffee maybe?" I can't just say "Sure, I'm bringing my friend though" so I end up making up the worst excuses just so I can stay home and don't have to deal with the situation of me being alone with a person I don't know well.

I would never go out clubbing like all the girls from my school started doing when they were 16, I was always the girl saying "No thanks, dancing and partying is just not for me" and never go. At that time I told myself drinking alcohol and dancing at a club makes you a whore and only stupid people do it. I thought if you go to a club you have to wear revealing clothes and be a bitch for the night, which clearly is not the case (even thought most girls do act like a little bitch for the night, but that's none of my business). Basically all my teenage years (let's define teenage years: the time I was 15 to late 17 years old) I would not go to any kind of party or club, I would barely ever go to the cinema or go grab coffee with someone. All I would do is stay at home and hide behind my computer screen going on Tumblr and doing roleplaying on Myspace/Facebook because that's where I found my escape. I never wanted to be that person and on the internet I could act like I was the cool kid and when Piczo was still a thing, I was known, I had loads of friends, people knew who I was and it gave me so much confidence, but not in real life. In real life I'd still be the girl that felt sick a long period of time knowing she had to go to school every morning, the girl that got ill the week before she had to do presentations in school, the girl that couldn't stand going outside without someone around that she felt safe with, the girl that would hate going to places loads of people were around. I was feeling so lonely and depressed and I knew I didn't want to be that person but I couldn't escape. I started to become so extremely shy, especially in school because these boys kept bullying me and making fun of me no matter what I said, so I stopped saying anything. I'd never raise my hand in class because I knew even if my answer was right, these boys would find something, the tiniest thing that they could use to make fun of me. I wanted to be someone else so bad but I just felt like as long as I am in this school, I could never be who I want to be, I could never grow, I'd always feel trapped. But escaping to another school was not an option for me, I wanted to stay there and show them that I won't be running away from them. Long 8 years passed and final exam day came. I grew so much on the day of my final exams where I had to do all those oral exams I had always had the biggest fear of. I was doing so great in all my oral exams, I graduated with a grade point average of 1,3, having all A's in my oral exams. I remember the headmaster saying "In all those 8 years you've been to this school, I never heard you talk as much as you did today" and the head-teacher of my class told me she was proud of me because of how well I did in my orals because she's been with us for 4 years and knew my struggles. It made me feel so much better about myself that I knew - from this day, I'd change my life. The moment I walked out of this school for the last time, I was the happiest I've ever been. I made slow steps into the social world, my best friend took me partying with her and even though I felt insecure around all those people I've never seen in my life, in this big club with loud music and everyone dancing, I enjoyed it. The first few times I was still insecure about everything but then guys came up to me and I was forced to talk to them and after some time I got used to it. Now talking to strangers is not as hard for me as it used to. Sure, I'm still struggling to go up to someone and be the first one to start a conversation, but if someone approaches me, I'm going to talk to them.

When I started university in October 2013, I met a few lovely girls who became such good friends of mine in the shortest amount of time. My cousin (who has been studying for a few years now) always told me "When you start uni, please try to make friends and get to know people. In uni it is so important to know people, if you're all by yourself it's going to be so much harder." so I took his advice to heart and I tried to be open and talk to people, which of course was hard for me, but I had the will to make my life different and I did. I took all those small steps of talking to people at uni, going clubbing with my best friend, calling the doctor by myself just once, I hung out with this boy who I then realized I stressed myself weeks before for nothing because it was actually quite fun. All those little things make such a difference even if you think they don't matter.

I have been seeing a therapist for I think half a year now and she sees so much change in my personality and always reminds me of how far I've come. Always remind yourself of how far you've come already - it's going to help you loads.

Nobody says you have to put down your anxiety from one day to another. That's not going to happen. But you have to take small steps from time to time, you have to be brave for just a second maybe once a month. It can do so much to help you overcome your anxiety, trust me.

I've been through quite hard times in my life, I used to cut myself when I was feeling really depressed, and not even a month ago I was feeling so bad about myself I was going to kill myself but now I know life isn't easy. We're all going through rough times may it be problems in your family, heartbreaks or bullying in school. Please never give up on yourself. Remind yourself that you are not alone because you definitely aren't. I am still not the best version of myself that I could be, I still have the biggest fear of making phone calls, being in a big group of people I don't know, doing presentations, hanging out with people I don't really know, all those things make me get a racing heart, I start feeling sick and sweat a lot. If a guy asks me to hang out with him I'm still making up excuses just so I don't have to go, which is totally normal for people suffering from anxiety. It's because you're scared of situations that you just try to avoid them in the first place. It's okay to do that sometimes, but sometimes you have to tell yourself you can do it - and do it. I know from my own experience how easy it's said and how hard it is done, but trust me, once you do push yourself to do it, it won't be as bad.

I beg you to never give up on yourself. Please, no matter if you are suffering from anxiety or depression or anything else - DO NOT GIVE UP! I swear to you, you're not alone. Talk to someone and if you don't have anyone to talk to, talk to me (you can always message me on Tumblr or message me on Kik @ itsjuliaxo if you need someone), I'm going to be there for you if nobody else is. Trust me when I say this - IT IS GOING TO GET BETTER! I know I am feeling a lot better and a long stronger than I used to be, and at one point on your life, you'll feel better as well.

- Julia

P.S.: I love all of you. Please stay strong - do it for me.

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