George Best is acknowledged as one of the greatest footballers of all time.He died due to problems stemming from alcoholism. However one comment from a former friend and colleague on the radio shortly after his death particularly stuck with me. He said “shyness killed George.” At first its hard to believe that the man who went out with a former miss world and was the hero to millions was so shy. This comment has not really been taken up by the media much, content to blame everything on drink. However as soon as you start to examine his life you see that he did indeed have a deep shyness that never really left him and he turned to the drink as a way of coping with so much fame and public attention.
“George never really changed from being the shy person he was when he left Belfast.”
“And one of the key characteristics for Best for me was his shyness.”
“Best was feeling similarly anxious, but was not so readily able to voice it due to his immense shyness.”
Many people with intense shyness of course turn to drink, I did for insomnia which is a common problem linked with anxiety.Some may take various drugs. Again I have with sleeping pills and allergy tablets. People suffering intense anxiety are much less likely to get a fulfilling job often talking anything they can, less likely to have friends or a support network, a stable relationship, children, less likely to eat healthily and more likely to have other mental health problems like depression. In short they are much less likely to be happy and much more likely to die earlier so in fact Death by Shyness is in no way an over the top title for this blog. Shyness itself may not actually always kill you but the side effects can definitely still be lethal over time.This is of course also ignoring the people who actually self harm and commit suicide due to their problems stemming from shyness in which case shyness is a killer although depression is often given as the real reason.
Yet you hardly ever hear any mention of this as an issue in the media. Some people on forums even claim their doctor treated them with contempt when mentioning shyness as a problem and saying they would just grow out of it. Much of the meds are no different than those for depression and even therapy only appears to work for some people and is hit and miss, many people on anxiety forums still having severe problems well into middle age and later.Despite our modern technology it makes you realise that in other regards human understanding even of ourselves is still in its infancy, Look at how the mentally ill were treated even 25 years ago for instance.Many more shy people will probably die far too young before anything significant happens in the world of mental health, if ever. The only advice for most people with social anxiety is still “Go out and try doing stuff!” In fact that’s pretty much the main concept of CBT therapy.