A Bit Shy or Something Much Worse?

I saw the BBC documentary on OCD last night. At the beginning they showed that many people on the street think they have OCD just because they like to keep their house neat and tidy or arrange things a certain way. In reality people with chronic OCD are far worse and have their lives completely ruined. Some are even are on the verge of suicide. I could not help compare this with shyness and social anxiety. Everyone is shy at times and most people hate public speaking. Yet social anxiety can be so extreme it can lead to total isolation and just as much misery as chronic OCD.  I maybe should change the name of  this blog to Death by Social Anxiety but it doesn’t have the same ring and most people will not understand what that is.

Despite social anxiety supposedly being one of the most common mental health issues I can never remember seeing a documentary or TV program on it ever. Perhaps everyone is too shy(sorry, too anxious!) to volunteer to appear on TV.  I have seen several on depression now and other issues and yet social anxiety is probably unknown to the general public and according to many people on anxiety forums even their doctors think they are just shy and will grow out of it. This makes us seem like we are still in the stone age when it comes to mental health treatment!

Because most people dont know any difference between being shy and socially anxious much of the online advice seems to be just for people with minor to moderate shyness and also assumes it’s only teenagers or young people that have it usually when they go dating and get nervous rather than a lifelong debilitating condition. Its also completely ignores secondary conditions that years of isolation and loneliness create such as depression, insomnia and the intense paranoia which makes much of the self help advice utterly useless. For instance they advised me to go out and meet strangers to cure my SA when I have often been so unhappy and utterly miserable I feel like laying on the floor crying most days. How the hell do I make pleasant conversation let alone go on a date? I am in far more need of a psychiatrist.

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Author: klodo

I am male,English and have had social anxiety since I started school at 5 years of age. I like photography, walking, wildlife, history and moaning.........CONSTANTLY! Oh you must stop being so negative! Shut up!

2 thoughts on “A Bit Shy or Something Much Worse?”

  1. I have a friend who has severe OCD and, like me, has been unable to date/ have a relationship because of it. Thankfully, medication and therapy have helped him and he is a lot better now than he was a few years ago. You hear people saying all the time “Oh, it’s just my OCD”, or “Oh, she’s just a bit OCD” when they’re referring to simply being very tidy/ a bit superstitious. I can’t imagine how irritating comments like that must be for people like my friend. It must be awful to hear ignorant/ thoughtless people making light of something that has ruined his life. I think you’re completely right that people are much the same when it comes to social anxiety disorder. They’ve all experienced shyness at some point, so they can’t understand that social anxiety is so much worse/ life-destroying.
    Social anxiety disorder is apparently the third most common mental health problem, affecting roughly 7% of the population at some point. And yet, you’re right, there seems to be absolutely no awareness about it amongst the general public, and even amongst most mental health professionals. Schizophrenia and autism, in comparison, each affect only about 1 in every 100 people. Yet (despite the massive amount of stigma and ignorance that still surround both conditions) just about everyone has heard of these conditions. I think you’re probably right that the reason that there’s virtually no awareness about social anxiety disorder is that, given the very nature of the condition, people are too afraid to go on TV programmes/ talk shows/ radio shows, and so on, to talk about it. If I achieve anything with my life, I want it to be raising awareness of social anxiety disorder, however I can, in the hope that someday, people will understand the condition, and there will be treatments available that work. I suppose we’re both helping to raise awareness of the condition by blogging about it.

  2. Good post Gemma, I would like to raise awareness but think it too late to make much difference to me anymore. I just find so many people so ignorant on well almost everything still. if you read some comments on other websites they talk to people with anxiety who have not had relationship before as if they are some kind of object of ridicule. In many ways it’s how physically handicapped people used to be treated. It just shows how our culture and society are still advancing all the time and in some ways we are still so primitive. For instance when I was still at school gay people were pretty much hated by many and made fun at and now they are allowed to marry. Its a long slow process but with the cuts being undertaken at the moment I’am afraid its going to take a lot longer to get better.

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