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.