Living with Social Anxiety: What Social Anxiety Feels Like
It’s Marcus here from TalkSober.com.
Today we are going to talk about something very serious and something that I really dealt with- that is SOCIAL ANXIETY.
A lot of people don’t know what it’s like to have social anxiety or where it comes from but those of you who do know that this is something that you really can’t explain.
It’s something that doesn’t make sense to other people and it’s something that could literally cripple your life by making you unable to do things or making you so uncomfortable that you’re not really present at whatever event you’re at or whatever you’re doing. You can’t really be there because of this crippling anxiety.
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“Marcus is not an anxiety guru.”
While I admit my anxiety is 99% better than it used to be, I still do have some bouts. Some of these bouts come on by what I eat, my sleeping patters, where I’m at, and different things like this.
Just last night I went to my daughter’s play at her school and the way that this play was set up was the seats were all around the stage and it was kind of nerve-racking.
I went there and I already had anxiety because at lunchtime that day I had to meet with an employee about a matter that I didn’t know was going to go on. I didn’t know if she’s going to come there and quit or tell me I was terrible or whatever it was and I was really, really anxious.
When you have anxiety like this, it puts adrenaline into your body.
And adrenaline can be a totally deadly toxin to your body if it’s put there and it has nowhere to go so it’s very dangerous.
So I was still like coming down from this adrenaline high and then I had to go to this play which I really wanted to go to and I really had fun at, my daughter did a great job and everything like that and I was sitting there for 45 minutes or an hour or however long it was in the crowd.
When you have social anxiety, no one knows what’s going on.
Sure they might see you squirming in your seat and changing positions and drinking gallons of water to survive but no one really knows what’s going on!
The problem with the social anxiety that I have is it doesn’t come in words.
It’s just a feeling sensation and flashes of words really quick.
It’s not something that can be explained.
It’s something that just happens in my body.
The more I fight it the harder it gets. and the more I squirm and the harder it feels to contain myself and it feels like you want to run.
Last night I had this probably a level five or six. I used to be at a level ten all the time.
A level five or six is where you feel like you want to run outside the building and leave and have a full-out panic attack.
But you’re able to somehow muster through it by not fighting it.
One of the keys that I found is not fighting the anxiety because if I fight it, it’s going to get worse and it’s going to want to make me run out of the building.
Then if I do that then I’m caving in to it
It’s easier to not go to the next event.
It’s easier to stay home.
It’s easier to isolate.
This is what happened when I was drinking. My anxiety was so high that I didn’t go to anything. I canceled school functions. I didn’t do a lot of the things that I know I needed to do or wanted to do and it literally crippled me.
I remember one time we went to Disneyland which for me is very anxiety-provoking. I have lots of trauma experience with Disneyland in the past, lots of things that were just terrible. I go to the Disneyland and the crowds are around and I’m not thinking well I wonder when I was three years old and four years old and this happened and that happened. If that’s what caused it.
That’s not it at all!
It just comes in flashes and feelings.
It’s not explained in words.
The hard part about anxiety is you can’t describe it.
You can’t sit there and tell someone else what it’s like because they say just don’t think about it. Well I’m not thinking about anything because it starts as a feeling first.
The best thing to do is just plant your feet firmly on the ground.
Try to breathe deeply.
Try to just let the thoughts be whatever they are and just relax.
Things will provoke your anxiety.
One of my commenters on YouTube had said to me you know Marcus this really hits home!
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A lot of times this anxiety stems from other things.
It stems from trauma like the Disneyland.
It can stem from groups like church, a very anxious place.
When I was about 11 years old, my step parent and my mom were very into churches. So we went to this church and there I was 11 years old and I was anxious about being with church because of my relationship with my step parent. We went alone that time and the group was weird and it was a new environment. So this guy gets up, and he’s just like this sweaty, loud crazy person.
He comes and gets me out of the crowd and he brings me up on stage. It was terrifying as a kid because I didn’t know what to think.
I am thinking that this must be a man of God. When you’re indoctrinated into religion, you’re indoctrinated into thinking that the guy on stage is the one with all the answers. Just like people who watch by YouTube who are like, “Well he must have all the answers ‘cause he’s talking about it.” But no one has all the answers, not even 1%.
So this guy pulls me up on stage and I feel like I’m going to faint, which is probably why most people do faint. He’s talking to me and he’s like trying to mind-read me. He’s like “Is this your dad? Is this your stepdad? Son come up here you’re going to be a tiger of the Lord and you’re going to be a scientist and the Lord says this.” I was like freaking out. Then I go sit down after what seems like I was up there for a half of a day. It was really probably only 10 minutes but I was up there and you know all the stuff going on in the crowds- hallelujah, banging tambourines. For an 11-year-old kid that’s more or less traumatizing. These things leave scars on us.
What’s happening is all your senses- your sight, your touch, your smell, your sound, everything is coming in. Thoughts are coming in. You are so attuned to things.
Your brain is like on hyper focus and it’s noticing everything around but it’s not speaking it in words.
It’s saying “that guy reminds me of that,” “this reminds me of that,” “the stage is set up like this,” “this is like that,” “the Disneyland is exactly like this.” And you get anxious. You get tight.
You feel like you want to run away, have a panic attack or just implode.
I know what this feels like and it totally sucks but it doesn’t have to!
The first problem is we try to explain it.
We try to say this is why it’s like this if I stop thinking about this it will go away.
That’s the worst thing to do because you’re putting your mind on more of the same and it gets worse, it grows, and it explodes.
The second mistake is we try to fight it by clamming up, closing up our body, and sitting all twisted..
The more you fight it, the worse it gets and you’re making it a thing.
The best thing to do is sit with it.
- Try to enjoy the program you’re at or something you have to go to that you don’t enjoy.
- Try to just focus on something else. Write something outside of your anxiety, something outside of yourself whether it’s counting backwards from 10 really slowly or backwards from 100.
- Just start to relax and you will start to relax and things will start to change when you stop fighting it.
- Sit through it and tell yourself that this is only going to be 45 minutes. It’s only going to be an hour. I’m probably going to be okay.
You’re probably going to be okay.
We want to start to get in tune with being where we are in the present moment.
Anxiety is about future and it’s about past. It’s about what happened in the past and it’s about what you worry about what’s going to happen in the future.
In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a sequel to the Harry Potter, there was this owl-like creature. It flips out because he could see the immediate unseen future. So the owl was like- okay I see the snake up there. I see the marble there. I see the box here. Then he goes like snake’s going to come down. Marble’s going to fall. Boxes going to hit my head. I better run.
That’s how your anxiety works!
You are trying to anticipate the unforeseeable immediate future. You’re trying to anticipate what happens to protect yourself because you’ve been through trauma or whatever it is in the past. These things happen and they don’t happen in words. It’s just trying to learn it.
The best thing to do is say we’re going to be okay right now.
I hope this helps you understand that I’m a real person and I still deal with this stuff today.
It doesn’t happen as often as it used to.
I am proud to say that I’m almost three years sober and in the last three years I haven’t had to drink away my anxiety. In the last three years I’ve had some of the worst things I have ever had, especially going through rehab. That was 30 days of uncontrollable anxiety from the moment I wake to the moment I sleep and even in my dreams.
This helped me understand that we can cope with this stuff and we can make it through.
If you have social anxiety, you will make it through!
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This video is made for the person out there who knows what it’s like to be pretzel person, twist up and not be able to explain this in thoughts and not be able to talk to other people who just don’t get it. I understand how difficult it is and I want to give you my heartfelt deepest understanding.
It’s Marcus at TalkSober.com and I’d like to help you work through this!
We do get better.
We do make it through.
One day at a time. One minute at a time. One second at a time.
Calm, breathe, relax.
You’re going to be okay.
Thanks again for watching!
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I look forward to hearing your comments and let’s get through this together!