Open Mic: Social Anxiety Disorder

CaptureWelcome to our second submission of Open Mic.  I would like the readers to go easy on these submitted posts for a while.  The Open Mic idea isn’t going to work if all we do is kill the author’s spirit for even giving it a go.  Be on your best behaviour until we all get the feel of this.  Thanks.

People take their social lives for granted. They have friends, go out on dates, go to the local play.

For someone with Social Anxiety Disorder (like myself) these things bring dread into their lives. I love the solitude of being alone, however doing any of the above things bring an automatic feeling of panic.

Most people have had the fear of public speak, now extend that fear into public eating, talking, going on trips, cycling, anywhere there are more than one person. It’s a fear that shouldn’t be rational.

Dying of Embarrassment – a book about social anxiety, says:

Social phobia is a disorder characterized by the persistent fear of criticism or rejection by others. People with social phobias fear they may behave in a way that will be embarrassing or humiliating”

My parents thought I was shy from age 10, that I couldn’t look people in the face. I had a stammer, had friends at school but not that many who visited or stayed overnight at home.  Never had (or went to) a birthday party, never joined scouts or did athletics.

This disorder has affected my adult life (I’m 36), still haven’t learn’t to drive, no social life (don’t go out on the town after work), shockingly I have never had a girlfriend.
You constantly think something out of your control is going to happen.
It’s the fear, it robs you in so many ways.

2 Years ago while browsing through Youtube I came across a documentary about shyness, how it was hard for some people to socialize. They talked about Social Anxiety which gave me something to look up and research.

Little by little, I am getting better (I have traveled for the first time last year to Australia), I try to eat out at lunchtime in places I have never been. I have a job I’m very good at and lots of fellow workers to interact with. The fear will probably be a part of me til the day I die, but at least I’m starting to learn how to live and deal with it.

For people who want to learn more I would suggest “Dying of Embarrassment : Help for Social Anxiety and Phobia” by Barbara Markway and starting out in the website.


Open Mic is where you get to have a say.  Anyone can submit an Open Mic article by emailing [email protected]  Keep your articles to 300-700 words, and please write for this audience  Submitted articles will be posted anonymously unless you ask us clearly to do otherwise (that way no mistakes get made). 


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  • Good article. Good topic to have on the blog and adds nice variety to the normal cut thrust and scream of politics.

    I wish the writer well.

    • Mitch82

      Couldn’t have said it any better.

  • blokeintakapuna

    Good on you Author. Thank you for being so courageous putting your story out there. Congratulations on your fabulous progress and achievements to date. We all have our own issues and problems. Some born with them, others develop overtime or are forced upon us through accident etc, but we all have our own demons to battle. Well done on you for facing up to yourself and being honest with yourself… For that truly is a difficult thing to do.

    Keep up the great work… Just a little bit more each day…

  • Salacious T Crumb

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. I am interested in the aspect you discuss about finding assistance on the internet via youtube. Has this been a good source of information and support for your condition?

  • snapdragon

    Thank you for this – it has opened my eyes. I had a cousin who led a solitary life and died at home aged 40 after a fall (he lived alone). Some members of the family wondered if he was gay but I always responded that he was just painfully shy. He would never talk to me about it and I felt after he died alone that I had failed him. You have given me a better understanding of him & I will be reading the book you recommend. I wish you well.

  • PlanetOrphan

    Being an orphan I suffer from a similar disorder, “Touch Aversion”

    It stems from the physical abuse I endured from my parents/caregivers and foster brother when I was very young child.

    It will never stop, a part of me will always flinch when I contemplate “Touching” someone.

    I got over it along time ago, but many people suffer the same problem.

    I resolved it by addressing (Remembering) the abuse and putting those people in an appropriate place in my soul. They were evil plain and simple, not my “Parents”.

    I live alone these days because I discovered a little while ago that Spoken Word tortures me, especially when I’m tired or sick (i.e early morning , late evening). Words “Repeat” in my head for no reason, it’s like they “Stick” when I’m tired.

    I’ve never been happier since I decided to live alone, and not seek a relationship.

    Bless ya bud, may you have many happy stress free days, being alone is not neccesarily a bad thing :-)

  • After a post like this you stop and realise you take your own life completely for granted.

  • ozbob68

    I can relate, I am often thought of as callous or insensitive because I often cancel social engagements or do not mingle with colleagues outside of work, as I am not sure how to act and become uncomfortable very quickly. Fortunately most of my friends have always lived in other cities, so by phone or email I am able to keep relationships going without becoming too annoying.

  • thor42

    A very good post.

    I can definitely relate to the author. I have Asperger’s (which is very similar). It means that I haven’t a clue as to how to go about getting a relationship with a woman (I really don’t do small-talk very well at all.). It means that I too have no social life (as I can’t stand crowds).

    I’m fortunate enough to work with a smallish group of people (about 15 or so) who are really good sorts and very supportive.

    I was a member of a running-club a few years ago but I left because I didn’t really feel as if I belonged there. I never really felt “at home” or accepted.

  • starboard

    I know someone with a similar problem. They have trouble going out because they think everyones looking at them. They panic ” in the anticipation ” of a planned event on the horizon ( even weeks out ) but once there its all good. Queuing at places like customs check or security zones at the airport send him into hot and sweaty spin…he wants to run.
    At the checkout in supermarkets..panic attacks abound! Its got me beat..I don’t understand me.

    • Agent BallSack

      That’s how I feel. It becomes a manic overwhelming fear of situations out of your control, especially involving official checkpoints such as ticketing areas for sports events, border checkpoints etc. I agree once I am inside I settle and can enjoy and interact.

      • starboard

        Weird eh. Its only certain situations but some really turn my stomach. Ive just been given some anti anxiety tablets to try out..will be interesting to see what, if any results they have.

  • Random66

    Thanks Pete for sharing a very real part of yourself and to all those others in the WO community who have contributed. As blokeintakapuna says we all have something going on, some of us have hills to climb, others have mountains. What is nice about this post is knowing we are not making the climb alone.

  • Agent BallSack

    Nice post and hope you get it managed to a good extent. I am the opposite in that I always had a lot of friends when I was younger, played in bands in front of hundreds of people at a time and was never bothered about it. Constant full happy social life – events, parties and associating with people from all walks and shades of life.

    When I moved back to Wellington I started getting recurring bouts of depression which i self medicated with dope and speed, eventually transitioning to P when it came out and developing a habit towards it until I kicked it 8 years ago. Since then I have become a lot more insular and afraid of public space and gatherings, situations out of my control – I once went alone to a Pantera concert and fought my way to the front of the crowd barrier, crushed by thousands of people behind me yet these days have to pluck up all my strength to go to a small gathering at Botanical Gardens.
    A lot of it I understand is depression, I cant stand loud sudden noises they will set my heart racing and I have to stop myself from being irrationally frightened. Knowing what causes it is the one thing I have in my favour, I hope one day I will wake and it will all be behind me.

  • dragonfly

    Talking about anti-anxiety tables (Agent Ballsack), have you ever tried anti-depressants or anything Pete? My social confidence increased when I started taking them (for depression). I don’t know why – it seemed to be some virtuous circle thing. Also I’m interested (but only if you feel ok about discussing it) do you have any idea of the causes of your anxiety? In my case it was definitely down to childhood experiences – none of my 7 children are like me. And congratulations on inspiring me to comment on this blog again – I wasn’t going to any more because for fragile people this can be a bruising experience, especially if you disagree with the host. But I was very moved by what you said.

    • Agent BallSack

      I have never used anti-depressants, I generally drink which eases and dulls my anxiety. I will say that it can be hard on my kids because i dont like going to events with thousands of people there, such as fireworks or community concerts.

      • dragonfly

        Sorry Agent Ballsack – I realise now it was starboard who mentioned the anti-anxiety tablets. I totally get it about the drinking though – for me it dulls memory and pain, and sedates the demons – a welcome respite, for just a short time.