Living with Social Anxiety Disorder
I usually don’t Blog about serious things. They’re usually funny things, things that are facing everyone. This one is very near and dear to my heart because I suffer from it. Most people who see me or know me don’t know that I suffer from it or don’t know that I have to take a pill every time I’m out in public. I have Social Anxiety Disorder and General Anxiety Disorder. I’m an extreme introvert. Some people think that it can’t be possible because of the way I project myself and the fact that I work in Mental Health. The fact is – I’m very much afraid of being around crowds of people. I always have been. It absolutely terrifies me to go out of my comfort zone, walk up to complete strangers and talk to them. I went to a book conference a couple of weeks ago and survived on Xanax and prayer. I don’t take medication all the time, only in extreme times of fight or flight as I call it. I usually can control my panic attacks by breathing exercises or by the avoidance of situations. That would be wonderful if I could just stay home all the time but I run a successful Psychology practice and it’s hard to be scared of people when you’re around them all day!! I’ve learned to really fake it til you make it. A doctor I used to work with gave me that piece of advice that I’ve never forgotten. He said to me: “Janeen, sometimes you just fake it till you make it and it works out.”
“Janeen, sometimes you just fake it till you make it and it works out.”
The hardest thing I’ve found is that the older I get, the harder it is for me to open up to people. I’m more an introvert now than when I was in my twenties. I don’t know why because my mom is the life of the party, my dad isn’t but he’s not exactly an introvert. I found myself popping a Xanax before the conference and then I could walk down there to be relaxed enough to be around everyone. It’s a real disorder. Social anxiety is the fear of interaction with other people that brings on self-consciousness, feelings of being negatively judged and evaluated, and, as a result, leads to avoidance. It leads to feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, embarrassment, humiliation, and depression. People usually become irrationally anxious in social situations, but seem better when they are alone. Social Anxiety Disorder is a much more common problem than past estimates have led everyone to believe. Millions suffer all over the world and sometimes they suffer in silence because they don’t understand what it is they have. It’s devastating and traumatic to have this and nine times out of ten that people don’t know they have it. In the United States alone, it’s the third largest psychological disorder.
“Social Anxiety Disorder is the Third largest Psychological Disorder in the United States”
I know it’s irrational. I know that people aren’t staring at me or talking about me and even if they are, I don’t care because that’s the type of person I am…but when I’m in this mindset – I can’t get out of it. People who really do suffer from it, have to learn to cope or they stop living. We have jobs, some of us have families, are married, have successful businesses, but we all have this in common…We have panic attacks when we’re faced with having to meet people or go into situations we’re not comfortable with. They don’t go away even if we know the people we’re meeting. I can go days and not have any type of anxiety at all but then I can be at the gym, at the store, or at church and I’ll have a full-blown panic attack. To be trapped inside your head, screaming “let me out of here” is torture. I don’t drink because I don’t like the taste but I can understand why some people with this disease become alcoholics. It’s easier to be drunk or to be inebriated in some way than to feel like you’re not comfortable in your own skin. For me, the hard work is my day job. Working with children and adolescents, they pick up on everything and if you aren’t comfortable around them – they know it. All day every day, I put on my smile for 12 hours and I "fake it till I make it" and some days it works better than others. Some days, it's everything for me to just get in the car and go to the gym at the end of the day.
My advice to someone living with Social Anxiety or General Anxiety is don’t give up living because life is worth living. Learn your boundaries and learn what you’re comfortable with. Sometimes pushing yourself past your boundaries is a good thing and finding out that people really are there for you can help put your nerves at ease. Join groups, form a group, and talk to people who you have things in common with. Don’t think that anyone or anything is better just because of an outward glance…we all have our demons that we fight every day. Unfortunately, we don’t wear a sign that says what those are, but we all have them and we all fight them. Just know that you have people out there willing to fight with you!!
If you or someone you love suffer from Social Anxiety Disorder, there is help out there. Don’t suffer in silence. Please contact:
Wait, Wait Wait...On Me Says the Lord
I didn't date growing up and before you think it was some rule that I was subjected to, it wasn't. My parents would have thrown me out the door at the first good-looking guy that didn't resemble a "serial killer" as my mother now refers to everyone. She really thinks that every guy wants to wear me as a skin suit - because really my skin is all that great? It's not like I moisturize daily or even every other day! It's not like the "put the lotion in the basket" great!! Don't get me started on Internet dating where ALL the freaks hang out who really might make a skin suit out of me. My mother just thinks that every man is literally a serial killer and it doesn't even matter if it's our neighbor...you're a potential! She might not even meet you and all you'll really get is a roll of her eyes and a sign of SK for serial killer LOL.
There was a guy I grew up with and we were considered friends (Mom surprisingly didn't consider him a SK.) I wasn't popular, I didn't hang with the "in crowd" and this guy only liked me when we weren't around others. He'd come to the house and hang out or he'd like to hit on my 2 friends who were girls, trying to get with them. It's almost like he was afraid that the dork might rub off on him...I think to this day it's still that way. Which is fine with me because you find out who your real friends are and who aren't. It's sad that some people will always have what I call "High School Mentality." That's where your mentality is still having to keep up with everything you were in high school. You still talk about things you did in high school or what you accomplished. You want to know a really big secret? I don't remember anything from back then because it didn't matter to me. I didn't come into myself until I hit my 30's and I have a feeling my 40's are going to be spectacular. I've kept in touch with 3 people in 20 years and can count on one hand who I'd really care to go to dinner with. The rest I catch up on Facebook with. We all change in 20+ years. I know I have, so I hope that others have as well.
The guy I was friends with used to pick on me relentlessly and part of me is glad he did it...I know you're sitting there thinking "Huh?" He taught me to have a thick skin and to ignore all the other kids in my class who did it. I could resent them or have little voodoo dolls made of them and poke them occasionally but that's a waste of my time. Before you laugh - I'm in mental health and it's been done before by a patient so some people don't get over hurtful words or the past. I also learned to watch what I say to people when it comes to hurting their feelings because what comes out the mouth can never be taken back. I'm sorry is just a platitude that people use after they hurt someone and it doesn't help once something's been done. They didn't have this anti-bullying crap when I was in school because if they did....Jesus knows I'd have been in the principal's office every day because someone was bullying me. Like the time Jeff and Lee (last names have been withheld to protect the innocent) decided to throw around my bug purse because they thought it would be funny in the 4th grade. FYI guys....it wasn't funny. Nowadays it would be called bullying - go figure!
The thing about being made fun of by people you trust and even people you don't trust, it sets you up for every relationship you'll have in the future. People say that it's not that big of a deal and that it's just kids being kids, but it's not. It's taken me all these years to figure out that there isn't anything wrong with me other than I don't let anyone form an attachment to me. Therapists have a field day with me and I've worked in the Mental Health and Medical field for 20 years. I find it very hard to trust people because I think they're going to hurt me. I'd rather stay single and be alone than have someone who I thought was the love of my life hurt me. Everyone is probably thinking that that's what opening yourself up to love and trust is all about but I can't really keep taking potshots to the heart without it taking it's toll. The funny thing is that the same guy I once loved in my youth who made fun of me...kind of married a heavyset woman!! Oh the irony of life! I guess God knew then that I wouldn't be happy if I settled for less than the best of what he had for me...So girls, women, men...Wait, wait and wait some more but do it with a trusting heart that's open to love.
If you or someone you love is being bullied, there is help out there. Please contact Stop Bullying and help someone else find a way out. Thank you!
I didn't know growing up that everyone wouldn't have my opinion...say what now? I was an only child so there was an assumption that I was always right. That's my email address. I've had it since I was in high school and there was dial-up. You're probably thinking that you're always right but that would be a wrong assumption because two people can't always be right. That's a high improbability - look it up. That and my Grandma Butcher told me this and she was never wrong At least, I like to think she wasn't. What can I say about my Gran Butcher? She was awesome! She loved me more than anything in this world and that was a fact. My heart was hers and hers was mine. She may have had my dad and uncle but I was her sunshine. She even sang the song to me and believe you me...she couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. There was just a little unknown fact about my Grandma...She was cray-cray. She would tell me it was raining outside when the sun was shining so I wouldn't want to go outside. You might be thinking to yourself - are you for real right now? Yes I am and then people wonder why I'm ghost pale. It's probably because she scared the light from my skin. I'm really an Albino with really good makeup coverage . Seriously, these are all true stories.
See Grandma had a problem with telling little fibs about things pertaining to things she didn't want to do. Like if I wanted to go upstairs and she didn't want to...She'd tell me the vacuum cleaner was going to eat me. See, for a 5 year-old that's terrifying but for a 10 or 12 year-old it was kind of funny! It wasn't just funny, it was hilarious especially when she'd park the vacuum cleaner at the top of the stairs and I'd have to pee. I'd have to pee a lot!! So, I learned that if I had to pee, I'd just have to hold it til I got home. Hopefully that wasn't 10 hours down the road!! Now, I know you're thinking that's cruel but it's really funny because Grandma didn't know she did this. She was just extremely neurotic...like to the max. It really started because she parked the vacuum cleaner up there to scare Mugs, who was her dog and scared of everything anyway. You could blow on him and he'd run bless his heart. So she thought it would work on me - but telling me it would eat me kind of backfired on her because my mother is a true mother bear with claws and teeth. It's a good thing she didn't see Grandma as a steak LOL! She would claw your eyes out if you looked at me wrong, but that's another story.
I remember when she told me I couldn't go down to High's or outside because it was raining out. Now it wouldn't have been so terribly funny if it wasn't 70 degrees, spring and sunny and we hadn't just walked in the door. Yes, my Grandma had her little quirks but I'd give anything to have them back. You see once something is gone, you give anything to have it back. My cousin, Rachel didn't really get to know her like I did. I got 19 years with her and even though that really wasn't enough - Rachel didn't get even half that. I'm the one that got to play house, grocery store and cash register with her. I'm the one that played tea set, coloring books, pens and dolls. I got to walk to High's and Drug City and pick out whatever I wanted but it was never about what she gave me. I got all her time and love. I have her memorial etched in ink on my back for eternity until I draw my last breath. She's the person who loved me on the day I first drew breath, and I'm blessed to have loved her the day she drew her last breath. She will forever be written on my skin as she is forever written on my heart. Some people stay a short while and leave a lasting impression. There were people she didn't like and she made it quite known but she loved her family more than anything. To me, I saw what no one else could see and that was someone who accepted me just as I am. She never tried to change me, mold me or make me into anyone other than who I was. She never put me in dresses or pigtails. Never told me to use my indoor voice and she never told me to eat an apple. Maybe she should have but she didn't because she wasn't my mother. She was my Grandmother and no one will take that place and one day I'll see her again. She'll be standing beside my Grandfather, Maude, and my dog Shelby waiting with open arms to tell me that SHE was always right when she said that I could be whatever I put my mind too and not to let anyone tell me differently. She might have been a negative Nancy in almost every aspect but when it came to me she was positive I would do great things and when I do something I wonder if she would be proud. I wish everyone had a Grandma Butcher or at least got to meet her.
So in a couple months I'm going to be 40 and I know those of you out there that know me are saying "What? No, not you!!" Well, I am. I have all these things that I want to do - Like Tandem skydiving, Race Car driving (I know some are saying I do that now in my little Toyota Corolla - my reply is SHUT UP!) I'm looking at 10 day cruises and trips to Cancun. The thing is...I'm SINGLE! I can do all this and not feel guilty that I'm leaving someone at home and that they're gonna starve or miss me.
My dad keeps making snide remarks like "did you take your meds bipolar Betty" and my personal favorite "what personality wants to go on this trip?" They don't seem to realize that I've spent my ENTIRE life taking care of them. I don't see it as a burden and I don't regret it but I woke up the other morning and realized that not only can I die tomorrow but what stories are my family going to tell about that I did? I haven't done anything worth telling. I'm kind of boring. I've worked since I was 16 and I haven't stopped. I've treated my parents like my kids and I'm determined to make my forties the best.
I want a party when I die. I don't want anyone grieving and crying - I want some partying and y'all I want some balloons that say "She went home!!!" I want people to say she lived life to the fullest and even though she didn't have any children or a man - she was an awesome role model for women of all ages and that it's okay to NOT have one! It is better to be alone and satisfied than with someone and miserable. My Grandmother is a prime example of that. My Grandfather is the most sad person ever. He didn't have the greatest upbringing but you are not the product of your environment because you can change. Do you hear me? Are you getting what I'm saying out there people? You don't have to blame your past for who you are today. You can break free from what is keeping you captive, held down and come into the light and live up to the potential that you were meant for. My Grandpa has always been a bitter person and he's been married to my Grandma for 65 years or longer and she's been miserable almost all that time. Now, if it were me....I'd poison his a...tail and call it a good day. Not my Grandma - She prays for that man. I wouldn't even have it in me to make him an egg without throwing some arsenic on it and calling the funeral home for a fitting...I know it's harsh but I'm just that way.
If anyone could get Grandpa into heaven, it would be Grandma. That woman has a 911 line to Jesus. I swear!! I know I shouldn't swear but I'm swearing because she is like a walking bible. She cannot remember what she ate yesterday (unless it's one of mom's chocolate chip cookies or 12) but she knows her scriptures backwards and forwards. It's amazing she hasn't held Grandpa hostage and beat him with the Holy Bible til he relented or is it repented? He should do both! IMMEDIATELY!
Everything I learned in my life, I learned from Grandpa (You're thinking what the heck) or should I say I learned what NOT to do.
When you walk into a store and go "Do I want this or need it" that's a problem. It also stems from my father asking from the time I was five years-old that question. Some of you out there might be scratching your head and asking yourself "Really?" Um...YES!!! I distinctly remember my dad asking me one day when I wanted an expensive pair of jelly shoes, if I needed them or if I wanted them. Well, I didn't need them per se but I sure did want a pair...I still want a pair. Which reminds me that they are selling them on Amazon for $13.99 now. I might buy some cause I want them. I never got the name brand, I got the generic at Roses for $2.50 and they tore my toes up!!!! The point is...Not everything in life you're meant to have. Sometimes those things you wanted you really didn't need.
People today need to realize that not everything in life should be handed to you. You're not owed anything and you're not guaranteed everything. My father went without more times than I could count to give me what I needed not what I may have wanted. It taught me a really good life lesson for when I got older. My grandmother has taught me not to poison people you don't like (JUST KIDDING!!!) Actually, she taught me to persevere even when you want to give up and hate the one you're with. She taught me that loving is easier than hating and that there are no colors in the world. God doesn't see color but he does see ignorance and ignorance isn't bliss. So be like Grandma...don't poison Grandpa!!
Well, not all the time am I politically correct and sometimes I get myself in trouble...Yep I do. See I'm single and mostly I believe in the romance, flowers and all the crap that goes with the romance, flowers and lovey dovey crap. I've got the parents with the 43 year marriage and the gooey hugs and kisses still as witnessed here... And yet it's elusive to me because I'm such a polar opposite in everything that is in romances today. They say giggle, I laugh til water comes out my nose like a fountain is flowing and at a good pace. They say simper and wait on a man hand and foot, cooking him dinner and I burn his kitchen to the ground....while his animals are inside and the fire department has to go in and get them. They say be a beta female, don't be an Alpha, no man wants an alpha female and guess what - I AM NOT A BETA FEMALE!!!!
I would have loved to have been that perfect, funny, skinny, brainless cheerleader of a girl growing up...no offense to the cheerleaders, but I wasn't. I was difficult, sarcastic, overweight, brainless (somewhat) and didn't come into my brain til I was in college. My IQ is kind of high and that's not to brag. It just is or it was when I was a kid, now I'm disturbed by the fact that everything's just went downhill...my butt, my brains and probably my IQ. Seriously, if you were a cheerleader I'm sure you were smart because you would have gotten kicked off cheer squad - we all know that! Anyhow, in my almost 40 years I've gleaned a lot...A LOT! Most of which is that there are a couple things you need in life.
1. No Rules - From the time I was a little girl I gave myself rules to live by and they all sucked!! They didn't help me and they got me nowhere. I am going to be that bitter old lady at the end of the road torching little kids and cats for coming in her yard because they're not following my rules...yeah I don't want to be that lady - she's mean, so no rules!!
2. Real Men don't take Selfies Every Day! If your man takes a selfie in his car, at the gym, in his bathroom, in the closet, in his bed, on the toilet (yes I've seen one) and he has the same crap-eating grin every time (no pun intended) there is something really wrong here!? You're either with a secret serial killer who likes to use Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest or he's into himself so much that there's no more room left for you! If you take that many selfies together....hmmm maybe it's a match made in heaven or....ummm!
3. If you're single at 39, it doesn't necessarily mean you're gay, that there's something wrong with you, there's not someone out there for you, or my personal favorite: that it isn't God's will! It might just mean that you're perfect as you are and people need to shut up. God gives mates to people 9 times out of 10 and those mates have qualities that complete the other person but what if you're complete all on your own? Ever figure that maybe God made you and you didn't need anyone to complete you because you had a little of all the qualities and potential but you just need to know how to grow all of it together? Some people have that. We don't need a guy to make us who we are. We're already that and you might think I'm joking but I'm not. Stay with me here...Guys you can switch out the guy part and put gal instead because this is for you too. We know of several people in the Bible who were single and were happy in their singleness but we're always striving for the next best thing. Our next house, next car, next perfect child, next degree that we want to finish, next trophy wife/husband...What if we were just happy with who we were?
4. Live life out Loud...Spend your day doing something, anything that you don't normally do. Help out a family member you don't like. We all have them! You know you do and if you say you don't - LIAR! Take them out and get to know them the way Christ would. Not the way you would because we all know you'd nail them to the wall the first chance you'd get the first time they said the first word wrong in a sentence. I know because I would!! If you saw me right now you'd see me doing the two fingers to my eyes and looking at you sign.
5. End all your sentences with a word that is hilarious to you but other people don't understand and watch their faces. It's funny to watch and it will keep your blood pressure down. My mother and I have been doing this for a week and it started by accident and now we do it because it's so funny, we can't quit laughing at each other.
Last but not least enjoy the life you're given because it's short. You have no idea how short your life is until God tells you your time is up. My advice is love fiercely, forgive freely and without consideration, show the ones your with how you feel so that when your gone, they never have to wonder how you felt about them.
Author, Reviewer, Manager, Personal Assistant, Best Friend, Daughter. Of all the hats👒 I wear, daughter👪 is the one I treasure💰 the most. 💙loverofbigbookscannotlie.blogspot.com
Debbie Butcher is a mother, friend and avid reader who in her spare time enjoys all things family. She has 2 dogs who can always be found on her lap, an ice tea at her side and a daughter who dotes on her. Her husband and her are retired in NC.