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Switching, twitching and social anxiety

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It’s no secret I deal with anxiety. It’s something I’m totally open about. I’ve thought that what I deal with is mainly generalised anxiety, but I’ve come to realise in the past year that lately, I lean more towards social anxiety.

I was already becoming a bit like a hermit anyway, but an incident earlier this year pushed me into full blown hermitage. I didn’t want to go outside and face the world. The only time I left the house was to do grocery shopping. Even then it was a quick grabbing a coffee; eat some food, grocery shop, race home. I was so worried about what people would say, so concerned about running into people I didn’t want to run into, so self-conscious about my appearance and my body, that I withdrew completely.

I was eventually pushed by my best friends into seeing my psych again. The entire time driving to my appointment, I had my usual generalised anxiety worry – what if I crash, what if someone crashes into me, what if I wreck the car, what if I can’t find a park, blah blah etc etc, silly, trivial things that were blown incredibly out of proportion because of my brain. Once I was there, we talked, and I began to realise that I was dealing with social anxiety right now. I felt like exclaiming “Oh, dur!” and slapping myself on the head – of course that’s what it was.

I suppose I didn’t recognise it because I’ve never really acknowledged it or dealt with it before. In high school and uni, I was a flitter – I had a regular group of friends I hung around with, but I could talk to other people as well. For someone who is relatively social and friendly enough, I never even thought about social anxiety – if I told acquaintances or the people at my regular coffee shop, they would laugh at me. I know I don’t come across as someone who is nervous and always worried they’re going to say something wrong or trip over their own feet (and believe me, it’s happened), but that’s how I feel.

My psych put forward to me the only way I was going to help deal with the social anxiety was to get out more. So, when my friend Natalie decided to start up a Stitch and Twitch group – a regularly meeting craft group for people with social anxiety, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to face my fears and be social in a low-stress environment that is comfortable to me.

We’ve had two meetings so far and both have gone well. I’d like to say when I’m at these meetings I completely forget all my social anxiety issues and all of my appearance issues, but I’d be lying. However, they’re not as bad as they usually are, because I am in a non-judgemental space. In this space, I feel free to be myself, loud or quiet, lady-like or not. I find that so rare and difficult to do lately that I’m so happy whenever I get the chance. I hope this will help me be able to deal with my issues and manage them.

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