By Lisa Klarner
After years of suffering it took quite a journey to find out what was wrong with me. Then, it took many years of therapy to help overcome it. “It” ended up being social anxiety disorder.
When I was really struggling, I was afraid even when walking through the grocery store. I tried to avoid seeing people I knew. I felt like people (even people I knew) were watching and judging me. I worried incessantly about social interactions before, during and after. Thoughts like, “I’m not good enough” or “I will make a fool of myself” or “I never know what to say to people” would run through my mind continuously. Today, I can stand up in front of large groups of people and regularly go to networking events. Almost every day, I do all sorts of things that I never imagined I could do.
Experiencing and overcoming social anxiety disorder made me realize that there is a huge gap in understanding what the disorder is. That’s why I started Peaceful Horizons, which is focused on educating as many people as possible about social anxiety. I frequently speak about the warning signs and treatments for social anxiety.
When somebody has social anxiety, they don’t realize that it’s their own thoughts that are causing their fears. When I was suffering, I didn’t understand why I felt the way I did. I didn’t realize I could change the thoughts that were causing the anxiety I was feeling. In the depths of my secret pain, I thought everyone could see the symptoms that bothered me so much. But later, once I started opening up about my social challenges, I found out that even people close to me hadn’t noticed my symptoms.
When somebody is struggling with a mental illness like social anxiety, they feel like there isn’t any hope. I felt this way too for many years, but once I got introduced to helpful tools like journaling and meditation, I recognized that I could change. I finally felt like there was hope for a less anxious life. Now, when I talk to people about social anxiety, I always recommend that people seek counseling from a licensed, professional counselor. While the tools and therapies used to treat anxiety disorders are very similar for most people, the paths people follow on their journey to heal will vary. My advice is to try a tool such as meditation and if that doesn’t work, try something else. Don’t give up hope, be persistent in finding what works best for you.
I invite you to check out my book “Releasing The Secret Pain: Moving Beyond Social Anxiety Disorder.” I truly believe, even though it can be so painful, that you have to be open and honest about your struggles. Even though I had already overcame social anxiety disorder by the time I wrote the book, the process of writing it and talking openly about the challenges took my healing to a much deeper level. My book is written to guide people with social anxiety disorder through the process of understanding and healing. The book has also proven to be a great tool for parents, educators and medical professionals to help them better understand the anxious kids in their lives.
Information about the book is available at the website www.releasingsocialanxiety.com. I hope this post and the information on my website can help you or someone you love to release the secret pain of social anxiety.