It should have been easy, it was something I had done hundreds of times previously, hell I had made friends by doing it.
But this time I couldn’t, I tried many times though, but I even cancelled plans because of it. I felt so alone, I didn’t know why it was happening, I couldn’t put my finger on it.
All I knew was that apart from going to start my new job I couldn’t go out anywhere, couldn’t begin to live my new life in my new town like so many people appear to do so easily.
What Was Happening?
It took a few months to fully understand what was happening to me, why I couldn’t go to coffee shops alone, eat out alone or even feel comfortable in myself in my new hometown.
I eventually went to the doctor’s because I wasn’t sleeping either, a side effect of my new shift pattern at work. I was given sleeping tablets, but they only dulled the symptoms, they didn’t get to the root cause of my unease.
Going back and seeing a different doctor helped, I told her how I was feeling, so alone and unable to (feel like) a functioning adult. She suggested a course of CBT for me and said I could have social anxiety.
I had read up about this online prior to my appointment so had an understanding of the symptoms and an idea that it was this I was suffering from, so I wasn’t too shocked when the doctor confirmed it.
A course of group CBT soon followed but it felt too much like a university lecture, with handouts, slides and homework, not something I thought would or could help me. I finished the course not really any wiser about my situation and with a bundle of handouts I had no use for.
So, I turned to the only resource left to me where I felt comfortable sharing my story and telling others how I felt - blogging.
How Blogging Helped My Social Anxiety
It felt easier switching on my laptop, opening Blogger and typing away than it ever did speaking to someone about how I felt, although weirdly, that’s exactly what I was doing, albeit through a screen and not directly.
I wrote a post about how I identified and overcame my social anxiety, but the truth was, I hadn’t overcome it as such, I was (and still am) dealing with it on a day-to-day basis; but as I settled into my new life in my new town, I slowly started to make new friends which eased my anxieties and worries about not previously being able to do either.
Opening up on my blog about my social anxiety really helped not only me but others too who maybe were going through or had gone through something similar. I suddenly found a whole new community of people I could talk to about how I was feeling and whom I could confide in. This was amazing and for once I didn’t feel so alone.
An Anxiety Attack at a Blogging Event
One of the first blogging events I went to was an Ice Lolly Holiday Blog at the Beach event in Leeds. This was at the height of my social anxiety, I literally felt so alone that day and knew how hard it would be to walk into a room full of people I didn’t know.
Thankfully another blogger who was also going to the same event, met me outside at a pub and we had a drink together before heading in, it was nice to go with someone else but it still daunting, nonetheless.
We headed in, met some other bloggers whom we knew, chatted, had a drink and began to relax. Or so I thought. Sitting down to listen to the presentations I suddenly felt like there was a massive weight on top of my chest/shoulders which wouldn’t go away. I had no idea what this was, other than the fact it must’ve been an anxiety attack.
Why it was kicking in while I was sitting down listening to a presentation, I have no idea, but it didn’t make it any easier to deal with. I just sat there with this horrible, almost claustrophobic feeling, unable to move. I reached out on Twitter to see if anyone else was feeling the same or if I was indeed, alone.
Some lovely ladies came over after seeing my tweet and asked if I was okay and did I want to sit next to them whilst they bashed men on Tinder? It was a really kind offer, but I stayed where I was and waited until the event was over.
It was funny, as soon as the last talk was done and we were free to leave, I felt instantly better. Like that massive weight had been taken off me and all of a sudden, I was left wondering, had I imagined it?
I have no idea where it came from or even why it happened but all I know is I hadn’t ever experienced anything like it previously and thankfully I haven’t had another one since. All I know is that there are others out there who suffer in the same way and who were kind enough to reach out to me when I needed them most.
Where I Am Today
Today I am in an altogether much better place than I was 2 years ago. I now have a wide circle of friends in my new hometown, a fabulous crew of friends at work and various social events to attend (should I want to) throughout the year.
I’m not saying I am cured, not by any stretch of the imagination but I have found a way to deal with it. I know my friends are there for me should I need them, and I needn’t suffer in silence.
Before I started suffering with social anxiety and mental health issues, I didn’t even know there was a whole community of people out there who understood what I was going through and who would be there for me if I needed them.
I really couldn’t have gotten through the last 2 years without them, and I am forever thankful that something as simple as blogging brought them into my life.
Love, Sarah xoxoxo