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-   -   How to talk to my friends about social anxiety (http://www.teenhelp.org/forums/f205-anxiety-stress/t162076-how-talk-my-friends-about-social-anxiety/)

lyraa September 5th 2021 06:06 PM

How to talk to my friends about social anxiety
 
Last year, after years of struggling with what I thought was 'extreme shyness', I came on here to ask if it was something else. Through kind answers and a lot of research on the internet, I am more or less certain that I have a form of social anxiety or at least experience most of the symptoms of social anxiety.

It took me a year to open up to my mom about it and am yet to tell my dad and siblings. She has often suggested talking to a counsellor and getting professional help but so far I haven't had the confidence to speak to someone. This is why I haven't had an official diagnosis. She has since asked me if I would like to talk first with my closest friend (who I have known 5+ years) in order to make it easier talking to a counsellor. I really want to tell my friend about it as I feel I owe it to her especially as she trusted me enough to come out last year.
The thing that is preventing me from opening up to people is the irrational fear that people will think I am 'faking it' or that I am not anxious enough to be diagnosed with social anxiety. I have always toned down or masked my discomfort in social situations and have never talked to people (except my mom) about how I feel and worry that this will make it seem as though this sudden or new. I fear talking to a counsellor because I feel as though they might tell me that I am worrying too much and that I don't have social anxiety. I really want to overcome this and take the steps towards getting help and have set myself the goal of telling my friend by the end of October in order to get things moving.

I would really appreciate it if people could give tips on how I could talk to her/ their own experiences in talking to friends about their mental health. I would also like to know whether i should do it in person, text her or video call her. She currently lives 6 hours away and the next time I see her will be October.

Thank you,
Lyra :)

Mallika September 6th 2021 11:58 AM

Re: How to talk to my friends about social anxiety
 
Hi Lyra,

Thank you so much for reaching out. You reaching out here on TeenHelp is itself an admirable step towards overcoming your anxiety. It's good that you're being so proactive about this.

Firstly, there is no downside to meeting a counsellor. I definitely concur with your mother. Meeting a counsellor will help you put your doubts at ease regarding the anxiety you're undergoing. It's quite natural to have fears about what a counsellor might say or do, but it doesn't hurt to visit them first and hear them out. While I don't have anxiety, I struggled with OCD for 8 years. When I finally met a counsellor last year, I had already begun to follow a self-help coping strategy (which was helping me greatly) and was worried that she might ask me to stop it. She didn't. While her approach was different, she never asked me to put a halt to following the coping strategy that was helping me. Things might not be as bad as what we worry. Another thing is this - even if you might not feel like you're on the same page as one counsellor, you can always meet another one. A counsellor-client relationship is very much like any other human relationship - we sync well with some people more so than others. The good news is that most counsellors are very willing to listen and help you out to the best of their abilities, so you would be in good hands sooner or later.

You've put down your thoughts nicely here on TeenHelp; if you feel it might be difficult to open up to a counsellor, perhaps you might want to write your thoughts down in a little journal and show it to the counsellor? You can write down any anxious, difficult thoughts as they come. That might be a handy tool for the counsellor too, as they will be able to track your train of thought and aid with helping you. After all, the more they can understand what is going on in your mind (in the form of writings), the more they may be able to tailor their professional support towards you.

Regarding speaking with your friend, you asked a very valid question. I too had to prepare myself for a "speech" in front of my family whereby I had to open up about 8-years' worth of my tryst with OCD. If I could do it successfully, you can too! What I did was I jotted down the points I had to tell them on a Word doc a few weeks in advance. As I remembered the things I had to say, I would type it up. You can also do the same (you can start writing up pointers for what you'd like to tell her) and even rehearse what you plan to speak a few times (by yourself), so that it's so much easier when you speak. Whichever mode of communication you wish to use doesn't matter so long as you are comfortable with it. Do what makes you most at ease.

From personal experience, I can promise you that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I know it sounds cliche, but it is really true. With the right support system, recovery is possible. If I could reverse my 8 years of OCD (I'm still recovering, almost there, but I've come so far!!), you most definitely can!

Feel free to DM me if you have any questions! :hug:

lyraa September 8th 2021 06:37 PM

Re: How to talk to my friends about social anxiety
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mallika (Post 1371075)
Hi Lyra,

Thank you so much for reaching out. You reaching out here on TeenHelp is itself an admirable step towards overcoming your anxiety. It's good that you're being so proactive about this.

Firstly, there is no downside to meeting a counsellor. I definitely concur with your mother. Meeting a counsellor will help you put your doubts at ease regarding the anxiety you're undergoing. It's quite natural to have fears about what a counsellor might say or do, but it doesn't hurt to visit them first and hear them out. While I don't have anxiety, I struggled with OCD for 8 years. When I finally met a counsellor last year, I had already begun to follow a self-help coping strategy (which was helping me greatly) and was worried that she might ask me to stop it. She didn't. While her approach was different, she never asked me to put a halt to following the coping strategy that was helping me. Things might not be as bad as what we worry. Another thing is this - even if you might not feel like you're on the same page as one counsellor, you can always meet another one. A counsellor-client relationship is very much like any other human relationship - we sync well with some people more so than others. The good news is that most counsellors are very willing to listen and help you out to the best of their abilities, so you would be in good hands sooner or later.

You've put down your thoughts nicely here on TeenHelp; if you feel it might be difficult to open up to a counsellor, perhaps you might want to write your thoughts down in a little journal and show it to the counsellor? You can write down any anxious, difficult thoughts as they come. That might be a handy tool for the counsellor too, as they will be able to track your train of thought and aid with helping you. After all, the more they can understand what is going on in your mind (in the form of writings), the more they may be able to tailor their professional support towards you.

Regarding speaking with your friend, you asked a very valid question. I too had to prepare myself for a "speech" in front of my family whereby I had to open up about 8-years' worth of my tryst with OCD. If I could do it successfully, you can too! What I did was I jotted down the points I had to tell them on a Word doc a few weeks in advance. As I remembered the things I had to say, I would type it up. You can also do the same (you can start writing up pointers for what you'd like to tell her) and even rehearse what you plan to speak a few times (by yourself), so that it's so much easier when you speak. Whichever mode of communication you wish to use doesn't matter so long as you are comfortable with it. Do what makes you most at ease.

From personal experience, I can promise you that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I know it sounds cliche, but it is really true. With the right support system, recovery is possible. If I could reverse my 8 years of OCD (I'm still recovering, almost there, but I've come so far!!), you most definitely can!

Feel free to DM me if you have any questions! :hug:

Thank you so much Malika :)) I have written down everything I want to say to her and am feeling a lot more confident about it. I'm going to talk to her in person very soon.
Thanks also for the tips! I definitely think the journal idea would be good for me as it means I can think through and plan things beforehand so that I can use the best words to describe how I'm feeling.


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