Social Anxiety in the Bedroom #2: 15 Shockingly Honest Thoughts

Content warning: If you are related to me and/or a client and/or a former employer and/or a little squeamish about hearing details of my brain on sex, you may want to skip this one. (Obviously you’re welcome to read on if you’re cool with this topic.) The previous post is not about sex, and it’s here: Social Anxiety Is Standing In My Way Today. No worries, no pressure. xoxo


People are sometimes surprised when I say my social anxiety doesn’t “go away” when I’m with my husband.⠀

And I totally get where the surprise is coming from, but the reality is that social anxiety is present even when I’m by myself.⠀

Because my mind is always with me.⠀

Social anxiety is a disorder. It’s not the same as shyness, which can fade with familiarity with someone. ⠀

I definitely don’t experience social anxiety symptoms as intensely with my husband. But they’re still there. They’re always there. ⠀

And I know from chatting with others that it can be hard for a non-anxious partner to understand just how ever-present the disorder is. ⠀

Especially when it comes to sex.⠀

And I can empathize with that, too. If I’m getting naked with this other human, shouldn’t that mean I’m fairly comfortable with myself in this situation? ⠀

Yeah. No. Social anxiety laughs at that naive hope. ⠀

Today, I’m sharing a very incomplete list of anxious thoughts I’ve had in the bedroom. I hope it’s relatable and helpful and makes you feel less alone.


15 Socially Anxious Thoughts I Have During Sex

  1. Exactly how clean am I right now? When’s the last time I peed/showered/used a baby wipe
  2. What’s the last thing I ate? Should I brush my teeth, or will that be *too* fresh?⁣⠀⁣⠀
  3. Why am I wearing my [insert geeky graphic tee] again? (He has legit said, “Is it a Foxy Mama kinda night or a Snaxolotl kinda night?”)
  4. Should I take charge? I don’t want to take charge.⁣⠀⁣⠀
  5. Have I gone on top yet this month? This season? (I’m not against going on top, it’s just that I’m always tired and also it’s also a very tummy-flappy position and when I’m on top, my knee pops, and that makes me feel old. I don’t want to feel old.)⁣⠀⁣⠀
  6. Oh shit, does 𝘩𝘦 think I’m old?⁣⠀⁣⠀
  7. Ow, my hip.⁣⠀⁣⠀
  8. Do I look weird from this angle?⁣⠀⁣⠀
  9. Am I boring? ⁣⠀⁣⠀
  10. Do I look old from this angle?⁣⠀⁣⠀
  11. Oh god I just saw my tummy. It looks like a waterbed. Don’t look down. Never look down.
  12. Am I looser since having the kids? Mental note to ask him after.⁣⠀
  13. Is my climax face weird? Mental note to ask him after.⁣⠀⁣⠀
  14. Is he bored? Definitely don’t ask him right this second..
  15. Wow, that was an intense 10 minutes mentally. Anyway!

Parting Thoughts

These worries are real, but I’ve presented them in a lighthearted way.⁣ This is also a shortlist.
⁣⠀
I don’t necessarily have 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺 thought above in this 𝘦𝘹𝘢𝘤𝘵 order 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺 time we get naked. ⁣⠀
⁣⠀
But… I definitely have had all these thoughts often enough to write them down. ⁣⠀

There’s a lot more to say about the intersection of (social) anxiety and sex/sexuality.

But I think I’ll leave it here for now.

This post originally appeared as two posts on Instagram. This one and this one:

View this post on Instagram

𝗣𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴… 𝗦𝗼𝗰𝗶𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗮𝗻𝘅𝗶𝗼𝘂𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗯𝗲𝗱𝗿𝗼𝗼𝗺. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ 𝘠𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘢𝘮𝘢𝘻𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘦𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘺𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘥𝘢𝘺'𝘴 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘵 𝘨𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘮𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘧𝘪𝘥𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦 𝘐 𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘥𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘵! 𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘬 𝘺𝘰𝘶! 𝘹𝘰𝘹𝘰⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ 𝗜𝗺𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝗽𝗿𝗲𝗳𝗮𝗰𝗲: ⁣⠀ These worries are real, but I've presented them in a lighthearted way.⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ I don't necessarily have 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺 thought below in this 𝘦𝘹𝘢𝘤𝘵 order 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘺 time we get naked. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ But… I definitely have had all these thoughts often enough to write them down. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ 𝗠𝘆 𝘀𝗼𝗰𝗶𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗮𝗻𝘅𝗶𝗼𝘂𝘀 𝗯𝗿𝗮𝗶𝗻 𝗱𝘂𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘀𝗲𝘅: ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Exactly how clean am I right now? When's the last time I peed/showered/used a baby wipe?⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ What's the last thing I ate? Should I brush my teeth, or will that be *too* fresh?⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Why am I wearing my [insert geeky graphic tee] again? (He has legit said, "Is it a Foxy Mama kinda night or a Snaxolotl kinda night?") ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Should I take charge? I don't want to take charge.⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Have I gone on top yet this month? This season? (I'm not against going on top, it's just that I'm always tired and also it's also a very tummy-flappy position and when I'm on top, my knee pops, and that makes me feel old. I don't want to feel old.)⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Oh shit, does 𝘩𝘦 think I'm old?⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Ow, my hip.⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Do I look weird from this angle?⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Am I boring? ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Do I look old from this angle?⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Oh god I just saw my tummy. It looks like a waterbed. Don't look down. Never look down. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Am I looser since having the kids? Mental note to ask him after. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Is my climax face weird? Mental note to ask him after.⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Is he bored? Definitely don't ask him right this second. . Wow, that was an intense 10 minutes mentally. Anyway! ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ 𝗙𝗶𝗻𝗮𝗹 𝗻𝗼𝘁𝗲𝘀⁣⠀ 𝘐 𝘥𝘰𝘯'𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘪𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘴𝘦𝘦𝘮 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘐 𝘥𝘰𝘯'𝘵 𝘦𝘯𝘫𝘰𝘺 𝘴𝘦𝘹. 𝘐 𝘥𝘰. 𝘉𝘶𝘵 𝘐'𝘷𝘦 𝘰𝘯𝘭𝘺 𝘨𝘰𝘵 𝟸𝟸𝟶𝟶 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘹𝘪𝘰𝘶𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘴 𝘵𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘶𝘱 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘱𝘢𝘤𝘦. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ 𝗧𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝗶𝘀 𝘀𝗼 𝗺𝘂𝗰𝗵 𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝗮𝘆 𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝘁𝗼𝗽𝗶𝗰.

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Tending Your Social Anxiety Garden

When social anxiety flares up, it’s like a wall is being placed around me. A wall of weeds, maybe. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀

This is one reason that I’m not so sure social anxiety can be “cured.” ⁣⠀

I think it can be managed, much like a gardener manages the growth of unwanted weeds in her flower beds. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀

But if she stops pruning and tending, the flower beds become overgrown, and she has a lot of work ahead of her. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀

That’s how I see social anxiety, or my experience of social anxiety. ⁣⠀ ⁣

If I’m not constantly pushing myself to stay engaged with other humans, the fear returns. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀

It’s tiring. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀

And it’s sad, because I think there might be something of a social butterfly trapped inside this social anxiety chrysalis.⁣⠀ ⁣⠀

𝘞𝘰𝘸, 𝘢𝘮 𝘐 𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘮𝘪𝘹𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘶𝘱 𝘮𝘺 𝘮𝘦𝘵𝘢𝘱𝘩𝘰𝘳𝘴 𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦. 𝘐𝘵’𝘴 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘢 𝘮𝘦𝘵𝘢𝘱𝘩𝘰𝘳 𝘴𝘮𝘰𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘦. (𝘐 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘴𝘪𝘮𝘪𝘭𝘦𝘴, 𝘵𝘰𝘰.) ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀

Social anxiety is not *who I am.* I am not social anxiety. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀

I’m the gardener. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀

Social anxiety is the overgrowth. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀

But the past few days, I have been struggling to even pick up the pruning shears. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀

I just wanted to let you know, because I know I haven’t replied to you the way I normally do.

But I’m here, and I see you, and I appreciate you. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀

And if you’re in the midst of a flare-up too, my gentle words of advice would be to remember that social anxiety is not who you are. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀

𝐘𝐨𝐮’𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐠𝐚𝐫𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐫. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀

(𝘈𝘯𝘥 𝘢𝘭𝘴𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘣𝘶𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘧𝘭𝘺.)⁣⠀ ⁣⠀

Social Anxiety in the Bedroom #1: The Struggle Is Real

Content warning: …sex. Obviously. (Not too graphic though.)


If I had to break down socially anxious sex into 4 overly simplistic, tongue-in-cheek steps, it might look like this:

Step 1:

Start with all the typical fears related to social anxiety.

To name just a few:

Being judged by others in social situations

Being embarrassed or humiliated — and showing it by blushing, sweating, or shaking

Accidentally offending someone

Being the center of attention

Source: WebMD

Step 2:

Hold on tight to those fears as you remove all your clothing.

You are now naked.

Proceed to step 3.

Step 3:

Continue to hold on tight to those fears as you turn to other human or humans in room.

Note that they, too, are naked.

And looking at you.

Step 4:

Prepare to interact with other human(s) in the most intimate way imaginable.

Now.

Right now.

Congratulations!

You are now ready to have socially anxious sex.

But Seriously Though

It’s not your fault if anxiety is creating challenges for you related to intimacy or sex.

You didn’t choose to have anxiety in the bedroom any more than you chose to have it outside the bedroom.

Anxiety doesn’t END at the bedroom door

(I keep saying bedroom but feel free to replace this with your sexy location of choice.)

Anxiety is hard enough to manage during non-sexy times, and it affects an individual’s whole life.

So it only makes sense that these challenges would carry over into the bedroom. You’re still the same person there, after all.

Anxiety can be a mood killer

It can be physically difficult, if not impossible, to relax enough to enjoy the moment. (No relaxy, no climaxy.)

Medication can be a factor

SSRI and SNRI medications can cause sexual side effects.

This can be infuriating, embarrassing, and discouraging. (There are ways to mitigate this effect depending on the medication. For example, for me, adding Wellbutrin [buproprion] offset the anorgasmia caused by SNRI and SSRI medication. Talk to your doc.)

Anxiety is pretty common here anyway

Sex can be nerve-wracking even without an anxiety disorder in the mix.

It can be fun but scary, exhilarating but finicky, restorative but messy. (So messy.)

Moral of the story: We’re all imperfect

Please don’t be too hard on your imperfect self for being imperfect in the bedroom, too.

Anxiety disorder or not, WE ARE *ALL* IMPERFECT IN THE BEDROOM.

AND DON’T LET ANYONE MAKE YOU BELIEVE OTHERWISE.

xoxo

P.S. Why I Wrote This Post

The impact of social anxiety on sexuality is a legitimate issue that I would love to see discussed in a candid and relatable way.

The tone I aimed for here is lighthearted and hopefully a little funny.

This isn’t “the” definitive post on socially anxious sex.

I’m just hoping to open the door to more conversation and thought.

And even if there’s no public talk, maybe someone out there will feel a little less alone and a little more understood. xoxo

I Am Not Social Anxiety (And Neither Are You) ⁣

I am not social anxiety, but I accept it as part of my life.

I’m still working in the direction of “recovery,” but I’ve made space for a lot of nuance in what I think that looks like. ⁣

I think I used to equate recovery with “cure,” and I used to think “cured” meant no longer socially anxious or held back by “shyness” or “introversion” at all. ⁣

But that mindset came from a place of unnecessary and hurtful self-rejection. ⁣

Self-acceptance

I had to shift to a place of self-acceptance before any recovery could really take place. ⁣And there have been some other changes, too:

  • I stopped viewing shyness or introversion negatively once I realized they weren’t the same thing as social anxiety (or as one another).
  • I’ve started to see social anxiety disorder as the thing that makes me censor myself from the world. ⁣Even from myself sometimes. Recovery has meant learning to turn down the censor and let the real me emerge. ⁣
  • Perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned that self-shame is just not a useful tool for recovery.

Not broken

I’m learning to accept that who I am inside is 𝘯𝘰𝘵 the problem. And that recovery doesn’t mean “fixing” the real me within.

I’m not broken.

Please don’t beat yourself up if you experience social anxiety. You’re not bad or weak or broken.

You are not social anxiety.

xoxo

I Took 4 Online Tests for Social Anxiety: Here Are My Results

In 2018, I did a 12-week group therapy program for social anxiety (I talk about some aspects of the program in this post).

As part of the program, we were regularly asked to complete a questionnaire to track our level of social anxiety.

At the beginning of the program, my score was at the highest end of Severe, on a scale of Mild, Moderate, Severe, and Very Severe.

At the end of the program, it was at the lowest end of Severe. (Progress!)

During the program, I briefly went into the Very Severe range (it was around the time we started doing exposure therapy). But I also dipped down to the lowest end of Moderate during the program as well.

Anxiety levels vary with time and circumstances and many other factors. That’s why they scored us weekly — to see the overall picture.

It’s been a while since I had a formal assessment, so I was curious to see where I might fall on some online tests.

I included some screenshots of my answers and scores.

Read on, friends! I hope you find the post interesting. 🙂


Test 1:

PSYCOM Social Anxiety Test

My score on this test:

“Strong indication of social anxiety disorder (social phobia).”

Question example:

“Are you extremely conscious of your actions when in social settings because you fear they might offend someone or you could be rejected?”

My answer: Very often.

Thoughts:

I like the way the score is phrased here: “Strong indication of.” It makes it extra clear that this is not a diagnostic tool.

They include an image of where your score falls on anxiety-ometer (what would you call this?), but I’m not sure how meaningful it is, especially compared to, say, the ranges included in the results for Test 3 below.


Test 2:

Psychology Today Social Anxiety Test

My score on this test:

“No strengths.” (Fabulous.)

Question example:

“I blush frequently when talking to others.”

My answer: Completely true. (Hence the title of my blog.)

THOUGHTS:

You have to pay $6.95 to see the full tests results (which I guess is fair? the other sites don’t charge though), and they do tell you about the fee before you start the test.

The results they give you for free are not terribly insightful — they are more of a categorization of things you may already know about yourself. I read it and thought, “Well, yeah. Obviously.”

I wouldn’t recommend this test, unless maybe you want to buy the full report, but I can’t actually speak to the contents of the reports they give.


Test 3:

MIND DIAGNOSTICS

Social Anxiety Disorder Test

My score on this test:

“Extreme Social Anxiety (49/72).”

Question example:

“How often do you avoid expressing disagreement or disapproval to someone you don’t know well?”

My answer: Usually.

THOUGHTS:

My answer to that question above would actually be “always,” but that was not a choice.

They give you your full results, and the option of either signing up with your email address or skipping to results.

I like the language they use: “may be experiencing extreme social anxiety.” Not “you may HAVE extreme social anxiety” or “you may be SUFFERING FROM extreme social anxiety.”

I don’t personally mind if people use words like have or suffer from conversationally, but in the context of a test like this, I think neutral language is valuable.

I also like that they show you the score ranges.


Test 4:

Social Anxiety Institute

Test for Social Anxiety Disorder

My score on this test:

“71/90: High amount of social anxiety.”

Question example:

“Answering your phone without looking at who’s calling.”

My answer: High.

THOUGHTS:

The questions were straightforward, and I liked the colour-coded answers.

I did find myself wishing there was an option for “very high,” because there were a lot of situations where I would feel more anxiety than the situations where I said “high.”

For example, I would say “high” to a statement like, “answering the phone,” period. If you add “without looking at who’s calling,” then my anxiety level becomes “very high.”

(As in, I would absolutely never do that. That’s why we have voicemail. And google. For number checking.)

Oh and you do have to give your email address to access the results.


Final thoughts

Honestly, I really enjoy taking tests, whether they’re for mental health or personality or “What Kind of Pusheen Are You?

(I’m a Classic Pusheen at the moment, apparently.)

But that’s for another post.

In terms of my results on these four social anxiety tests, I have a few thoughts:

A little surprised

On the one hand, I’m a little surprised that I scored so high on the social anxiety scales, considering the therapy I’ve done and the fact that I’m showing up candidly and somewhat confidently on my blog and Instagram.

(It helps that there aren’t any non-child-non-husband humans around when I write.)

Lockdown effects?

On the other hand, the results are perhaps being skewed by the effects of the lengthy lockdown (entering week 8 as I write this).

I’m not seeing anyone but family, and tensions are just generally high in public. And, you know, globally.

Change how you look at progress

Even with therapy, I haven’t “erased” social anxiety from my life. I get anxious about many of the same things, to varying degrees.

The difference is that I’ve learned to better tolerate the anxiety.

Maybe if there was a test that measured “ability to function with/tolerate social anxiety,” those results would reflect my progress.

That’s a takeaway I’m pretty happy with, actually.


Three more tests

I was concerned about making the post too long, so I’m just going to list these here in case you want to take them yourself:


Disclaimer

This post is entirely for information/entertainment purposes, and not meant to provide instructions on treating or diagnosing any mental health concerns. Doctors first, always. xox


Have you taken any of these tests?

Feel free to talk about your results or thoughts in the comments!

I always enjoy your lovely comments. 🙂

The Power of Self-Acceptance For Overcoming Anxiety

This post offers some insight into my mental state “pre-therapy” and “pre-recovery,” and what I’ve learned since. An anxiety origin story of sorts.

I hope you find something valuable or relatable in here 🙂

Just get over it

All my (teenage/adult) life, I thought that if I could just “get over my issues,” I would be happy.

I would be “there,” in that place where I feel okay in my own body and mind.

If only I could get past my shyness, past my body image issues, past my imperfections… that’s what I thought the answer was.

Fake it til you make it

So I learned to “fake it til I made it” by adopting the mannerisms of people
I considered more socially graceful. I turned my people-pleasing powers on full strength and tried to become the Perfect Friend/Guest/Partner/Employee/Whatever.

But I couldn’t connect deeply with people. There was this barrier for me, this emotional distance. I held my true self back.

Socially acceptable mask

I didn’t want my discomfort to make anyone uncomfortable. I didn’t want to be the high-maintenance friend who needs reassurance and encouragement just to be herself.

I didn’t want my anxiety to inconvenience anyone or make them question my affection for them. So I put on my Socially Acceptable Mask and stuffed my fretting down deep inside.

And I became miserable. (Anxiety can often lead to depression. I think this is why.)

Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let it show

I felt like I was standing on the outside of most of my relationships, looking in through a window clouded by my own fear of being truly authentic and vulnerable.

Yes, I could speak candidly about myself, but only in an abstract way devoid of any true vulnerability.

I worked so far to stifle my blushing, hold back my nervous tears, and steady my shaky hands. And if there were situations where I knew I wouldn’t have that control, I would just avoid them.

At all costs, I tried to hide how shy and awkward and lost I truly felt.

I was desperate not to let anyone see how nervous I was.

How much I hated myself.

When you think you’re “bad”

I was starting from the assumption that there was something bad and unlovable about me, and then I was working backwards from there, looking for the evidence that made the assumption true.

It’s easy to find that kind of evidence if this is your mindset.

The biggest thing therapy has given me

And that’s why the biggest breakthrough in my recovery has come not from “controlling” my anxiety or “getting over my issues,” but from accepting the anxiety.

Validating it.

Validating myself.

I had to change the assumptions I had about myself and become open to the possibility that I am not, in fact, garbage.

Once I started to think of myself with more compassion and empathy, I stopped looking for the “evidence” of my unlovability and badness.

And everything else has flowed from this mindshift.

You can’t “hate” yourself better

We need to get over the idea that we need to “get over our issues.”

I think a better approach would be to introduce some softness and kindness in how we think about these “issues” in the first place. And above all, how we think about ourselves.

You can’t “hate” yourself into recovery.

You can’t “hate-heal” yourself.

Go easy on yourself

And you are not, in fact, garbage.

Let’s just be clear about that.

15 Things I Want You to Know About Anxiety Recovery

My brain is a wee bit battered and fried after today’s therapy session, so I thought I would try my hand at a list-type post and see what you think. 🙂

Here are 15 of the many things I’ve learned on my mental health journey. I hope they help, and feel free to ask questions in the comments!

  1. Progress is possible.
  2. Everyone progresses at their own pace.
  3. Everyone has different areas of focus.
  4. Regarding therapy, you don’t have to know what you need help with before you seek support. (It’s their job to help you figure that out.)
  5. Feeling anxious doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing something wrong or that something is wrong around you. It doesn’t mean you have to do anything to “fix” or “police” the situation.
  6. Try not to judge your insides based on someone else’s outsides. (This one comes from my mother-in-law, actually.)
  7. Think about the incredibly high standards you have for yourself. Who do they truly benefit? What would happen if you lowered the bar and let yourself breathe?
  8. You can be anxious and have fun at the same time. Anxiety can coexist with positive emotions and experiences.
  9. A lapse is not the same as a relapse. You’re never truly back to where you started, because that’s in the past and you aren’t a time traveller. (Or are you?)
  10. Don’t beat yourself up if you do stumble. Self-condemnation is toxic and is more likely to undo healing than it is to “push you” to greater success.
  11. Progress is about learning to tolerate feelings of anxiety so that those feelings become less powerful. It’s about learning to say, “Hey there, anxiety, I see you. You’re not in charge anymore, but I’m not going to pretend I don’t see you.” Anxiety doesn’t go away by pretending it’s not there.
  12. It’s not about reaching some “perfect” fantasy version of yourself. It’s about learning how to accept yourself as a whole package. I couldn’t truly progress until I shed the belief that I was “bad until better.”
  13. You are not bad. You are not weak. You are not alone.
  14. You deserve support.
  15. It’s never too late to feel better inside.

I hope you find these encouraging as your tackle you own anxiety or mental health mountains (and molehills, because those are tricky too sometimes, especially if you are a mole who is also lost in the mountains).

Is Being Candid the Same as Being Vulnerable?

Happy Wednesday, everyone! 🙂

I wanted to start with a quick little thank-you note to a fellow blogging family (www.ourdidjourney.com) that I met recently online, who wrote a really, really, really generous and validating post about my blog and my writing. You can check out the post here: Up and coming; The anxious powerliftin’ Sadie. (Blushy Ginger). Thank you guys — for seeing what I am trying to do, and in some ways articulating it more clearly than I have been able to myself. And for just being fun and friendly generally.

For the past week or so, I’ve been mulling over the difference between candidness and vulnerability.

I realized that while I don’t balk at candidly sharing the details of my social anxiety journey, that’s not exactly the same thing as being truly vulnerable.

This is true for me in real life, too. I’m candid in conversations about so many things. I’m not afraid to talk openly about mental health or sexuality or the weird things our bodies do. (Provided the person I’m talking to is not put off by those topics.)

But to be truly vulnerable? To share my unfiltered, un-curated thoughts in real time? To show raw, messy, potentially unpalatable FEELINGS and reactions?

I think it’s rooted in fear. Fear of rejection, fear of conflict, fear of disapproval. Fear of losing control over myself. Fear of what others might think if they meet the Unfiltered Me — because I don’t even know who that is.

Social anxiety is so, so much more than “shyness.” It’s a barrier between me and the world. Between me and YOU.

And the barrier has been there for so long that it has been internalized. It’s become an internal barrier between me and myself.

And I’m tired. Tired of the constant tug-of-war between my true desires and the disorder that stifles them.

Maybe it wouldn’t matter if I didn’t crave connection with others. If I didn’t yearn for creative expression. If I didn’t still have a feisty little redhead trapped somewhere inside me.

But I do. I do.

I want those things.

I hesitated to write such a heavy post. I like to be positive and encouraging. But I should probably be real, too, right? Vulnerable.

And so, the journey continues. My weapons of choice against my struggles are insight, resilience, and hope — but the proactive kind of hope.

(Ah, there’s the happy ending I was looking for. Hope.)

Why I Write About Social Anxiety Even Though I Have Social Anxiety

Is there an inherent irony or contradiction in sharing your struggles with social anxiety online?

If not, why do I find it so much easier to publish my experience into the void than to go out among the humans and have real-life people interactions?

I have a theory:

No, not that theory. But that’s the kind of thing my inner critic once made me fear others would think. That’s why I held back from writing for so long.

But eventually, the desire to create, to write, to connect with digital humanity, to help others (if I may dare to dream) — those forces overrode my fear of sharing this part of my life.

And since that moment when I decided to just go for it and write about life as a socially anxious hu-mom, and all the moments since (because being brave is not a one-and-done decision), I’ve felt powerful.

I have the power to write about social anxiety and connect with you, the dear readers who choose to spend a few minutes of your day reading my posts. Speaking of which…

Hi, new readers!

(Me.)

I’ve been so pleased to see quite a few new followers since my post went up on Ashley’s site yesterday, so hi and thank you and welcome!

I’m still figuring out my posting schedule and writing tone (I like funny writing but I’m afraid that if I try too hard for funny I’ll end up just writing an endless series of bad dad jokes or is that my social anxiety talking and my impostor syndrome acting up probably shush you).

And I’m still trying to gauge whether it’s more interesting (for me and for you) and helpful (for me and for you) for me to do journal-style super-intimate posts or more polished, article-type posts.

So it will be a work in progress. And that’s okay.

Soul-searching (but they say gingers don’t have souls… so that’s a problem)

I had a mini-epiphany this week when I realized that in my attempt to make THE BEST BLOG AND INSTAGRAM FEED IN EXISTENCE, with endless philosophical and earth-changing and orbit-shattering revelations, I was holding back the parts of myself that might be what make me a likeable and relatable human.

Like my dorkery and geekery and inability to be scandalized (try me) and goofiness and insatiable desire to please people that is constantly at war with what feels like my failed duties to live up to the stereotype of the feisty red-head AND sexy librarian at the same time.

So I will attempt to care a little less and a little more about how I come across. I don’t have to solve the world’s social anxiety in every post. Or any post.

This post is a pretty good example of social anxiety’s inner tug-of-war

And that, my friends (you’re my friends right? be my friends please), is social anxiety in action.

It’s like a blanket of angsty self-judgement that gets set on fire and thrown over you any time your real, not-so-meek, not-so-polished self tries to peek out of its meerkat hidey hole. (There is NO way I’ll find a GIF to capture that image.)

Final thoughts

So, now to actually answer the question, “Why do I write about social anxiety even though I have social anxiety?”

Here’s my actual, sincere answer:

I think it’s because social anxiety really isn’t a personality trait. It’s not who I am. It’s who I seem like, to myself even, sometimes. But it’s a barrier to the real me, a filter, rather than the true person.

Does that make sense?

I’m delaying ending this post because it’s fun and liberating and scary to write like this.

Byeeeee!

Is Anxiety Medication Worth It?

Medication is not a magic cure-all. But it could be what lets you function well enough to do the deeper work (like therapy) and the physical stuff (like exercise). And sleep. And that’s pretty amazing.

Finding the right dosage and perhaps combination of medications can be a painstaking, drawn-out, frustrating process. But when you get the right balance? It can make all the difference in the world to someone who has already suffered enough from their mental health challenges.

And if you have anxiety, haven’t you already suffered enough?

Here are two things to know about when considering medication, based on my own experience:

1. Side effects are real (but they might be worth it)

There’s a lot of fear about side effects, and for good reason. I’m not going to pretend they don’t exist. Over the years, I’ve dealt with:

  • nausea
  • sleepiness
  • hypervigilance
  • sexual side effects
  • agitation
  • irritability
  • brain zaps
  • appetite changes
  • dizziness
  • and more

You have to weigh the side effects of medication against the debilitating effects of leaving the mental health disorder untreated. In my case, I would have suffered from a lot of the above from having severe untreated anxiety anyway.

This was my life before starting medication:

  • I couldn’t drive.
  • I struggled to go out and do things.
  • I would stress-cancel a lot.
  • I couldn’t handle even the idea of therapy.
  • I basically wanted to hibernate all the time.
  • I had a really hard time feeling like I was actually in charge of my own life.
  • My world became small and lonely.

Medication helped free me from my own mind enough to start driving, become a mom, start therapy, pursue my freelance work, and write about my experiences online.

At its best, effective medication can put you back in the driver’s seat (literally, in my case).

2. Medications can be combined to ease side effects

Combining meds can help you get the benefits of both medications, while trying to balance out some of the side effects of each.

For example, SSRIs can cause sexual dysfunction, but a medication like Wellbutrin (buproprion) can reduce that effect.

Personally, I’m currently taking Wellbutrin in the morning and Zoloft (sertraline) in the evening. Wellbutrin is an excellent medication for mood-related disorders, so it helps with my depressive symptoms.

But it’s also “activating,” and on its own it can make anxiety worse. I started to feel very squirrelly and agitated. So we added Zoloft, which is an SSRI medication commonly prescribed for social anxiety, among other things. It helps with anxiety-related symptoms and with balancing out the activating effects of Wellbutrin.

Final thoughts

Medication is not magic. But it can be a lifesaver.

We only get one life. Isn’t it worth making that life the best we can with what we know and what we have access to? For many people, medication can do that.

It’s like introducing a leash to this situation:

It’s not for everyone. But it might not hurt to look into it. You deserve to feel better.

I’m not a doctor, though. Listen to your doctor. Obviously. 🙂

Do you have any thoughts on medication? Leave a comment!