Anxiety Mama Series #1: Our Journeys Through Anxiety with Marijke Visser

I went live on Instagram for the first time! My friend Marijke (@girlmom.strong) and I chatted for an hour about how anxiety has impacted our lives and influenced our motherhood.

Some things we talked about:

  • Anxiety levels at the beginning and end of the Live
  • What anxiety looks like for us
  • How anxiety impacts our parenting
  • Tips for someone experiencing anxiety
  • Favourite books on mental health or motherhood
  • Questions from viewers

This video is now available on IGTV for anyone who might be interested! (Or you can scroll down!)

I can’t bring myself to re-watch it yet.

We’re talking about making this a monthly series, like Anxiety Mama Monthly or something. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • The feature photo for this post includes part of the promo graphic created by Marijke.

Blast From The Past: I Used To Blog About Freelance Translation and Editing

So, this isn’t something I’ve talked about much on here, but when I’m not blushing gingerly or being a wife and mom, I do freelance translation and editing.

Before the kids were born, this was my full-time job. Over time, it moved to part-time, and the flexibility to be able to do this is exactly why I chose freelancing.

Since lockdown started, I have hit pause and I’m not taking on work (with one possible exception upcoming). It’ll continue like this for the summer since school is over now. I know this is a privilege not all families have, and I’m grateful that we have the option to have one of us pause work.

Aaaanyway, this is all a long preface to say that, years ago, I wrote a blog on being a freelance translator and editor. And this post that I’m reblogging is from the blog. (Unfortunately, I am not able to get back into the site as an admin. I tried but it says the blog is deleted… which it clearly isn’t.)

I had a bit of a worlds colliding moment (to quote my friend Liz) this week when someone approached me about possibly discussing translation and anxiety.

And it made me realize that I have never really talked about how severely my freelancing growth has been affected by social anxiety.

So I wanted to share this post. I’m contemplating whether or not this is a topic worth spending some time on going forward. Social anxiety as an entrepreneur must surely affect lots of people, right?

Here’s the post! I hope you enjoy. ๐Ÿ™‚ It feels like revisiting a past life, for me.

Sadie

Cibliste

Iโ€™m a little ashamed to admit that I have been unfairly interpreting my catโ€™s refusal to spend time with me as targeted rejection on a very personal level.ย Heโ€™s a recent rescue cat, you see, and very timid. He spends most of his day behind the washer, and hisses when heโ€™s afraid (which is always).

This weekend, I had an Aha! moment that has already helped me not take my catโ€™s behaviour to heartโ€”and I think itโ€™s a lesson that can help us freelancers deal with rejection from prospective clients as well.

My moment of clarity occurred thanks to an excellent event this past Saturday called โ€œBuilding Your Freelance Business: A One-Day Seminar for Writers and Editors.โ€ For me, one of the quotes of the day came from Diane Davy (Work in Culture) during her presentation โ€œRunning Your Business Better.โ€ Iโ€™m paraphrasing a little from memory, butโ€ฆ

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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.โ €
โ €
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.โ €
โ €
Because my mind is always with me.โ €
โ €
Social anxiety is a disorder. It’s not the same as shyness, which can fade with familiarity with someone. โ €
โ €
I definitely don’t experience social anxiety symptoms as intensely with my husband. But they’re still there. They’re always there. โ €
โ €
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. โ €
โ €
Especially when it comes to sex.โ €
โ €
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? โ €
โ €
Yeah. No. Social anxiety laughs at that naive hope. โ €

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?โฃโ €โฃโ €
  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.โฃโ €โฃโ €
  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.)โฃโ €โฃโ €
  6. Oh shit, does ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ think I’m old?โฃโ €โฃโ €
  7. Ow, my hip.โฃโ €โฃโ €
  8. Do I look weird from this angle?โฃโ €โฃโ €
  9. Am I boring? โฃโ €โฃโ €
  10. Do I look old from this angle?โฃโ €โฃโ €
  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.โฃโ €
  13. Is my climax face weird? Mental note to ask him after.โฃโ €โฃโ €
  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.โฃ This is also a shortlist.
โฃโ €
I don’t necessarily have ๐˜ฆ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜บ thought above in this ๐˜ฆ๐˜น๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ต order ๐˜ฆ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜บ time we get naked. โฃโ €
โฃโ €
But… I definitely have had all these thoughts often enough to write them down. โฃโ €

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

๐—ฃ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด… ๐—ฆ๐—ผ๐—ฐ๐—ถ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น๐˜† ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐˜…๐—ถ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ด๐—ต๐˜๐˜€ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐—ฑ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—บ. โฃโ € โฃโ € ๐˜ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ณ ๐˜ข๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ป๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ฑ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜บ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฅ๐˜ข๐˜บ'๐˜ด ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฐ๐˜ด๐˜ต ๐˜จ๐˜ข๐˜ท๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ง๐˜ช๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ค๐˜ฆ ๐˜ ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ด๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ด๐˜ต! ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฌ ๐˜บ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ! ๐˜น๐˜ฐ๐˜น๐˜ฐโฃโ € โฃโ € ๐—œ๐—บ๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ป๐˜ ๐—ฝ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ณ๐—ฎ๐—ฐ๐—ฒ: โฃโ € These worries are real, but I've presented them in a lighthearted way.โฃโ € โฃโ € I don't necessarily have ๐˜ฆ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜บ thought below in this ๐˜ฆ๐˜น๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ต order ๐˜ฆ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜บ time we get naked. โฃโ € โฃโ € But… I definitely have had all these thoughts often enough to write them down. โฃโ € โฃโ € ๐— ๐˜† ๐˜€๐—ผ๐—ฐ๐—ถ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น๐˜† ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐˜…๐—ถ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐˜€ ๐—ฏ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐—ฑ๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐˜…: โฃโ € โฃโ € Exactly how clean am I right now? When's the last time I peed/showered/used a baby wipe?โฃโ € โฃโ € What's the last thing I ate? Should I brush my teeth, or will that be *too* fresh?โฃโ € โฃโ € 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?") โฃโ € โฃโ € Should I take charge? I don't want to take charge.โฃโ € โฃโ € 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.)โฃโ € โฃโ € Oh shit, does ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ think I'm old?โฃโ € โฃโ € Ow, my hip.โฃโ € โฃโ € Do I look weird from this angle?โฃโ € โฃโ € Am I boring? โฃโ € โฃโ € Do I look old from this angle?โฃโ € โฃโ € Oh god I just saw my tummy. It looks like a waterbed. Don't look down. Never look down. โฃโ € โฃโ € Am I looser since having the kids? Mental note to ask him after. โฃโ € โฃโ € Is my climax face weird? Mental note to ask him after.โฃโ € โฃโ € Is he bored? Definitely don't ask him right this second. . Wow, that was an intense 10 minutes mentally. Anyway! โฃโ € โฃโ € ๐—™๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—ป๐—ผ๐˜๐—ฒ๐˜€โฃโ € ๐˜ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ'๐˜ต ๐˜ธ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ต ๐˜ช๐˜ต ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฌ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ'๐˜ต ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ซ๐˜ฐ๐˜บ ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜น. ๐˜ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฐ. ๐˜‰๐˜ถ๐˜ต ๐˜'๐˜ท๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ญ๐˜บ ๐˜จ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿธ๐Ÿถ๐Ÿถ ๐˜ค๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ถ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜น๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜จ๐˜ฉ๐˜ต๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฌ ๐˜ถ๐˜ฑ ๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ญ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ด๐˜ฑ๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ฆ. โฃโ € โฃโ € ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐˜€๐—ผ ๐—บ๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐—ต ๐—บ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐˜๐—ผ ๐˜€๐—ฎ๐˜† ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ผ๐—ฝ๐—ถ๐—ฐ.

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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. โฃโ € โฃโ €

This is one reason that I’m not so sure social anxiety can be “cured.” โฃโ €

I think it can be managed, much like a gardener manages the growth of unwanted weeds in her flower beds. โฃโ € โฃโ €

But if she stops pruning and tending, the flower beds become overgrown, and she has a lot of work ahead of her. โฃโ € โฃโ €

That’s how I see social anxiety, or my experience of social anxiety. โฃโ € โฃ

If I’m not constantly pushing myself to stay engaged with other humans, the fear returns. โฃโ € โฃโ €

It’s tiring. โฃโ € โฃโ €

And it’s sad, because I think there might be something of a social butterfly trapped inside this social anxiety chrysalis.โฃโ € โฃโ €

๐˜ž๐˜ฐ๐˜ธ, ๐˜ข๐˜ฎ ๐˜ ๐˜ฆ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ ๐˜ฎ๐˜ช๐˜น๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ถ๐˜ฑ ๐˜ฎ๐˜บ ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ฑ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ด ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ. ๐˜๐˜ต’๐˜ด ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฌ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ฑ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ ๐˜ด๐˜ฎ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ฆ. (๐˜ ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฌ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ฎ๐˜ช๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด, ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ.) โฃโ € โฃโ €

Social anxiety is not *who I am.* I am not social anxiety. โฃโ € โฃโ €

I’m the gardener. โฃโ € โฃโ €

Social anxiety is the overgrowth. โฃโ € โฃโ €

But the past few days, I have been struggling to even pick up the pruning shears. โฃโ € โฃโ €

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. โฃโ € โฃโ €

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. โฃโ € โฃโ €

๐˜๐จ๐ฎ’๐ซ๐ž ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ ๐š๐ซ๐๐ž๐ง๐ž๐ซ. โฃโ € โฃโ €

(๐˜ˆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ด๐˜ฐ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ถ๐˜ต๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ง๐˜ญ๐˜บ.)โฃโ € โฃโ €

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

How I Deal With Self-Doubt as a Shy Blogger (6 tips)

I wrote a post in January where I shared the inherent challenge in blogging about what it’s like to be shy or have social anxiety.

Basically, the thing you’re blogging about is also the thing that makes you feel like you should hold back from blogging at all. Here’s that post:

Today I wanted to share some ideas on how to shift your mindset away from self-doubt, self-consciousness, and imposter syndrome, so that you can calm some of that creative anxiety.

I hope you enjoy!

Related post: I’m Having Social Anxiety About My Social Anxiety Blog


#1. Trust that your REAL is better than your “perfect.”

Photo from Canva Pro

Don’t wait to share your thoughts until that fantasy moment when you finally achieve perfection…

… because that moment will never come.

Even if you get to the place you currently think of as “perfect,” your inner perfectionist will just try to move the bar higher and tell you that you’re still not good enough to relax and feel confident.

Your inner perfectionist is wrong: you are already good enough! Share your voice.


#2. Realize that other people don’t see you the way you see yourself.

Photo from Canva Pro

I’ve had so many people tell me how shocked they were to find out I have severe social anxiety.

They always thought I was confident and had my shit together. (HA!)

No matter how “honest” we think we are being with ourselves, there’s a very good chance we’re magnifying our own shortcomings and minimizing our strengths.

No one is tracking your ups and downs as closely as you are.

(Have you kept track of every time I’ve made a typo on this blog or shared a thought that wasn’t earth-shatteringly insightful? Almost certainly not.)

Related reading: Ashley from Mental Health @ Home recently did a post called Do Your Blog Posts Say What You Think They Do? on the potential disconnect between what we put out there and how others interpret it. Definitely worth a read!


#3. Keep in mind that you may help people without ever finding out about it.

Photo from Canva Pro

How often do you read a blog post without leaving a comment, even if you enjoyed the content?

That’s okay! There’s no obligation to engage with a blogger, Instagrammer, YouTuber, or any other kind of content creator. (Although it is usually appreciated!)

So if you’re ever feeling like you aren’t having an impact, just consider that for every person who does like or comment, there could be 10 more who also enjoy your post but (for whatever harmless reason) don’t interact with you.

You won’t always get to know the impact of what you put out there, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t creating value for others.


#4. Accept that you will feel self-doubt.

Photo from Canva Pro

Fear can co-exist with creativity and expression.

It takes courage to put yourself out there as an imperfect person. It takes strength to show vulnerability. It’s easier to conceal our soft spots, including from ourselves.

If you can learn to accept that you will feel self-doubt and stop trying to fight it, you can redirect that energy toward creating and sharing content even while feeling unsure.


#5. Think of it as joining the conversation.

Photo from Canva Pro

Not every post has to be epic.

You don’t have to save the world with every piece of content.

Try to create some mental space between your content and yourself. That way, you can think of creating content as contributing your thoughts to the ongoing conversation rather than baring your very soul and deepest self to the world.

Which sounds TERRIFYING even in the hypothetical.


#6. Take your own advice.

Photo from Canva Pro

Think of what you might tell your best friend if they confided in you and said, “My ideas are garbage. I can’t do this.”

Now tell those things to yourself, because the shy writer inside you needs a best friend, and that best friend is you.


Those are my 6 tips for putting your thoughts into the world even if you struggle with self-doubt! I hope you found them relatable.

These ideas are not (sadly) magic pills that I can just take and then go create content fearlessly. I have to work through shyness and self-doubt every day.

Some days I’m not in the right head space to even want to feel more confident (the self-sabotage struggle is real).

But they do help me: I’ve managed to put out 47 blog posts and 140+ Instagram posts since rebooting my blog and account in November 2019 (aaaaah!!!).

So, from one self-conscious creator to another: YOU CAN DO THIS!!!!!!

You don’t have to be perfect to bring value to others.

Besides. Has holding yourself back made you doubt yourself LESS? I say we might as well put ourselves out there.


What are some ways you deal with imposter syndrome and that niggling inner voice of self-doubt?

22 Anxious Thoughts About My Social Anxiety Blog

Here are 22 anxious thoughts I’ve had as a social anxiety blogger (yep, I get social anxiety about my social anxiety blog):

  1. You’ve embarrassed yourself by oversharing.
  2. You’ve done your readers a disservice by not sharing more, or sharing the right stuff.
  3. Your posts are way too casual and informal. No one wants to read that. You should be doing things like “10 Ways to Overcome Social Anxiety” and “Day in the Life of a Mom with Social Anxiety.”
  4. But don’t do posts like that either, because they are way too commercial and it’ll look like you’re trying too hard to grow your readership with “clickable” titles.
  5. Stop talking about social anxiety so much. It sounds like that’s all you think about.
  6. But don’t talk about anything else either, because you need to stay in your niche, otherwise people won’t know what to expect from you.
  7. You should take more time to write thoughtful, articulate pieces.
  8. But don’t look like you’re trying to sound smarter than you are.
  9. Share more. Your experiences can help people.
  10. You share too much. You’re not an expert. No one wants to read about another’s person’s challenges. They have enough of their own.
  11. How can you be inspiring if you continue to struggle?
  12. How can you be consistent if your mood fluctuates and you can’t follow a plan unless it “feels” right in the moment?
  13. You should write more about mom life and parenting.
  14. But you don’t know anything about that either.
  15. You share too much about your kids.
  16. You take too long to reply to comments.
  17. You’ve fallen out of the habit of commenting on other blogs. People have noticed and they feel like you don’t care about them. Why would they read you if they think you don’t read them?
  18. You need to show up on your blog even when it’s hard.
  19. But it’s hard every day right now.
  20. Don’t be too depressing or you’ll make things worse for your readers instead of helping them.
  21. You’re trying too hard to make “perfect” and polished posts. This is not a magazine. Just post what’s on your mind.
  22. But you’re embarrassed about what’s on your mind and if you’re honest about how insecure you feel about everything, then everyone will know how vulnerable you are, and no one will come to you for encouragement or advice.

I think we all struggle with some form of imposter syndrome and self-doubt, right?

Note: This post was updated to its current form on July 9, 2020.

Social Anxiety Is Not the Boss of Me: I sang at my best friend’s wedding!

SPEAK MOSTLY TO JULIE AND CHANTA.
SLOW. BREATHE. CHILL.
EVERYONE GETS NERVOUS.
DO THIS FOR JULIE.
MIC FOLLOWS MOUTH.

Those were the first notes I wrote to myself at the top of my maid-of-honour speech for my best friend Julie’s wedding in July 2019.

Me and the beautiful bride before the ceremony. Thank you, Julie, for letting me share these photos and details of your special day!!! Photo by MP Photography

The speech started as most do:

Hi everyone, I’m Sadie, I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting most of you before the last couple of days, but I have had the great privilege of being Julie’s best friend since we were 4 years old [… ] I really wanted to do something crazy and creative for this speech, but I thought I’d probably be too nervous. And I was right. So we’ll keep it sweet and simple.

Except that last part was a big fat lie.

Because for some reason, a few weeks before the wedding, I had decided that I was going to:

  1. write a wedding-themed parody of the song You’re Welcome from Disney’s Moana,
  2. not tell this to anyone who would be at the wedding, except the DJ, and
  3. sing my speech to Julie in front of the 120-odd guests.

Me.

The girl who was diagnosed with severe social anxiety disorder in 2018.

So… why?

A few reasons:

  1. I love to write, especially funny-creative things like parodies and limericks.
  2. When I was researching ideas for maid-of-honour speeches, I stumbled across a few great examples of song parodies on YouTube, like this one, and they super inspired me to go all out.
  3. Julie has always been extremely supportive and encouraging about my writing, so I thought she would find it extra special if I wrote something for her.
  4. I thought it would make people laugh, which is another thing I find really validating.
  5. I was about a year into my social anxiety recovery and feeling a little adventurous.
  6. I heard a quote somewhere once about becoming a person who speaks even when their voice is shaking. I want to be like that.
  7. Mostly I just thought (hoped) Julie would love it, if I could pull it off.

Anyway, I got to the end of the intro part of my speech — which was the decoy “speaking part,” although it still had lots of true stuff in it about how amazing Julie is — and started my sneaky transition into the song:

BREATHE AND SLOW
[…] I thought it would be fitting to end by thanking Chanta for being such a wonderful partner to a woman who means the world to me.

BREATHE AND BE PLAYFUL
But theeen, I thought about it again, and I realized that what I actually want to say to the new husband of my dearest friend is… You’re Welcome.

And then, the next cue in my notes was this:

“MUSIC STARTS. BREATHE. YOU GOT THIS.”

Except the music that started playing through the speakers was wrong.

I had sent the DJ the instrumental (aka no singing by Dwayne Johnson) version of the song… and I had rehearsed and rehearsed the perfect time to start singing.

But then… when I was about to start singing… The Rock’s voice started singing Maui’s lyrics.

I asked the DJ if we had the instrumental.

He tried again…

The Rock’s voice rang out once more. I cannot compete with Maui, shapeshifter, demigod of the wind and sea, hero to men (and women).

So… yeah.

I did it a cappella.

My croon face. Photo by MP Photography

Because there was NO WAY I was not singing my song for Julie.

And you know what?

IT WENT REALLY, REALLY WELL.

I was shaking and nervous, though somewhat helped by my pre-song glass-and-a-half of wine. (I am wary of using alcohol as a crutch but… look, I was about to sing in front of 120 mostly-strangers and I did not want my jaw to be rattling and my face to be twitching the whole time the way they were during the ceremony.)

THE POINT IS — I DID IT.

She liked it ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ Edited to add: Julie read this and instructed me to change “liked” to “loved” hehe xoxo | Photo by MP Photography

This experience reinforced an important truth:

Social anxiety

is not

a personality trait.

There are plenty of people without social anxiety who would never even want to sing a parody they’d written in front of a crowd. It’s just not something everyone would have an interest in doing.

But I did. Performing, writing, singing, sharing my work — these are all things that, puzzlingly, I enjoy and crave.

Social anxiety has been the barrier to all those forms of expression… until I started tearing that barrier down.

Social anxiety CAN get better.

I always thought recovery meant no longer feeling afraid. But I’ve come to accept that it might look more like feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

What if instead of wasting our energy trying to stifle our fears and condemn ourselves for them, we put our energy into doing the things we want to do… while scared?

I know it’s harder than it sounds (believe me), and some days it will just be too much.

But it is possible, and it gets easier.

If we can learn to sing even when our voices are shaking, we can take our power back from social anxiety.

If we can learn to sing even when our voices are shaking, we can take our power back from social anxiety.

The laughing faces of Julie and Chanta were EVERYTHING I dreamed of and hoped for.
Photo by MP Photography

I wasn’t planning on ever sharing this story… but now that I’m doing this social anxiety blog, it seemed like a really good chance to talk about facing fears and rolling with the punches.

So. Long story short. Want to see the video?

BECAUSE JULIE JUST SENT ME THE VIDEO CLIP.

I have been having a bit of anxiety about sharing this now, when the world is in crisis. I don’t want to come across as tone deaf. But then I thought — maybe it’s nice to have a funny distraction, too.

So that is where my brain is at now. And also:

A note about panties

The video starts with me talking about my panties, and I feel I should explain this.

Julie’s dad had done his toast/gentle roast first, and he made some jokes about how Julie and I apparently went through a phase of being not-so-fond of panties in our youth.

So I saw it as a fun opportunity to segue from his toast and break the ice for mine.

The best man went after me and he also made a panties joke. It was perfect and hilarious.

The song itself starts around 3:19. ๐Ÿ™‚

Aaaaand here’s the video!!!

And here are the lyrics for anyone who might be interested ๐Ÿ™‚

I see what’s happening here
You’re face to face with greatness, and it’s Julie
You don’t even know how you feel
She’s adorable
Well it’s nice to see sheโ€™s joined your family
 
Open your eyes, let’s begin
Yes, it’s really me, her matron, breathe it in
I know she’s a lot, her hair, her eyes
She’s your Canadian paradise.
 
What can I say except you’re welcome
For this girl who makes great pies
Hey, it’s okay, it’s okay
You’re welcome
She’s just an ordinary Julie Hy
 
Hey, who has two thumbs and married his bride
And we all understand why
This Hy
As you guys get old
We know your love will only grow
She’s nuts about you, bro
 
Oh, also sheโ€™s second to none
You’re welcome
Sheโ€™s cute and special and she’s fun
I know you’ll treat her so great
Ya better
Or best friend mode will activate
 
So what can I say except you’re welcome
From the Murphies and the Beaudries
There’s no need to pray it’s okay
You’re welcome
Ah, I know you’re gonna live so happily
 
You’re welcome
You’re welcome
Well, come to think of it
Sean, honestly I can go on and on
I can explain every Julie phenomenon
But my lips are sealed cause WOW
Itโ€™s too late now that you’ve said your vows
Sheโ€™s the real deal
No ifs or buts
But itโ€™s so funny when she mini-putts
What’s the lesson
What is the take-away
Don’t mess with Julie when I have to fly away
OH the love and the joy from within
We canโ€™t wait for your life to begin
Look at our grins
Pretty soon weโ€™ll be clappinโ€™
Look at that beautiful bride just a tippitty-tappin’ I’m singin and rappin n dont know what’s happ’nin’
Ha, ha, hey!
 
Well, anyway let me say you’re welcome
For this woman we all love so
Hey, it’s okay, it’s okay
You’re welcome
Well, come to think of it, I gotta go
 
Hey, it’s your day to say you’re welcome
Cause I’m gonna need a drink
I’m running away, away
You’re welcome
‘Cause Sadie can do anything but sing
You’re welcome
You’re welcome
And thank you!

Wedding photo used in feature image is by MP Photography

Lockdown Life #2: How We’re Doing

Things I’ve learned and/or confirmed this week:

About myself

Photo by Luis Ruiz from Pexels
  • I hate following a schedule. (I used to like building schedules, but never followed them. Now I hate the building part, too.)
  • Not having a schedule makes it hard to get through housebound days with two kiddies.
  • Trying to sit down to make a schedule triggers my perfectionism.
  • A bad schedule is better than no schedule, they say.
  • Speed is better than perfection, they also say.
  • There’s a difference between how I used to think of the word “crisis” most of the time and what a real “crisis” actually looks like. We’re there now — but does crisis exist on a spectrum? They say it will get worse before it gets better. What does a “worse crisis” than a crisis look like?
  • It’s time for me to shift from the “WTF IS EVEN HAPPENING” stage to the “Okay, let’s do our best” stage.

About co-parenting during social isolation

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels
  • When there are two parents in a situation like this, and one has to step into the role of caregiver while the other keeps working, now as sole breadwinner, it can be easy to think the other person has it better.
  • The breadwinner gets to keep their schedule more or less intact. They get to use their brains in the ways they like. They get more adult contact. They get peed on less. Their clothes are generally less caked in dried boogers.
  • The caregiver gets to spend all this bonus time with their babies. They aren’t missing these precious, fleeting moments of childhood because they happen to make the higher income, and therefore their job cannot be sacrificed in favour of childcare. They are apart from their spouse and kids all day, or all night, or all the time in the case of some emergency room workers.
  • The “breadwinner” gets too much kid-free time; the caregiver gets too little.
  • The breadwinner feels the pressure to keep the family afloat; the caregiver feels the pressure to keep the family alive.
  • I read somewhere that in order to have a happy marriage, you should each assume the other person is doing 70% of the work. There might be something to that, especially now.

About social anxiety during social distancing

Photo by Lewis Burrows from Pexels
  • It used to feel uncomfortable to be out among people — like my presence was an inconvenience to them.
  • Now, it feels downright wrong.
  • There’s a microscopic elephant in the room, and we’re talking about it constantly in the social situations that remain (grocery store, pharmacy) in an abstract way, like commenting on the weather: “Can you believe how crazy this is? I can’t believe how crazy this is.”
  • But we aren’t really talking about what’s truly going on in (at least some of) our minds in the moments we’re near each other publicly: “I am terrified that one of us could get the other sick; I am terrified that you think I am sick and will give it to you; I am terrified that you think I’m being careless; I am terrified that you think I am being overly cautious; I am terrified you will take the essentials my family needs; I am terrified you will think I am being selfish and taking too much; I am terrified; are you terrified?”
  • As the generally non-socially-anxious public gets a taste of what it’s like to live with social anxiety — those of us with social anxiety feel the terror ratcheted up to suffocation.
  • Should we be bracing ourselves against developing full-blown agoraphobia?
  • What about those with health anxieties — those who were already perhaps uncharitably called “germaphobes”? Is a similar shift happening in their lives? Are we all a little germaphobic now, and they have been levelled up to their breaking point?

About life in uncertain times

Photo by Lewis Burrows from Pexels
  • Positive and negative emotional states can coexist. It possible to feel:

Resentful and grateful

Trapped and blessed

Safe and terrified

Cranky and relieved

Affectionate and angry

Anxious and hopeful

Lucky and overwhelmed

  • It’s time to put all that we’ve learned about managing anxiety to the test. For ourselves, and in service to others.
  • For those of us who’ve benefited from therapy, we have a lot to offer others on how to manage anxious thoughts and live with uncertainty.
  • Maybe the way forward is to find a way to anxiously accept that unacceptable things are happening right now.
  • There’s not much certainty today, except the certainty that life is now more unpredictable than ever.
  • Let’s just take a deep breath and take comfort in knowing that we’re all uncomfortable together.

Maybe it’s about socially distant solidarity.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Lockdown Life #1: Social Anxiety in the Time of Coronavirus

Hello dear readers, old and new! A big thank you and welcome to the newest followers — it gives my heart a happy little skip when I see a new follower notification. ๐Ÿฅฐ

So, obviously, pandemic.

  • We are healthy, thank goodness. Hamilton has very few cases and a low risk of infection, for now anyway.
  • James is off school for at least 3 weeks. Olivia’s daycare is also closed.
  • Jesse is working from home indefinitely.
  • The 2nd point above has made it very hard to find time to write, or read, or shower.
Actual conversation with Jesse just now about this photo:
Me: Ugh. UGH.
Jesse: What?
Me: I have the perfect photo to use for a section of my post but I look fat in it.
[yes, I know this is terrible and unhealthy talk, but I want to share it because I also know I’m not the only one who does this to themselves]
Jesse: *looking at photo* No you don’t!
Me: Yes I do. I look fat and ugly. It’s super unflattering.
Jesse: No it’s not! Just use it!
Me: *to my inner brain bully* FUCK YOU. I’m using the photo. You are wrong and toxic. *inserts photo*

Actual photo caption: “Social distancing” with two little kids.

A micro take on things

I feel like so much has been written about the situation already that I don’t necessarily want to add to the storm cloud, but at the same time, I feel like I can’t not mention something that is having such a significant impact globally and in our micro-level day to day lives.

So here’s what I will say, from the perspective of someone with anxiety who is also a nerd about learning about anxiety:

  • My social anxiety is being affected by this situation far more than my generalized anxiety.
  • By which I mean that I’m not having health anxiety or being kept up at night worrying about the apocalypse.
  • This isn’t to say that I don’t worry at all about these things — it’s just that I worry within what I consider a “normal” range (i.e. for a person without anxiety issues who suddenly finds themselves in the midst of a pandemic. Which is obviously not zero anxiety.).

But the social anxiety is flaring up HARD.

  • Social distancing instructions are basically encouraging me to give in to my “vices” of hermitude, avoidance, and never leaving the house.
  • I work hard to overcome these tendencies every day.
  • So in some ways, my mental health issue has now become my superpower, as I won’t get too put out or stir-crazy if I have to lay low for a while.
  • BUT it makes me EVEN MORE afraid to go outside AT ALL.
  • No, not because of the virus.

BECAUSE OF THE PEOPLE

Taking the kids to the park was already something I had to work myself up to and force myself to do.

Taking them for walks was already so hard that I often avoided it unless Jesse was with me (and even then…).

This situation is yet another reminder of why I am so grateful to have a supportive partner who also happens to have zero social self-consciousness. And big strong arms.

And now?

  • It feels socially wrong and villainous to leave the house.
  • I worry to nearly uncontrollable levels about people judging me for being outside at this time.
  • When I do have to go out — to get my prescription refilled, for example, like I will have to do tomorrow, lest my anxious but medicated brain soon become my ANXIOUS AND UNMEDICATED BRAIN — I am paranoid that everyone is watching and judging my every move.
  • And being out with the kids is excruciating, because kids have a terrible tendency to cough and snort and sniffle and lick random things and pick their noses and TOUCH EVERYTHING.
  • (Either all kids do some variation on these things or I am a terrible parent.)
  • We have been invited to visit a friend for a tiny playdate. Should I go? Am I monster if we go? If I decline the invitation, will the hosts think I’m a monster who is worrying about everything? What is the balance between social distancing (good) and social isolation overkill (bad, apparently)?

Oh rational brain, come out come out wherever you are!

Does my rational brain recognize that my social anxiety brain is going nuts? Yes. If I take the time to work through the anxious thoughts, I can counter them. But it’s hard.

  • I know I “shouldn’t” care what people think.
  • I know we’re all just muddling our way through.
  • I know I’m doing just fine in the grand scheme of things.

It just depends whether I have a handle on the irrational anxious thoughts at any given moment.

It’ll be okay

  • I have the benefit of knowledge gained in therapy now at least. I know what an anxiety flare-up does to me and I’m being extra diligent about looking after myself.
  • That said, I am anticipating that I won’t have access to my weekly sessions with my psychiatrist for a while, and I’m anxious about that.
  • The massive, sudden change in our home routine is not easy — anxiety hates unpredictability. Anxiety needs time to adapt.
  • But I will be strong. I can see the silver linings — more time with the kiddies and Jesse. This is wonderful.
  • And kind of a freebie pass to use my social anxiety superpower for good… right?
  • Yeah that last one is a stretch.

And as for blogging?

  • With my social anxiety flaring up the way it is, I am finding myself withdrawing and it’s hard to stop.
  • I’m having trouble showing up online and interacting with others, and replying to comments and emails and messages from friends.
  • Please know that I do read and appreciate everything you send, and that I want to reply and WILL reply as I’m able.
  • I just want you guys to know that I’m not ghosting you — I’m just… hermitting you a little. But with great love and affection.

Mind your mind

If my brain is anything to go by, I would say we all need to be very conscious of the mental health impacts of what’s going on in the world. And not just for people who are already predisposed to mental health issues, anxiety or otherwise.

This situation has the potential to turn even the coolest cucumber into a flaming… er… well, I guess just a cucumber on fire.

Running through your fridge screaming. In the night. All night.

Look just be gentle with yourselves during this trying time, and reach out, and check on each other (virtually, of course…), and maybe go read a book on self-compassion.

And remember that we’re all in this together, and these sacrifices are saving lives.

And also eat your cucumbers before they burst into flames.

P.S. Full credit to Jesse for suggesting the title of this post. Love it.