girl peeking out of big sweater

This is What My Social Anxiety Looks Like

I wouldn’t say that I have intense social anxiety, but at times it does pop up and inconvenience me. Normally it’s in large gatherings, or when I’m faced with meeting someone new, that I feel myself morphing into the most awkward version of myself.

On the Myers-Briggs test, I am an ISFJ-T. (Check out 16Personalities to learn more!) When I took the quiz, I scored 58% on the Introvert scale, which surprised me at the time because sometimes I feel much more introverted than that. I like people, and when I get comfortable around people, my fun and crazy side usually starts coming out – but I definitely feel most comfortable at smaller gatherings, and I do need alone time to recharge.

All that to say, even though I’m not an extreme introvert and I do like social gatherings, I do find myself struggling with social anxiety more often than I’d like.

antisocial moth meme

Social anxiety can be an actual diagnosable disorder (SAD), and I do not have that. I am talking about levels of social anxiety that probably everyone feels at one time or another.

My family and I recently began attending a new (to us) church. This is probably where I feel my social anxiety most acutely these days. For example, when I’m sitting in Bible class, but the class hasn’t actually started yet, here are some thoughts that are probably popping into my mind:

Hmm… I’ve never met the people behind me. I should probably introduce myself. They look like they’re in the middle of a conversation though. I shouldn’t interrupt them… I’ll look back again in a minute. Okay they’re still talking, I should just quickly say hi… but Bible class is probably about to start, I don’t want to say something and then get cut off… Maybe next week I can try to meet them.

There’s that person I’ve met before – I have no idea what their name is. I’ve already asked them three times, so I can’t possibly ask them again. I guess I’ll sit on the other side of the room until I get a chance to look up their name…

*after saying hello to someone* Hmm… they didn’t really smile that much when they saw me. They probably hate me. Were they trying to avoid me? Oh no, did I do something to offend them???

Wow, that person seems so popular and cool. They probably have a ton of people who will want to talk to them, so I won’t waste their time by introducing myself. Wait, now they might think I’m avoiding them… I guess I’ll just say hi and then keep walking… but I just remembered I have a huge pimple on my chin – I don’t want that to be their first impression of me – I’ll just keep my head down and pretend I don’t see them.

Can anyone else relate to these thoughts? They sound extreme when I read them, but these are thoughts that I occasionally have to battle. I know they are irrational 99% of the time, but that doesn’t change the fact that sometimes they overwhelm me.

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I’m Still Here

It’s a Tuesday, August 17th.

I don’t have anything novel or revolutionary to say. I’ve been in somewhat of a low place the last few weeks. But I just wanted to post something to say that I’m still here (it’s been over 2 weeks since I’ve been active on here.)

I just reorganized and sorted through my sock and underwear drawer. It is therapeutic for me to organize and get rid of things. Clutter is one of my kryptonites (not sure if that’s the proper plural of kryptonite?)

I know I’m stressed because I’ve been wanting to clean and organize, and reorganize, and sort, and declutter… and it never seems to be enough.

I’m anxious about my son starting Kindergarten (in 2 days!) I’m anxious about the Delta variant, and about the fact that schools around here seem to be doing nothing as a precaution.

I’m frustrated about things that never seem to change despite me working really hard to change them. The other day I hit a point where I questioned why I’m even putting in the effort. It it’s not going to make a difference, I could at least save my energy for other things.

I’ll give you an example. Sometimes (well, if I’m honest, many times) I hate how I look. I put in a lot of effort to style my hair, do my makeup, choose what clothes I wear… and then I see myself in a picture and I think that it was all for nothing. I might as well just roll out of bed, throw on any old clothes and walk out the door – either way, I won’t like how I look. (I know this is a defeatist attitude, but here we are.)

A second example: sometimes I wonder why I pray about things if they don’t seem to be changing. Why does it feel like God isn’t listening? When is it appropriate to give up and move on? I woke up early this morning to pray when that thought popped into my head. And then I thought about Joseph, and about how he spent years in terrible situations like slavery and prison, but that in the end, it had a purpose. If he could have seen the future, he could have seen that all of it was leading up to something bigger than him, all he had to do was endure it. (Feel free to read more about Joseph in the latter half of Genesis, I know I did not do the story justice here.)

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bouquet of flowers in vase

5 Years After Postpartum Depression

It’s 5 years out from the day I went to the emergency room for postpartum depression

July 26th will always be a significant date to me for that reason. In years past, it was always a day that filled me with guilt and shame. A day that reminded me of my ultimate failure as a mother. 

The lie that “I’m not a good mother” still tries to creep in every so often, especially today, but I’m getting better at recognizing it for what it is: a lie. 

5 years ago what I needed was to get help. I needed to go to the psych hospital and recover until I could be safe enough to be on my own. I gave up a week of my life with my baby so I could spend the rest of my life being the mother he needed me to be. It was the right decision. 

I’m thankful to my husband for having the courage to make the difficult decision to take me to the ER. It was scary and stressful, and I wasn’t in any state of mind to be at all helpful. I’m thankful for his background in mental health and for his experience with crisis work. I’m thankful he didn’t wait and hope I would get better on my own. 

I’m thankful for the person I’ve become because of this experience. I’m thankful for the opportunity to practice vulnerability with people, to share my story with others, and to make meaning out of suffering. 

I’m grateful for my postpartum depression being a wake up call to my obsession with perfection. I appreciate how this experience humbled me, how it helped me to realize that I’m not in control of everything, and how I learned that doing my best is oftentimes better than doing something perfectly. And everyone’s “best” looks different.

I’m grateful to be in a healthy place emotionally about this experience. I really feel like I hit a turning point last year, 4 years after the event. Honestly, I think it took about 3-4 years to really fully recover mentally from the depression. Healing is such a long process. 

I’ve said before that going through this made me a stronger person, but I am only stronger because I recognize my weaknesses and my shortcomings. And because I accept them. I accept myself.  

I’m grateful to have been writing on Threads of Anxiety for four years now, and look forward to more years in the future. 

Thanks for reading.