Social anxiety is considered a mental illness but, experience has taught me, well, I’m not really sure. When I started out in life, I was very social. Being hypomanic allowed me the freedom to zoom around the streets of New York, in and out of places here and there meeting people left and right everywhere I went. The subway, the street, restaurants, bars, museums, anywhere and everywhere. But times have changed.
I stopped going out and being social a long time ago. It’s almost as if socially speaking I am a completely different person, and I have to admit that being medicated probably has a lot to do with it. When you are manic you are out there, when you are depressed you are in there so, it’s hard to say that social anxiety is a mental illness cause it is something that can get formed over time, so you are not neurologically necessarily born with it.
Sometimes I wonder what if I stopped taking my meds. Would I be back out in the world living la vida loca like I did before getting treatment? Maybe. It’s possible, but I’ll never really know cause I stick to my medication regime like it’s nobodies business. But, I now have cultivated some social anxiety which makes me sad. I can’t pin point when it happened but over the years I have become more of a recluse. Staying home and binge watching shows on Netflicks or Hulu obviously doesn’t help things either. I got rid of my television several years ago thinking it would help me get out of the house more and socialize but I have my laptop to watch shows on instead so, that didn’t change anything. Even if I were to make myself go out and take myself to dinner, I don’t want to talk to anyone. But is that social anxiety? When I Google social anxiety this comes up first:
Social anxiety is the fear of social situations and the interaction with other people that can automatically bring on feelings of self-consciousness, judgment, evaluation, and inferiority.
I don’t feel any of those attributes that describe social anxiety but, I’m not social so what are the attributes that describe my definition of social anxiety. Laziness, isolation, depression, feeling stagnant, and yes, feeling anxious about the idea of going out in the world.
So where does that leave me with the query of social anxiety versus flat out anti- social, right now. I think the works “right now” connote a different type of social anxiety. It just might be flat out anti-social right now. Maybe it’s a passive reality that doesn’t necessarily have an expiration date which makes it difficult to navigate through. Being a recluse or ant-social hopefully is only temporary. If social anxiety is a chemical imbalance in the brain that gives me hope cause I know for sure I wasn’t born this way.
I became this way.
So where do I start to return to the social world? Force myself out. Force myself to pick up a phone, or at the very least, answer calls. Force myself to walk around the block when I can’t seem to make it to the grocery store. Force myself to answer the door with a smile and a respectable amount of clothing on, and appear “ok” to get my thai chicken fried rice and beef jerky.
When you are experiencing difficulty being social, sometimes even ordering food is a challenge. Anxiety might rush through your fingers when you dial your local eatery for pizza, but, you can’t not eat. In fact, if you are feeling that isolated, food is something to feel connected to something. It sounds sad and depression-like but, I do know when I have felt depressed, it wasn’t social anxiety or anti-social habits. It was pure depression which is a step before any social issue. When you’re depressed, you don’t feel an urge to be social or, feel the need to have to reckon with social anxiety cause it;s not even an option.
That’s when you know there might be levels of difference to track when it comes to social anxiety, being anti social, or depression. If anything, I think they all have their place in navigating through mental health handling but, at least I know if I’m not able to order food for fear of having to deal with a person to answer the door, that I might be depressed. And, I know if I’m able to contemplate going out and be social, I’m a step further.
It’s complicated, but, being aware and questioning your acts, and feelings is a start to a better realization of your issue, right now.