Recognising it's time to get support
At first I didn’t realise what was happening. But once the tears came, I knew I needed help. I felt like I couldn’t go out – not even to pick up my daughter from school. I was feeling completely worthless and like I was a failure. A friend would take me out somewhere and as soon as I got there I would want to go home and I spent hours in bed sleeping.
I was referred to a psychiatrist on an emergency basis and she came to visit me at my home the same evening (impressive, or what?!). She sat and listened to me for ages, asking lots of questions. At the end of the session, she gave me a prescription for medication, a following up appointment soon after and suggested relaxation classes. I did all of this but still I found I couldn’t go out. I still couldn’t pick up my daughter from school.
Comfort zone stretching
It was a long slow journey, with many ups and downs along the way. I started by just going to relaxation classes. And then I stretched further. My mother-in-law took me to some lunchtime concerts of classical music, which I love, and slowly I started to gain the confidence to go out again.
Now, I live a normal happy life and if that means continuing on my meds then so be it. When I had recovered the following year, I had my last appointment with the psychiatrist. I thanked her and told her she had saved my life – she did!
Why it's time to talk
Anxiety, low self-esteem and feeling socially isolated is not a stigma. There is nothing to be ashamed about and the more we talk about it the more acceptable it will become. It’s been over 25 years since my first experience, although for most of this time I have been absolutely fine, and I have seen how people’s understanding of mental health illness has increased significantly -but only because we talk about it more. The more we talk to others, the more people will understand and be able to support us.
Speaking your truth is the most powerful tool you have. Our shared stories create connection. They tell us it’s ok to be vulnerable; to talk about our perceived flaws and ask for help when we need it. So we invite people who have felt socially anxious, shy and not good enough to share their stories so you know you’re not alone.