Because we live in a fallen world, we all have to deal with suffering in life. One thing I have suffered with is social anxiety. It’s only been a few years since I developed this problem, but it feels like it’s been much longer. One day I just started feeling nervous in social situations. Like most people I had a few embarrassing times while growing up, but they never caused me any problems. For some reason things were different now.
I mostly ignored the anxiety, thinking it would go away if I faced my fears. Before, I would worry about something, such as a new job, but after doing whatever I feared a few times, I got used to it. I would feel good again. This time was different. Over the months and years, I never got better. The opposite happened. I got worse. What started out as just an annoyance became so bad I rarely wanted to go anywhere. People became like a poison to my body. I didn’t want to be around anyone.
After a few years I looked into getting treatment for this, but there were obstacles. First, my insurance didn’t cover the treatment. At the time I wasn’t making enough money to pay for extra medical bills. Second, I knew there was no quick fix to this problem. Treatment mostly took the form of counseling to retrain the brain to not be nervous around people, medication for support. I was too interested in my video games though. I wasn’t ready to make a long term commitment like this. Lastly, I was really embarrassed about having this problem. I just didn’t want to tell anyone about it. I didn’t just keep ignoring my anxiety though.
I read all about this health problem. I learned several basic techniques for relaxation. They helped calm me down before and after stressful situations. Nothing helped in the middle of the situations, but I could at least have some control over the anxiety outside of them. I worked on finishing up all the things I had wanted to do in video games, so I would have no distractions when it came time for treatment. Eventually, I got over my embarrassment about the problem and was able to tell people I was having problems. With the obstacles gone, I was able to start counseling.
The counseling is still ongoing. My social anxiety has become so ingrained in my day-to-day life, I’m really not sure if it can be healed. I have some hope that I can feel a little better, but I also think I may have trouble with this for life. As much as I hate the suffering it has caused me, I am also grateful at how holy it has made me. Sometimes the only thing that got me through the suffering was constant prayer. That is still the case today. When it gets bad, I drop everything I can and pray as much as possible.
Without this suffering, I would have just continued spending all my free time doing selfish things. I remember before I would always think, “I’ll try to do better later when I’m older”. Now I realized there might not be a later. I might die young because of all the stress. I had to do better now. Still, it is so hard some days pushing through the suffering to everything I need to do. I feel even worse that most of these days there isn’t anything special going on. There’s no reason I should feel this bad, but I do. I will continue praying though, hoping to find healing someday.
The focus of The Catholic Optimizer is still to describe how to optimize yourself to become holier, so I won’t be writing much about this problem on the site. I will probably write about it occasionally, but it won’t be a regular thing. In general, I write about things I have some knowledge about, but I am helpless when it comes to social anxiety. Nothing I have tried has worked, so I have no hidden knowledge that would help anyone else with this problem. If I do write anything else about social anxiety, it will most likely just be a short update on any progress I have made.
Thanks for reading about my bad health. Please consider saying a prayer for me. Because of social anxiety and other health problems, I suffer greatly. I am eternally grateful for any grace I receive through your prayers and await our time in heaven when God will reveal how you have helped me. Do not feel obligated to do this, but I really need help. You can make a real difference in my life.
May God bless you with his abundant grace,