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To My Past Self, Who Feels Alone in Social Anxiety

My battle with severe anxiety and social phobia has been a long-term issue. In fact, I’ve suffered from some version of anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder since I was 8 years old. No one seemed to understand why a child so young could experience so much anxiety. That lack of understanding is why I’m writing this blog.

I’m hoping to reach a younger me…or maybe I’m just writing to myself. I’m not sure yet, but over the years, I’ve learned a little bit of uncertainty is OK. But that price of wisdom has not come easy.

Today, I’m reaching out to the girl on the school bus, the girl who hangs her head, crosses her arms and hopes and prays nobody will speak to her on the ride home. You’ll soon meet your best friend, one who’ll stick with you through it all, and she will change your life. She becomes the confidant you’ve always needed, the peanut butter to your jelly; she’s just as “strange” as you think you are, and she’s here to stay. (Remind me to thank her for that!)

I’m speaking to the 12-year-old who wept so hard at night because all she wanted more than anything was to stop being too afraid to join the soccer team. To you I say, soccer games happen wherever there is grass, play your heart out!

I speak to the 16-year-old who has run away from home, and feels she has no one to turn to To you I say, please take a walk, sit by some water and listen to the birds. This will help you realize, no matter what, the Earth is always listening. Scream your heart out, throw rocks in the ocean and rock out to your favorite song. You can and will get through this.

It can be so frustrating living in a world that at times seems to cast you away as the outcast, but you’re not alone. Not by a long shot. Please, take your time. I, of all people, know new situations can be terrifying.

Yes, I speak to you.

And I carry an important message…

There really are people in this world who understand what you’re up against. They see and understand the demons you’re facing, and although it seems impossible for you to ask for a helping hand, you’ll soon find it’s OK.

The days will get easier as you get older (even though you’ll never believe this now). You’ve learned some coping skills over the years, and of vast importance, you’ve learned to give yourself a break. For all the reasons you could’ve given up — the abuse, the fear, the shame — you’re still standing. And there’s a reason for that. You are a tough cookie and you’re pretty amazing. Today can be your best day ever. Just put one foot in front of the other, and the rest will fall into place. Breathe, drink some tea and pat yourself on the back. You deserve it.

The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to yourself on the day of the diagnosis. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.