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Why I'll Keep Telling You 'I'm Fine' Despite Severe Social Anxiety


When my friends ask me how I am, I will most likely say “fine,” even when I’m the throes of severe anxiety.

“I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed. Get along with the voices inside of my head.”

These sentences, sung by Rihanna in the 2013 hit “Monster,” eloquently sums up what social anxiety feels like to me.

When people ask me how I am, I keep answering “fine” and “OK” to avoid the dreaded “why?” that inevitably follows if you reveal the true state of affairs. By the time I’m out and about, I may have forgotten what caused the initial panic attack, even if its effects can be felt like infrequent waves of racing heartbeats, sweating, shortness of breath,
inability to concentrate and abnormal circadian rhythms for weeks on end.

Even if there is a “why,” anxiety will often prevent me from saying it because of the very real stigma that can exist in others or myself: “How the hell can you get so worked up over something so small?”

“Do you want to die?” a doctor asked a friend recently. “No, but I do not want to live, either,” she answered truthfully.

I understand completely.

I go through life with a deflated worth of self, owing to the weight of the burden of feeling ashamed for the way I feel and having to deal with anxiety on top.

It can be hard, sometimes downright impossible to find reasons for self-preservation under such circumstances.

Now, logically, I’m perfectly aware I shouldn’t be ashamed for the way I feel, but logic also tells me the way I feel is completely unreasonable.

This conflicting logical conundrum is made more complex by the fact that I just want to be treated like everyone else.

I don’t want people to feel like they have to cushion everything they say to me to avoid setting me off.

All these things tend to trap me. Social anxiety is my self-made prison, where the only inmate is me, guarded by a monster of my own creation.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. 

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

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Thinkstock photo Chalabala