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Thanks for 'Dear Evan Hansen' From a Person With Social Anxiety

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To the cast and creators of “Dear Evan Hansen:”

If I could tell you one thing, it would simply be this: thank you.

Thank you for creating such an honest depiction of what it’s like to live with an anxiety disorder. While I have not been lucky enough to see the musical in person (crossing my fingers that will happen this summer), I fell in love with the story as soon as I listened to the soundtrack on Spotify. I related to Evan instantly. Evan is anxious and awkward, but he deeply, desperately wants a friend. He’s scared to open up to others, but that doesn’t mean he’s antisocial or that he doesn’t want someone he can share his heart with — which is an aspect of social anxiety I think people often overlook or misunderstand.

As someone who has spent most of my life either in toxic friendships or friendless, Evan’s loneliness both broke my heart and made me feel less alone — and that’s what I love about this musical. “Dear Evan Hansen” has shown me I’m not alone, even when I feel like I am. These past few months have been extremely lonely for me. My friendship with my best friend ended very suddenly and very painfully, and I’ve spent the past few months feeling alone and betrayed. I’ve struggled with social anxiety for a long time, but losing her made it so much worse. Not only was I without a friend, but I started to struggle to even speak in school without nearly having a panic attack. While this is gradually improving, it is still difficult. It’s still embarrassing and isolating. But when I listen to this musical, I feel like I have a friend who knows exactly what I’m going through.

Thank you for the aspects of Evan’s emotions which each song depicts. Thank you for showing how incapable of interacting with people he feels in “Waving Through a Window” — how he feels like he’s safer staying silent, even if he’s lonely. Thank you for so beautifully showing his longing for a friend through his made-up story in “For Forever.” Thank you for being honest about his self-hatred in “Words Fail.” Thank you for creating such a vulnerable character, for not shying away from depicting the anger and disgust he feels toward himself. Thank you for the fact that despite the serious themes of this musical, there is still humor in songs such as “Sincerely, Me.”

I want to say thank you for all these things, but more than anything, thank you for the hope you have shown me and others. Even with themes such as mental illness, suicide, having no friends and growing up without a father, “Dear Evan Hansen” pours out hope in every song. And it isn’t the fake. It doesn’t dismiss Evan’s problems and emotions. It’s honest. It’s genuine. It’s hope that says no matter how terrible things are, no matter what your problems are, things will get better. It’s hope that says even when it feels like no one loves you and your brain itself is trying to kill you, your life isn’t over. It can get better.

I’ve only been a fan for about a week or two, but these past two weeks have been hard. I’d like to think your musical has played a part in helping me to choose to stay alive and keep fighting for recovery. It has reminded me I can get better, that my anxiety doesn’t make me a bad person and that it won’t control me so much forever. It has reminded me that I matter. It has reminded me that no matter how lonely I feel right now, someday I will be found.

With all my heart, thank you.

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

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Image via “Dear Evan Hansen” Facebook Page

Originally published: April 21, 2017
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