Social anxiety in teens

Anxiety really sucks, I speak from experience. I’m a teenager, and my anxiety is really bad. I don’t like going shopping like most girls my age do, I don’t have many friends, and I don’t like interacting with people I don’t know. I went into a McDonalds a few weeks ago and had a panic attack. We had to leave, and now I find myself not liking McDonalds anymore.

I know it’s summer right now, but just because I don’t have school doesn’t mean I’m not going to be anxious. Like most other’s with social anxiety, I don’t like large crowds. It doesn’t matter if I’m in a restaurant, a store or even at church, I don’t like being around mass amounts of people. Even being in small groups in nerve wracking, and God forbid the cashier or waiter asks how I’m doing. It’s terrifying.

Having anxiety is sort of like trying to swim in the middle of the ocean when all you know is the doggy paddle. You’re constantly working hard. And then you enter a store or classroom… It’s like you’ve swam into a school of sharks. It’s an area full of possible disasters. Everywhere I go, I’m constantly thinking up best case and worst case scenarios. Most of the time, there’s more of the latter.

Questions and thoughts I constantly have when in a store or room of people I don’t know:

-Is my hair sticking up?
-Am I in the way?
-Did that person just look at me?
-If they look at me, I have to smile.
-I didn’t smile.
-I think my hair’s sticking up.
-If I try and pat it down and it’s not sticking up, it will attract unwanted attention, and I’ll look like an idiot.
-There’s a stain on my jeans oh my lord.
-When are we leaving?
-Why’re we walking in a bread section? Bread isn’t on the list. Oh no this is not what I expected.

Yeah, it’s super intense; I know. Knowing ahead of time that we’re going somewhere really helps. I can mentally prepare. In exactly two hours, I’m going to get in the car, and I’m going to go to the store. It’s a great method to use on your kids. Or if you are a kid, like muah, then ask your parents to warn you of events like this. No surprise attacks! Surprises aren’t fun, not for us.

When I get too anxious, I feel my chest begin to squeeze. In a really bad way. Not in the “I just saw a really cute dog” squeeze. I find it heard to breathe, and in some cases in actually hurts. My head gets sorta light, and my thinking fuzzy. Most of the time my eyes dart around, and I don’t process when people try to talk to me. My mom has to repeat things multiple times before I hear her.

Breathing is a good way to deal with this. I know it sounds stupid, but breathing slowly really helps! Breathing slowly is a really good way to relax when at home, and when you’re trying to fall asleep, right? So it makes sense that it would help to calm you when in a situation you can’t get out of. Drink something too, or chew some gum. Anything to distract you. I find that my fingers tap or my foot shakes when my anxiety levels get dangerously high. It keeps panic attacks at bay, even if it’s more of a nervous tic.

I didn’t think before writing this, which is why it’s all over the place. I’ll try to think about my anxiety more, and how it works. It’s good to spread awareness about it, especially to people who don’t understand it. Have a good day, and sorry if this was a total waste of your time.

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