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Why that Irritable Tone in Your Message is Harmful for Someone with Social Anxiety

The way we view on someone with social anxiety bailing on plans needs to change.

Woman sitting on a bed with her knees bent with her head resting on her arms, which are resting on her bent knees. A coffee cup is in her left hand.

I’m sitting at an emergency medical clinic with my right leg moving up and down erratically in place. I can feel a sense of panic settling in like the oldest of buddies as I look around at the people around me. There aren’t that many people in the building besides me and the employees of the place but I’m still more than a little anxious.

This medical clinic has become a home away from home for me since I’ve been dealing with autoimmune issues. I have a feeling deep within my gut that there is another infection in one of the worst places: my bladder. The anxiety lodged firmly in my mind has ingrained itself into every facet of my life.

Every time I feel odd even in the slightest, the anxiety makes it so that I’m overreacting to the new stimuli. Anxiety does that to a person: makes their world a living nightmare for them. Your mind believes itself to be at war with the world around you and overreacts to the stimuli because of that fight or flight instinct within us all.

This is what my body is doing right now as I sit in the medical clinic: it’s fighting for its life. Except it’s fighting in a way that only hurts me further in the long run. My anxious mind knows that and yet does it anyway in spite of the warnings from the other half of my mind.

You could almost say the anxious part of my mind is at war with the other half. If you have any sort of anxiety in your life, you’ll know exactly what I mean. This is why I want to bring this up: for the people who don’t know what it’s like to live with anxiety.

There is a very good reason people with social anxiety decide not to hang out in public. That reason is because the anxiety has talked us out of going as it thinks through every single possibility of what could happen during the time out. The anxiety sees the negative possibilities and focuses on them alone instead of us actually having fun while hanging out with you.

We aren’t refusing your request to hang out to be rude, by any means! We DO want to hang out with you but the thought of it sends our mind into overdrive to the point where it sucks the fun out of following through with it. We will always want to hang out with you and may already be thinking about asking you.

The problem is, the anxiety makes us incredibly shy about posing the question to you after turning you down so many times. We think you’ll refuse to hang out with us again if we ask to hang out, make the plans, and then bail on you. Why am I bringing all of this up, you ask? I do have a very good reason for it, I promise.

I wanted to bring this up in a blunt way because there’s something I want you to think about when we bail on the plans again. We want you to think about it from our perspective before you reply to the text in a snarky tone. We don’t want pity but we DO want to hear or read that you aren’t going to hate us for bailing.

We just want you to realize that we aren’t doing this for a nefarious or negative purpose. We just want to know that you will at least try to understand even if you don’t understand it now. We don’t want you to think we’re being callous about your time since we value it as much as you do.

We love our friends and family more than most realize but sometimes the stimuli of the world around us is just too much to handle. What we want you to understand is that we are human beings with quirks that make us stand out more than we want to on the sidelines. So before you respond in a snarky way to our text message, please try to understand where we’re coming from. That’s all we ask of you.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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