S.A.D

August 11, 2011
By , Glenn Dale, MD
I turn a corner and my heart begins to race. My eyes dart from left to right searching out any signs of danger. I instinctively walk closer to my mom and am careful to stay by her side. No I am not walking down an alley in the early hours of the night. I am simply doing a little shopping at the mall, which in itself can reduce me to hyperventilation, sweating, and feelings of terror and panic. This in itself is not new to me. I have spent the past couple of years like this, slowly getting worse until reaching the state I am in today. Unable to order for myself in a restaurant, beginning to back away when meeting new people, and unable to speak if spoken to by someone I don’t know or even a teacher.
It first became noticeable in seventh grade when I noticed I was quieter and was having more trouble than usual meeting new people and speaking in front of the class. I simply brushed it off as the effects of being in a new school and began to forget about it. It was not until this past school year in eighth grade when I would realize just how bad my problem had gotten. I would never speak up in class and would always say I had not done my work if called on by a teacher. When it came to my parents they would always joke whenever we went out to eat and they had to order for me that they would get me help.
“PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I would scream in my head unable to say what I was feeling out loud, for the same reason I couldn’t order for myself. It was that I was simply scared to death of any kind of social situation. Slowly my grades began to suffer and I would dread the days report cards came fearful of what my family might see. Because even though they thought I was doing good in school, the truth was I was failing. All because of the fact that if the assignment was going to be presented in front of the class I would simply not do it and I refused to turn in late work.
The hardest part through the whole thing was not being able to depend on my family and having them joke. I was so ashamed that something as simple as asking for help could make me so scared. My mother finally realized something was seriously wrong when in a grocery store one day in May and a women said something to me and I ran away. She soon made an appointment for me to get help and a couple weeks later I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder, or social phobia.
I was so relieved that finally someone was able to help me when I had been unable to ask for it myself. Following the diagnoses I have continued to seek treatment and have begun to notice small improvements in myself. I am now able to order for myself in restaurants and although I am still nervous, I have not had the need to run away when meeting new people. I can only hope that by the time school starts my improvements will have been enough. Because this year I face my toughest challenge yet, freshman year of high school.





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