Being Open about Anxiety for the First Time with Parents: Pt 1

I hinted that this post was coming here, so here we go.

Context: It occured to me that I had social anxiety for the first time when I was 16 because I was really disturbed by the amount of shyness I was experiencing and this got me doing some intense googling on the topic. The idea that my extreme shyness met enough criteria to be classified as something called “social anxiety disorder” and that this was classified as a “mental illness” was probably the aspect of this which bothered me most, and to some extent still does. I feel like I’ve been thinking and perhaps overthinking this topic ever since then (the fact I have a blog about it makes that kinda self evident doesn’t it?) but in the following five years I’ve made a big thing of not talking about it (with one or two slight exceptions). Not out of any feeling of shame but because A) It was very emotional for me, B) I was afraid of being emotional with people if I tried talking about it, C) I struggled (and maybe still struggle) to know the appropriate contexts in which to talk about it, D) I was afraid of getting tongue-tied, thus making the conversation and maybe by extension the relationship awkward, and E) I didn’t want people close to me to be upset by the knowledge of this. My parents are pretty close to me so they were the main ones. And if I didn’t tell my parents then it didn’t feel quite right to me be to freely be open about it with other people.

Being able to write all that waffle I just wrote in past tense is pretty novel because it was only very recently that I told them.

It was my mum I knew might be particularly upset. My mum is extremely empathetic and has been known to get surprisingly affected by incidents where I’ve been upset. And I know other people in her family have struggled with mental health problems so that made me even more cautious. As for my dad, he’s more the objective, logical, calm type so I didn’t have too many qualms there.

The reason I decided to introduce the topic with them was that I thought about all the possibilities of things that might happen in the future (mainly negative things like getting a rubbish overall grade in my degree or struggling to find a job) and how these would probably force me into a hole of having to explain having Anxiety. I followed this through to the realisation that the longer I left it to tell them I had then the worse they (or like, Mum) would feel about the fact I hadn’t felt able to talk about it for so long.

It’s no secret to them or anyone else that I can be a really shy person, but I’m not sure if many people know that in some cases shyness might be more than “shyness”.

I can see this post getting stupidly long so I’m going to break it up into two parts. Sorry that’s such a cliffhanger…

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