Recently I have struggled with severe anxiety. I've always felt anxious about stuff my whole life, but in the past year it's gotten pretty terrible. Sometimes it's so bad that I can't even leave my house. I go straight to work and school to home because if I leave my house I start to feel panicked and scared. I've tried talking about it to some of my friends, but no one really seems to understand my situation. And I feel like the more I deal with this the more I push away my friends which makes them more upset with me. And now, losing my friends adds even more onto my anxitey. What should I do?
I'm so sorry that you're struggling with this. Anxiety can be so crippling. My first major piece of advice is this: go see someone. Whether it's just a counselor, or an actual psychiatrist. Having a professional that works out your problems with you can be so comforting. Don't be ashamed of the fact that you need to talk to someone—it can only do you good.
In the meantime, there are a few other things you can do. I understand that you've already spoken to your friends. But have you actually sat down, and had a serious in-depth conversation with them? That might sound intimidating, but it's important that your friends really understand what's going on with you. Ask them to be patient with you.
If they still don't understand, maybe you need to spend less time with them. This may sound mean, but you already have so much anxiety in your life. Your friends should not be stressing you out-- they should be supporting you.
With that said, you do need a support system. Having someone to call when you're in the middle of an anxiety attack is a great coping mechanism. So whether it's a parent, a sibling, or a friend-- make sure that you have someone who can be there for you, and talk you out of an anxiety attack.
Also, it's really important that you try to get out. If you just stick to school and work, you'll become too comfortable with that routine. This makes it even more impossible for you to eventually go out. Stick to the small stuff at first: maybe go out to a movie with one friend, or have dinner in a small group.
Still feeling anxious about going out? Visualize your night as a really big dip on a roller coaster. You start out on the ground, feeling pretty good. But as you begin to rise to the top, your anxiety and worry also begins to rise. Maybe this’ll happen on the morning of. As the hour approaches, you get even more anxious. But you have to push through it.
And then, BOOM. It’s thirty minutes before you go out, and you are completely wigging out. It’s like the very top of the roller coaster, right before the drop—undoubtedly the scariest part. You’re staring at the dip, questioning all the decisions that led you to this moment.
But then you drop. You actually go out with your friends. And it’s quick, easy, practically painless, and even a little fun. It’s not even half as you thought it would be, or as horrible as the process it took to get there.
Then you go on the roller coaster again. And again. And then again. It gets a little bit easier each time, because you know what to expect. So by the hundredth time you hop on that roller coaster, you’re practically a pro.
That’s what going out is going to be like—the lead up is terrifying, the thirty minutes before practically impossible, and the actual moment surprisingly painless. The key is to push through the anxiety, and put everything in perspective.
I know this might be overwhelming for you. But the key is to take it one step at a time. Find victory in the little things! Many people before you have been crippled by anxiety, and they’ve been able to push through it. So trust me. You can do it, too.