Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Lately I have been experiencing some new health-related issues, such as the return of the insomnias, a frequently upset stomach, constant muscle tension in my neck and shoulders, grinding my teeth and these crazy new headaches that start with a very sore neck and work their way up to my head.

I had suspected that these things might all be interconnected, but wasn't really sure what it might be. So I started to do some research. Yesterday I found that these are all common symptoms of one thing: anxiety. Probably more of a social anxiety than anything else, though I do tend to worry a lot about money and my career situation.

I was reading this article about social anxiety when I came across this list of situations that people with some level of social anxiety fear and will often try to avoid:

Public speaking
Participating in meetings or classes(e.g. asking or answering questions)
Performing in public
Entering a room where everyone is already seated
Meeting new people
Talking to co-workers or friends
Inviting others to do things
Going to social events (e.g. parties or dinners)
Being assertive
Talking on the phone
Working in a group (e.g. working on a project with other co-workers)
Ordering food at a restaurant
Returning something at a store
Having a job interview

Ummmmm... HELLO, MCFLY!!!!! This is me. This is what I do. All the time. This is why I often have trouble making eye contact with people when I am talking. This is why I tell you I will go to a party and back out at the last minute when I think that if I show up, no one will talk to me. This is why I would damn near have a heart attack if I was ever called upon in class. This is why I have trouble talking to new people.

Some of these things I have already been addressing and working on for years. I have to constantly think about projecting my voice and not speaking quietly. I am now at the point where if I am in a meeting at work, I can share my thoughts without feeling like I am about to pass out or burst into tears. But I've still got a lot to work on.

So now that I am more aware of it, I can start to do things to try to help me become calmer and healthier. Yay! Or not. As it turns out, foods that trigger anxiety are caffeine (duh!) and sugar. I can probably deal with cutting down on caffeine, but sugar and simple carbohydrates? Those just happen to be my favourite kinds of carbohydrates! I love candy so much! The good thing is that I am supposed to eat a buttload of complex carbs, which I do so enjoy. Three cheers for grainy breads!

It would probably also help a great deal if I actually remembered to take my vitamins every day. And I should really take up yoga again.

So friends, have patience. I'm working on it.


brie said...

Exercise helps. Sleep helps. And if it gets really bad, drugs help too!

I don't suffer from social anxiety so much as I have the tendency to silently worry about EVERYTHING.

sarah said...

It's not unbearably bad... it's just something I have noticed getting slowly more frequent. The bouts of insomnia seem to be closer together than they have ever been before.

It's funny, because I don't always feel anxious about social situations. Most of the time if it is there at all I just feel mildly uncomfortable, but it is manageable. It's a weird thing. I guess I just have different levels of comfort with different people and situations, because sometimes I can meet a complete stranger and be totally fine with chatting to them. But then other times, talking to people I don't know is like the most stressful thing in the world. Fun!