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itsjustcruel's avatar

How to tell someone you have Social Anxiety Disorder?

Asked by itsjustcruel (387 points ) November 10th, 2011

I have social anxiety disorder, but no matter what I say to my Mother she just says that i’m ’ a bit shy, that’s all’
It is not uncommon for me and Mum to argue about things like going to the shops (Which I cannot bring myself to do) or catching the bus (Something else I can’t do) and I keeo telling her that I can’t do those things because I am terrified of them and I am more than just ‘a bit shy’. She either doesn’t belive me, which is stupid because I can’t even do everyday things, I can barely walk from my house to the car without being terrified. Or she just doesnt care, how can I make it clear to her that I have Social anxiety disorder and would benefit from her support?

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6 Answers

janbb's avatar

Are you seeing a counselor? If you can get yourself to one – or perhaps a teacher or advisor at school or a church – perhaps they could talk to your Mum about your issues. It is not uncommon for parents and particularly English people to shrug off or minimize problems. I think having an expert talk to your mother about it would be very beneficial. It would also be very useful for yourself if you could get counseling.

CWOTUS's avatar

Send her to the Wikipedia page and describe to her in as much detail as you can how each of those symptoms applies to you. It’s not worth it to argue with your mother; you have to educate her in some way.

marinelife's avatar

I’m with @janbb. have an adult who understands and accepts your condition talk to your mother about it.

Preferably a therapist.

Who gave you the diagnosis? You could even talk to your family doctor and have that person talk to your mother.

Aethelflaed's avatar

In the immediate: “Well, whether or not you believe me is, of course, your choice. However, either way, I’m not going to get on the bus/go into that shop/whatever, and I am a bit puzzled as to what you hope to gain by invalidating me like this. Does your insistence on telling me you don’t believe me really do anything but drive a wedge between us?”
At some point soon: “So, I wanted to talk to you more in depth about why I have some problems doing things, like going into shops and riding buses and leaving the house. After lots of consultation with (a) professional(s), I have been diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder. What this means is that what is going on for me is not mere, everyday shyness, but rather a chronic and debilitating disorder. Here are some pamphlets/websites/packets/etc for you to read, giving you more information on what SAD is, how it comes about (eg trauma, organic, etc), and when you’re done with those, I’d be happy to help you answer any more questions you have. I am currently getting treatment for this disorder, and I think that treatment would be increased and accelerated greatly by receiving your support in this matter.”

Bellatrix's avatar

I agree with the suggestions made by @janbb @Aethelflaed and @marinelife but I know there have been people in my life who just would not listen no matter what I said. It may be you have to accept your mother will just never get it. She perhaps doesn’t want to. If you feel it will be difficult to talk this through with her, what about writing to her. Write her a letter explaining how you feel when she asks you to do these things and how you feel when you try to do them. Perhaps include some material from a credible source that explains what you are experiencing. Then she can read it in her own time and think about it.

I hope you do resolve this because it would be good to have your mum in your corner rather than in denial.

Kardamom's avatar

Hello @itsjustcruel I love your avatar critter!

I’m not sure how old you are or if you live with your mother. She has probably never, personally, had any of the problems with these situations that you are having, and unless she’s an avid reader or person who follows the news, especially medical news (like a bunch of us Jellies do) she may have no concept of social anxiety. She’s also probably hoping that you are just making a mountain out of a molehill, like some overly dramatic young people tend to do. I’m not saying this is what you are doing at all, but she probably thinks so.

I’ll ask you too, have you been to a doctor and given a diagnosis, or do you just know that you have all of the symptoms? It would be helpful if you’ve already discussed your situation with a doctor or a counselor, because those people can arm you with good and accurate information to share with your mother. To me, it sounds like you have Agoraphobia.

If you haven’t yet sought help from a professional that deals with social anxiety, but you feel that you need to talk to your mom now, rather than later then you are going to have to find a time to sit down with her, when she’s not rushed or in a bad mood and have a conversation with her. But get yourself some printed material, either from a reputable website, or from your doctor or the school’s counselor, so you can show her what you are dealing with.

Here’s an example of what to say, “Mum, I have to talk to you about something. Please hear me out, before you say anything. I have really been struggling with something within my own personality for a long time now. I know you think I’m just shy or trying to be contrary or dramatic, but I’m not. I think I have a disorder called Social Anxiety and I may also have Agoraphobia, which is a condition which renders people like me unable to go outside into social situations without feeling a tremendous sense of fear. I’m not trying to be a bad daughter, and I’m not lazy. There is really something wrong with me and it’s tearing me up and I feel like I have disappointed you and I never meant to do that. I know that you think I’m being silly and that I am just a little shy, but I assure you, that it is much, much more than that. I’ve been doing a little bit of research and this is what I have found out. There is a small percentage of the population that is wired differently than the rest and because of it, we are not able to function properly in most social situations like riding the bus or going shopping. Those situations and others, like going to family gatherings and parties actually make me become ill, and I have had what I think are panic attacks on several occasions from as far back as I can remember. Mom, I’m really scared and I need you to support me. What I’ve decided to do is talk to my counselor at school and hopefully you can help me to make an appointment with my doctor. I have read (show her where you read it) that there is treatment available for people like me and if I don’t do something about it soon, it’s likely to get much worse. Please say that you’ll help me.”

You can either talk to her directly, or if you are too scared to blurt this all out, or if you’re worried that she’ll interrupt you before you are finished, you can write this all out in a note to your mom.

Here is some information about Social Anxiety from the Mayo Clinic in the United States (a very reputable medical facility). If you look at the menu on the left there are links to support and causes and treatments etc. Look for other online sources that are established medical organizations, especially those that are associated with Universities, and sites that are official government sources, and medical associations (The American Heart Association is an example of a medical association).

Here is some more information about social anxiety from Columbia University

You can read about some of the current research in treatments for social anxiety on this site from the Stanford School of Medicine

And here is more info from UCLA

I’m guessing that you are in England, so you can do some research with regards to the universities in Britain too.

This site, Help Guide.org is a good overview that you can show to your mom about social anxiety.

Please keep us in the loop : )

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