The True Life episode: I Have Social Anxiety is about Nonie,21, and Scott, 26, who both have a social anxiety disorder. Nonie has had this condition for her whole life; essentially all social interactions give her great anxiety. Part of the episode shows her reluctantly going to pick up a pizza she had ordered, and she described her anxiety as “being choked.” Nonie uses a chaotic narrative: she has been socially crippled by anxiety all of her life and is miserable that she can’t just be “normal.” Her mom persists that she goes to see a therapist because she wants her to get back into school and lead a regular life. She even sets Nonie up with a filing job through a friend. Nonie’s social anxiety is to the point where she cannot even make a call to schedule an appointment with a therapist, so she decides to forego that by filling her prescription of Paxil, an anti-anxiety drug, from her family doctor. Her only hope was this pill, and in the beginning it seemed to be working. However, after a little while she decided to stop taking it because she felt like a “zombie. “ Hopefully she attempts to seek therapy in the future.
Scott uses a restitution narrative. His social anxiety started in middle school after being bullied by a group of peers. Scott is anxious in interactive settings like going out to a restaurant, but has severe anxiety mostly when it comes to approaching attractive girls. He really wants a girlfriend yet cannot find enough courage to start a conversation with them. In hopes to change his ways and get over this anxiety around girls he finds attractive, he seeks help from an old friend who overcame his anxiety, as well as a therapist. Essentially, both give him the advice to go out with friends to meet new people and enjoy life. After going to bars with his friends, Scott is hopeful that he will beat this anxiety and meet a girl. Throughout the episode he becomes more confident and lands a job at a marketing agency. He hopes to meet a lot of new people there, and potentially a girlfriend.
Both seem to be suffocated by the stigma of social anxiety. It is hard when your friends and family don’t fully understand and constantly emphasize how important it is to go out and try new things, meet new people. In his restitution narrative, Scott’s goal is to overcome his anxiety and to move on. He acknowledges his condition, seeks professional help, and tries to overcome his social anxiety. Nonie, a chaotic narrative, only hopes to be normal to society’s standards one day and to feel better about herself. She acknowledges her condition too, but is having difficulties taking the next step to seek professional help, aside from her way out of meeting with a therapist by taking her Paxil anti-anxiety pills.
Illness narratives are important for the patients to understand what they are experiencing and recognize what their illness is. Also stated in lecture material is that illness narratives are equally important for family, friends, and doctors, so that they are able to try to understand and treat the patient’s illness correctly.