True Life – I Have Social Anxiety

True Life – I Have Social Anxiety opens telling the story of two people in their twenties who suffer from severe social anxiety – so severe that they cannot lead normal lives. Most often they can be found at home. These two people discuss their experience through different types of narratives. Nonie, who has experienced anxiety for many years, portrays her illness through chaos narrative. She has trouble simply leaving her house, stopping her from getting a job or attending school. She uses this narrative to express her feelings regarding her illness. She is often frustrated and says that she does not want to contact a therapist (who she refers to as a stranger that she would not want to talk to). Scott is the other person who discusses his illness, and he does so through a restitution narrative. Scott tells that he never experienced social anxiety before middle school, and that his was created as a result of bullying by a group of people that went on for quite some time. As a result, he began to keep to himself and where he felt comfortable. Scott’s symptoms are especially intensified in a setting in which there are women present, with whom he struggles holding conversations.  I believe that both of the people featured are affected by the stigma surrounding their illness.  Their narratives, however, demonstrate the different ways that they deal with the way they are affected. Nonie elects to try anti-anxiety medicine while Scott decides to visit a therapist. In the end, both of them made steps towards bettering their illness. I, however, feel that Scott has progressed further as he has accomplished goals such as talking to talk to girls and becoming more sociable. Although Nonie got a job, she stopped taking her medication, and has not really continued to make progress.

I believe that the experiential approach is important and can be very useful. As discussed in lecture this week, illness narratives can be beneficial to the listener and the teller. They help the teller to make sense of the illness, and help the listener to feel less isolated.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Steven Sochacki says:

    The illness narrative I chose to listen to is by a woman named Cordelia, and this can be viewed by clicking on the hyperlinked address in the citation. Cordelia is afflicted with a social anxiety disorder, and in the video, she talks about how social anxiety affects her through a chaos narrative. In her narrative, she describes how it affects her in places such as the supermarket, church, etc. She also talks about the problems that could occur if she were to get a job. This includes her having to take the bus and possibly making small talk with the driver of the bus or the passengers on it. This worries her since she does not know how to make small talk with people in social interactions.

    Cordelia seems to have an experience that is more similar to Nonie because they both have a chaos narrative. I think the biggest influence for both of them, at least from what I have read/seen, is the society/culture that they live in. Both of them have trouble getting a job, and since society promotes having a job, this may make them feel worse about themselves. This can be seen when Cordelia mentions in the video about how the disorder does make her feel worse about herself for not being able to things like get a job, for example.

    “Mental Health: Social Anxiety Disorder.” YouTube video, 6:47. Posted by “CordeliaOphelia,” May 5, 2013. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHtj0DEzxIc.

  2. Ellen Howard says:

    I find social anxiety a very interesting topic when reading the various illness narratives. I myself think I had slight social anxiety or shyness in high school and coming to college. I have really pushed myself out of the box and don’t deal with shyness or social anxiety anymore and actually view myself on the opposite side of the spectrum now. After reading the True Life narrative and the narrative I found on the ADAA website I start to wonder if medical treatment is what this illness needs, or if it is a personal struggle that can be improved with just the help of friends, therapy, or personally. I don’t mean to sound ignorant and insensitive but after reading the narrative on the ADAA website, the person experiencing the social anxiety seems odd. He says he has a family and is a professor at a University. If one is to make it that far in life they clearly had to put themselves in social situation at one point and were successful. I think social anxiety can be a lack of self-confidence and caring too much of what others think about you. I think social anxiety, if it is not extremely severe, can be cured with practicing social situations and potentially therapy like one of the candidates in the True Life episode used. Being able to love and accept yourself as a person is the first step in overcoming social anxiety.

    Jack, Hagge. ADAA, “Anxiety and Depression of America.” Accessed July 28, 2013. http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/personal-stories/much-more-shy.

  3. Elaina Clark says:

    I found an article written about NFL running back named Ricky Williams. Despite having to play for millions of people, Ricky suffered from social anxiety disorder. He had trouble talking to everyone, from his fans to his daughter. During interviews, he often kept his helmet on or completely avoided eye contact. He had no idea what was wrong with him and had trouble communicating his problem to people.

    Ricky Williams suffered the same symptoms as the people in the True Life episode, but his resources and the way he approached the problem differ immensely. As described, the girl didn’t handle her anxiety well. She refused to see a doctor, she wouldn’t get a job, or even go to school. She tried to treat it by using anti-anxiety medicine and getting a job, which helped a little, but she still dealt with crippling anxiety after she stopped taking her medication. Scott went and saw a therapist and actually confronted his fears, thus leading to a better experience, or making longer strides of progress than the girl.

    I do think, however, that different factors affected Ricky’s experiences and recovery, compared with Scott and the girl. First of all, gender does play a role. It’s been proven in studies over and over again that women are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. Also, I feel like Ricky’s socioeconomic status, family life, as well as our culture influenced his recovery. Ricky is a millionaire in the NFL, thus he was probably able to afford more help or even better help than the subjects in True Life. He could basically afford any medical treatment, any medication, and any therapist that he wanted. Also, as mentioned in the article written about him, a lot of people in our culture look up to professional athletes. Thus, he received support not only from his family and friends, he received support from millions of fans across the country, and support plays a big role in recovering from an illness. The True Life subjects didn’t have nearly as much support in dealing with their problems.

    Link:

    Leslie, Anderson. Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Ricky Williams: A Story of Social Anxiety Disorder.” Accessed July 28, 2013. http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/personal-stories/ricky-williams-story-social-anxiety-disorder.

  4. Melissa Brown says:

    Hello, Joseph! I find social anxiety to be very interesting. Everyone with social anxiety however, does not share the same experiences. So here is a link to a you tube video of a guy who also suffers from social anxiety.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHGJAAxeHgg.

    This video focuses on a 36 year old male that suffers from severe social anxiety. The guy never states his name during the video, but he does explain how is social anxiety affects his daily activities. The guy in the you tube video uses a chaos narrative to explain his illness as well. The main difference between the individuals on the True Life episode and the guy from the you tube clip are the ways the illness affects them. The guy in the you tube clip is able to leave his home without feeling the anxiety. However, he is afraid of what individuals around him are thinking about him. He feels that he is constantly being stared at, talked about, and laughed at, these are the things that triggers his social anxiety. The patient also, discusses a stuttering problem that he has. The patient believes that his social anxiety is solely based on his speech impairment. The patient struggles with holding conversations due to this speech impairment. He is afraid to talk to other individuals which is very similar to the patient Scott, in the true life episode. As previously stated in your post, the patient struggles with the stigma surrounding his illness. I can honestly say that society has a large influence on his experience with social anxiety. Because he is so afraid of what others think and say about him.

    Source:
    “How Social Anxiety Makes Me Act and Feel.” accessed July 28,2013. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHGJAAxeHgg.

  5. Melissa Brown says:

    Hello, Joseph! I find social anxiety to be very interesting. Everyone with social anxiety however, does not share the same experiences. So here is a link to a you tube video of a guy who also suffers from social anxiety.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHGJAAxeHgg.

    This video focuses on a 36 year old male that suffers from severe social anxiety. The guy never states his name during the video, but he does explain how is social anxiety affects his daily activities. The guy in the you tube video uses a chaos narrative to explain his illness as well. The main difference between the individuals on the True Life episode and the guy from the you tube clip are the ways the illness affects them. The guy in the you tube clip is able to leave his home without feeling the anxiety. However, he is afraid of what individuals around him are thinking about him. He feels that he is constantly being stared at, talked about, and laughed at, these are the things that triggers his social anxiety. The patient also, discusses a stuttering problem that he has. The patient believes that his social anxiety is solely based on his speech impairment. The patient struggles with holding conversations due to this speech impairment. He is afraid to talk to other individuals which is very similar to the patient Scott, in the true life episode. As previously stated in your post, the patient struggles with the stigma surrounding his illness. I can honestly say that society has a large influence on his experience with social anxiety. Because he is so afraid of what others think and say about him.

    Source:
    “How Social Anxiety Makes Me Act and Feel.” YouTube video, 7:44. Posted by Donnelly Miller. May 27, 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHGJAAxeHgg.

  6. Alex Chavez-Yenter says:

    After reading a couple narratives on the ADAA website, it seems the condition varies greatly in terms of causes and the type of treatment they elect to overcome their condition. For both Scott, and Cynthia (one of the narratives I read), comfort is found through invisibility and avoidance of the unfamiliar. The typical triggers of the condition seem to be linked to traumatic social experiences that are heavily culturally influenced, like bullying, or failure in a social setting. Cynthia overcame her condition through a combination of therapy and psycho pharmaceuticals and claims she could not have done so without both treatments. Scott, however, managed his condition with therapy alone.
    Repeated ‘failure’, or rather, perceived failure in social situations serves to intensify the condition, but I believe the lack of a support system is most detrimental to an individual with social anxiety. The narratives of those in the True Life episode and the ADAA narratives likely lacked the powerful positive reinforcement that often comes from friends and family. Whether due to neglect from family, or social anxiety onset at a young age resulting in few friends, the lack of a strong support system cannot be overlooked in an individual struggling with social anxiety. It seems to be an essential part of overcoming the condition.

    Kitt, Cynthia. ADAA, “Not Really a Rebel.” Accessed July 28, 2013. http://www.adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/personal-stories/not-really-rebel.

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