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.