I Have Social Anxiety

In this episode of True Life: I Have Social Anxiety, we hear the stories of Nonie and Scott who both suffer from extreme social anxiety. Both fear being around other people, especially strangers. Social Anxiety has a negative culture and stigma to it. People with the illness can be viewed as “weird” due to the fact that they can have anxiety attacks in any social situation they are in. The people with the illness can feel ashamed, anxious, and nervous. Nonie (21) has had social anxiety her whole life and cannot leave her house without feeling overwhelming paranoia. She hates fast food drive thrus because they make her nervous/anxious, dropped out of college because she would get too nervous to go to class, and can barely even hold a job. She states, “feels like I’m being choked” when in uncomfortable social situations. Scott (26) has had social anxiety since his middle school years, which was a product of being bullied by older kids at school. He is a 26-year-old virgin who has never had a girlfriend and desperately wants one. However, he has extreme uneasiness with women from his social anxiety. This has hindered his opportunities to meet women. Although both of them suffer from the same condition each responds to their condition in a different way.

As for Nonie, I would classify her as having a chaos narrative. I would classify her as this because she is not very hopeful about her situation (doesn’t think she will get better) and thinks she will never be normal, and as we learned in lecture (W4: L2), she is very futile when it comes to treatments for her chronic problem. For example, Nonie saw a doctor and was diagnosed with depression and prescribed Prozac. However, she quit taking it because she didn’t think it was helping. In the episode, Nonie goes to pick up a pizza for her friend and cannot do it because she was too nervous of the people inside. Later in the episode, Nonie starts a new drug that actually starts working for her. She actually goes back to the same pizza place where she had an anxiety attack before and handles the social situation very well and does not have another attack. However, at the end of the episode we find that Nonie stops taking the drug that was working for her because it made her feel like a “zombie”. This is another reason I would classify her as a chaos narrative because when something is starting to work for her she finds a way to get out of it and go back to thinking she’ll never be normal. She returns to her high anxiety state and is said to be unwilling to take another prescription drug at the moment. Her experiences with medical professionals are few and far between. Nonie’s parents are pushing her to get better so she can go back to school and are encouraging her to go see a therapist. However, to Nonie, even the thought of a therapist makes her anxious which is putting a halt on her going to get help from one.

As for Scott, I would classify him as having a quest narrative. I would classify him as this because he is very hopeful about his situation and actually tries to make it better (as we learned in lecture, his illness is a journey). He states, “I can’t keep living like this because I don’t want to be the 40-year-old virgin here”. He even comments about a close friend who had a similar problem, overcame it, and have had many girlfriends since. Scott sees his social anxiety more as something that can be conquered with a lot of help and effort (as we learned in lecture an opportunity to improve himself) and something he can empower others overcome. His experiences with medical professionals have helped him in his journey with his anxiety. Scott tries musical therapy that is supposed to relieve anxiety, being aggressive and talking to women while out with friends and his mom, and going to counseling for his illness. Sadly, after being rejected for a date, Scott decides to relapse to his social anxiety ways although they are not as bad as before. He decides to focus on work and when he does try to pick up women, he does so at the beach instead of the bars where he used to try before. Although he goes back to his social anxiety ways Scott is still hopeful. Scott states, “I’ve made a lot of progress”. His mother also says “You seem much more at ease and ready and willing to be talkative to young women”.

Although Nonie and Scott deal with their illness differently, I thought I would analyze the sick role each of them plays as a comparative whole. Both definitely have an acknowledgement that their health is abnormal (step1 of the sick role) (W4:L2). Both submit to the care of a professional (step 2) but Nonie not as much as Scott (W4:L2). Nonie is so anxious she will barely go see doctors let alone a therapist. Scott actively goes and sees doctors to get help for his condition. Nonie also uses the illness to be excused from regular responsibilities and activities more than Scott does. For Nonie’s sick role, to me, she uses the illness as a major excuse. For example, she uses her illness to not go to school and better herself. I understand that school isn’t for everyone either but she’s not even willing to make an effort. As for Scott he doesn’t use the illness as much of an excuse. He actually tries to overcome the illness and put himself out there. For example, when he goes out to the bar with his friends he tries to talk to girls and actually gets their numbers.

As we read in the article this week for class called Fibromyalgia+ The Type “A” Personality… illness narratives can be very helpful in understanding an illness we don’t fully comprehend. The Arthur of the article wrote it for the purpose of people who aren’t suffering from the disease, to know what it feels like and the struggles associated with it. This is a reason that illness narratives are important because they can give a person a first hand experience of the disease without fully experiencing it. As the author states, “When people don’t understand how I can be so sick, but look so “normal” it makes me sad…..it frustrates me…..it makes me cry” (BlogHer). This is another reason why illness narratives can be useful to people not suffering from the disease because it makes people realize that even though someone may look “normal” there could be something inside that they are suffering from. Illness narratives can be useful to healthcare providers, especially for fibromyalgia because there is no known cause. Illness narratives can help lead to causes, treatments, and maybe even cures. Illness narratives can be useful to patients because it allows them to get their frustrations and story out. It can give the patients a piece of mind and can help them connect to other people who are suffering from the same illness.


MTV. “True Life: I Have Social Anxiety”. MTV video, 38:52. May 1, 2013. Accessed July 22, 2014. http://www.mtv.com/shows/truelife/true-life-i-have-social-anxiety/1706675/playlist/#id=1706675

BlogHer. “Fibromyalgia+ The Type “A” Personality= Chaos, Frustration and Near Insanity!.” BlogHer Editors. Accessed July 22, 2014. http://www.blogher.com/fibromyalgia-type-personality-chaos-frustration-and-near-insanity?page=full

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