Posted by: JennyRain | July 20, 2010

I have sad

 

No no no… I did not say I AM sad.

I said, I HAVE sad.

Sad is also  known as Social Anxiety Disorder and I have it.

Social anxiety disorder (SAD, SAnD) (DSM-IV 300.23), also sometimes called social phobia (SP), can be specific or generalized. Generalized social anxiety disorder typically involves a persistent, chronic fear of being judged by others and of being embarrassed or humiliated by one’s own actions. These fears can be triggered by perceived or actual scrutiny from others. While the fear of social interaction may be recognized by the person as excessive or unreasonable, overcoming it can be quite difficult. About 13.3% of the general population may meet criteria for social anxiety disorder at some point in their lives.

Four years ago in the plethora of diagnoses my shrink labeled me with, SAD was in the mix.

Rather than debilitating me with an unneccesary label, understanding that SAD was a frequent visitor in my spectrum of anxiety struggles has helped me stop judging myself so harshly when I fail to meet my own criteria for a “successful social interaction.”

I have the “generalized” brand of SAD – which is good. And it takes more than a diagnosis or challenge to send me running for the hills, which is even better! Throughout the years I have intentionally placed myself into “learning situations” that have forced me to develop coping mechanisms to survive and succeed in social interactions.

When I was younger SAD was debilitating.

I was painfully awkward with girlfriends and excruciatingly clumsy with boys. In my attempts to fit in, my gangly actions caused me to stick out and get noticed more than accepted.

Childhood was painful for me.

If a friend “decided” they were mad at me I would literally get sick. On the spot. Sometimes on them.

It was awful.

Countless shrinks, wise family members, and friends attempted to counsel me on the fact that “people just get mad sometimes,” and not to get so upset about it, but my body continued to have a visceral reaction to anything resembling judgement from someone else.

Needless to say, as a kid and into my early adult years, I was also highly sensitive and would shut down at even the slightest hint of criticism.

I had SAD but did not know it so I had no coping skills.

For me, SAD manifests itself as shyness in social situations which often confuses people.

“I would have never guessed you were shy, you seem so outgoing when you train!”

“Through your writing it seems like you are more extraverted!”

Like I said, I have trained myself to overcome SAD so that it does not continue to debilitate me.

In late 1996 after four years in corporate training, I realized that unless I stepped beyond my fear or being around a large room of people, speaking, and interacting with them, I would not make it very far in business.

So I took a decisive action.

Because of my fear of training people – I stepped into training.

That is how I was as a  younger lass with my fears – completely unforgiving and intolerant of anything that held me back. I tended to steamroll my fears and weaknesses until they ceased to exist.

With this particular fear and anxiety around people, it worked!

But there are still times when social situations are tough for me.

I detest get togethers at houses – especially when it is a bunch of people I don’t know.
Being out in a new location with new people can be overwhelming for me at times. New place. New people. It is like massive over-stimulation to my brain. The little gerbils in my brain do not do overstimulation well.
I am a chronic-blusher. When I am one-on-one with others chatting, my face will randomly blush for no reason at all. It’s so embarrassing!
If you ask me to be in an arena full of people where I have to find my way to my seat – I hate it. This is why I work the tech booth at church… so I can sneak in the back door, avoid the crowds, and sit in my same seat every week cocooned by the walls of the booth. It’s safe, manageable, puts me in the middle of the action without the crush of a bunch of people around me.

So my SAD still pops up, but I have learned to manage it.

So why do I share this?

Because there are things that we all deal with about ourselves and our lives here on earth that can debilitate us, control us, and hinder the stretch we have in our arms if we choose to allow them to. Things such as…

Shame
Fear
Anxieties and phobias
Our past
Our present
Our future
People
Money
Time
Religion
{insert your problem-of-choice here}

These “issues”  may be as real as the summer sunshine and valid enough to be considered a DSM-IV diagnosable disease.

I get that.

I am not saying, “deny that you have any areas of challenge in your life.”

Nope. Cuz there is a diagnosis for denial too – it’s called the Polyanna Principle and it even has its own page in the highly-scholarly resource “Wikipedia” (ahem… cough cough).

I am also not saying over-spiritualize your challenge areas…

“Well… the good Lord knew what He was doing when He made me… this is just my cross to bear I guess!”

Please don’t do that.

Over-spiritualization makes me batty.

What I am saying is this…

  1. Be honest with yourself about your areas of challenge.
  2. Take responsibility for those areas.
  3. Be unashamedly honest with friends about these challenge areas so they can pray for you.
  4. Do what you can to eliminate these areas, and if you cannot eliminate, learn coping mechanisms (even Jacob walked with a limp and Paul had a thorn in his side… there are some parts of our personality that may never change)
  5. Always… always… always stay in conversation with your Creator about these limitations and ask Him to intercede and be consistently present when one of these challenge areas threatens to take you down.

He is faithful, He is good, and He can be trusted… with all of who you are… even the parts you don’t like.

My frame was not hidden from you
       when I was made in the secret place.
       When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

   Your eyes saw my unformed body.
       All the days ordained for me
       were written in your book
       before one of them came to be.

   Psalm 139.15-16 

Thanks for coming by this week’s series on healing. If you missed yesterday’s post, click here. If you are in the middle of a healing journey… please let me know how I can pray for you during this time.


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Responses

  1. good description of SAD

  2. Jenny,
    what a great and honest post. I have never heard of Sad, but I actually believe my wife has quite a few of those charachteristics. Thats okay, I am ADHD so we make a great couple. Back in time, before all of the classifying acronyms were invented, we were just classified as unique, different, moody, or emotional, but never broken, just different. I am glad you have made so much progress with it. God Bless
    Jim

  3. Get your bravery on girl! I like how you own things! You are right, everyone has something. Everyone has weakness and something that keeps them stuck somewhere. The point is to jump in and not let “it” dictate. Fears suck! Thanks for sharing your courage.

  4. I am starting to believe that you are my long lost sibling!!! (Which is so weird to say because I think that is weird when people say those things on blogs) But, while I don’t have SAD- I grew up with a Mom who does. That coupled with severe depression made for a home life where “hurt people, hurt people.” I have so many characteristics of SAD. I hate coming into small groups of people and getting to know them. I am much better in front of large groups. When I tell people that I am naturally shy, they say the same things that they say to you. I am so intense that I usually get when I train, “You’re funny. I never knew you were funny.” There is some form of comfort there in being in the large crowd where I feel like I won’t be judged for being me.

    Also- the point about over spiritualization is SO true. I think that we have these quirks and they make us, us and we don’t know what to do with them. I notoriously am in your face and blunt and talk way too much. I was just crying with my husband last night and saying that I wish God had made me a different person. I cycle through that sometimes. Embracing “God Made me this way” is hard- but there are areas that no matter how much I close my eyes and wish them different- or even put in the effort this is who I am. This is me. But- when we live in a society of people with issues, thinking that no one else has issues, so we try to pretend like we don’t have any issues… We just breed shame. Shame is evil. It keeps us from understanding that Jesus loves us so much…

    Thanks- I am so thankful I found your blog….If you ever want to chat more- please email me!!!

  5. […] Posted in God and Theology, Mental Health | Tags: Christianity, God, Proverbs 3:5-6, Theology, Trust, Trusting God « I have sad […]

  6. Hi Jenny,
    This wasn’t just open to your heart, it was informative. I’d never heard of SAD before today.

    I can really relate to much of your post. I think house parties are the most stressful types. For me, it’s especially stressful to walk into a room full of women I don’t know. I hate being assessed, and women tend to look you up and down and then turn their backs on you. Talk about scary group dynamics.

    My natural bent is to be painfully shy. Like you, most people who know me these days don’t believe it. But I spent high school looking at my feet. I had a social life when I was a lifeguard…but that role was a great equalizer. I had a role to play, I was an authority figure, and there was no fashion at the pool and no hair-do’s. It was all guard bathing suits and wet, chlorinated hair, lol. I actually learned social skills while lifeguarding. And that’s when I realized that shy people have no fun. I chose not to be shy…which doesn’t work, but I at least made an effort to not miss out on life.

    Much of my shyness was due to my inability to initiate. If someone talks to me first, I’m good to go. And, when I was a teen, the fear of what others thought of me was a huge inhibitor. It still is on the rare occasion…so I don’t always dance at adult social gatherings, especially if I can be seen.

    I was immobilized by speaking in front of groups until God took care of that when I was 30. I was thrown into a sutuation where my career would tank if I didn’t MC an event in front of the Media during my first year of teaching. I was able to plow through the fear, and ever since, I’ve been a lector at church in order to keep up the skill but mostly in thanks to God for getting me through and past that fear.

    Your 5 steps and your Scriptures here are VERY helpful. What amazed me is that today’s scripture readings (the prescribed ones for Catholics, Episcopalians and Lutherans) go hand-in-hand with your post here. I read your post first, then the Scriptures this morning and was in awe of how God orchestrates things.

    Love you!


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