Devotionals: Speaking My Truth: My Battle with Social Anxiety

 Philippians 4:6-8 ⁶ Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ⁸ Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 

Since I was a child I struggled with social anxiety. My mom didn't trust people and only allowed me to be around my grandma, grandpa, aunt, cousin, Brandon, and my Godmother, Lisa. When I was around others, I felt scared. I never understood why I felt scared, but knew that I  felt different. When people I didn't know would talk to me, my heart would race, my palms would get sweaty, and I felt like I couldn't talk. From my childhood years to my adult years these feelings kept on.

I remember vaguely, my first experience with social anxiety in kindergarten. It was my first time in school and around people that I didn't know, without my mom. One day, a teacher hit me on the back with a ruler for no reason. Not even three weeks in school, my mom pulled me out. I never understood why the teacher hit me. I was a quiet child and didn't say anything. It was then that I became even more fearful of people. I felt afraid and alone. 

From then on until age 15, the bullying went on. When I was eight years old I was sexually assaulted by a male priest at my after-school program, and at that same program, a girl jumped on my back out of nowhere and started choking me from behind. Then when I was 14  in middle school, a girl poured a carton of milk on me from outside of the school bus window. Another girl who was my neighbor beat me up for not wanting to play with her. By the time that I was 15, I decided that I would no longer get bullied. I started to hang out with the "cool" kids at school and we smoked and drank alcohol and skipped class. I even became friends with some of the people that bullied me. Though I hung out with these people, the social anxiety feelings were still there. The weed and alcohol suppressed some of the feelings, but deep down, fear was still there.

I didn't identify the feelings that I felt were social anxiety until the pandemic in 2020. My symptoms had heightened after working home remotely and there were a few times that I had a panic attack. As I talked out my feelings to my friend, Dolly, they encouraged me to speak about it and see a therapist. In 2023 I saw a therapist for the whole year. My therapist allowed space for me to talk about my feelings and helped me to establish coping mechanisms. I still battle with it, but therapy has helped.  

According to the National Institute of Mental Health "Social anxiety disorder (formerly social phobia) is characterized by persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others. The individual fears that he or she will act in a way (or show anxiety symptoms) that will be embarrassing and humiliating " https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/social-anxiety-disorder.  The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says, "SAD affects 15 million adults or 7.1% of the U.S. population." The association also says that "SAD is equally common among men and women and typically begins around age 13." https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/facts-statistics#:~:text=Social%20Anxiety%20Disorder,onset%20is%207%20years%20old.

 Last weekend before going out to a new place,  I experienced symptoms. In my struggle, I  prayed to God and He gave me the scripture below. If you are dealing with anxiety, depression, or struggling with your mental health, I encourage you to read this scripture every day. May God and this scripture be our weapon.

 Philippians 4:6-8 ⁶ Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ⁸ Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 

Be Encouraged,

Noelani


Comments

  1. Thank you for your consistent support and encouragement! This is such a vulnerable and beautifully written post. Your ability to speak on such mistreatment that you endured while growing up helps us all speak up and heal. Peace, Noelani, and thank you for the mention. Love you!

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    Replies
    1. I love you too Dolly! Thank you for being such a great friend and awesome person. Your support means so much to me.

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