Julia L

My name is Julia, I am 18 years old. I have suffered from social anxiety for quite some time, and I recently wrote a letter to a stranger that will probably never know it was them. This letter is a very accurate representation of how social anxiety impacts my life. Here is my letter to a stranger:

Dear stranger,

Yes, I heard that you have just said hello. I know that you are noticing the way my hands are shaking and my cheeks are flushing. I haven’t responded yet, and I know it’s been a whole thirty-two seconds, I’ve counted them in my head. Do not be alarmed, I am not sick, I am not contagious. I will not bite, but I will not talk. And if I do talk, god forbid, I am internally critiquing myself in extreme detail. Yes, I know my voice is shaking. I know I am not making eye-contact. No, I am not being rude. Please don’t roll your eyes when I don’t respond to your questions. I would really like to start a conversation, I just can’t.

Today is a hard day for me, I have those days sometimes. I cannot engage in casual conversation with you, stranger, and I cannot ask the man who gave me tuna-salad instead of egg-salad to make a new sandwich. I guarantee you that on a day like this, I had a difficult time climbing out of bed this morning. Today is not the day to ask me how I’m doing, unless you’d like to hear an extensive dialogue about how my brain is moving a million miles an hour and I didn’t study for this class and I’m worried about failing the test now becauseIamtryingsohardIreallyreallyam.

I’ve just started counseling, and I’m trying new ways to control my thoughts and avoid having a panic attack… But some days I just cannot speak. And I am sorry that all I could say back was a weak “hello,” and I am sorry that we didn’t get to talk about how confusing this chapter is. I’m sorry I didn’t ask for your phone number to start a study group. I’msorryyouseemverynicebuttodaymyheadismovingamillionmilesanhourandIjustcannotspeak.

I’m sorry that today was not a good day for you to say hello, but I promise you I’ve thought about that hello about one-thousand times today. I cannot be gracious enough for that hello. But today is not the day that I will answer your questions. Today is not the day that I will ask for your phone number to start a study group. Today is not the day. But thank you. And I hope you will tell me hello again soon.

With anticipation,

Me

5 responses to “Julia L”

  1. Miracle H says:

    WOW. Wonderfully written. I know that even with my generalized anxiety, it can be hard to be around people, or keep conversations with anybody. You are strong and I am hoping that you will realize that even in your non-response, or this letter, you are showing your strength.
    (Hugs)

  2. Carol S@ says:

    It gets better. I’ve been there. Heck, I still avoid all but small familiar groups. Hang in there, it’s worth it 🙂

  3. Kathy H says:

    I hear you. I suffered from social phobia from 22- 42 yrs old. Then I took Paxil and I do not have social phobia any more. I can relate to what you are going through. It is terrible. I hope you get some help and you don’t suffer from it anymore.

  4. Donna says:

    Very well described, the experience that repeats itself no matter how much we wish it wouldn’t happen this time. Good to read you, Julia. This can happen to those of us dealing with Bipolar Disorder. You have explained things very clearly. I think it was an act of love for yourself to write this. It is good, not only for sufferers but for those who do not understand.

  5. Carolyn says:

    I love your letter I will re-read it when the tears stop flowing.
    I’m running out of ways to deal with my anxiety and I can try to explain it to someone and they hear me but don’t feel my words.
    I feel so alone,so alone

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