When you have social anxiety, it can feel like you're the only one in the world who does.
The nerves that creep up when speaking in a large group, the stomach churning that comes when you're called on in a class and the heart-pounding prospect of having to leave your house and go out to a party — anyone who has experienced social anxiety will recognize its dreaded markers. In the United States, that may be as many as 40 million adults who suffer from anxiety disorders, making it the most common mental illness in the country.
It can be downright crippling. Social anxiety disorder, a prevalent form of anxiety that affects 6.8% of Americans, is often characterized by "fear or anxiety about social situations where the person is exposed to possible scrutiny by others, like meeting a new person, eating in public or public speaking," Eric Hollander, clinical professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, told Mic.
That social distress is a daunting emotional iceberg; most people don't see it, but a lot is happening under the surface. Fortunately, people are increasingly comfortable talking about their social anxiety — how to better understand friends with anxiety, portraits of how it really feels and how it impacts our partners. One medium through which they're doing this is Tumblr, where a growing group of people are openly navigating living with the illness.
"Social network communities help people to know they are not the only one who suffers from such symptoms," Hollander said of Tumblr. Additionally, "they receive information that this is a recognized condition, and that it is treatable by cognitive behavior therapies or medications."
Here are 12 Tumblr posts that perfectly capture the struggle that so many of us face in silence.