Medical Professionals Versus Your Social Anxiety

Medical Professionals Versus Your Social Anxiety

Medical appointments are often nerve-wracking. Even if it’s only a general checkup, it feels like the most stressful event in the world because your health is of paramount importance. If you find yourself getting anxious at the mere thought of showing up for a medical appointment, there are some steps you can take to calm yourself and get the most out of your doctor’s visit.

Scheduling Your Appointment

Phones are scary – more so if you have social anxiety. If picking up the phone is a hurdle you struggle to overcome, see if you can schedule your appointments in-office after your previous appointment. If not, check to see if your hospital, clinic or medical provider does online scheduling via an app or e-mail. Not all practices do, but some integrate appointment scheduling with apps like Follow My Health.

If you truly cannot face the phone to schedule an appointment, consider asking a family member or trusted friend to call on your behalf. Not all appointments can be scheduled this way, as it’s sometimes viewed as a violation of HIPPA privacy standards, but many doctors’ offices will allow another person to speak on your behalf after verbally confirming with you that it’s okay.

Arriving at the Office

Your arrival at the doctor’s office can be the cue for your anxiety to ramp up. Signing in and being forced to wait to see your doctor gives your brain plenty of time to think over everything that’s potentially wrong – such as worrying about whether you’re making the most of your time with your medical professional.

If you don’t keep a list of points you’d like to discuss with your doctor, taking the time to jot down notes as you wait can give your mind a purposeful task to concentrate on. If you already have a list in hand, consider bringing along a soothing activity like a book, a small craft project or a fidget toy.

Talking to Your Doctor

There’s no question that talking to your doctor can induce fear. If you don’t have a good rapport with your doctor, it may be time to find a new one who doesn’t make your heart rate shoot through the roof. But if it’s tolerable, it helps to remember that your doctor works for you. You pay your doctor’s salary and it’s his or her job to manage your health and listen to your concerns.

If your physician isn’t living up to that task, you have the power to fire him. Sometimes just knowing that you hold the upper hand in the doctor-patient dynamic can make the visit less stressful.

If you don’t know where to start, or worry which concerns are worth mentioning, refer to your list. Having a concrete list of talking points is common even for people without social anxiety – no one will think twice if you pull one out.

If you’re truly having a hard time enduring medical appointments because of your social anxiety, bring it up with either your doctor or your psychological health care provider. They can help you work on strategies to make visits more bearable.

Nothing is more important than your health and each doctor’s visit is an integral part of keeping you in top shape. You shouldn’t let anything prevent you from seeking the healthcare you need and deserve.

What It’s Like to Live with Social Anxiety

What It’s Like to Live with Social Anxiety

Not everyone who lives with social anxiety experiences the same symptoms, but the overwhelming feelings of fear, apprehension and worry are understood by all who live with it. Many people with social anxiety have learned to mask their symptoms. It’s an isolating mental illness often made worse by the stigma attached and the comments of “but you LOOK fine!” from well-meaning family and friends.

What Social Anxiety Feels Like

One Reddit user describes life with social anxiety as being “… like knowing you have a problem and the solution is right in front of you, but still not being able to do anything about it.” For those living with SA, this statement resonates all too deeply.

Social anxiety can induce terror when confronted with social interactions – it’s not always big things, like going out to a social function or large gathering, either. Sometimes the fear creeps in during the simplest of day-to-day tasks, like making a telephone call, answering the door or even walking down the walk to fetch the mail.

Social Anxiety Feels Embarrassing

Not only is the fear and apprehension caused by social anxiety overwhelming, it can also feel embarrassing and humiliating. Those living with SA feel like they should be able to do the things that everyone else can seemingly do with ease. Even though you might know, logically, that no lasting harm will come from making a phone call, the fear is very real.

Social Anxiety is Lonely

Because it’s easy to feel like there’s something fundamentally wrong or that you’re doing something wrong all the time, social anxiety induces loneliness.

At times, it feels hopeless because it might be too difficult to speak about what’s going on or reach out to find someone to speak to. It can be soul crushing, because a majority of people living with SA don’t want anyone to know the amount of fear they live with on a daily basis.

The Stigma of Social Anxiety

Because so many people with social anxiety have found ways to cope with or work around the disorder, it’s easy for others to overlook the signs of social anxiety.

A person with SA who consistently cancels plans may be viewed as flighty or flaky, while a person who doesn’t speak up much at work may be seen as unfriendly or aloof. Because the symptoms of social anxiety are largely internal and fear-based, it’s easy for those living with SA to take these snap judgments to heart.

The Power of Words

Further, the term “social anxiety” is casually used in conversations and the media as a synonym for mild discomfort in social situations and not given the respect it deserves as a serious, debilitating, life-altering illness.

When someone mentions they have social anxiety, it’s easy for others to brush them off as overreacting, hyperbolic or attention-seeking.

As with other mental illnesses, social anxiety is met by some with a “just get over it” attitude – that with enough willpower and determination the person living with SA can just power through it. But that isn’t the case – social anxiety is as real as cancer or diabetes, but no one would think twice about telling someone with those illnesses to just “power through it”.

It’s not necessary to explain your social anxiety to others, even if they ask. But if you feel like sharing what it feels like to live with social anxiety, consider talking to your doctor or counselor about the best way to describe your life. Sometimes it helps to have someone help you formulate the words.

5 Tips for Making Friends in a New City

Moving to a new city can be hard. Not only do you have to deal with the packing, the transit, the unpacking and all the hoops to jump through to get everything connected and working, but you also must leave behind your entire support system. Everyone you knew, everyone you cared about, everyone you knew you could rely on – all left behind in your former hometown.

Obviously, this isn’t ideal. If you’re going to make it in a new city, you’re going to meet new people. As anxious as that might make you feel, there are ways that you can make meeting people in a new city much easier.

Workplace Connections

Assuming you work outside of the home, your new workplace is a great location to make new friends without the same social pressures you might find elsewhere. Because you share a store or office, you’ll have to interact with at least some of your coworkers on a regular basis. You can gradually get to know some of them, sharing information about yourself along the way. Eventually, this could lead to hanging out with them outside of work hours.

Clubs and Hobby Groups

Another good way to make friends in a new city is to seek out small clubs or hobby groups in the area. Check your local library for book clubs, look at community notice boards for flyers and search online to see if there are any groups in your new area that pertain to your hobbies. Venturing out to your first meeting will be stressful, but you’ll have your experiences in the hobby to serve as an icebreaker. More importantly, you’ll already have something in common with almost everyone there.

Local Internet Groups

Some hobby and interest groups do most of their connecting online, either on Facebook or some other online platform. This reduces some of the stress associated with getting involved, allowing you to get to know people and become comfortable with them before it’s time to meet in person. Just make sure that the groups you check out have some real-world activities from time to time; otherwise, you may get too caught up in your online interactions and have more difficulty making real-world friends.

Personal Ads

It may sound embarrassing, but there are many people who place ads seeking non-romantic friends in their area. There are sites dedicated to these platonic match-ups and many boards with personal ads will at the very least have a “Just Friends” section available. Just be careful if the site expects you to pay a monthly fee or get some other subscription; many of these are scams, filling the site with fake user profiles to encourage signups. There are enough options out there that you shouldn’t have to pay.

You’re not the only one who finds it hard to get out there and meet new people. If you do some checking, you may even find a social anxiety support group in your area to help you. Not only will this give you a chance to open up in a judgement-free environment, you’ll also have an opportunity to meet some new people. The other group members understand what it’s like, so most of them will be more than willing to offer up a new friendship.

Navigating the Medical System

Navigating the Medical System with Social Anxiety

Dealing with the medical system can be stressful even on a good day. Making appointments, getting referrals, wrangling with insurance companies over whether this prescription or that dosage is covered – it’s enough to make your head spin. If you suffer from social anxiety, these stressors become that much worse. This is a major problem, since it can lead to your anxiety actively interfering with your health.

Fortunately, there are ways to overcome this.

It might not always be easy, but like most of the challenges we face with social anxiety, it’s not insurmountable. The key is finding the right way for you to take on the unique situations you face in the medical system.

Making Appointments

One of the hardest parts of going to see a doctor is sometimes making the appointment in the first place. If you’re sick, you might worry that you’re not sick enough and it’s just going to be a wasted trip. If you’re concerned about something, then you might think the doctor won’t take it seriously. If it’s just a checkup, you can always wait until later, right? It’s easy to find reasons not to call the doctor’s office to set up an appointment.

If you have trouble making the call, try going by and making an appointment in person. This eliminates telephone anxiety and the receptionist will likely be very friendly and comforting. If the doctor’s office has a website, you may be able to schedule an appointment online, as well. If that’s not an option, consider getting a trusted friend or loved one to help you make the appointment.

This will not only get some of the pressure off you, it will also involve someone who can validate that your reason for going to the doctor is legitimate.

Finding a New Doctor

If you’re in a new area or can’t see your regular doctor for some reason, finding a new physician can be a major source of anxiety. We can turn to technology to help here, however. There are several places online that you can check out reviews for different practices. The reviews can alert you to which doctors are worth your time and which don’t leave patients with good experiences. If you have specific questions before making an appointment, in many cases you can even reach out via email.

It also may be worth asking your current doctors or other professionals for recommendations. You may even be able to get a referral, which will help you bridge the gap between your current doctor and the new doctor you must see.

Insurance Issues

Dealing with insurance companies is never fun and many times it must be done over the phone. It’s best to prepare for this before making the call by establishing as calm and quiet environment for yourself as possible.

Be prepared to be put on hold and take full advantage of the callback feature if it’s offered so you can just sit and wait for an agent to contact you. If you get your insurance through a local agency, you might also consider visiting in person instead of calling since you should be able to take care of a lot of issues face-to-face.

Making Your Voice Heard

Perhaps the biggest problem that social anxiety introduces into the medical system is the tendency to just stay quiet and go with the flow. Your anxiety might downplay problems you’re having or keep you from asking important questions. This can lead to potentially serious problems if symptoms go ignored or you can’t convey information to your doctors effectively.

Try writing things down beforehand. This will give you a quick reference to consult during your appointments. If necessary, you can even give your list to the doctor so you don’t have to read it. Your doctor will understand – more importantly, you’ll get the vital information across to him or her. Your anxiety can only control you if you let it. With a little work you can make sure you don’t let it.

The Power of the Word “No”

The Power of the Word “No”

Saying “No” isn’t easy. In fact, when you have social anxiety that simple little word can be all but overwhelming. You might think that the person you’re saying no to will hate you or will think you’re lazy or will assume you have something against them.

You may even find yourself compelled to give excuses or explain in detail why you had to say no. Sometimes you’ll even talk yourself into saying yes just to avoid the anxiety involved with the word no.

Saying No is Important

Above all else, remember that you have a right to say no. If someone wants something from you that you can’t give – be it money, time or anything else, it’s well within your rights to say no without any other explanation at all. They won’t hate you. Really. Of course, that’s easy to say – but how should you deal with it in the moment?

Commit Yourself

If you’re in a situation where you must say no, take a breath and remind yourself that it’s up to you what you do and don’t do. No one else is in control of your actions. It’s your decision and your decision is to say no. Kick out any thoughts that start with “But…” or “What if?” and tell yourself that you’ve made your decision.

Don’t wait too long before you give your answer; the longer you take, the longer you have to undermine your own confidence. Getting your answer out there is one of the hardest parts.

Stand by It

One big problem that many people with social anxiety have is a feeling of guilt when having to tell someone no. This is made worse if the person badgers you about it, asking you to reconsider and not accepting your answer. It’s important for your own well being that you stick with your decision, even in the face of repeated requests.

Explain that your answer is no and you’re not going to reconsider, then ask that they please stop. If the person refuses to honor your request, it may require putting some distance between the two of you.

Be Self-Positive

After you’ve put your answer out there, it’s important to remind yourself that you did the right thing. You may feel guilt, you may feel fear and you may feel your anxiety bubbling up, but it’s time to nip that in the bud. Tell yourself you made the right decision for yourself and you have nothing to feel bad about.

You don’t have to make excuses or try to justify things. Focus less on the “why” of it and more on the “right” of it so you don’t get lost in second-guessing your reasoning.

Sometimes you’ll still find yourself overcome when saying no, especially if what you were asked was something important. Even those without social anxiety struggle with saying no sometimes, so there’s nothing to be ashamed of here. The important thing is to cope with it when these feelings do rear their ugly head.

Think about what works in soothing your anxiety now. Perhaps it’s meditation, your favorite tea or a long walk. Just because the source of your anxiety is different doesn’t mean that your standby coping mechanisms won’t work. You may find that some things work better than others when dealing with anxiety from telling someone no.

It’s your right to say no when it’s the right answer for you.