Hope I'm not too late to reply. And sorry this is so long. :/
How old are you?
Since when do you have SAD?
I've always been shy and sensitive but my social anxiety disorder started forming around age 12-13, when I entered junior high and my best friend moved away and everyone around me started "growing up."
Do you have any secondary disorders?
Diagnosed (in addition to social anxiety disorder): Major depressive disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (inattentive type), obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Also suggested in therapy or in therapists' notes: Schizotypal personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, Asperger's syndrome/autism. (My psychiatrist as an adult also said I "act just like someone with PTSD" and requested I ask family members about possible childhood trauma (none of which I'm aware).)
Personally I believe I only suffer from social anxiety disorder and/or avoidant personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, a few specific phobias, and Asperger's syndrome/autism.
Have you ever been to therapy before? If not, why? If yes, what kind of therapy?
Twice, as a teen and as an adult when applying for SSI. I don't know what kind of therapy you'd call it, it was mostly talking and meds. The therapy as a teen focused mainly on my OCD and ADD since I wasn't diagnosed with social anxiety disorder yet. The therapy as an adult seemed to consist of mostly, "Go out and talk to people." So, exposure therapy, I guess...?
Treatment for my OCD as a teen helped somewhat, but SSRIs have too many side effects for me to keep taking them and I've regressed seriously since then. Treatment for my anxiety/depression failed completely and I only grew worse. It was terminated in 2012 when they ran out of funding to continue treating me and needed to make room for new clients. I was never diagnosed or treated for the autism I now strongly suspect I have and which I blame for most of my issues, including the anxiety; I tried to ask a psychiatrist who visited me in the hospital after surgery (because I have to mention anxiety/depression/suicidal thoughts on my medical forms) to refer me for assessment, but even though she agreed I show signs of autism, she shook her head and said, "No, no, no."
I guess they don't diagnose women as old as I am, even though I've always been like this.
I'm too ashamed/discouraged to seek any more help even if any were available.
In what situations is your anxiety really bad?
Pretty much anything
that involves interacting with other people, even if it's just e-mails from tech support or somebody I know well. I have an online friend (my only friend, really) I didn't write to for over a year.
Do the people around you know of your disorder? If not, why?
I don't have anybody around me anymore except my parents, and doctors I see for physical disorders...my parents know about it since I've always lived with and depended on them, but sometimes they don't take it very seriously. I don't think my doctors know because I never have any reason to bring it up with them, except on medical forms, and nobody pays much attention to those. (See above.)
Have you ever felt like your disorder isn‘t recognized by others?
Frequently. I've gotten doubt even from the people I live with/am closest to, and from other people with social anxiety disorder. (See purple part of my signature, below.)
What prejudices do others have?
Most frequently I'm accused of being a snob or thinking I'm better than others because I'm too afraid to reply to/interact with them. My own dad gets angry when I mumble or feel too upset to reply to him, and my mother called my lack of eye contact "ignorant." -_- Less often, but often enough to somewhat bother me, I suspect people think I'm slow, probably because of how I always trail behind my mother, lack basic life skills, don't do much on my own, and refuse to make eye contact or chat/socialize freely. They kind of look at me strangely and talk to me like I'm a child. (I don't mind that too much, because I actually am
pretty childish and ignorant of a lot of things, but still, I think people assume I'm pretty stupid in general until I start talking.)
Those who do believe or know I have this disorder often tell me I should just get over it.
How do you cope with those prejudices?
I don't know how to cope with them. :/ I've tried explaining myself numerous times but it makes no difference.
What do you wish from others?
*deepbreath* Firstly, I wish I could at least get the help I feel I need, without somebody telling me that because I'm not quickly getting better, it must be my fault for not trying/expecting too much. (I got that from my last psychologist. It couldn't have been that the "treatment" itself was faulty.) I want there to be better awareness of social anxiety (look at all the ads about depression--anxiety disorders in general are about as common, why are there no ads about that??), as well as better training of therapists to deal with it, and better methods of treatment than "Go out and talk to people." (One successful round of smalltalk with a stranger I'll never see again does not undo years of insults, rejection, and ignoring from people I was trying to befriend.) There need to be better meds than side-effect-riddled SSRIs, or one med you have to take in combo with another med. (Why can't they just make ONE med that works?) There needs to be more widely available treatment for and recognition of comorbid disorders that can contribute to developing SA, in my case, autism assessment in girls or older women, instead of writing us off as being "just shy" and saying we'll "grow out of it." (There needs to be better notice paid to warning signs in children, period
--I think of all the missed chances I had for somebody to realize something was seriously wrong with me, and it makes me so angry.) Also, better ways to include anxious people in activities, without making us feel ostracized/ignored OR forcing us to socialize too much too soon, would help a lot. (I've experienced this so I know it can be done.) Maybe more job opportunities for anxious people, like assembling/sorting or typing things at home. (I think that already exists, but it's sure not widespread/easily accessible, and non-anxious people probably snatch those jobs up first.)
But mostly, understanding that somebody being quiet and keeping to themselves does NOT necessarily = uninterested snob...and patience, patience, patience
when dealing with or treating us. And not such a focus on victim blaming ("If you're not getting better, it means you're not trying!"). For some of us, it took decades
of mostly negative experiences for us to get this bad, so we definitely aren't going to be fixed in a few months or even years of mixed positive/neutral/negative experiences. (Most of my therapy exposure experiences turned out negative, so that REALLY didn't help. Yet when I took all the steps and the other
party dropped the ball, I still got blamed for failing and/or for feeling disappointed.)
...I'm being unrealistic, though. I know all of the above, especially that last paragraph, is far too much to ask.