Social anxiety can be overwhelming

Columnist Destiny Ingraham. Photo by Ingraham

The people who know me know that I’m very quiet and tremendously shy. Since I’ve always been referred to as “the quiet girl.” However, many don’t know about the bigger issue that I deal with daily: Social anxiety.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, social anxiety is the fear of being judged, rejected, or negatively evaluated in a social situation. It can also mean to worry about appearing anxious and being targeted as awkward or boring. The definition of this disorder basically describes my everyday life.

I wasn’t aware of the term “anxiety” growing up. I just knew that talking and being face-to-face with another human terrified me. Throughout middle and high school, I used humor as a way to cope with it. Being funny is one of the best things about my personality.

When I’m being funny people don’t see timid Destiny. They see outgoing, and bright Destiny who doesn’t come out of her shell very often.

Coming into college I knew that making friends and getting involved would be a challenge for me. I can honestly say that the past three years haven’t been really good to me. There would be days where I’d just cry hysterically to the point where I couldn’t breathe. At the time I didn’t see getting help as an option because of the backlash therapy gets in the black community.

Most adults in the black household really don’t take mental health seriously. This makes it hard for young adults, like me, to reach out and seek help.

Luckily, not all adults have the same mindset. Mental health professional Dougla-Khan Stancil believes that mental health is critically important.

“Mental health is extremely important. If were not able to be balanced emotionally and if there’s something going on in our intrapsychic world that we’re not really aware of or dealing with then it starts to affect other aspects of our lives,” said Stancil.

My anxiety is one of my worst qualities, but it does not define who I am. I ended my freshmen year at FAMU with a 1.6 GPA and my mental health on the rocks. I can now say that my GPA is a solid 3.2 and I’m slowly but surely learning to control my anxiety.

Struggling with mental health is nothing to be ashamed of, and I hope my story influences others dealing with anxiety to speak up.