Content Warning: depression, (social) anxiety, self-deprecation
I am writing this letter to express my struggles with depression and anxiety. I have extreme social anxiety which makes any social situation, no matter how insignificant, extremely difficult. This has been a long struggle for me from my elementary years until now that I am in college. My social anxiety has caused me to be an outcast most of my life. I would fear group projects and recess because I knew nobody would want to work or play with the “quiet girl.” This led me to have few to no friends. I would sit in my loud silence and look around with wide eyes as the rest of my classmates laughed and gossiped loudly as if they were unafraid of what anybody thought of them. Things got so bad that I would starve myself because I was unable to stand in the lunch line and eat thanks to my irrational fear that someone would see and judge me. I despised my cowardice and hated my voice. It was no use being the smartest in the class if nobody wanted to hang out with me, and there was hardly any part of myself that I liked.
At night, I would often lay awake replaying my awkward interactions from the day. I would silently curse myself for having acted the way I did. I would then cry myself to sleep, asking God why he had made me like this while everyone around me seemed so normal. The next day, I would wake up with puffy eyes and go on with my day, pretending I was fine. One day, I remember my mom asking me if I wasn’t happy after she caught me crying. But I remained silent because it was hard to say the truth that I wasn’t.
I went to therapy for a while to deal with my social anxiety. I got prescribed medication, but it hardly seemed to do anything besides increase my appetite. Therapy helped me to calm down my thoughts and reduce my negativity a bit. But then my therapist, who had become my friend and confidant, moved to another city, and I was left alone again. Fortunately for me, I was able to meet a new form of therapy: music. I came across the band BTS and ended up being submerged into the depths of their ARMY. It just so happened that at the time they were releasing an album trilogy which, ironically, was called Love Yourself. Gradually, I started liking pieces of myself better thanks to the messages they taught me. Their songs seemed to be written for me, and they comforted me when I reached that dark place in my mind that I was so afraid of. Over time, I started noticing a rise in my confidence and I didn’t cry myself to sleep as often. While the previous summer I had been mostly numb and angry, the summer after I found BTS I spent my time laughing as I watched their variety show.
My social anxiety is still here. And it will always be here. But over time, I have become better at managing it. I still internally panic every time a stranger talks to me, but I have come to a place where I don’t hate myself for it anymore. I am finally starting to love myself and accept my voice, little by little. Mental health needs to be openly talked about and destigmatized. There is nothing crazy about seeking help, as the true craziness is not seeking help at all. We all have our internal struggles and need to learn to embrace them in order to overcome them. I look forward to the day I can say with 100 percent confidence that I love myself!