Social anxiety

EPISODES WITH SOCIAL ANXIETY AND THE ART OF OVERTHINKING: 2.

So today I had an appointment to get my hair done as I am going to a festival next week. I had already paid the deposit. I love getting my hair done but never do it because it makes me too anxious. The thought of a hairdressers sends me into a compete panic, so much so that I haven’t went in 6 years. Which has resulted in many bad, personally inflicted, dye jobs and haircuts over the years, that i’ll spare you the details of.  

I stand outside the door ready to go in, the salon is packed. I find myself doing a lap around the block, giving myself more time to mentally prepare what i’m going to say and the route I will take to the front desk.  I try to hype myself up to go in, but to no avail. No matter what I do I can genuinely not bring myself to walk in and get my hair done. 

I have so many thoughts. I’m worried I’ll ask for the wrong thing, that I won’t be able to make conversation, that they won’t be able to do what I want, that I have my appointment mixed up. I can not make it through the door. I am in full fight or flight mode with my adrenaline feeling like it is about to bust out of every pore in my body. After 10-15 minutes (and therefore becoming 10-15 minutes late for the appointment, which only adds to my anxiety) I give up and get the bus home instead. On top of the disappointment I am feeling for letting myself down I am also guilty about wasting an appointment for the hairdresser, who will have lost a profit as a result of this.

The thing is, it wasn’t the salon being packed that I was really that worried about, it was the one to one talking that would take up around an hour that most terrified me. The thought of talking to a stranger for that long makes me feel so incredibly anxious, the fear of not knowing what to say, or how to say it, of talking too much or too little. 

A hair appointment may seem insignificant, it’s not a necessity.  I understand that. However, this is just an example and it is not just hair appointments that make me feel this way but all one to one encounters. This can be anything as unimportant as a hairdressing appointment to an important doctors appointment or a one on one session with a teacher. People mostly think social anxiety just has to do with big crowds and is to some extent, but it is also to do with just talking to people one on one, in fact I feel like that brings me more pressure and anxiety. 

So anyway, today I have missed a hair appointment, last week I missed an exercise class (that I really enjoy) because I just couldn’t face the thought of people that day. It is a continuous uphill battle; some days are good, and some days are bad. Today wasn’t good, but hopefully tomorrow can be better. 

Millennial mental health factors.

When discussing the rise of mental health problems in young people (at least in the UK), a lot of attention is often given to factors such as the use of social media and the role of the internet. However, I feel like other issues that are directly impacting millennials and their mental health seem to always get brushed off and ignored.


I am a millennial and I suffer from mental health problems. A large percentage of my friends around the same age also suffer with different mental health issues. I think to put this solely down to social media is simplifying the problem. There are a lot of new pressures young people face that contribute to mental health that are often over looked.

Firstly, fees for higher education have increased significantly in the UK in the past decade. When my mum went to university it was free, in fact they actually give her money to live off which never had to be paid back. However, Since 2012 most universities in the UK have raised their tuition fees to £9,000 a year, with most courses lasting three to four years. On top of this, students, in most cases, also have to borrow money to live off. There is a system in place to provide loans for these costs, however they have ridiculously high interest rates and most people know they will never fully be able to pay all this debt off in their lifetime. Therefore most young adults come out of university with around £30,000 pound in debt already hanging over their heads.

Not only does this add stress and pressure on young people that have attended university but it also discourages others who want to go from attending. These young people then have less opportunities to go into a career they truly want and often get stuck in 9-5 jobs they aren’t interested in or even worse…zero hour contracts. For those who don’t know what a zero-hour contract is, it is a contract in which employers are not obliged to provide any minimum working hours for their employees. As a result workers on this type of contract are often left in limbo, not knowing when they will next get work and with no fixed income. These types of contracts have been increasing drastically over the past decade. In the UK the number of people on this type of contract increased by 100,000 in the year 2017 alone.


Even when young people do manage to get a degree they are not guaranteed a good job, as there are fewer and fewer opportunities. Many millennials who have attended university often end up in the same position as those who do not , working dead end jobs on minimum wage that they do not enjoy.


Housing is also a big issue effecting younger generations. It is far harder to move into your own place now than it was in my parents generation, for a number of different reasons. Rent has skyrocketed. Less social houses are being built, and most people spend years on the the waiting list before they ever actually get to live in one. Most young people don’t have enough money saved to get a mortgage, especially not when they are also trying to pay off their student debt. This is leaving a generation of adults still living with their parents. Recent reports have found the number of adults living with their parents has increased from 2.4 million to 3.4 million in just twenty years.


I believe these factors help contribute to a culture of hopelessness among many millennials. Parents often tell us that they had grown up and taken responsibility by the time they were our age, not realising that there is nothing we can find to take responsibility for. The economic climate of debt and the decline in jobs and housing have denied most of us of the responsibility we could’ve taken. This has left us with a society of young adults who often self medicate on weekends with partying, drink and drugs because there isn’t really anything else to look forward to or hope for.

Until societal problems like these have been addressed we will be left with a generation of 20 something kids with no direction, living in the shadows, who don’t know when the party ends and don’t want to.

Episodes with social anxiety and the art of overthinking: 1.

To most people getting on a bus alone is a perfectly normal, non panic inducing act. For me it has taken years of buses home from university alone to master. I still have to count my money over and over and over again before the bus has even arrived and in the que. I sometimes go into a panic and think’ what is it you say when you get on again?’ and have to practice it over and over in my head searching for the right words so i won’t embarrass myself. I still get a strike of anxiety when i have to push the stop button in case i don’t get down the stairs on time or have to ask people to let me past. However on the whole, i’d say I can manage it pretty well these days, however problems still pop up every now and then.


For example, here’s something that happened a few weeks ago that played out like some kind of sketch. I’ll recite what was actually happening along with my running inner dialogue.


I’m on the bus, it’s pretty busy, rush hour. I’ve managed to get a seat. An older woman gets on with a few shopping bags in her hand and has to stand. Any other person in this situation would probably just offer up their seat. But I start to worry- what if shes not actually that old? what if i offer up my seat and shes offended that i think shes of seat offering age? I keep staring at her wondering what to do. Then I start getting paranoid, as i’m one of the youngest people on the bus i’m worried that all the other passengers are now thinking i should give up my seat and wondering why I haven’t already? and then i really start to panic, shit shit shit, maybe i’m going to end up going viral for not giving this woman my seat and be shamed into oblivion forever?


The whole way down the road i’m trying to pluck up the courage to ask her, practicing in my head. Getting all hyped up to do it and then retreating back into myself to practice what i’m going to say once more. Finally five minutes in, I manage to ask ‘Do you want my seat?’ (Shes right in front of me at this point our legs are basically touching). She looks at me dead in the eye and just replies ‘no’.


SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTT.


She remains standing in front of me, i’m freaking out and don’t know where to look. She seems fine but i am absolutely dying inside. It seems like such a brief, careless encounter but my brain is in overdrive. I have to spend the rest of the journey glued to the window as in order to not dare make eye contact again. I’m thinking shit everyone in this bus now knows this woman doesn’t want my seat and they’re all having second hand embarrassment for me. Which obviously they most likely weren’t, why would they be?

Writing this now i realise it is irrational and i have blown a whole situation completely out of proportion by overthinking, but that’s the trouble with anxiety, it isn’t rational in most cases. Someone once described it as ‘your brain constantly making up conspiracy theories about yourself’ and i honestly couldn’t put it better. That woman probably didn’t give me a second thought. Everyone else on the bus probably didn’t either. Because they’re all too busy worrying about their own lives to worry about my mild embarrassment. That’s something that often helps me through these situations, everyone is too busy worrying about themselves to worry about any slight fuck ups you’ve made in social situations.


Anyway in the end, the old (or maybe not so old?) woman got off, and i thought cheers for this Mrs, that encounter will keep me awake for the next two weeks.

Intrusive thoughts: My experience with the less well known side of OCD

The countless number of times I’ve told one of my friends I suffer from OCD and they reply with ‘but how can you have OCD when your bedroom is such a mess?’ It echoes the common misconception that OCD is solely about having to be clean and tidy, which it isn’t at all. Nobody ever really pays attention to the other aspects of OCD such as intrusive thoughts. There are never really any platforms that speak about it brutally honestly (that I have found). It’s not discussed the way other mental illnesses are over social media, that slowly make them lose their stigma. There are seldom documentaries or main characters  on TV with the illness unless it is solely to capitalise off the fascination with a person who compulsively cleans. The term OCD is thrown around a lot when things aren’t matching or symmetrical but what are the lesser known aspects of the illness, such as intrusive thoughts, really like? and how can we deal with them?

Obviously there are many aspects of OCD, but I want to focus on intrusive thoughts in this piece. Repetitive compulsions are annoying and tiresome and embarrassing but the intrusive thoughts are what really scare the shit out of me. For years I would have these horrible weird thoughts in my mind and I would think ‘I’m a fucking lunatic, if people knew what I was thinking I’d be locked up’ and so I never told anybody, I let them eat away, panic and scare me for years. I let them ruin activities that I couldn’t take part in without having these horrible destructive thoughts be triggered. Even now as  someone who is aware that they are just thoughts and I don’t actually mean them, that they’re a symptom of an illness I have, they still drive me into an absolute panic at times.

I remember when I first found out there was a term for these thoughts and googled it, to my surprise I came across a forum where somebody had one of the exact same thoughts as mine, and on further research found this to be the highest type of disturbing thought people experienced. The relief of knowing I wasn’t crazy felt so amazing, I could finally calm down, let these thoughts stop ruling my life. It’s easier said than done and in extremely panic ridden times of my life they still pop up and I find it hard to get them away. However I have found a couple of ways to tackle them and hopefully if you’re experiencing these thoughts they may help you too:

1) Acknowledging the thought: ignoring it just makes you think it more, and it just keeps growing into this unavoidable thing, try telling yourself; this is just a thought I am having, this isn’t who I am, this is my illness, this will go away I am in control of my own thoughts.

2) Remember you’re not the only one who has these feelings: One of the worst things about these thoughts is you feel like you’re alone and crazy for thinking them. But you’re not. There are plenty of other people, even people who don’t have OCD, that experience intrusive thoughts from time to time. If you’re worrying that you’re alone, that you’re the only person who this happens to and you’re in some way going crazy- you’re not.

3)Sharing this is happening with someone: I know this is easier said than done when you’re having disturbing thoughts that you don’t even want to admit to yourself you’re having, but telling a trusted friend or family member really helps. Being alone with the thought is what makes it seem bigger and worse. Even if you don’t want to tell the exact details of what the thought is- just tell someone you are having a bad intrusive thought and if you want to vaguely tell them about what it is you can. You’re in control of what you tell people, but even sharing that you are having the thought can bring the anxiety down and make you feel a little calmer.

These are the things that usually make me feel a bit better, I’m not a doctor and this might not work for you, but I feel like any shared knowledge on this subject is beneficial.

I wanted to share my experience and tips as a way of attempting to open some kind of conversation around the subject. It is not something that people openly and honestly discuss in the same way as other mental health issues, mostly in the fear of being ridiculed or shamed by these horrible thoughts. But the main thing to remember is this is an illness, many people suffer from these thoughts, you are not crazy and you are not alone.

I’m new here

This blog is about my experiences, observations and tales as an anxious 20 something navigating life. My posts are not always going to be serious, infact most of them won’t be. My day to day struggle with anxiety often leads me into situations that are more like something off a sketch show than a mental illness support group.  

I want to share my experiences with other people in the hope that I can start a conversation on what it’s really like to deal with anxiety and OCD as a young person starting off in adulthood. I also want to share my tips and tricks that I’ve learned on the way. Although some of my posts may just be mild observations that I’ve made or weird situations that my anxiety have led me into, that I feel people may be able to relate to/ laugh at. 

This blog is welcome to anyone who feels they have something to add on the subject, feel free to comment, email, get in touch or whatever with your own trips and tricks! The more we talk about this stuff the easier it gets to navigate in our everyday lives! 

If this website does nothing else, at least it shows we’re not all on this excruciating journey of rehearsing our food orders over and over before ordering and counting our change 30 times before we get on the bus, alone!