May 16, 2014 - submitted by Marina, United Kingdom

Recently I've been on the internet a lot and I saw a post about social anxiety and because I related a lot, I searched about it. I think I may have this disorder but I don't know how to tell my parents because I don't tend to tell them about my problems. I'm afraid they will think I'm exaggerating but if I don't tell them my problem will just get worse to the point that I will not longer be able to marry/socially interact and that is why I am looking for your help. What should I do? Thanks in advance.

The Oracle replies:

Self-diagnosis isn't wise, Marina. It's ok to read about things and though you may recognize symptoms it doesn't mean you are suffering with that particular condition. I recommend you speak to a doctor. Once you know what you're dealing with, it may make the next step of talking with your parents easier.
I don't know how old you are so if you're an age where you can't see your doctor without a parent present, you will have to be strong & find a way to tell them of your concerns. It is a big step to ask for help but as you came to me, you've shown you can ask. Ask your parents - that's what they're there for.
There is no point suffering in silence. Write down your feelings / symptoms. Talk with your parents about how you are struggling with them. You can't know what they will say so don't be afraid of that unknown. They may be supportive. They may have questions. They may take you to the doctors. They may be reluctant. Whatever their reaction, you know if something doesn't feel right. Get to the root of the problem and seek the help you ask for.
Don't worry about social interaction or marriage - tackle the issues first and hopefully there will be a path for you that will help you overcome those issues.
Over to you.

Speaking up, taking a stand, that's a huge challenge sometimes. Maybe you can speak up to a more "neutral" person first. I'm sure there's a safe place somewhere around you, where you can share this part of you with a trustworthy listener. It might be easier to feel someone's concrete support to then talk to people more important and close to you.
Just keep in mind the very real fact that there is a solution for you. If you feel the need to share this, you will, one way or another. Ending up with no social life is only a nightmare hovering on your shoulder. It's not going to happen. Now that you're this far, you can only succeed.
Speaking up is speaking up, even if it's only to an Oracle just yet. A.R.

There was a 'phase' in my life before when I felt the same thing - like I don't want to surround myself with people. And back then, like you Marina, I never told anyone even my parents. Because I felt like it's weird and they'll never fully understand. Social anxiety is never easy to overcome - you feel like it's safer to be just by yourself. But the fact is, life is so much better when you surround yourself with people, believe me! One day, you'll find it in you to open up to people and make good friends like I did. I can't explain how I overcame that 'phase' but one thing is for sure, I did overcome it. So can you.
Whatever you're going through, it'll get better. Sounds cliche but true. Then in the future you'd be like, "Yeah, I've been through a lot but hey I'm stronger now."
Don't think too much (the more you psych yourself about it, the harder it would be).
And try to communicate with others (if you don't want to talk to your parents, talk to us).
And this is a personal advice, try to look for your own emotional outlet (example, look for a hobby; in my case, when I get lonely I try to sketch my favorite people & I listen to Coldplay.
Stay strong, Marina! People are here for you Sheena.

Before you say you have a disorder I think you should try a couple of things. My advice to you is to start focusing on you. Stop worrying about how you look on the outside. Remember that models on magazines are photo shopped and therefore we have no chance. I wish I could say I'm a super confident person, but I'm not. We all have our insecurities which are like our little secrets and if you work too hard to hide them you only attract more attention. Try joining a small club at school or at your local park you will find that we all deal with similar things. Try telling your mom. See we tend to under estimate our parents, but I have learned so much from them. Find a friend that's the outspoken one they tend to bring you out without you knowing. Be yourself. People like that, you'll be surprised.
P.S Don't worry about people judging you if one person doesn't like you there's like 7,999,999,999 that you can try but start with yourself. Yesenya.

As hard as it is, you should talk to your parents. They love you. In the event you don't feel they give you the proper support, call the Mental Health hotline for Mexico. The no. is 0180-0472-7835. Stay strong, it wont be like this forever.
Karla K. Vancouver, Canada.

Oh Marina how sad for you. Yet how common in this day and age when we all spend so much time with our heads down, nose in a screen. My 17 year old son is very similar to you, and the first thing I'd say to you is please tell your parents how you feel. I assure you they'll only want to help. My son finds it very difficult to interact with others in his peer group and spends too much time alone in his room, but we gently encourage him to come out and do 'things' with us and spend time with the few friends he does have.
As an adult who also feels insecure and shy even as a mother of 3 children, I know sometimes in life you must put on a brave face and put yourself into situations you don't feel comfortable with. In time, you will be glad you did. Is there anything you enjoy doing? Music, swimming? Anything that you can go and join in and try to be a part of. It will become easier and you will find like minded people. Just never give up.
The world isn't just full of 'out there' people who want to be in your face and shout from the rooftops. Being quiet and introvert doesn't make you any less of a person. Just a different type of person. And if the world was made up of people who were all the same - and loud - wouldn't it be a boring and noisy place?
To try to give yourself some emotional determination try watching a You Tube clip called Look Up which has had millions of hits over the past few weeks. I hope it will give you some incentive to not let life slip you by and go out there and be part of it.
Lucy, Cornwall, England.

It seems to me that you may have a case that is similar to the Medical Students' disease (and it's nothing to worry about). The Medical Students' disease says that you tend to believe you have the symptoms in which you are studying.
First, you should tell your parents about your problem in a normal manner. If they think you are exaggerating, then maybe you should go see a professional. There must be services around where you live to go and receive help. Some of these services may include: a clinical psychologist, a psychiatrist, or someone specializing in anxiety disorders.
The main thing to keep in mind is that when you go and see these professionals, it shouldn't affect you. Don't let it change who you are and make you think that you are weaker, or worry about what others might think. So many people use these services - it has become normal to go for a check up.
If you don't feel comfortable going to a specialist right away, talk to a friend or a cousin. They might be able to comfort/help you and point you in the right direction.
The main thing is to not do this on your own. You must seek help from others in any way, shape, or form whether it be a professional, a friend, or a cousin.
You'll be alright Marina!
Enjoy! Matthew.

The most important thing in about this situation is that if you feel this way, you need to tell your parents. If you treat it seriously, then they will too. Ask if they can help you to schedule an appointment to meet with a psychologist to get a diagnosis and then and only then seek treatment. As a psychology major and a personal anxiety sufferer myself, I can tell you that a lot of this is in your head and what's important is to keep cool right now and relax a bit. Everything will be all right!
Steven, USA.

I am sorry to hear that you are anxious in social situations, however, I am happy to hear that you are ready to talk to your parents about how you are feeling.
I am responding because I understand what it is like to become anxious in certain social situations, but while most people become anxious when speaking to strangers, I am most anxious when I am speaking to someone I already know.
I can tell you what has helped me the most and that is doing the very thing that I am anxious about. The more I talk to people, the better and more comfortable I feel, which makes me more confident.
I have read about people who practice role-playing as part of therapy in a controlled environment, if you are more comfortable with that. Either way, it takes a lot of practice, but it has helped me personally.
Social anxiety can be exacerbated by conditions such as communication problems like verbal processing and/or speech impediments. I also have the former and practicing speaking (which my job has forced me to do) has helped me the most.
Social anxiety can be triggered when you feel inferior to the person or people you are speaking to, which could be due to low self esteem. Practicing will help you build confidence.
As a parent, I am thrilled to hear that you willing to confide in them and ask for help.
Be well. Dawn.

I understand your position. A friend of mine had a similar situation, and I think I'll give you the same advice: visit a psychiatrist/psychologist. They did study about it.
If it is true, and you have it, that's ok. then you can tell your parents, because then it's not a thought, but a truth. If you don't have it: great. Then there's nothing to worry about.
Goodluck, Isabelle.

Just because you related to a subject, it doesn't mean you suffer any form of disorder from it. Your interest could be a form of empathy as you can see aspects of yourself in other people's stories. Rather than tell your parents that you have a disorder, talk to them about what you've read and how you've found yourself relating to it. Allowing them to take an interest in what you've been researching will make them aware of the thoughts you've been having, and will allow you to talk and discuss the issues your worried about with the people who love and created you.
The best way to overcome fears of social interaction is to head out and try new things. It sounds cliche but taking up a new sport or hobby will allow you to meet and interact with new people in new ways. Sitting on the internet and looking in to what you are worried about may only feed your anxieties. There are masses of welcoming people out there who will be patient in getting to know you and share great times with you. One of them may even become more than a friend one day.
As the boys would say: 'life is for living'.
Struan, London, United Kingdom.

I myself recently, in the past 5 years or so, have been dealing with anxiety. I know it's hard to first come out to those that you love and ask for help and support, but in the end you'll be glad you asked for help and know that you need it. Anxiety is treatable and the first step is to seek that help. Try taking up some meditation too.
Hope it goes well and thinking of you! Rosalie.

In my opinion you should tell to your parents, because sometimes we don't share our feelings but our parents have always the curiosity to know how we feel, I think that because of their experiences they can help because, you never know maybe in the past they used to have the same disorder but there was nobody to hear them. So don't be afraid, I sure you that they are disposed to give you a hand.
Maria, Guatemala.

I would say to talk to people that truly understands you first, someone that will give you a push towards the right direction. Talking to your parents, to your best friend, or to anyone that's close to you is actually a step towards breaking away from social anxiety! It helps you to interact and to talk out your problems to someone else.
Talk to a close buddy so that they would be by your side in support, so that if you were to talk to your parents, it would come out as a serious topic in which everyone would try to help you overcome this disorder. Start small, like a friend, then work up to family. I know how it feels like when family needs to be involved with our lives; they seem to not take our problems seriously and view us as children (but we are their children, so they try to care in an appearance-sense of thinking). But, if you work with a small group, people who supports you and encourages you, then you can overcome this obstacle.
I leave you with this: just because you cannot communicate with your parents doesn't mean that you can't share your problems to anyone. The world is here with open arms, and we're here to help you, and to encourage you to overcome this problem!

Thanks to all those who replied to this week's question. Remember, Team Oracle is open to anyone so if you fancy replying, click to read this week's, and send us your answer.