Anxiety disorders are prevalent in our society but, up until recently, they were overlooked or brushed aside. People were considered "too sensitive" or "too paranoid," so anxiety wasn't a legitimate mental health issue. In fact, general anxiety and social anxiety are so widespread, that chances are you know several people who live with them on a daily basis. I have no doubt that there are things those people, and every mom with social anxiety, wants you to know. When you listen to your loved ones suffering from anxiety with empathy and compassion, and not of disdain or dismissal, you'll help them navigate the stressful waters of social interaction.
When I was a kid, I didn't realize I had social anxiety. Honestly I thought, at the most, I was a little weird. I had no idea that other people perceived the world differently, so I assumed the things I thought were the same things everyone thought, just a little more "intense." When I convinced myself I had done something mortifying or embarrassing or committed some dramatic social faux pas, I assumed that everyone else thought so, too. I cared, because I absolutely knew they cared, too.
It wasn't until I was well into adulthood that I began to understand that I was wired a bit differently, that other people didn't trigger as easily as I did when faced with social situations. Since then, I've started taking steps to address my anxiety. I recognize when I'm being triggered and when the voices in my head are fed by anxiety and not my rational self. It's hard work and it doesn't come naturally, so to help you better understand those who suffer from social anxiety, including mothers, here are 10 things they want, and need, you to know.