Kareem’s Story

I want people to know “Everyone is prone to have a mental issue”. The only way I coped with my social anxiety and decreased its impact on my daily life is working on it myself and through others around me. Support will be required, and it is essential, this is why you should communicate and share it with your close ones. I lacked a social circle during my high school years. My social exposure, outings, clubbing, and other activities were very limited. I had one friend and moving three schools made building friendships or meeting new people more challenging. By the time I got to college, my skills to make friends were rusty; I barely had anyone to spend time with.

 

In a nutshell, I spent 6 years of alone time. It felt as if I was living in my own head. I even managed to work on most university group projects on my own, instead of with the team. My first job was in the Sales and Customer service. It “forced” me to make daily calls to a long list of clients. It would take me 15 to 30 minutes to just “start” my first call because in my head, I was attempting to snap out of my anxiety. Over time, as I began to meet more people via my sales job, I realized I had a major issue in communicating with others, and it was affecting my social life, including dating (which I had never experienced). At this point, I decided to see a psychiatrist and announced it to my family. They were in a state of denial at first, but I insisted to highlight my problem until they supported my decision. In parallel, I had joined teams in the running community.

 

The psychiatrist diagnosed me with Agoraphobia and Social Anxiety. Even though they recommended medication, I refused it because I was starting to feel how much Running helped relieve my anxiety. After 8 sessions, the psychiatrist discharged me but warned some anxiety attacks may occur. He said he is available to see me whenever needed and I asked him if telling a few friends about my case would help me? He said why not if they can understand.

As of 2017, I began to go out more. I expanded my social circle largely thanks to my personal efforts and to running. I still get anxiety attacks from time to time, but it makes a huge difference that some of my friends and family members are now fully aware of my story. They help me cope not just because they know about it, but because I help guide them on how to interact with me when I have my attack. With the support of few individuals I trust, running in a community, and my own personal readings and curiosity to fully understand my interactions and social life, the quality of my life improved much since then.

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