Social anxiety


This post is inspired by this one, called: Top 5 Beliefs of Fearless Writers: How Would Your Writing Change If You Were Fearless?

This is how I need to think about my writing, especially with regard to the non-fiction book that’s going to be published soon: Social Anxiety Revealed.

BELIEF 1: ‘I know that the right people will embrace my work at the right time.’

Not everyone will agree with everything I say. That’s not a problem.

BELIEF 2: ‘It is OK for people to see the true me; the essence that helps others connect to my message, my story, my characters.’

You’re going to see a lot of me in this book. I’ll live with that.

BELIEF 3: ‘I love and accept all aspects of myself.’

Yep.

BELIEF 4: ‘I choose to be the best possible version of me in all that I do and know that I have something of value to share.’

Readers will gain from reading the book. That’s why I wrote it.

BELIEF 5: ‘Success is who I am.’

This book will go far.

~~~

Thank you, Trina J. Stacey. I should live my life by those beliefs, but that’s harder to accomplish.

Do you live by those beliefs, or at least write by them?

Announcement

Following on from the news that my book, Social Anxiety Revealed will be published by Crooked Cat later this year, hence giving a big boost to my passion: raising awareness of social anxiety, I looked up quotes about passion and found these:

Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.

~Oprah Winfrey

If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.

~Benjamin Franklin

We must act out passion before we can feel it.

~Jean-Paul Sartre

It is obvious that we can no more explain a passion to a person who has never experienced it than we can explain light to the blind.

~T. S. Eliot

Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate.

~Jon Bon Jovi

I started posting one a day on Facebook. In fact I was ready to post the last one when tragedy struck in Manchester, UK, making me think again. Whatever you want to do, be passionate? I think the perpetrator of that horrendous crime was passionate, but he was passionate about the wrong thing. Considering the beliefs he held, I think it would have been better if he hadn’t been passionate about them.

So instead of posting that last quote, I wrote one of my own:

Your passion should stimulate you to help fellow humans – not harm them.

I added: “Over the last few days, I’ve been posting quotes about passion. This one is mine, inspired by Manchester and similar atrocities, perpetrated by people with the wrong sort of passion.”

Promote Positive Passion

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll know what I’m most passionate about:

RAISING AWARENESS OF SOCIAL ANXIETY

I’ve explained why it’s not better known, despite being very common, and why it should… must be better known.

Now I’m one big step further towards furthering that aim.

Crooked Cat is going to publish my book: Social Anxiety Revealed.

Announcement

I say my book, and it is mine, but it also contains a lot of quotes by a lot of other people who know SA all too well. Without them, I couldn’t have written it.

Social Anxiety Revealed will be published later this year.

The excitement is only just beginning.

Fifteen years have passed since the day that changed my life. It seems like yesterday and it seems like a century ago. So much has happened since that day – good things, although there’s plenty more I hope for. And yet, I remember that day so well, and the months that followed.

To celebrate, I’m repeating my post from five years ago.

—o—

On 3rd March, 2002, I received an email. It began: “Hi, it’s Gill Balbes (as was) here. Was talking to Jane the other night and she was telling me about how she’d been in contact with you and that you remember me (as I do you) so I thought I’d say hello. Schooldays seem a long way off but it would be nice to hear how you’re doing.”

Schooldays certainly were a long way off. It was over thirty years since I’d walked out of the school gates, vowing never to have any connection with any of the girls I’d known over the previous seven years – a few even longer. It was only recently that I’d added my name to the Friends Reunited site, opening up the possibility of contact, although I didn’t expect anyone to write to me.

But Jane did write and I made a decision: that if I was going to correspond with anyone from school, I would make the relationship meaningful by being open about what happened to me there. If they didn’t want to discuss it, there wasn’t much point in reuniting.

Fortunately, Jane did agree to discuss it. She also apologised for what she did to me, although I didn’t hold her or any of the former pupils to blame as adults for their actions as children. I always knew the bullying (which I called teasing then) had had a bad effect on the rest of my life, but never thought the children were mature enough to understand what they were causing.

Jane soon put me in contact with Gill, who had more time to write. Gill and I corresponded almost daily for a long time, and she became a very special friend to me. It was Gill who told me about social anxiety. I didn’t realise the significance of it at first, but gradually two things became clear. I was not alone in being this way and it’s possible to improve. (I don’t think it makes sense to say there’s a cure, and I don’t think there needs to be one.)

Gill has been the catalyst for many changes in my life – for starting to write, for starting a blog, and much more. We have now met several times. After ten years, I still count Gill as a very special friend.

—o—

Actually, Gill and Jane are both very special friends. Do you have a friend story you want to share?

A lot of things have changed since I was young. One of the things is that we talk about mental health. That is, we talk about certain types of mental illnesses and disorders, while others are still off the radar.

 

One of the disorders that is still not talked about much is social anxiety disorder, which I defined here.

 

There are reasons for that. By definition, people who have social anxiety don’t like to draw attention to themselves at all. They particularly don’t want to admit to what feels like a very big failing. But it needs to be talked about, because a lot of people out there are suffering needlessly. They suffer from loneliness, from a lack of empathy and understanding, from embarrassment, from anxiety itself.

So, for my contribution to World Mental Health Day, I’m linking to an article I wrote last year for Stigma Fighters: Pressing the Button.

Have a nice day!

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down.
And I do appreciate your being ’round.
Help me get my feet back on the ground…

The Beatles

I suffer from HAY fever. No, not that hay fever; I’m glad to say that has never troubled me. I’m talking about that HAY question, the conversation starter: How are you? At least it’s usually a conversation starter. Except that, in my case, it usually isn’t.

Sneeze in white hankie

When I hear that question, I break out coughing, sneezing and spluttering. No, not literally, but the anxiety-filled equivalent: panic. Spluttering inside and nothingness outside. Confidence in one thing only: this will not go well. And through it all, I force myself to continue.

“Fine, thanks. How are you?”

Answer.

Here’s where every other conversation slips seamlessly into something meaningful. In the current conversation, there’s a pause that lasts slightly too long until the other person moves away to talk to someone more fun, more interesting, more communicative. Clearly I’m boring and miserable, and I don’t want to talk.

Oh, but I do. It’s just that a topic for discussion with someone I hardly know doesn’t come to me. Yes, I could make it up. I could sit alone in my garden or at my computer and make up a conversation between two relative strangers. I could make the speakers hesitate if the plot demands it. I could make the words flow if I want them to. Because the speakers are puppets and I’m pulling the strings.

Who’s pulling my strings when I’m down there on the stage? Whoever it is, is slacking on the job, or letting the strings go slack.

I began this post thinking that it would end in a plea for help. Please tell me what to say to someone I hardly know to stop them before they glide away. But maybe I know what to say. I just have to be able to  rummage around the jumbled handbag of my mind and pull out the words I need at the right time. Or to put the words in the front pocket well in advance, so that they’re easy to find when I need them.

There, I’ve answered my own question. But don’t let that stop you from offering advice. It will still be appreciated.

Following on from my announcement of changes to my blog, this post links all three themes of my blog: writing, social anxiety and living in Israel.

I get it when women say they need to talk problems over with women friends. There’s something about the conversations that makes them different from conversations with men. Yet, for most of my life, I didn’t have any women I was close enough to to confide in. Social anxiety caused that. It told me to keep my distance from women… from everyone… because while I needed them, they didn’t need me or want my friendship and I shouldn’t cling to them.

RambamRambamI still don’t meet other women very often, but I’m getting better at it. There’s one I often meet. We write together and talk, too. And two days ago I met up with someone I haven’t seen for many years. I even initiated the meeting and travelled all the way to Haifa for it. Well, for this country it’s a long way. The bus journey from Jerusalem to Haifa takes all of two hours.

We had a pleasant and interesting chat together. She also gave me a brief but fascinating tour of Rambam Hospital, where she works. In particular, I saw how the underground carpark can be turned into a whole hospital in times of emergency. Amazing!

TechnionChurchill1

Sir Winston Churchill at the Churchill Building, Technion

As I was in Haifa anyway, I did a bit of research for a novel I began in November and plan to return to. I wandered around The Technion Institute of Technology and found some details to add or change in the novel. It was hot and humid and the paths of the campus, up there on the Carmel mountain, are very steep, but I’m glad I went.

The title of this post also has a different significance for me and connects to the exciting news I hinted at in my last post. Along with another author – the lovely Emma Rose Millar, who appears again at the end of this post – I have been working on two novellas based on the painting The Women Friends by Klimt. The first, which will be published early in 2017 by Crooked Cat, tells the story of Selina, a country girl, desperate to escape the demons of her past and searching for solace in the glittering city of Vienna. The second novella follows Janika, who is Jewish. It begins when the first novella finishes, in 1938, a time when Vienna wasn’t a good place for a Jew to be in, to say the least.

So that’s my big exciting news. If you’re interested, you can also read about how I’m spending the summer over on Nancy Jardine’s blog. How are you spending your summer? Or winter, if you’re in the other half of the world?

AnnouncementPicWithAuthors

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Author of the Day

Today, I highlight two authors – the two who appear in the post.

Emma Rose Millar writes historical fiction. Five Guns Blazing, set in the eighteenth century and written together with Kevin Allen, follows a convict’s daughter from London to Barbados. More information is on Emma’s blog.

Nancy Jardine is a multi-talented author, who writes historical romantic adventures, intriguing contemporary mystery thrillers and YA time travel historical adventures. Her published novels are too numerous to list here, but can be found on Nancy’s blog.

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