Social anxiety means the fear of interaction with other people that brings on self-consciousness, fear of being judged and evaluated, which in turn brings about avoidance while depression is the accumulation of negative feelings in a human mind and seclusion from activities that once provided joy.
There are several symptoms of these two mental disorders but I will only be mentioning a few, some of which are commonly experienced by socially anxious and depressed individuals. The symptoms are high levels of fear, nervousness, racing heart, excessive sweating, trembling, feelings, thoughts, withdrawal from people, attempt to hurt one’s self, weight loss among several others.
The hardest thing for anyone is to suffer from these two disorders because it can be life threatening and extremely difficult. But, in this part of the world, attention is not really paid to these disorders. Social anxiety and depression, literally prevent individuals from living not because they do not want to but because they find it hard to overcome them.
I remember when I was younger and going through the phases of both mental disorders, I was infuriated by secondary school or social associations. I would be on my own in admiration of how people forged relationships. There were times I actually made attempt to associate with people, make friends and engage in conversations but they never really worked out until recently. And, I tell you it was tough. More like dying inside with a big stamp of smile on your face and a nonchalant attitude.
Like everyone else, I tried to ignore it and accepted it as my nature until it practically turned me into almost asthma patient. The sickness got worse with time. In university, I took a photography course, which required everyone to be in a small room. Suddenly, I ran out of breathe and was rushed to the school clinic. I was sweating profusely. Only I knew the real problem.
By the time, I researched I knew that I had to take charge and speak more on the issue. Healing did not come immediately. And even as a Christian, it was a battle and a disorder to overcome. So, I leaned on God and encouraged myself. Only then did my journey to healing start.
Social anxiety and depression takes the better part of an individual’s life. It secludes its victims from reality, social associations and living. The unfortunate thing is that most people do not even know the gravity of these mental disorders on a person’s life and purpose in life.
As a human, they are the absolute worse things that can happen to anyone. And as a Christian, mental disorders are not God’s intention for us. Thus, I will be sharing the steps I took to heal, overcome and break free from Social anxiety and depression.
Salvation – this was my first step to healing. The night I gave my life to Christ was the very moment I felt alive and free. I remember crying that night. But, it felt so good and I felt a burning sensation within me. I was certain it was the right step to take. It closed my wounds and cleansed my sins.
Counselor – after I gave my life to Christ, a counselor was assigned to me. Whenever, I felt like my mind was going insane or about to slip into depression and anxiety, I would pick up the phone to call him. No one except God knew about this. It was my battle.
Acceptance – I had to accept that there was a problem that needed a solution. Becoming fully aware of one’s predicament helps because you know what steps to take and how to deal with it.
Prayer – every night and day, it did not matter where I was or the moment. In my heart, verbally, I will call on God and the Holy Spirit to help me overcome them all.
Meditation – people have different ways of meditating but mine was more of the Holy Bible and inspirational songs. I will just a break or a moment of seclusion to be with God and my music. It calmed the storm in my mind and the fear that ate deep into my life like a canker worm.
These were the steps I took in my journey to healing and I still take them every day because healing especially mental healing is a process. You have to be mentally balanced and stable to remain in a sane state of mind. For many other victims, they take medication to help them. Although, I am not a huge fan of drugs or medication, if it is necessary then please take them.
To the socially anxious and depressed, you are not alone. You deserve all the joy the world has to be offered. Forget about being judged or evaluated because their opinions should not matter. You are God’s and no one else’s. Encourage yourself in the Lord and take control of your mind.
FACTS ABOUT DEPRESSION IN NIGERIA
The World Health Organization (WHO) in its 2017 World Health Day message says 7,079,815 Nigerians suffer from one of the most ignored and misunderstood form of mental disorder in the country – depression. This represents 3.9 per cent of the entire population; making Nigeria, according to the current prevalence rate, the most depressed country in Africa. This finding is gotten from the official report done by This Day Live
PERSONAL VIEW ON DEPRESSION & SOCIAL ANXIETY
Depression is not something that just disappears. It takes intention, willingness, and faith. People who have battled with depression constantly have to make sure they have not fallen off the track of healing because they are most liable to go back to that negative state. It is very similar to Social Anxiety. For some people, the healing process is life long while for others, their healing is immediate. Mine took a while and no one knew because I was good at hiding.
During that period, I laughed the hardest, engaged in many as few social activities. Everyone thought I was shy, weird or too happy. But, whenever I got home, I would cry when no one was there and spoke to Jesus who need not be physically present. It was bad enough that I was unhappy for no good reason, then I had to be socially awkward.
A year later I gave my life to Christ. Best decision I have ever made. The truth is God had totally healed me but something kept holding me back from healing. However, I knew I wanted to be done with that battle so I took some steps on my own (insert link). The devil has a very corny way of persistently crippling your faith in order to such you back into old habits or past sins. Up to this moment, many people ignore depression and social anxiety from where I stand to see the situation. It’s like they expect its victims to just get over themselves without giving them the necessary help. Few people like myself are very fortunate to have received spiritual healing at the beginning of the mental illness. I am Christian but I will keep saying out loud DEPRESSION IS REAL, IT HAUNTS AND IT KILLS, and DON’T BE TOO SPIRITUAL TO IGNORE IT. The spiritual controls the physical but what are you also doing yourself about the physical?
BIBLE PASSAGES THAT HELPED WITH OVERCOMING DEPRESSION & SOCIAL ANXIETY
Courage and Meditation – When I finally decided to brave up and face the situations head on, I made the Holy Bible my first novel. One of the passages that struck and hit me right at the center of my pain is (Joshua 1), which speaks about the power of courage and meditation. After reading that chapter in the bible, I was certain I had taking the first step in my healing process. I felt the conviction. And, till this day, no matter how down I feel, I encourage myself deep within because that’s where all the fear and anxiety comes from. Also, I even if it is a minute I give it to meditate on God’s word.
Stay Alive – the fear that no one wants you alive is a big lie straight out of hell. The thought that suicide will set you free is another big lie meant to psychologically seduce you into giving up to depression. If nobody wants you, there is the creator of the nobodies that need you. There was this one time the thought of suicide crossed my mind but I stopped for a minute to think about the pain, torment and how I will be letting unhappiness rip off my tomorrow. (1 Kings 19: 4-8)
Self-confidence – this is particular to social anxiety. A lot of people are ignorant of this mental illness but it is real. People just really need to stop assuming and making conclusions about a person feels. Try and get to the bottom of it so it gets resolved. When you see a colleague secluding himself, don’t just conclude that s/he is proud or unfriendly. The person might just not know how to go about it. When I was going through mine, reading these helped me a whole lot. (Proverbs 28:1; Gal5:22; Isaiah 61).
Maybe I am fortunate to grow up in a Christian home but that does not mean I knew God right from the very moment I was brought into this world. So, if the Bible was my drug and therapy that helped overcome these mental disorders, it can be yours too (it all depends on the level of your faith; activate your faith). Don’t be fooled by people who will tell you the Bible cannot help. However, if you find it necessary to go for counselling (I had a counsellor too), therapy or take prescribed medical pills, do so. Like I always say, “the spiritual controls the physical but it does not mean the physical should be ignored. That is, in relation to all aspects of your life.” Your health is paramount to the fulfilment of your purpose.
If you have ever want to talk about it https://lifesupportscounselling.com.au/specialist-areas/anxiety-and-depression-counselling/. I was assigned a counsellor from the Redeemed Christian Church of God. You can also send a mail to info@saintoaks,com and we will pray for you.
Photo Credit: Kat Smith.