Social Anxiety: Social anxiety disorder is an intense, persistent fear of being watched and judged by others. This fear can affect work, school, and other daily activities.
It can even make it hard to make and keep friends.
Being diagnosed with social anxiety, Edwin* one of our previous ESU (Enhanced Step-up programme) youths struggled with its effects to the point of affecting his ability to go to school amongst other struggles. However, after making the decision to change his life and getting the right help, he has gone on to surprise himself with what he could accomplish.
Here is his story:
“My name is Edwin*, and I live with my mother. I come from a small family, with my brother having moved out after getting married.
Before I came to know about YGOS (Youth Guidance Outreach Services), I struggled with social anxiety and frequently missed school. Not only did it affect my attendance but also simple everyday errands like collecting a parcel or getting a haircut. I experienced a great deal of difficulties when it came to human interactions. Even simple interactions could trigger panic attacks.
Especially in enclosed settings like school, I often experienced intense feelings of fear and panic in situations where I was required to interact with others like in class or during group projects. These feelings were so overwhelming that they often resulted in frequent panic attacks, which made it difficult for me to continue attending school.
As a result, I felt lost and didn't know what to do with my life. The final incident that triggered my desire to take control of my social anxiety was watching my friends move on in life while I felt stuck in the same place. This experience ignited a desire within me to take action and overcome my fears so that I could also move forward and live the life I wanted to live.
It was then that Deborah from YGOS reached out to me and offered me help. YGOS provided me with invaluable support in several ways. They offered a welcoming and supportive environment where I felt safe to be myself and express my concerns. This helped to alleviate some of the anxiety I was feeling about interacting with others.
The organisation also provided me with access to group activities and events where I could interact with others in a low-pressure setting. This allowed me to gradually build my confidence and develop my social skills. Finally, Deborah and the staff at YGOS were always available to listen and offer guidance when I needed it, which made me feel supported and empowered to make positive changes in my life.
Although I still have moments where social anxiety affects me, I'm always trying to overcome it. This change of heart was a turning point for me, and it has impacted my decision to change for good.
Currently, I'm waiting for school to start on May 23rd 2023. My aspiration is to be someone like Deborah. Despite doing well academically, I wasn't able to finish school due to panic attacks. It's one of my biggest regrets, and I want to make a positive impact by helping others overcome their struggles. I hope to become a mentor to students who are facing similar challenges and guide them towards success.”
Edwin* is now interning at YGOS, doing youth work and has been an encouragement to staff and youth alike.
If you would like to find out more about the programmes we offer that might be of interest to you or a youth you think would benefit from these programmes, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Names changed to protect identity of the youth