Going Head To Head With Anxiety: a companion’s guide

Socializing is not what most moms with social anxiety would call their top priority. But, there are times when they know it’s necessary – necessary for their kids, necessary for their significant others, and necessary for their own mental health. These are the times effective coping with social anxiety must be accomplished.

When time comes for a big social event, or even a little one, as her significant other, you may need to pay attention to how she is coping with SAD (Social Anxiety Disorder). Maybe she’s a pro and has this whole social anxiety thing figured out. Or maybe she’s still precariously tiptoeing through the world of putting herself out there.

Your job is to detect when Mom is duking it out in the ring with the big bad Anxiety bully and assess how she’s coping with SAD at any given moment. Before such events she may be a hyper-frantic, nervous wreck on a hairpin trigger, ready to snap at you or the kids. After such events, she’ll most likely resemble a pile of mush, and be completely drained of all energy, which according to the experts, is pretty typical.

Suma Chand, PhD, director of the Cognitive Behavior Therapy program at St. Louis University School of Medicine says,

“I have often had my clients tell me how they are exhausted by social situations. This is because when they look back at these events, they see how their need to be perfect in social situations has caused them to experience high levels of anxiety before and during social situations.

The Big Day: Is She Coping With SAD?

So today is the big day. How is she handling the anxiety? Is Mom ready to party? Or is she in full freak out mode? Answer the following questions and you might just get your answer.


Does Mom have a sudden desire to scrub the house from head to toe?

If the answer is yes, then she’s most likely jumping in the ring with some anxiety today. Dive right in and help her clean.


Has she addressed you and the kids by “Hey you!” instead of your name?

If the answer is yes, she’s going mid round in her attempt to cope with Anxiety. Don’t take offense. She loves you madly.


Has she fed the family donuts for two or more meals today?

If the answer is yes, do not worry – this is a sign that Mom has been distracted by SA swinging some hefty one-two punches. It may not be the most nutritious meal but you’ll survive. You may want to handle the next meal.


Has she disappeared around the corner, only to come back with a faint smell of Gentleman Jack on her breath?

If the answer is yes, don’t panic or send her to AA just yet. Although not a recommended or necessarily healthy coping mechanism, she is trying to cope with SAD just the same.


Has she changed into four or more outfits just before it’s time to go out the door?

If the answer is yes, anxiety may have an edge on her this round. Tell her she looks beautiful and that everything will be okay!


When you pull up to the event, is she white knuckling the door handle?

If the answer is yes, she’s taking a breather in her corner, and a little pep talk from her “coaches” (full size and pint size) to help her handle her social anxiety, and may do her self-esteem some good.


Has she started hyperventilating in the front seat?

If the answer is yes, this is definitely not a good sign. Panic has ensued. Encourage her to refer to the coping mechanisms she learned at therapy or in her support groups. If she doesn’t have any mechanisms for coping with social anxiety, well… that’s a whole different post.


Uh oh. Did she just pass out?

If the answer is yes, anxiety has just delivered a KO in the 12th round. Time to take her home and start resting up to fight another day.


Or, did she pull on the door handle, open the car door, and step out?

If the answer is yes, congratulations. Be proud of the lady. She just won the match, and put Anxiety down for the count.

But Wait There’s More…

Now it’s time for the post-event care and feeding. She’ll be drained from having endured this social event like a champ. Here are some tips to help her recover the next day.

  • Do not give her a hard time if she is still in her pajamas at 2pm.
  • Offer her plenty of food. She may not realize that she hasn’t eaten the last 24 hours due to pukey nerves
  • Do not make reference to the fact she sat on the toilet nearly 5 times yesterday. Having social anxiety is hard enough, let alone the spontaneous bouts of irritable bowel syndrome that comes along with it.
  • Tell her what a good time you had at the event, and that you’re glad she came. This will remind her why going head to head with her anxiety is important.
  • Last but not least, tell her you’re proud of her, and that you love her. Every time she is effectively coping with social anxiety, she will learn new tactics, and spend less time in the ring duking it out.

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