Updated: May 18
Hi, my name’s Shanice, I’m an extrovert and I have anxiety - pretty badly actually however no one tends to understand just how bad it really is no matter how I try to explain it. I assume that this is because most people that suffer from anxiety shy away from being the centre of attention, that’s not what I do.
Unlike the most common form of anxiety I don’t withdraw into my shell, in fact the more anxious I grow the more I burst out of it! I say things I don’t necessarily mean, I overshare and I feel so awkward around silences that I often break them to say something meaningless.
To truly understand why I behave this way when I’m anxious I decided to journey back to the time before anxiety was a common theme in my life. Let’s say 2014, the year before I graduated from drama school and left education forever to venture into the realities of the big wide world. I was described as loud, bubbly, confrontational, confident and funny. I was the life of the party (true story)! I was the organiser of every outing and the PR for everyone’s birthday, if you’re old enough to remember channel 4’s ‘SKINS’, think back to the character Tony in the first 10 minutes of the first episode with his phone blowing up, that was me and I LOVED it! I felt like I lived in the centre of the universe, the definition of popularity.
2015 came and I left drama school with an agent, hooray! However this is the time where I can pin point my anxiety beginning. Here I was, a young girl from a working class background in South East London auditioning for life changing acting roles and it became all... a bit... much. I suffered from public panic attacks on trains and tearful outbursts on high streets, I was not okay. But when I reached out to people they just couldn’t wrap their heads around how someone as seemingly confident as me could be suffering from anxiety. I couldn’t understand it either.
The more time that passed, the public panic simmered down but the anxiety stayed and still remains until this day. The truth is that we all suffer from anxiety, some just suffer more than others. If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this post it’s this - please check on your loud and extroverted friends and family just as much as your quiet ones. Sometimes a loud outburst isn’t always a cry for attention but an attempt to quiet down the internal monologue going on in their minds: “the space is quiet, everyone wants me to say something”, “an awkward moment just happened, I need to fix it”, “everyone’s expecting you to be your old loud self, you can’t let them down”. These are just a few of the thoughts that bubble through my mind before I have an outburst.
I was so used to being a socialite that even though I’m ridden with anxiety and in a lot of social environments I’d prefer to be a quiet observer, I somehow end up being one of the loudest people in the room.
What a conundrum!
Written by Shanice