Suffering From Social Anxiety, Such As I do?

If, like many people, you are someone whom suffers from social anxiety (stage fright), you are not alone. But there seems to be good news and a direct correlation in consuming kimchi and other fermented foods for their mental health benefits to reduce your level of stress and anxiety:

Thank you, Wendy, for informing me of this article that hits very close to home :)! 

I grew up most of my life living with and dealing with social anxiety. I never really knew I had an illness veiled under the description of social anxiety until I started to see mental health professionals when I joined the United States Air Force. Even though I was not clinically diagnosed with the mental condition up until that time, I can feel it gripping my life with its cold, unsympathetic, and unrelenting hands each and everyday of my adult life. 

What does social anxiety feel like, or anxiety in general, for that matter? I am not sure how to accurately describe it, but I will attempt to do so: I am not quite sure if I can pinpoint it, but I was always acutely aware of the sense of dread and despair that assaulted my mind and chest cavity daily. Even if i tried to take deep breaths and envision rainbows, sunshine, butterflies, unicorns and leprechauns, nothing seemed to help, so I resorted to other "over the counter" measures to ease my anxiety and emotional turmoil. Anxiety is such a terrible emotion, and it bombards me daily with no cause or effect - it cripples me when and wherever it wants. 

My social anxiety then crept up to the very forefront of my thoughts and emotions once I was indoctrinated into the career field of air traffic control. It really brought out the worst of what I considered an uncontrollable emotion. Social anxiety to me entails always being uncomfortable in social settings (believing everyone is watching your every move, so its best to do your best to not appear stupid or say something unintelligent). I hated being the center of attention, and I hated all eyes on me, and that was exactly what air traffic control imposed upon me. 

One of the hardest things I've ever worked towards professionally and personally was to become an air traffic controller, and thank goodness, I accomplished that, but I felt so empty and miserable as an air traffic controller. First, it was technical school in the Air Force, and I was more miserable than I could imagine, and I would phone home to my parents and cry, and wonder what I had gotten myself into, but my father advised me to stop crying, and to not let anyone see me cry. So I thought it was just a transitional period because I was a trainee paying my dues through the military ranks. 

I entered my first duty station at Little Rock, Arkansas, and it was a continual year of misery. In order to become fully certified as a journeyman air traffic controller, I had to endure a rigorous year's worth of training to be considered among the elites. Some achieved their ratings much sooner than I did, and I was, without a doubt, considered one of the worst person for the job at the time, but I was not about to give up. I didn't join the Air Force to give up! 

Why was air traffic control such a devastating and indomitable career option for me, when everything else I have put my mind and effort into came with ease? It was the fact that, when plugged into position, I was the center of attention. I have lives in my hands, and every transmission I made was critical, whether I believed it to be or not. My social anxiety had my thoughts and concentrations in all the wrong places, such as, what if I made a stupid transmission? What if my co-workers think I am stupid? What if they are, right now, judging me physically and mentally? All of that detracted from my ability to actually perform my duty, which is to control aircraft. 

I must admit, I have had many nights when I had nightmares about air traffic control, and I would dread the moment I took my first steps from the parking lot towards my way up into the tower. Every step became wrought with increasing dread. Then, one day, I literally broke down in position. I was in local control, controlling airborne aircraft, and there were only three in the local pattern, and when it came time to transfer my control of the position, i had a hard time explaining to my reliever of what the "picture" was, and all I could do was stammer and point, and I was trembling with fear and I was a complete emotional wreck. That was when I decided I have had enough of air traffic control and a life of misery, so I elected to medically disqualify myself from the career field. 

On the latter leg of my Air Force tour, I decided to finally seek help for my mental disorders. I was under the care of a very caring and gentle clinical psychologist. She decided it was best to prescribe me anxiety and anti-depressive medication. I thought to myself, great! But I was very skeptical whether or not the medication would assist in treating my life-long disability. She prescribed me Clonazepam and Fluoxetine (Prozac), and after a week of treatment, my life and my mental health had improved greatly. It was as if I finally found myself the miracle drugs. 

I was warned by many clinicians that the Prozac would diminish my sex drive, and I kind of scoffed it off, but, eventually, it proved to be true. My sex drive was greatly diminished, but I really did not care. I would not give up the prescription medications that have saved my life for most anything. 

I hope that this has proved to be an insightful, personal look into someone suffering from social anxiety, and that, with including kimchi and fermented foods into your daily diet, it could create a synergy effect with your current anxiety treatment to bring you to a higher state of serenity. 

Thank you! 

-The Kimchi Whisperer-