Although I usually try to keep these posts lighter, I have to address something.
About three weeks ago a tumblr girl called Acacia Brinley Clark put up a video on youtube talking about her social anxiety. Although the video’s private now, check out this response video for a brief recap on what she talked about. The majority of comments I looked at on youtube said she didn’t have social anxiety/was mistaken/lying to get attention. Twitter is full of such comments as well.
I can see why people don’t believe her – she’s attractive, has a lot of followers, she’s on stage quite often, and meets a lot other famous personalities.
But anxiety is different from person to person with varying levels and situations. It’s important not to devalidate someone’s disorder, even if it’s self diagnosed, or if you think they’re lying.
At the end of the day, someone might look like the coolest person, but you don’t know what happens inside of their mind. What if they leave a party, go home and have a panic attack? Or what if they spend hours and hours thinking about that one look some acquaintance gave them?
Social anxiety is also hard to label. Dan J. Stein, MD and PHD, writes that social anxiety “ranges broadly in clinical and community settings”. He continues to say that one person with severe SA will easily tick all the symptom check boxes for social anxiety and depression, but another who experiences it to a lesser extent will have a harder time getting diagnosed because their experiences aren’t as black and white.
While one person may get it so badly they can’t leave their house without being affected by anxiety, someone else may receive it just during speeches. Another may be able to go to social situations, but be constantly analysing peoples’ thoughts and judgements so much that it upsets them.
When I was in high school, I actually felt more comfortable performing than starting a conversation with a classmate. Going to somebody’s house, though, would freak me out. With performing, I could hide behind a persona. The stage or screen is a formalised setting for someone to act confident without people judging your day-to-day personality.
Daniel Tosh (the comedian Tosh.o) has social anxiety, but has his own television show. Donny Osmond, a famous singer of the 70s, has openly talked about his social anxiety. So why should it be different for YouTube personalities like Acacia? Youtuber Zoella has millions of subscribers, but even she suffers from fear and panic.
When people reach out or want to get better, don’t tell them what they think is wrong. It makes it harder.