Mental Health Mind Map Podcast Series

Mental Health Mind Map Podcast Series

#Episode 6: Social anxiety and how fear led three men into isolation

In partnership with Calgary Journal Health, CMHA Calgary is publishing podcasts and news stories about mental health issues across the city. Stories will be published every Monday on our Balance Blog, or you can track these stories using the hashtag #CalgaryJournalHealth.

In this Mental Health Mind Map podcast series, three Calgarians share their experiences about living with social anxiety.

By Sam Nar, Rosemary DeSouza, and Mollie Smith

Most of us have felt awkward or embarrassed at some point in our lives — the flushed cheeks, the rapid heart palpitations, the desire to bolt out the door.

An estimated three million Canadians live with some form of generalized anxiety disorder. The most common form is social anxiety, according to a Statistics Canada report.

Steven Strauch was formally diagnosed with social anxiety disorder when he was in junior high. Strauch, now a Recovery Trainer at Canadian Mental Health Association in Calgary, says society tends to overlook the condition.

“It feels like there [are] more conversations about it, definitely more resources out there,” Strauch says, but he adds, “I don’t know if the meaningful conversations about it are happening.”

For the socially anxious, life can be severely debilitating. It goes beyond being a shy or introverted person. Multiple sources, including the Canadian Community Health Survey, describe the symptoms as a near-constant, irrational fear of overstepping imagined boundaries; the persisting unease in accomplishing day-to-day tasks and the fear of social consequences.

For Mount Royal University (MRU) broadcasting student Kim Mallari, the condition became dangerously isolating. While Mallari hasn’t been formally diagnosed, he says his psychiatrist suspects he has the disorder.

“I would not go outside for fear of just interacting with someone,” he says. “I would even try to avoid my friends and … family in any social setting.”