Jade vlogs on her experience of selective mutism and shares her tips for coping.
For those of you who don't know, selective mutism is an anxiety disorder which can sometimes prevent people from speaking in certain social situations.
I started suffering from selective mutism when I was around three years old. This became apparent because when I went to nursery, I wasn't a sociable child at all.
"I never socialised with any other kids, I never talked to anyone, not even the teachers."
I was always quite reserved and isolated – which put me back years of socialising, obviously. And, obviously, because of this, I had no friends really.
My… obviously, nursery is probably a difficult time for anyone to notice any issues, I'd say, but I think they just… a lot of people just thought I was shy to start with, so my condition took quite a long time to get, kind of, noticed and diagnosed.
It wasn't a very well-known condition to be honest, in my county, because only myself and this other person had been diagnosed at the time with this condition, so there wasn't actually a lot of support available, or a lot of acknowledgement of the condition that I had.
Because of this, I was, kind of, in and out of, like, speech therapies for the majority of my years at primary school.
Anyway, when I was around six years old, I managed to break my silence to a teacher that I trusted and, obviously, as you can imagine, this was quite a big time for myself and my family, and for anyone else who'd never heard me speak.
"It's obviously had its aftermath still today, because I'm still quite a socially anxious person."
I haven't got the social skills that, possibly, some people my age have got today, because I lacked it when I was younger. So I still say I'm socially anxious, say, when ordering food, like, I can't go and order food on my own.
I'm not very confident with approaching new people and I struggle in big groups of people.
Having said that, though, I've come quite far from where I was. This is purely because of the job I've got now.
I work in a retail store, which I know to some people with an anxiety disorder seems terrifying – which, to start with, it was, I'm not going to lie to you – but, obviously, I've been… I've been there about three years now.
"Honestly, it’s probably one of the best things I've ever done because being around people every day gains your confidence so much."
Obviously, I know that's not the same for every single person who's got an anxiety disorder, everyone's got their own experiences, but the only advice that I'd give, personally, to someone who's got an anxiety disorder is to take things one step at a time.
I know that probably seems quite obvious, but I know a lot of people, including myself, who compare themselves to other people, which is the worst thing that you can, honestly, do, because it will get you down so much more.
At the end of the day, you are your number-one priority. Priorities yourself, focus on yourself, and eventually you will get there in the end.
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