Social anxiety is something that I have struggled and fought against my whole life, but I didn’t always define it in these exact words. I knew I felt a sense of being different, of not fitting in or feeling that I didn’t belong. It was a lonely place to live. But one aspect of this loneliness always baffled me. I had a really substantial number of friends, family members and other supports – yet I could be in a room full of people and still feel completely alone.

It was only once I got a bit older that I found myself connecting with a group of people whom seemed to be speaking my story. The details of their life may have differed slightly, but the feelings they explained were my own. They spoke of a desire for connection. To be heard, to be seen and to be truly understood. They also shared that the feelings of low self-worth and worthlessness was something that no longer burdened them every day. They felt the opposite. They loved and were loved.

Through listening to these people’s stories of recovery, I adopted a new hope and belief in myself. I started to believe that if they did it, then perhaps I could too. Slowly I rebuilt the pieces to become whole again, which has led me to where I am today. My darkest days and struggles are now my greatest asset. It is these memories that I gather strength from in the difficult times and also bring me joy for the life I lead today. It is by reaching out to someone whom has been there and truly understands, that the real journey of recovery began.

This piece was written by one of the ICLA eFriend Peer Support Workers. eFriend is an online platform where you can connect with a trained peer support worker whom has their own lived experience of feeling lonely, isolated, stressed or worried. You can speak to your eFriend Peer via video or phone call. Your eFriend Peer will listen, validate and provide hope. If you like, they can also assist you to identify any other services you may like to try or help you create plans to improve your personal well-being. Or they can simply listen.

To book your first call visit: