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Confronting Social Anxiety and Depression in a Fish Bowl

Imagine struggling with social anxiety, while confronting the prospect of talking to the press and, by extension, the world. Living in a fishbowl outside of your control. Now imagine doing that while you’re preparing for a tennis match in front of millions while you try to drown the world out under noise-cancelling headphones. Such was the pain tennis player Naomi Osaka confronted, ultimately deciding to withdraw from the French Open.

The point here is really to celebrate an individual’s strength in doing the unconventional to protect her mental health and well-being. Ms. Osaka apologized profusely, especially to the press corps whom she felt she was abandoning. Ultimately, she was willing to surrender millions in prize money for her mental health.

We are aware, of course, that most of us do not have the financial resources that Ms. Osaka has, and the solution she chose might not be a viable option for all-- especially those of us who are most vulnerable. We note further that we hope that others do not have to choose between their careers and their mental health, and part of our goal is to make evidence-based treatment accessible for all who need it.

However, there is much that we can take away from this incident: Prioritize your mental health, even if it means saying "no." Be willing to share your experiences with others. Seek professional help when it is needed. Recognize that you are not alone.

For those who want to read more about social anxiety, see

To find a CBT therapist trained to address these disorders, see

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Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies
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