The SAD Truth About Social Anxiety Disorder ~ JP Barnaby: Outside the Margins

Join us as JP Barnaby goes Outside the Margins.

JP Barnaby OTM

The SAD Truth About Social Anxiety Disorder

Have you ever been surrounded by people and yet felt completely and utterly alone? That’s the best way I can describe social anxiety for someone who has never experienced it. You feel alone, but yet, you’re not alone because there are hundreds of people around you who don’t want you there. The rational part of your mind tells you that if they didn’t want you there, you wouldn’t have been invited, but the bit that’s screaming the loudest convinces you that you’re a fraud. It’s a psychological balancing act from which sanity takes a vacation.


If you follow me at all on social media, you know that this year I’ve made a few changes in my life. One of those changes included moving to Atlanta, Georgia at the behest of one of my very best friends. This particular journey started in October of 2013, nearly a year and a half after Jonathan and I met.

And it started with a panic attack in the middle of Piedmont Park.

I’m going tell this story because there are people who would look at me, see my posts on Facebook, see the events I attend, and assume that I cannot possibly have social anxiety. JP Barnaby’s reputation, her persona is based on innuendo and snapshots – a slice of a moment. When the events are over, and I get hate mail for bringing my porn friends to events, or expressing my opinion about a subject the whole world is talking about—the anxiety builds on itself leaving me as something of an emotional house of cards. But what I want to accomplish with this post is showing people who get hives at the thought of leaving their comfortable home to drive to an event and walk in alone that they are, in fact, not alone.

I have always been a huge fan of Atlanta Pride, an event which I have attended for years. I walk to the event cocooned by friends and we have a fabulous time. But, two years ago, I made a huge mistake. Famed photographer Gio Caruso had agreed to shoot two of my friends (Jonathan and his boyfriend Eddie) for the cover of one of my books. I was to go to the parade, hook up with them, and take them to the hotel for the photoshoot. Simple, right? So, I hopped on Marta, got off near Piedmont Park, and followed the people in the rainbow-colored socks to the parade route. I positioned myself near the end of the route and waited. Eventually, I saw the Panthers go by with Jonathan and Eddie in their midst. I followed the route to the end, but before I could connect with them, I ended up running into a model I knew and talked for a moment.


And that is when all hell broke loose inside my head.

I was alone in a veritable sea of people. I didn’t know how to get to where my friends were from where I was, and the guys I was supposed to meet had disappeared. The world got very very small, pressing in from all sides. Vulnerability welled in my chest and I searched for a place to hide. I’ll skip the gory details about what happens during a panic attack but about an hour later, Jonathan and Eddie found me hiding behind the mammoth metal gates at the entrance to the park, my head on my knees, and tears streaming down my face. I am a grown woman with a great career in IT, 24 published books, and I couldn’t handle the crushing fear and alienation.

Fast forward one year, and it’s time again for pride.

With the failure of the previous year ringing in my head, I let Jonathan know that I wouldn’t be coming down for pride. I cited the cost of travel, hotel, etc., but he saw right through me. He informed me that not only would I be getting back on the horse and coming to pride, I’d be staying with them, and walking with the Panthers in the parade.

Wait, what? I’m sorry, did you just say that you want me to walk in front of a million spectators with a group of people I’ve never even met? There is no way this can possibly end well.

Until it did.


From the moment we walked up to the float, they embraced me. Whether they did it because they recognized a kindred leather subby sister, or because Jonathan had paved the way, it didn’t matter. Nitro, Sir Alan, Brian, JP, Isaac, Dale – they all opened up a place for me that day and I had an absolute blast. It was my very favorite pride. When the walk was over and it was time to head back to the Atlanta Eagle, Boypup Isaac had me sit against his legs and he wrapped his arms around me as we rode on the back of the trailer. We’ve been friends ever since. I think it was then that Jonathan started to use the phrases “when you move to Atlanta” or “when you move down here”. I’d never considered it before – moving away from Chicago. But, I had far more friends in Atlanta, more reasons to leave the house – which I never did except the times I traveled for events.

So, I lined things up, and took a huge leap of faith. My friends here have caught me and held on tight. I’ve been out more in the last two weeks than I have in the last two years. And whenever I have those thoughts that no one wants me here, or that I’m alone, I just ask Nitro to put me to work. He’s done an amazing job of it so far. There are times when I’ll sit off by myself, but then someone comes to sit next to me and bring me back into the fold. When the bar gets too crowded, Jonathan stands right next to me and doesn’t let go. It’s a slow process, overcoming a lifetime of conditioned behavior. I have to work at every social event not to wander off and find a quiet place alone—but it’s better.

Last night Nitro stood on stage and challenged each one of us to step outside our comfort zone. I, for one, plan to take him up on that challenge. So, I’d just like to end this post with three words for my social anxiety –



JP Barnaby

~ JP Barnaby

About JP Barnaby

Award winning romance novelist, J. P. Barnaby has penned over a dozen books including the Working Boys series, the Little Boy Lost series, In the Absence of Monsters, and Aaron. As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.
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Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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15 thoughts on “The SAD Truth About Social Anxiety Disorder ~ JP Barnaby: Outside the Margins

  1. On the first day of Atlanta GRL I remember walking around thinking “WTF am I doing here?” I did get over it eventually, but that phrase did repeat itself from time to time.

    By the way, you left glitter in my cleavage when you hugged me after the Author Dinner… 😉

  2. What a great post. Thank you for sharing with us. I am glad you found people who understand and embrace you. Hugs

  3. I’m so proud of you, for owning the anxiety and for encouraging the rest of us. Good luck with your new home and your new life. And I’m just a bit envious too of your courage.

  4. It’s amazing the perceptions we oftentimes selectively put forth (us at our best/most comfortable) and how others’ perceptions of us are built just upon that. We don’t know each other, but I’d like to day that you are amazing for sharing so much of yourself with regard to something that is often minimized by those who don’t understand just how crippling SA can be, and how happy it is to know that you’re surrounded by your tribe full time and are tackling it all head first. *fistbumps*

    • I agree with you. People who meet me in person come away with a completely different perception than those who only speak with me online, or watch my posts.

      As to not knowing each other – sit on down and say hi. My name is JP, I write emotionally traumatizing books, and have an amazing mix of friends. <3

  5. I’m glad this brave move was a good one for you! I feel with you as I read your words. Groups are difficult for me, too. When I walked into the big room at the DSP WW in Portland, Eden recognized me, introduced me around, and asked me who I wanted to meet.
    Really. I just stood there, thinking hard, and nothing came to me. I’ve been PMing with several people for over a year. Some of them found out later and said, wait, you’ve been there?
    Sigh. One step at a time. And even when I meet for coffee or such, I have to get some down-time afterwards. I’m so glad you have the support that lets you SAD! Moving is a big deal. For this, you’re my hero.

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