Jane Lynch Opens Up About Social Anxiety

When you think of Jane Lynch, you probably picture her on “Glee” or as the gregarious woman hosting “Hollywood Game Night,” so it might come as a shock that Lynch suffers from social anxiety. The actress, who has also appeared in movies like “The 40 Year Old Virgin” and “Best in Show,” recently revealed on Huffpost Healthy Living that she’s actually the sort of person who prefers to shrink into the background because of her discomfort in crowds.

Watching From the Background

“I’m like Jay Gatsby. I like to throw the party and then stand back, looking gorgeous. Stand back and watch it,” she told Huffpost Live’s Alyona Minkovski. Lynch also admitted to Minkovski that she only has two close long-term friends who’ve been in her life for more than 20 years.

Lynch also discussed her social anxiety in a New York Times interview back in 2011. She said it started when she was young and had a sense of being different from her peers. This fits in with the disorder’s normal progression, which usually starts in a person’s youth. She preferred athletics to “girly” activities and envied her brother when their dad took him to sports events. She also liked to secretly dress in her father’s clothes. Over time, Lynch came to terms with her sexual orientation as a lesbian, but hid it out of shame because she considered it a “disease.”

A Typical Case

Lynch’s early experience fits closely with typical symptoms of social anxiety disorder. She was very nervous and self-conscious because of her self-perceived differences, and she constantly feared that others would judge her as being odd. She had trouble dealing with other people and couldn’t sustain friendships. Lynch also self-medicated, admitting that she starting drinking too much in order to mask the problem.

Lynch eventually dealt with her drinking through Alcoholics Anonymous, but started compulsively shopping for clothes, buying thousands of dollars worth of outfits, even if they didn’t fit her. After time, the actress accepted her sexuality and gained a positive self-image with help from her ex-wife, Lara Embry. She even played gay characters like the lesbian dog trainer in “Best in Show.” However, Lynch admits she still retains the social anxiety developed early in life.

Stopping the Cycle

It’s common for people with social anxiety disorder to self-medicate like Lynch originally did with alcohol, but it’s much healthier to get professional treatment. Cognitive/behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common treatment—counselors use CBT to teach people new strategies for handling social situations. If needed, talk therapy can be combined with anti-anxiety medication.

If you suspect you might have social anxiety disorder, this WebPsychology test is a good screener. If your results show that you might have an issue, talk to your doctor or a counselor.