I understand references make a huge difference when applying to graduate programs.
Over my years in university, I have spoken to professors about projects / exams / papers. I definitely make use of their office hours. I also go to a top school and am set to graduate with high honors. I am an extremely determined and motivated person. Although I have made use of the available resources, this is an extremely difficult/rigorous school and thus very few people achieve anywhere near a 4.0. My cGPA is a 3.5 and my GPA over the last 2 years is a 3.7. I have also been involved in a lot of organizations related to my field of interest/research. Including, volunteer on three projects at a renown research hospital and research for an undergraduate science magazine.
However, I have severe social anxiety. I understand this is “no excuse” in academia for not making connections, but it is extremely difficult for me to be around other people. It is severe. It has been a huge step for me to even go to the office hours (which I am proud of myself for doing), but I have not stood out from the crowd and I doubt any remember my name. I have never wanted anything more (graduate school), and yet my mental illness is a severe restriction on my life. I have been seeing a psychiatrist and have made huge improvements since high school (when the social anxiety became severe).
Is it necessary that I only acquire references from professors with whom I have developed a close relationship? Should I discuss these struggles in my application?