Social Anxiety - Anyone else experiencing it?
Hi, thank you for reading. I'd love to connect/hear from some of you who can share some of their own experiences with social anxiety. I have it all my life and while I have never sought therapy for it, I know exactly where it comes from: my childhood. In my opinion, my parents tried their best but they took every bit of trust and confidence from me. This is not to blame them, as I've overcome a lot in my life and have many degrees to show for it all from the perseverance that came from it. Everything happens for a reason, you might say. My biggest problem that really controls my life is: not being able to trust anyone, with the exception of my husband and kids. I can play the part of the social bug but it dissipates rather quickly. EX1: Cousins, In-laws, Friends are all hard for me to keep because I am always wary of their "intent". So, I keep them at arms length, mostly me getting rid of them. EX2: Small talk is hard for me. I'm always afraid of oversharing, so I well undershare, and then.. yes, distance! EX3: Clubs, organizations don't last very long because I don't feel comfortable in groups. So, it comes and it goes. I'm lucky if I even get started.
I think about my kids and I try to break it, but it is so overwhelming that sometimes I cave into my own insecurities. I don't want my kids to have what I have, so I'll never give up. My two older ones display mild cases of it and my youngest is starting to show signs of the insecurities that mom has. I truly hope they all turn out with 0 trace of my "illness" but I can only keep trying. I need support mostly right now to hear what others are going through so I have the motivation to keep trying to break out of this. Currently, some of the strategies that I am working on is: thinking less, journaling, and getting out there into clubs (choir) if I can. Anything to get my brain to stop overthinking. I look forward to hearing some of your stories too. Thank you!
Hi and welcome, MAPLELEAF! (Lovely name btw :))
Apologies for the delay. I or someone else will be with you asap.
Please meanwhile feel free to respond on other posters' threads, including those likewise still waiting (and I'm posting this same message to them)? That's how it works here - a free-for-all come tit-for-tat. :) If you feel nervous about doing that, you might find it helps enormously to read other present and past, established threads - and, ditto, where concerns finding a problem similar to your own.
In the meantime - YES. I HAVE. Not Social. Just General. ("Just"....PFFF. IT WAS HELL!) So - Yes.
Saying that, I'd like to know whom here, HASN'T experienced actual, chronic Anxiety.
Hold on...Be with you tomorrow.
Hi, so sorry I'm late!
"This is not to blame them, as I've overcome a lot in my life and have many degrees to show for it all from the perseverance that came from it. Everything happens for a reason, you might say. "
Indeed, like you, I do say. But what I'd say first, would be, "Stupid bloody so-called parents :p". Commendable and highly emotionally mature though they are - your Positivity and Philosophical-ness dials are turned up too high (to 11). Methinks you're trying to avoid your rightful, healthy anger at them. Which isn't conducive to proper Grieving in order to GENUINELY enter Acceptance. You must allow yourself TO BE HUMAN if this childhood isn't to taint you forever. Anger, specificlly, Resentment (your case, perfectly normal, natural, rightful) is only bad if you're stuck in it (which is when you're not doing it properly or are using it as a self-made road block...not you - just saying).
And this is why you're on the one hand presenting as if you're "over it" yet in the same breath admitting you still have the detrimental after-effects (hang-ups).
You can't trust dysfunctionals. Yet you can't identify them until you've test-driven them enough to have grown attached to the journey (because it's when you and The Iffy get close that they start increasingly to show their arse). So you do have to try to trust in order to discern. You also need to be confident in your ability to Ditch The Duds as soon as said proverbial arse-part spills out (finding good hearts is s like searching through a Lucky Dip barrel),
So it's about paying attention to them, rather than worrying or wondering what and how much they think of you. Treat each new acquaintanceship as an interview...."What are your intentions?", etc., and having learned the most 'un-hide-able' Red Flags these types 'flatulate' (it's only ever a matter of time).
Once you've done that - you won't even NEED trust. You'll know you'll spot any obvious signs (no matter HOW 'mere drop in the vast ocean') at that Honeymoon-ish stage, and you'll know that once you do, you'll ditch without feel guilty and uncomfortable (let alone lost for words). So you won't any longer NEED to trust that others won't hurt you (or certainly not beyond the normal-healthy degree) because you'll have learnt how to be bullet-proof (without shutting your feelings off).
(I'm not nearly finished, but, just for now/today - Does that make sense?)
An alternative solution is to stay here, like it's your home-from-home or blog, and (assuming you know how not to behave badly in company) experiencing bonding and growing trust the leisurely-paced and natural way with myself and other 'resident' posters.
PS: I'm not that keen on groups, either. Not all the time. It always makes me suspicious when you get these groups who've been hanging out for decades and yet if you put them onto a gameshow like the 70s/80s one, called, Mr & Mrs - I'll bet very few of them know anything intimate, meaningful, or worth knowing about the other and they'd be out by the end of the first round!
There's safety in numbers, yeah. But then there's also Watering It Down Via Numbers. It all depends on frequency and degree, though.
Anyhoo....think it through.....have a chew....and now that rhymes I feel I have to finish it as a poem but all I can think of is: 'and once digested, have a p-' ooh, is that the time?!
I tell you what, though, Mapel - you wouldn't like Spain. It's INCREDIBLY difficult to trust here! Never seen anything like it.
I came here to retire. Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Never worked so hard IN MY LIFE!
Don't worry about us - everyone here is lovely - and I and the other (undercover) mods don't stand for even ONE WHIFF of picking-on or bullying. Zero Tolerance for that nonsense. Consider this your safe place. :)
You'll see. :)
(Sorry - butter-fingers! - Maple, not Mapel. Feel free to call me Sloemate, haha!...funny, but true.)
Hi. I'm Thea.
I'm really new at this so please bear with me.
I tried to send you a message the other night but I evidently did something wrong.
I am so sorry for what you are going through and I completely relate.
I feel the same way in social situations. My parents always just told me I was shy. I think that is the way it was identified when I was growing up.
I am sending several shorter messages bc evidently my mistake the last time I tried was to try to say everything at once.
It must have been challenging for you to reach out this way? I know it was for me.
I have found a great deal of comfort here and I hope you will as well.
I have found that setting a goal for myself when put in social situations helps.
I think about how much time I can minimally spend in any given situation and it helps me to know that there is an end coming.
I have used this method for many years and I have found that I am able to spend longer as I am more familiar with the place or the people.
I know this may not be the recommended way to handle the problem but it has worked for me.
Please don't worry about passing this on to your children. Kids are so open to new people and places. They make friends so easily. Just let them do what comes naturally to them.
I know you will have to interact with the parents but you can do that if it benefits the ones you love!
As far as small talk goes.
The fact that you find it difficult might just say something about your level of intelligence. You may find it a little bit of a waste of your time and effort.
That is not a bad problem to have.
You have your husband and your children, practice on them?
I hope I haven't overstepped.
I definitely have social anxiety myself too. I don't really have much of a social life and only a small group of friends who all seem to have drifted apart over the years. It's really hard for me to really be social. Like, I don't seem to meet new people very often, I hate large crowds and avoid them like the plague (even before covid), and even online it seems I have some trouble. I've made a few friends online too but again, don't really hear from them very often anymore.
I sort of know where my social anxiety comes from, it has to do with a handful of negative experiences in my early teens but I do feel like I've somewhat outgrown a lot of that so I'm not really sure why I'm still so socially awkward and closed off. I don't mean to be, it just seems to be part of who I am now. It's kind of a mixed blessing that I have my own office at work, hardly ever have to work with anyone and although I do live with family we live kind of secluded so I still tend to spend a lot of time alone (mostly by choice). Most of my coworkers kind of get this about me I think. I'm on pretty good terms with everyone at work too but even at work I avoid crowds and spend as little time as possible around people. It's only in extremely social situations (like, if I'm around more than 3 or 4 people at a time) do I feel anxious and that's normally the only time I feel any kind of anxiety.
I hope Maple does come back and read all of these.
Virtual is perfectly fine!
I had a 10-year friendship conducted purely over the phone!
It's connection, bonding, a sense of BELONGING. Those are all you need. I mean - think about blind people! And I think it's liberating being effectively a load of brains in jars. Total equality.
Don't get me wrong, I don't have an issue with face-to-face, but I do need more solitary time than the average, yet still enjoying human interaction & mental stimulation while 'working' (removing Problem People from our lives), for me, is a best of both worlds.
It's good practise as well. I mean, everything takes practise to get good at or truly comfortable with. Plus, when you do and it's become commonplace to spill your heart out here, you'll have been getting into the habit of not thinking about yourself and how you look while conversing.
Often, this can be superior to "real life". It's literally just brain to brain, no distracting clutter. And people are braver when you can't see them so you tend to get 'real' far more quickly than in real life, similar to sleepovers after Lights Out - confess, confess, confess... (albeit that, stupid Narcs know this hence are drawn to social media as affords Love-Bombing and Rushing Intimacy, so you do have to be careful (except with long-staying forum 'residents'), and never meet up in real life). But yeah...if you type what you talk rather than composing and editing, then I don't see much difference between this and getting together with other people in a pub during a power-cut, haha.
It's a great way of getting back on the horse.
And I must say, I'm really enjoying you lot, lately. You're an exceptionally fab bunch of guests with lovely dispositions and manners. (Fangtail will be blushing and fidgeting with over-modesty now I've said that, haha.) (...speaking of whom...)
(This post is a spillage and-a-half so I'll also duplicate it and my answer for ref., over on your own thread.)
"I definitely have social anxiety myself too."
Not here, you don't. Here, you're just really interesting and refreshing to talk to.
"I don't really have much of a social life and only a small group of friends who all seem to have drifted apart over the years."
Yeah, sorry, but, that'll be your dad's effect. The ripples are far-reaching. Plus, going by your latest on your thread, I reckon you've been grieving. "Grieving IN the relationship", it's called. So, being in "The Long Goodbye" - "See ya!...Take care!.... Don't take any wooden nickels!... Adieu! .....Au Revoir .....Laters! - why WOULD you feel like maintaining those friendships? Those in Mourning aren't generally known for their sociability, no.
Could you ring them now and explain why you drifted off and that you're about to cut him off and soon be getting back to normal?
You never know - they might have been going through the same thing?...Like Attracts Like, after all.....that might even explain why they didn't stop you drifting away, either?
I definitely think, if you didn't keep in touch, you need to ring your would-be-renter friend whom your dad was UTTERLY DISGUSTING towards (...still can't get my head around that yet). Even if just to tell him you have more to say now that you've understood what's definitely wrong with the man and how emotionally heinous his abuse was that day?
"It's really hard for me to really be social. Like, I don't seem to meet new people very often, I hate large crowds and avoid them like the plague (even before covid), and even online it seems I have some trouble. I've made a few friends online too but again, don't really hear from them very often anymore. "
You've got to go new places to meet new people - surely?
I can't do large crowds, either....I think that's what all forum-users have in-common, actually. OMG...memories of trying to get to work, walking up Oxford Street, London in my 20s, stuck behind a group of shuffling/ambling, randomly-stopping or -zig-zag-ing tourists where pavement-overtaking was impossible ("aaargh!"). Or stuck in a Tube tunnel...Northern Line ...still being dug further up the line (haha)...surrounded by people only inches from your face (and hoping to hell they didn't have bad breath!)...stressy but tedious.... I'd have to start everyone talking. And I do mean, have to.....against my own will. It was just too dichotomous for me - at intimate/claustrophobic range yet everyone looking everywhere but at each other, not saying a word. ...I was terrible. I'd just yell, 'Right, this is too boring - enough of this crap - Joke Time, let have some fun...!'. I'd spout a joke, loudly, and roll about laughing at it myself regardless of whether anyone else was (too low on social fear - even did stand up a couple of times, just to experience it (fun, actually)). And then another joke and another... Worked, though...there was always someone brave and game...and then everyone else ("baaaa!") would soon join in. Should have seen other commuters' faces at the end stop when we all disembarked, watching the entire carriage getting off like they were one giant coach-party on a day out...like, WTF?!... Started a "6.15" club in the buffet car on my commuter train line as well (6.15am train up, 6.15pm train back). .....So that's my reason for not liking large crowds....because if something goes wrong or people are stuck-bored, I feel like it's either down to me to step in or nothing will improve (I call it, "I guess Muggins, here, will have to do it - as usual"). ....And, allegedly, I found out decades later, via an extensive, both-sides Geneologist, that I take after my Great-Great-Great Grandmother whom used to do the same, for-free, in pubs to cheer people up (some era when everyone was miserable). So at least I know I'm not mad, just genetically coerced, LOL...as there we have it: Crowds = Work For Me (this doesn't count, though, no worries)... I feel responsible for even big crowds. Great, smashing, lovely.... Plus, I'm bossy so that helps in an emergency as well ("You - call the Police; you - do that; you - get this"......and they do!)
Allegedly, unintelligent people are the happiest. (Smug bstds, haha!)
But really, my point is - I don't care what people do or do not think about me - unless they're correct, in which case, I LOVE hearing feedback. But otherwise - pfff....thanks for your (subjective) opinion but I don't recognise myself in your opinion of me so... (shrug). And neither should you (plural) because, PEOPLE DON'T CARE. They really don't. Not unless they NEED to. Otherwise, this is what they're thinking:
I wonder what he/she/they are thinking about me?
That's it! Worrying is a LEGITIMATE 'total waste of time'!
Just be yourself....move around a lot....new places.... find your posse.... 'your cups of tea'...your type are programmed to think you're fab so will. End Of. The rest - your uniquenesses - are just the interesting detail, really. But we're none of us in control of whom we take a liking to or not. It all goes on via the caveman wiring. It's JUST compatible genes and relateable upbringing (for compatibility). So it's just a numbers game.
Does that change how you see it now?
"I sort of know where my social anxiety comes from, it has to do with a handful of negative experiences in my early teens but I do feel like I've somewhat outgrown a lot of that so I'm not really sure why I'm still so socially awkward and closed off."
Because it doesn't work like that. You can't outgrow it. It has to SHRINK to a speck and then disappear altogether (with all that remains being a non-fascinating memory that doesn't get you emotional any more). Your inner animal (or if you prefer, Inner Child) doesn't get over it even if Conscious YOU are.
You have to work together to get over things. You have to both walk along a Recovery Path in pain, until the pain eases (and remember, the pain is caused by the creakingly over-heavy mental-emotional in-tray, making you need to process super-fast, even performing acrobatics.....equals brainache & heartache (diaphram-ache, actually)). You have to sit there, wailing and in pain for a decent amount of time whenever you feel like it...you have to plan your days/week differently to accommodate these grieving waves (usually 1 down to every 3 days)...that's what all the narc experts mean when they say, Being Kind To Yourself. You have to LET yourself - right down the bottom where your inner animal/kid still lives - get over it. But where you're concerned - how could you finish grieving when you still had the same crap going on - via your Dud? You can't bury a corpse unless you KNOW-know-know it's truly dead...otherwise it might dig itself up and re-appear at any point, a la, 'The only thing that doesn't decompose when you bury it, is pain'.
NOW you can bury it. But just before you do, you'll probably need to talk again - and more extensively - to that would-be-renter friend because you have some missing pieces from your whole evidence table there. Not that you couldn't imagine how it went for him, but the certainty of knowing the full facts will be a great shunt forward.
Plus, you now know it wasn't a case of - I wasn't lovable enough and that's why my Dad rejected me. It was this:
My dad is too mentally-ill for bonding, running and repairing any relationships, not even with his own baby. And yet he can't help being the one to damage or break them. My god, what a horrible way to be...to live your life! Thank God *I'm* not like that!
(It's known in the context of personality disordereds as The Reverse Midas Touch.)
"I don't mean to be, it just seems to be part of who I am now."
No - UP till now. It'll start to improve again soon - you'll see. But first you have to (a) dump your relationship with your dad while insisting (by silent puppy-training - how and when you respond or fail to) on a brand new one, or, if he's too far gone for that, (b) just dump it/him in your head, still see him/keep in touch by-rote occasionally, and wait for the inevitable to happen: going off him and never calling him again anyway.
"It's kind of a mixed blessing that I have my own office at work, hardly ever have to work with anyone and although I do live with family we live kind of secluded"
"so I still tend to spend a lot of time alone (mostly by choice)."
"Most of my coworkers kind of get this about me I think. I'm on pretty good terms with everyone at work too but even at work I avoid crowds and spend as little time as possible around people."
Quiet and self-contained, then.
Do you find people over-stimulating and too soon feel desperate to back to your 'charging station'?
"It's only in extremely social situations (like, if I'm around more than 3 or 4 people at a time) do I feel anxious and that's normally the only time I feel any kind of anxiety."
Three or four? Oh, well, that's easy, then!...That just makes you a Quality Over Quantity type, meant for deeper conversations. That's not a problem. That's just part of who you are and what you're for.
Could you DO things in large crowds though...e.g. be a concert usher/security-guard, i.e. IN-CHARGE of a crowd, without having to say much bar the job-script?
PS: Did either of you three know that what Anxiety actually is, at root, no matter whether social or general, is a worry/fear of future events and consequences? It's basically, feeling unanchored and vulnerable, not knowing when it'll be over and feeling like it never will be. ...which is crap but how it realistically feels.
Stress Overload. Current, adding to undealt with past stress. Your brains want you to do your homework before you go out to play. Basically. So, when Conscious You feels sociable and thinks about going out, your inner kid makes you feel really guilty and wrong. So that you stay in and do your work. But need company.
You don't, actually. You need comfort and support but not friends. You've GOT to catch up to who you all are now. Your intrays got dumped with stuff that never should have been plonked in any kid's cute little in-tray (that was made for tiny little, kid-sized, sheets that read nothing more serious than: which flavour ice-cream do I fancy? - SO THAT you could focus on learning who you were, top-to-bottom-inside-out and therefore where in the machine you - your cog - belonged...where your posse cogs hung-out. You can't be confident about introducing yourself if you don't know what thus who you are or what you're called - save for back when the aggro/bullying or its effects, were impacting.
You're not permanently stunted like a Narc - and personality wises are the opposite to Narcs - but you are Boy or Girl, Interrupted.
The fastest way to get to know yourself is: be nice to yourself, respectful, pleasant, put your best foot forward, put an effort in, take a real interest, keep your promises, be dependable, compassionate, helpful...CARE MAJORLY..... and once you and you are having great fun, just the two of you, not needing any 'third' person - that's when you're best friends (in the full sense of the word). Then all you're looking for is a second best friend (and that's not hard).
"If you build it - they will come" (name the film!)
If you 'build' yourself - they will come, too.
Make best friends, best mutual entertainers, with you. You'll then act genuinely like you like you. And that's the very best recommendation any friend-applicant needs.
YOU dictate whether they should like and want to be friends with you. People take YOUR cue.
Narcs try to cheat at that and just go through the motions (faking it). But there's no MEAT on it, it's all just surface illusion...gets them nowhere except fired again. Build up the meat by becoming your own best company and VOILA! Now you're really attact-ive. You have allure. Charisma. That Je Ne Sais Quoi.
You just have to keep playing by yourself, using your imagination, doing whatever lights your candle...practising making YOURSELF laugh your socks off...getting back in touch with what you like, what you don't....especially your morals and boundaries ("I'll never let anyone interrupt me after only my third word, EVER AGAIN.... I'll just walk off....If they're going to be that rude - why should I give a damn if they think I am because I refuse to stand there and be subjected to it?'. EASY.
And then you are ready and qualified to be a lasting Friend to the point where you don't have to DO anything, SAY anything. You could just stand there and hum and you'd be surrounded by people wanting to "have summa what you've got" (Contented/Happy Dust) and bask in your warmth.
You'll always have friends. New or reignited friends can wait right now, that's all. Class first. It's too important. ...Then Playtime. You didn't get Playtime until you'd already done a couple of classes, remember? And that was just 15/20 piddly minutes. You had to subject yourself to another one or two before being rewarded with lunchtime Playtime (which, if you took off eating time, was only 30 minutes). Then another two before afternoon break?...whatever. Point is - work first, THEN play. From Toddler to Young Adult. Thrice daily.
School CONDITIONED you that way!
So did your parents: Can I have X? / Clean your room first? / Okay.
And that's why you ALL sound like you want to be sociable yet at the same time, DON'T want to be sociable. You're Torn. Because you know you haven't earned Playtime yet.
Get yourselves now?
Anxiety is because you're not dealing with something (classtime). It becomes its own problem by becoming an even greater weight than the guilt of not dealing. It's a distraction technique. Usually because the mind is willing but the flesh is weak. That, and the fact you DON'T KNOW you're not being lazy or avoidant on purpose. It's SIMPLY that your heaving in-tray is invisible.
You're not lazy, antisocial, broken, whatever. You're just mentally overworked for a while, to a degree you've never experienced and therefore you don't understand why you're being like you are.
It's called, Brainache.
Don't let your own emotions and emotional states scare and intimidate you. Dare to examine what they are until they lose their power to distress you so much. Remember that thirst is an emotion. Also, don't worry about your strength and endurance abilities. All of your ancestors went through what you've been through...again and again over eons until it became assimilated into their genes until they got passed into YOU (equals evolving). You're the product of all of that/all of them. And your ancestors' genes had to be tough to make it all the waay to this far! You're the top upgrade, the latest release. You're PROGRAMMED to get through it perfectly fine and not have it affect or hold you back any more once you're genuinely done. Liken it to hours stuck on the loo, constipated, but where it feels like diaohrrea so you daren't go anywhere or do anything...just sit on the loo, wishing it would stop. Brain version...but emotions are slooooooow to recover so it lasts months, maybe even a couple of years.
So that's it! You each have brain constipation. You had to rush the brain food, stuff your faces in too short a space of time, without time to chew it properly to a puree before swallowing (due to panicking about feeling so stressed and miserable, and being impatient for it to be over, therefore misguidedly feeling WRONG for not being over everything yet), and ended up a bit blocked in there. You're not VERY blocked or else you'd not have made it here to PP. Think of learning to interest, entertain and amuse yourself as staying off food - fasting - as your way of giving your digestive system a rest and letting it munch on your fat stores instead while your body works on unblocking that blockage.
Use work as distraction, sure. But have a beeping good mope or cry when you get home. Don't avoid and shelve the grief like you did 'back then'.
Hope that made sense. Basically -
Nope. No hospital disco for you three. You're not healed enough, it would just put you back. Get back into your beds and do a jigsaw or something. Remember jigsaws? Or talk amongst yourselves. You're here to heal, not be foolish and go dancing on a broken leg. Never heard of anything so silly - have you three?
Dancing isn't the only fun.
(Even simpler sense?)
You can definitely sociablise with co-victims (people in your ward), though. That's okay. That's Support. And that's what you need...it just FELT like needing Friendship.
Easy mistake. Common mistake.
Complain to management "up there" for the fact we have too limited emotional sensations these days and one cocktail can 'taste' too convincingly like another.
I think I've rambled on and on too much but that's because I'm knackered. Not been to bed yet, don't intend to today. Been fighting a sinus cold this last fortnight and it's mucked up my timeclock (making me sleep too long, wake late, then not being tired come bedtime...cue caught in a cycle...you know how it goes), so I'm having to see if I can get through to tonight/normal-time bedtime without giving in.... The challenge is awwwn.... wish me luck?