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Toodles

Social Anxiety

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Curious if anyone else has social anxiety, and if they have any stories to share. Or if you don't have it, feel free to ask questions.

 

Personally, I'm an extremely avoidant person, to the point where my avoidant behaviour makes even less sense than the things I'm afraid of. While I realize I should do my best to get that under control... Currently I'd jump into a pit of lions to get away from social interaction, and I don't think I'm exaggerating very much.

 

At the moment, I am starving myself. Why? There is a box of pizza on the counter. That is just well and dandy, so why not have the pizza for lunch? Well, you see, that box is in direct sight of my mother and her boyfriend. My mom (whom being around makes me very anxious anyway) is always yelling at me about eating her food--while giving no indication as to what constitutes as "hers"--so I've become very touchy about eating anything when she's around, and I don't know her boyfriend at all. I'm also not entirely sure if they left any pizza for me or if it's just an empty box.

 

If the pizza box was in the fridge, or some other part of the counter not in sight, I could open it and check, and make lunch like normal. But if I open it and nothing is there, I'll be embarrassed. If I make something else for lunch, my mom will ask why I didn't have the pizza, and I'll be embarrassed again. So... no lunch for me today.

 

That actually pretty accurately describes the extent of my nonsensical avoidant behaviour! This will probably be amusing in a few years, but right now I'm just hungry. And praying to whatever gods exist that they go away.

 

I'm sure I have other stories to share later - there was my 3 and a half years of public hellschool, and my first job as a pool attendant (thanks to that horrible experience I'm trying to get a job as an online artist, upon which, in a perfect world, I will save 10k, move away from my mother, and resign myself to a pleasant life of hermitage with my also-socially-anxious boyfriend. Until I then become a famous Youtuber/streamer, upon which my social anxiety will magically disappear and I will parade around conventions with impunity... Er... I'll stop now).

 

Also, since it's relevant, have these comics I drew on Miiverse when I was like 16.

 

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I have social anxeity, its really bad....... i guess it is one reason i failed school last year.

Edited by zorua9

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I have a tendency to refuse to do anything unfamiliar, particularly in front of people. This can be a problem if it's something as simple as tossing a paper cup into a bin I don't usually use. When I worked at a curiosities store at like 14 or 15 (the owner of which I'm good friends with), I had instructions repeated to me down to the tiniest detail. I still have instructions repeated like that, and I begin to panic if I find out I likely can't pull off a given task perfectly. Essentially, I'm paranoid of messing up the slightest things.

 

It's been a number of years since working at that store, and come February I'm going to begin volunteer work at a museum branch, helping to prepare specimens for research and/or display. Needless to say, I am terrified I won't do well. I guess a small comfort can be found in that I took up the chance instead of declining it like most other times.

 

Related to that (I guess) is this high level of discomfort when it comes to talking to people. Almost every time, I hardly ever speak up when first meeting, and only after time (it could be anywhere from ten minutes to... never) I begin speaking. Some people I click with instantly, yet there are some I've spoken to numerous times and still don't know how exactly to interact with.

 

All in all, I definitely show avoidance behaviours. And it can be a real problem. But on the total opposite end of the scale, sometimes I do the stupidest things in public just to get some weird looks. Or falling over twice in ten seconds on a bus is just hilarity rather than embarrassment.

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I have a tendency to refuse to do anything unfamiliar, particularly in front of people. This can be a problem if it's something as simple as tossing a paper cup into a bin I don't usually use. When I worked at a curiosities store at like 14 or 15 (the owner of which I'm good friends with), I had instructions repeated to me down to the tiniest detail. I still have instructions repeated like that, and I begin to panic if I find out I likely can't pull off a given task perfectly.  Essentially, I'm paranoid of messing up the slightest things.

That's kind of like me. Part of the reason I'm so afraid to get a "real" job is because I seem to have issues learning to do new things quickly, however simple they may be. So I'm constantly terrified that I'll be expected to know how to do something I "should" already know, or that any person (other than me) could pick up in seconds. But it's not so much perfection I'm worried about, as just being able to do things at all.

 

I have social anxeity, its really bad....... i guess it is one reason i failed school last year.

I was pretty lucky. I was kind of a teacher's pet by accident, they all loved me. xd.png Guess a quiet bookworm who didn't skip (after the school day began, anyway...) or sleep in class was a dream come true for them.

 

When they called group work I would usually completely shut down out of stress and either do the project myself, or sit in a corner, look busy, and hope no one noticed me. I got a few 0s for the times I got away with it (when a group really WAS required), but since I got a lot of good grades already, it didn't hurt too bad.

 

I know it's tempting to hide in the bathroom when you know a group assignment/presentation/etc is coming, but don't do it. A lot of teachers will just put you in a group themselves if you don't choose. And once you're there, it's easier. At least, that's how it is for me. It's the thought of walking up to someone and initiating conversation that terrifies me... Once I'm already in the conversation, the fear is a little easier to cope with.

 

If the teacher is nice, I might slip them a note explaining your social anxiety and how you'd prefer to work alone, if that contributed to your failing. At the very least, they might assign you into groups without you having to ask in the future.

 

The American education system is censorkip.gifcensorkip.gif, and social anxiety piled on top of that is about as bad as it gets. I know it's difficult, but the best advice I've ever heard--concerning both social anxiety and high school--is to just bite the bullet and get it done.

 

Also, I probably shouldn't advocate this, but taking a day off (aka lying to my mom and saying I was sick) every once in a while really helped me keep my mental health stable. If I knew the day was going to be crap, I said no and went back to bed. Certainly don't get into the habit, and don't do it if you're already failing a class (no guarantee you'll get makeup work). But if it's just too much stress for you to bear, seriously, those few extra hours of sleep can feel like a miracle. If your parents understand your anxiety, then be honest with them.

 

...Unless by "school" you mean college, in which case, a lot of this advice is ambiguous at best. Good luck, buddy. xd.png

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I have pretty bad social anxiety. If WalMart is too busy or I'm in there for too long I'll have to bee line for the exits or I'll have a panic attack. I also HATE when people get close to me, walk too close behind me, accidentally bump me or get too close to me with a cart... I'll get physically nauseous and irrationally angry to the point I've actually shouted at people for pretty much no reason. My therapist says I have antisocial tendencies, too so... that's part of it.

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I'm not sure if this counts but I hate doing anything in front a group of people and I hate talking to stranger. Since I'm a student, this includes speech/presentation in class, talk to teacher, talk to classmates that I don't really know, being assigned to a group where I don't know anyone. I'm probably just against talking sad.gif

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I was diagnosed with it a year ago. For me, it's really frustrating. It's not so much that I'm incapable of talking to people, but that whenever I try my brain basically just bluescreens. Pretty much every form of social interaction where I actually have to speak to people is difficult, and I can count the number of people I can speak normally with on one hand. It also overlaps with some of my other anxieties (what fun), in that physical contact (anything more than a handshake, or anything that comes out of nowhere) or being near to too many people at a time, even if I don't have to talk, gives me a borderline panic attack.

 

I've been taking cognitive behavioural therapy for a few months now. It's helped some, but the progress is slow. I'm also planning on consulting with a psychiatrist to get extra help for my depression, which might make the anxiety better (since the two often feed into eachother).

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I feel for you. That's awful. sad.gif I used to have social anxiety in middle school and high school, but it slowly went away. That being said, I still avoid a lot of social situations, especially parties where I'm not familiar with most of the people. However, it's less social anxiety and more "this is exhausting, I don't enjoy it, and I'd rather be doing something else."

 

Now I just have severe generalized anxiety disorder, which is worse than social anxiety, because if even the slightest thing goes awry, I freak out, and it takes forever for me to get back to baseline mood (I have BPD).

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Not necessarily social anxiety, but I do have generalized anxiety. Up until recently I have been going untreated, up until I had a downward spiral with my health. Almost two years ago, I started having chest pains and I was terrified. I was too scared to go to the doctor, and scared to NOT go to the doctor. I didn't go, and I kept having the pains, and as my worry increased, my health took a sharp downward spiral for over a year until I finally had a breakdown in front of my parents. It turns out it wasn't my heart like I was scared of(though I WAS causing heart palpitations with my worry). I am also now taking medication and I am a lot better than I was.

 

I still have some issues, but I have been able to better recognize when I am being unreasonable. Like recently I had a work party at a restaurant and I was stressing out over being on time and getting there quickly. Despite being at the restaurant and being seated, I was still feeling a great deal of anxiety. I was able to pause, realize that I really shouldn't be feeling so stressed and took steps to calm myself down.

Edited by Nectaris

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I don't think there's a point where social anxiety magically disappears. I have it myself, mixed in with being autistic. When I was in school I didn't have any close friends and these days, while I have a family of my own, I'm afraid to go up to befriend a perfectly friendly upstairs neighbor who has similar interests and has only ever been nice. We've exchanged gifts and such, but I send things up via my spouse. There WAS one time when I answered the door and she laughed at me then walked away and I have no idea why. That's haunted me since.

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Oh man, this is sounding really familiar. :l

 

I've hid under tables to avoid people before! While it's not as obvious as it was before, I don't really feel like I've gotten much better - I just cope in different ways.

 

I really need to push myself to get out more and meet more people but being the only new person in a group horrifies me.

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I go through phases with this. Sometimes I can socialize just fine, but only with those I click with enough to trust. Other times I'll just hide away in my room for a month or two without wanting any sort of communication. I have several kinds of anxiety, heh.

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I have a really bad pretty much life ruining case of social anxiety yeah. It's untreated and progressively getting worse because nobody believes me and two im just too scared to ask for help!

 

It's like I want to talk to people but I clam up and shut down. It's like I want friends again but I distance myself when I feel like i'm getting closer to them. It's like I want to go back to school or get a full time job but I sit at home and do nothing because both school and job interviews give me severe panic attacks. It's like I remain unbiased and neutral in general in a social situation because i'm afraid to express any opinion or emotion. And so on and so forth

 

It's absolutely awful and not something i'd wish upon anyone :|

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I have a really bad pretty much life ruining case of social anxiety yeah. It's untreated and progressively getting worse because nobody believes me and two im just too scared to ask for help!

 

It's like I want to talk to people but I clam up and shut down. It's like I want friends again but I distance myself when I feel like i'm getting closer to them. It's like I want to go back to school or get a full time job but I sit at home and do nothing because both school and job interviews give me severe panic attacks. It's like I remain unbiased and neutral in general in a social situation because i'm afraid to express any opinion or emotion. And so on and so forth

 

It's absolutely awful and not something i'd wish upon anyone :|

The way I see it, everyone in that situation has two options.

 

The first, is the obvious choice. Go to a therapist. It's scary, but perhaps more scary than the therapy is, if you're a kid or otherwise dependent on whoever you live with for getting around, the prospect of asking the people for help getting one. But, if this is the option you choose, it has to be done. Doing nothing is easy, but it also makes you feel progressively worse and worse. Trust me. If you do need to ask for help from your parents or whatever in getting a therapist, I'd recommend writing an email or text if you're uncomfortable approaching them directly.

 

If your parents refuse to take you to therapy, then find friends, family, whatever, until someone helps you. For a lot of people, therapy is a great thing, whether you choose to go on medication or not, and it's worth a shot if nothing else.

 

The other choice, and a bit of an unpopular opinion. Self-therapy. If you can't get help, then help yourself. Going to a therapist is not required (though I would at least give it a chance). It doesn't work for everyone. It didn't work for me.

 

With self-therapy, it isn't about what disorder you have, it's about your symptoms, identifying the triggers and underlying causes for your symptoms, and figuring out how you can fix it in your own way.

 

Well, let me give an example... Online modes in video games terrify me. Clicking the "Play" button in an online game used to make me have a mini panic attack. Even once I was in the game, I would think of something to say in the voice chat, but would lose my nerve and not say anything.

 

But with gradual training myself to just click play and get it over with, and playing with friends so I'll be more comfortable, that reaction is starting to go away. Even in real life, I'm a little more outspoken. (I'm not currently in a position where I can interact with strangers, but maybe it's even helping there too.) It sounds small, but these tiny things stack.

 

Hey, I'm getting anxiety about making this post, but I'm gonna make it anyway because I have a bad habit of writing long posts and then not posting them because I'm afraid people will judge me, and I need to nip that in the bud. XD

 

It's all about trying everything and finding what helps you. Whether it's gradually submerging yourself in small social situations, or just biting the bullet and diving right in, or finding workarounds like interacting with people online more or using social sites that may lead you to be more willing to try real-life socializing.

 

And obviously, this approach is not for everyone either. Some peoples' symptoms are just too severe to go without professional help, medication, or both, and no amount of trying will get around that.

 

Just don't let anyone try to tell you how you should deal with your anxiety. You need to do what's best for you. :P Except for this. No matter how scared you are, if you do nothing, it will only get worse. Unless you plan to move to the Himalayas and become a lone monk/nomad, doing nothing isn't an option. Well, it's an option, but it's a bad one. XD

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Yep, everything you have said fits me pretty good too x-x

But I am trying to get better

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The way I see it, everyone in that situation has two options.

 

The first, is the obvious choice. Go to a therapist. It's scary, but perhaps more scary than the therapy is, if you're a kid or otherwise dependent on whoever you live with for getting around, the prospect of asking the people for help getting one. But, if this is the option you choose, it has to be done. Doing nothing is easy, but it also makes you feel progressively worse and worse. Trust me. If you do need to ask for help from your parents or whatever in getting a therapist, I'd recommend writing an email or text if you're uncomfortable approaching them directly.

 

If your parents refuse to take you to therapy, then find friends, family, whatever, until someone helps you. For a lot of people, therapy is a great thing, whether you choose to go on medication or not, and it's worth a shot if nothing else.

 

The other choice, and a bit of an unpopular opinion. Self-therapy. If you can't get help, then help yourself. Going to a therapist is not required (though I would at least give it a chance). It doesn't work for everyone. It didn't work for me.

 

With self-therapy, it isn't about what disorder you have, it's about your symptoms, identifying the triggers and underlying causes for your symptoms, and figuring out how you can fix it in your own way.

 

Well, let me give an example... Online modes in video games terrify me. Clicking the "Play" button in an online game used to make me have a mini panic attack. Even once I was in the game, I would think of something to say in the voice chat, but would lose my nerve and not say anything.

 

But with gradual training myself to just click play and get it over with, and playing with friends so I'll be more comfortable, that reaction is starting to go away. Even in real life, I'm a little more outspoken. (I'm not currently in a position where I can interact with strangers, but maybe it's even helping there too.) It sounds small, but these tiny things stack.

 

Hey, I'm getting anxiety about making this post, but I'm gonna make it anyway because I have a bad habit of writing long posts and then not posting them because I'm afraid people will judge me, and I need to nip that in the bud. xd.png

 

It's all about trying everything and finding what helps you. Whether it's gradually submerging yourself in small social situations, or just biting the bullet and diving right in, or finding workarounds like interacting with people online more or using social sites that may lead you to be more willing to try real-life socializing.

 

And obviously, this approach is not for everyone either. Some peoples' symptoms are just too severe to go without professional help, medication, or both, and no amount of trying will get around that.

 

Just don't let anyone try to tell you how you should deal with your anxiety. You need to do what's best for you. tongue.gif Except for this. No matter how scared you are, if you do nothing, it will only get worse. Unless you plan to move to the Himalayas and become a lone monk/nomad, doing nothing isn't an option. Well, it's an option, but it's a bad one. xd.png

You're totally right. In a way I hate to hear that doing nothing is the wrong way to go about it. That it magically won't go away on its own. But taking the easy road isn't yielding results and is only making it worse.

Honestly its scary but I do need to just bite the bullet and get serious help. And that goes for anyone with the same problem as me really. Maybe it doesn't mean much coming from someone who can't yet do it themselves, but seeking help and trying is the only way its going to get better.

 

Anyhow yeah for me unfortunately I don't have any family or friends to go to because they don't understand/care and don't know how to help. Therapy probably isn't going to be an option for me regardless though given the fact that 1.) Its the last thing I want to do and 2.) talking about my problems to professionals simply does not help me and I can speak from experience.

 

I've been trying self therapy which is my preferred option which I guess is working a little bit? Like for example my job requires I talk to a lot of customers. Instead of saying the bare minimum, I try to engage in simple conversation with them(the friendly ones at least). Or I try to strike up conversation with my coworkers (unfortunately both these things backfire on me most of the time but at least i'm trying)

 

Or another thing is im scared to post on the internet in general but i'll force myself to comment and talk to folks anyways (like i'm doing right now). Or same here with the online video gaming thing. i'm nowhere yet near as good as I could be..or even as okay as I was two years ago but I like to think every little bit of training helps

 

So yeah. Anyhow thank you for the reply toodles! Usually when I talk about anxiety in general its met with pity or "oh well that sucks". Instead you told me just the thing I needed to hear and some good advice which I really really appreciate smile.gif

 

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I also have social anxiety. At least, I'm pretty sure. I haven't been formally diagnosed but to be honest I'm so avoidant of interactions in general I'm not sure how that diagnosis could happen. I go to school but I don't feel like I've made any close friends and I honestly prefer to spend the majority of my days by myself.

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Another anxiety disorder sufferer chiming in! (With a boatload of other issues that go into nasty feedback loops)

 

What Toodles said has been entirely true for me. I will go through a great deal of inconvenience to avoid situations that make me nervous, and surprise surprise after years of this my symptoms are worse. By avoiding problems and confrontations my already limited ability to cope with them has atrophied.

 

Just last week I missed a therapy group because I went to pieces on the drive there and had to turn around. I stayed in crappy retail work because I'm so afraid of trying something different and screwing up in front of others, even though I don't want this to be my life. I took night shift to minimize the amount I'd deal with customers, and I've begun to notice that when I'm forced to be out during the days to run errands, my stress level goes through the roof. Too many cars on the road, too many people moving around me in the stores (Christmas shopping sent me home early crying because I was freaking out about feeling crowded), too many little random politenesses society expects us to respond to and I feel like I can't keep up anymore. "Hi, how ya doin'?" is supposed to be answered with "fine, you?" and not a sudden dump of my real emotions. Whoops!

 

With self-therapy, it isn't about what disorder you have, it's about your symptoms, identifying the triggers and underlying causes for your symptoms, and figuring out how you can fix it in your own way.

Yep. Both on your own and with a therapist, recognizing what is setting you off is a huge step in working through it. A next step that has sometimes worked for me is "what happens if it DOES go wrong?" I take a moment to work through the chain of results, and yes, there may be personal embarrassment, but the situation will eventually get resolved, with or without someone else's input. Life will go on. The only way it will *never* get resolved is if I keep avoiding it. (Boy I wish I could get this to always work. But I'm a little better with practice. If I'm so afraid of rejection/failure that I never try, it's the same as *choosing* rejection/failure, because I've given up even the chance of success.)

 

Like for example my job requires I talk to a lot of customers. Instead of saying the bare minimum, I try to engage in simple conversation with them(the friendly ones at least). Or I try to strike up conversation with my coworkers (unfortunately both these things backfire on me most of the time but at least i'm trying)

When I was daytime retail, and one horrid year as main cashier at a fast food joint (Managers did not care that it left me crying several times), I eventually had a sort of epiphany: the people I interacted with, even the ones I saw regularly, did not care OR need to know how I was doing that day. I created a mask to wear, had some stock brief conversations I could recycle (what I would do after work, favorite flavor of X thing they were getting, etc) and I did not need to get emotionally engaged with stranger after stranger. It was like discovering a suit of armor I could wear over my raw nerves.

 

 

Personally, I've accepted the fact that I am not functional without certain meds anymore.* I'm coming out of a really bad period when I was off everything because I couldn't bring myself to go back to the therapist again - wonderful irony - and that was the only way to get my prescriptions refilled. [Redacting the mess OCD + anxiety + BPD leaves me in without them] But it was finally bad enough I had to bit the bullet and go make an appointment. It sucked, but now I'm getting help again. So, now that I am personally more stable, I'm wanting to reach out and have some sort of social contact aside from my immediate coworkers again. I want to make a few friends.

 

And, it's been really hard. I feel like, in those years I avoided interactions, the part of me that knew how to connect with people has withered away. I want to join in the conversation; I want to share the stuff I've been reading lately or just mulling over during work, and...I just can't. Sometimes it feels like a block, like social anxiety getting in my way again. And other times it's more like a phantom limb - open mouth, send conversational prompt to speech centers, and then nothing comes out. And then I get ashamed of just being a lump in a crowd of people talking and withdraw again, and am likely to avoid the situation entirely the next time.

 

So, this was a lot of fun to write out (not!). I had a reasonably good work night, and here I am twitching and crying about talking about even some of the personal stuff, frequently edited and erased, with people I will only ever know through text. So, clearly I still have a lot to work on. tongue.gifThings I'm going to try: being more active online again, and finding groups for a specific interest/hobby I can drop in on. I hope that having something specific to talk about with them will make connections easier. A bad habit I need to fight: finding excuses for avoidance. Feeling sick/tired, it's happening too 'late' in the day, so-and-so might not be there, etc. The moment is never going to be perfect, and when I accept that I find it easier to deal with going out (from a funny trick I discovered about my anxiety about going on trips. No matter how hard I try, I'm going to forget *something*. So as long as I can positively account for the minimum necessary, I can deal with forgetting something lesser. Have phone, have wallet, have keys, will travel. You can buy more underwear if you forgot it biggrin.gif )

 

Anyway, um, mood swings while writing this aside, I'll just end with lots of sympathy to everyone who posts here. It can be very hard to explain why being part of society can be so stressful, nigh impossible, to someone who doesn't have this problem. But we can support each other and share whatever coping tips and tricks we've found.

 

 

*Very little pisses me off as much as those who try to shame anyone getting help for mental and emotional issues. Do what you have to do to go through your days, and to hell with anyone else's judgements. They're not you, they don't know what you're feeling, and they have no right to say your problems aren't serious or that if you just did [X] it would go away. [Redacting massive rage and profanity]

 

Man, what a text wall.

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I don't know if this can really be classed as social anxiety (I've never talked to any sort of doctor about it), but I just can't talk to people. If I listed my fears, it would go like this:

 

1. Speaking in public

2. Meeting new people

3. Being alone in a crowd

4. Death

 

I've had the same friends since elementary school. People say "just make new friends" but I really can't. I have no idea how I did it back then and would die if any of them decided to cut ties.

 

The thought of being interviewed by future employers and college reps terrifies me. Even just the thought of eating in public, wearing a new outfit around other people, and picking out a response to something as simple as "hi" is enough to make my stomach sick for a week. It's normal for me to spend several minutes practicing what I'm going to say, only to forget and go with "um...hi." Thanks, brain.

 

And because of it, people think I'm antisocial and avoid me. So it's even harder to make friends.

 

*Dramatic sigh*

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Yeah social anxiety sucks I have it too. I believe people are out to hurt me and even as far as trying to kill me. I avoid eye contact at all costs and distance myself away from the person. I hate doing things in front of people I don’t know especially talking. Simply do not talk to me IM TRYING TO VIBE!!! lol

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