I am new to this group having just found the website a month or so ago. I was severely shy as a child since as long as I can remember, and was raised by a very critical mother who had a very difficult time raising 3 boys alone after she divorced my father who left to live overseas. I always felt bad about myself for being so shy and timid and thought there was something wrong with me, and that just got worse in adolescence when I began smoking weed and drinking at much too early an age (this was in the 1970's). In high school I was too shy to approach or talk to a girl that I liked and who liked me. The emotional pain, frustration, and shame from this was so severe that I quit highschool in the 10th grade and just smoked weed and went surfing every day for the next year and a half. I had nobody I could trust to talk to about any of this, nobody in my family and no mentors outside my family. After a year and a half of almost total isolation and continuous weed and alcohol abuse I became increasingly paranoid to the point that I had a psychotic breakdown. Then my mom had me committed to a private psychiatric hospital where they diagnosed me as schizophrenic and put me on very strong anti-psychotic drugs. I spent the next 2 years in a group home trying to slowly recover enough to eventually move into my own apartment at age 20. Then I foolishly and naively befriended some druggie neighbors and unwittingly overdosed on pcp-laced mushrooms that I mistakenly thought were psylociben mushrooms. I almost died and was high for weeks with residual effects lasting months, if not years. I voluntarily committed myself back into a private psychiatric hospital where I again began a slow recovery. After I was discharged from the hospital i visited my father who lived on a tropical island in the western Pacific located half way around the world from southern California. The islanders had their own language and culture that was very different and much slower than the US, and the tropical diving and surfing was beautiful so my 2 week visit turned into an 8-year stay. My stay on the island was a fortunate blessing that allowed me to recover away from the turmoil I experienced in southern California. I worked at the US naval ship yard where the majority of the workers were indigenous brown skinned islanders, who were tough and prone to violence. So I experienced racism and a constant underlying racial tension that could potentially erupt into real violence for the first time in my life. It was an odd contrast between the idylic tropical beauty of the island, and the very rough prejudice temperament of its natives. During all of this time I was still recovering from my earlier drug overdose and nervous breakdown. I was also experiencing severe social anxiety, although I did not know it at the time because the term or condition was not widely known or discussed back then (1980's). I thought my social anxiety was some type of mental disease or a personality defect that I was born with that I just had to accept and cope with the best I could, which was not very well. After graduating an apprenticeship at the shipyard, which included some academic courses in addition to trade work training, I had recovered enough of my cognitive abilities to want to go to college and study something that would allow me a career other than the dangerous and hard ship building work I was doing. So I returned to southern CA and earned a bachelor's and a master's degree in earth science. It was an extreme culture shock returning to the mainland after having been away so long, and almost all of my classmates were much younger than myself. I did not fit in and felt very much out-of-place, as I have felt all my life. Hence my social anxiety worsened, which I tried to hide. I made very few friends and no intimate relationships, and suffered greatly. I saw a therapist whom I had initially saw back during my adolescence and he was my only confidant to whom I could share my troubles, which was a great relief, but my social anxiety has only worsened over the years. Suicide has been a constant thought, although never strong enough to actually implement because I never really wanted to die...I want to live free from anxiety and the shame, fear, and the emotional turmoil it causes. Thankfully the internet age has allowed us to discover all sorts of things that were previously not widely known, including this topic. I hope this program will help me. Sorry for the long story.