Hi! I’m writing this as it was great to read other people’s stories on SA. It’s probably going to be a little wordy as I can already feel how cathartic this is going to be.
I’m a 31 year old dude and have been suffering from debilitating SA for about 5 years. Before then, I was pretty nervous and would blush very easily if talking to somebody, but it has turned into a wholly debilitating disorder.
If my SA is triggered, I sweat profusely, blush, feel dizzy and out of body, and I’m not able to think or communicate as the adrenalin is kicking in. Sometimes a rather full-blown panic attack will ensue, often lasting an hour or so and disrupting a large part of my day (or the entire day, and the days after as the ANTs settle in) and turning into deep sadness and depression and despair.
Standing in line is one of the biggest triggers. If I can go straight to checkout then I can usually get through without noticeably sweating (afterwards I’ll usually be dripping sweat when back in the car). Often I leave my items because the lines are too long and I’m too anxious. Sometimes I’ll leave the store entirely and drive around for awhile trying to cool off and relax enough to make it through to checkout. Sometimes I leave the store and go for a drive-thru somewhere and then feel extra shitty.
Seeing an attractive person can trigger it. Thinking about an attractive person can trigger it. Talking to an attractive person will almost certainly trigger it. There are times where I feel so much despair that I will never be able to have a relationship again — much less friends!!! I used to have friends and hang out, but I cannot remember the last time I “hung out” with someone. I can’t remember when I felt relaxed being around people except for just a handful of times in the past 5 years. My parents can trigger the blushing and sweating, or back when I was in a relationship my gf could trigger it. Sometimes it’s triggered when I’m talking to someone on the phone and I’m at my house! Going out to eat is almost always a challenge, as I’ll have to continually drink ice water and go cool off outside.
I sometimes have SA dreams where I feel and experience all the suffering and stress of waking SA.
In the last 5 years I’ve been self-medicating with what has now become at least 6 IPAs and some marijuana to go to sleep at night or to just have a break from anxiety and ANTs. I used to smoke spliffs all the time (mj + tobacco) as it was a great excuse to go outside away from people, or in the cold to cool off from a stressful social encounter. But self medicating is dangerous, and I was at a point where I was chain smoking, even waking up in the middle of the night with ANTs and chain smoking and having a couple more beers.
Last year I went sober for a few months but it didn’t exactly solve things. I tried the handouts for some months in the beginning of 2017, but I was not commited, and once I felt a little better I stopped. I then fell back into the 6 IPA and weed rituals again.
SA is created because your brain is tricking itself. I told myself, “look!! You’re doing better! You’re able to chat with cashiers a little bit and make it through the market without having to leave and come back!! Great! Let’s just take a day off of the handouts. Let’s go for a run instead!!”
And well, I stopped doing the CBT. I started focussing on my small business and physical health and ignored the SA. I spent my evenings trail running rather than working the handouts. I thought, ok, once I’m successful and making money then the SA will automatically go away, right? Right!?? WRONG!
Things have gotten slightly better overall since a year and a half ago, but SA is going to take more than a few months of self CBT for me. I can stand in short/medium lines now without getting too triggered. I can chat a little bit with cashiers.
I had a dream recently that I was on a first date and it went well, but beyond this my social life doesn’t exist and SA has and continues to severely restrict my life.
I’m back on the SAI train, headed to a General Practitioner, and determined to address the SA in a serious and consistent manner this time. I need friends. And a relationship. And the ability to talk to people in general. Thank you for reading; wonderful to have your stories and voices so people know they’re not alone.