I just needed to let this out


#1

At 26 years old I am for the most part trying to still figure out who I am. I do not know who I want to be or what I want to do. All that I know is that I want to be happy and feel productive. A lot of the time I struggle to interact with others. The right words do not form when I speak. Then, immediately after the conversation has finished I think of the right thing to say. I don’t stumble when I am by myself. My thoughts are fluent and eloquent. When I speak to those who are smarter than me or have more power, I forget how to form complete sentences. My mind does not let me make mistakes. Or should I say, my mind does not let me make mistakes without consequences. In my mind, I repeat the simplest mistakes over and over and over, sometimes for years. Recently, I have been looking for an outlet. I know life is too short to deal with thoughts such as this, but how do I stop them? How do I stop this natural (to me) thought process from happening? My answer for the last couple of years has to be drunk. Alcohol helps my anxiety subside and act almost like a normal person would. With alcohol I do not hesitate. With alcohol I socialize. I dance. I live. Then after the alcohol wears off, my reality come crashing back. I regret most of my actions from the night before such as the stupid thing I said or how I danced the night before. I know in my heart (for the most part) I truly did not do or say anything too embarrassing. Most people act the way I did on a normal day without the social lubricant. For me, I committed the biggest sin. My actions were regrettable and a perfectly normal, fun and innocent night is ruined. Yet, a part of me is proud I talked to that person or that I was brave enough to dance in front of a crowd. I often go out to bars by myself. I go out by myself to force social interaction. I do have more fun when I talk to people. I do want to dance. My problem is getting there. I often think I am bothering others, they don’t like me or they judge me. Why would anyone want to talk to me, anyway? I have partially succeeded acclimating myself to talking to others. I am much better than what I used to be. However, I still need my rum. One day, I want to be able to talk to who ever I want without shaking, my heart racing or beating myself up afterwards. I want to look people in the eye and show the confident and smart person that I am. If I could choose the one thing that could be fixed with all of this, is to loose the regret. I know life is too short to live with it. I have had more fun these last two or so years than I have ever had in my life. I want this happiness to continue. I want to stop feeling this regret and anxiety. I want to stop feeling like I cannot have fun or that I do not deserve it, because I do. I want to stop feeling so alone. I feel that no one really understands how proud of myself I am when I talk to a client and it goes well. Or how astronomical it is that I have been on the radio multiple times. I used to be too terrified to drive in my hometown; now I drive hundreds of miles for work with no question. I moved to a new city where I did not know anyone. I am doing things I could not have dreamed of doing growing up. Yet, I still struggle talking to my boss, I struggle talking to a guy I am interested in and I stumble talking to strangers. I know right now I am probably the happiest time of my life and I do not want my regrets or anxiety getting in the way of my full happiness.

I’ve come so far. I used to be depressed and suicidal. I’ve been better for a long time. This is not really my full story I just feel stuck with my anxiety right now. I’ve never put these thoughts on paper and needed to let it out. Anyone relate to what I deal with?


#2

I believe you will get a lot of people here (as in EVERYONE) who can relate to what you are dealing with. This is a social anxiety community discussion board, so, after all, people are also hesitant to post…BUT, I think you’ll see that if people do post to your story, they will share the exact same feelings.

Many of us resort to self-medicating to get through the anxiety and the confusion. I did. Alcohol is the big one. It’s a big one for people without anxiety disorders, and it’s a HUGE one for people with social anxiety. And then yes, you have the next day regret and embarrassment that inevitably comes with a mind that works over-time like ours do, anxiety minds. Minds that we’ve trained for years to think too much and then to go negative too much, to build up an irrational world around ourslves and how we define ourselves so negatively, deeper feelings that we never admit to anyone. Our avoidance and our reason for drinking, for example, that we never admit to anyone. Even just the crazy thoughts we’re having that we know are crazy and shouldn’t need to have but we have them anyway -thoughts… that we don’t admit to anyone, lest they think we are indeed crazy. Which all points to social anxiety and worry about self, being judged, judging ourselves.

It may have started from one situation, or physical symptoms, and then over the years because of that it seeps into the whole way we think and feel and see ourselves and the world, and it is the blanket that covers us, when all we want is to be free of it. When, like you, we actually know we want to be happy and want to talk to people and want to engage in life, but we’ve got this confusing thing that gets in the way of everything and affects every decision we make.

Social anxiety.

Have you looked at this link just to perhaps realize some of the same feelings you are talking about right now? https://socialanxietyinstitute.org/what-is-social-anxiety

If that isn’t enough, here’s my personal notes taken from Session 1 of the audio therapy series by Dr. Thomas A. Richards:

To say social anxiety is an emotional nightmare is to underestimate its vast thoroughly entrenched grasp into every area of life. Social anxiety trapped me completely.
The harder you fight against social anxiety, the worse it grows.
The major symptoms which are shared by almost everyone with this disorder (and related difficulties that a minority of social anxiety sufferers possess) include:
Self-conscious when center of attention
• Self-conscious when feel on display
• Hate being called on or put on the spot
• Feelings of being judged in a negative way when people observe what you are doing
• Dislike going around a room introducing oneself
• Dislike speaking in front of and to other people
• Hate to keep conversations going
• Becoming self-conscious when out in public
• Have anticipatory anxiety over future events
• Feeling inhibited in social situations even when you do want to do or say something
• Not knowing what to say in social situations and feeling anxious because of it
• Avoid social events due to heightened anxiety
If you have many of these major symptoms, then it’s likely you suffer from social anxiety.
Physical symptoms that accompany these fears include:
• Rapid heartbeat
• Blushing
• Excessive sweating
• Tightening of muscles around the face and neck
Other symptoms include:
• Facial freezing
• Inability to smile
• Breathing difficulties
• Eye contact problems or irrational beliefs concerning the eyes
Additional symptoms include:
• Shaking
• Trembling hands
• Gastrointestinal problems
• Swallowing problems
• “Numbing out” or “zoning/checking out”
• Inability to make or freely take telephone calls
• Discomfort around eating/drinking in public
• Anxiety about public restrooms
• Discomfort waiting in public lines/queues
• Discomfort in crowded environments
• Dysmorphias are strong irrational beliefs about the way one looks. Someone may irrationally believe that their physical presence makes everyone else uncomfortable.

The strongest, most pervasive symptom of social anxiety is the constant, intense fear that will not go away when you feel put on the spot. The level of anxiety you feel stays high and does not go down until you can escape the situation. High, sharp, and intense amounts of anxiety in anxiety-triggering situations that do not go away with time is the hallmark feature of social anxiety.


You probably don’t have all those symptoms. I didn’t. I had a lot of the most common ones in the first half of the list. And yes, speaking to people in authority, or in whatever situation you apply your worry and anxiety, will make that a harder situation. One day here, doesn’t worry you, another thing over here does. It kind of doesn’t matter to make all thest fine distinctions of when/where/why/how it happens in XYZ place and then doesn’t over in ABCD land. We all know we have certain things and places or reasons that this spikes the anxiety and this doesn’t, and we go into amazing amount of detail to explain why. The center of it all is a social-anxiety-wired brain.

Thanks for sharing your story. I am sure others here will know exactly what you’re talking about. And good for you - getting it out. Telling us. Bringing it into the light to see exactly what it is. That’s the first step.


#3

100%, I relate to everything you have said, I am 42 and I have had social anxiety all my life, socialising, the eye contact, neck tension, neck shaking, authority figures (speaking in front of them), started when I was 21, doesn’t always happen, but I know that the ANT’s will eventually get me to a state of social anxiety with new people.

I remember the very first time it happened, like it was yesterday, back in 1997. surrounded by new colleagues in my dream role, it was the first day as a navigating officer on a cruise ship. I had been over talking as I was nervous to meet them; standing up I went to take a drink of my coffee from an overfull paper cup, so my hand starting shaking a bit, I looked up and (in my mind) everyone was looking at my hand shaking, I got the paper cup down, my neck and hands where trembling, I just wanted to escape, my fight or flight went haywire, however, I could not leave as there was restricted access to the other and only room ( a public bridge visit was going on, so we had to stay in the control room behind). This also brought on claustrophobia in me, so a meeting in a small room with authority people, is the worst.

The thing is before it physically happened I remember thinking about situations like that happening and what would I do, what could the worst reaction be and how awful it would be to make a fool of myself.

So did my negative thinking and my visualising about myself, create this mindset? I believe it did. I have never done CBT before so carrying out this combined with other methods (that does not include medication), I am willing to beat the cycle I am in.

With alcohol, I have learnt that in order not to go overboard (not saying you do) in social situations (or think that you did the next day), that I need to keep track of how much I have had, keep beer bottle tops in my pocket, for example, see how quickly I am drinking compared to others I am socialising with and make sure that I am not drinking quicker, I have learnt to feel the buzz, notice when it happens and how much alcohol it took, be aware you are in a relaxed state, but not to allow that buzz become anything more than a buzz. If I don’t, then like you I am full of remorse and regret the next day (Hangiexty), as my central nervous system comes back to life after the effects of overindulgence wears off, that feeling is unbearable and eye contact I avoid as then the tension in my neck, causes it to shake.

If you have just started then we are probably going to go through this course at the same time. You are welcome to check in with me if you are comfortable to do so.

I am far from cured (nervous about a meeting tomorrow with Authority figures for the last few days), just in the same situation as you, but thanks you gave me the confidence to write down my first occurrence, never done that before.


#4

Kapten,

Thank you for sharing your story. It is good to know that I am not the only one that thinks this way (I knew that already but its always good to hear another. My mind likes to convince me I am the only one that truly has to deal with all of this.). I believe I have had anxiety (GAD and social anxiety) my entire life but I did not realize I did until 5 or 6 years ago. I was on medication for depression and with the medication I discovered that a lot of traits that I thought were part of my personality were actually symptoms of anxiety I never realized I had. Growing up I always considered myself quiet, shy and introverted. After taking the medication I discovered I liked talking to people and that I was not necessarily quiet or shy either. When on the medication I felt like a normal person that does not overthink situations or freaks out if I am even one minute late to class. If I am late to class everyone will look at me and judge me right? I do everything to avoid this situation. If I was a little late, I would just skip class because the embarrassment and anxiety of walking into class late was not worth it.

One of the biggest discoveries for myself was finding out that anxiety and depression are real medical issues. I grew up with my dad telling me to “Suck it up” and that depression and anxiety were no big deal, just in my head. He actually does not think it is a real condition. How I figured out it was a real medical condition was my fear of roller coasters. They were not fun at all. When I was on the antidepressant, I found out I actually really liked, if not loved going on them. In college I would go regularly to the amusement park and go on the roller coasters again and again. The same roller coasters that used to terrify me. After I got off the antidepressant, the same coasters that I went on plenty of times and liked were scary again. It was weird for me to remember loving every second of the ride before and now it was suddenly not fun again.

It was good to see I was not just making everything up and confirmed for myself that this was something truly out of my control and not self imposed. On a positive note, I enjoyed the last time I went on those roller coasters and without medication. :slight_smile:

I got off of the medication because I was tired of having to depend on pills. I think I would benefit going back on them, but the original withdrawals I dealt with were enough to steer me away from medication all together. I have thought about CBT but the thought of going to therapy again almost brings me back to the dark place I was when I went when I was depressed. Right now I am doing well with my anxiety for the most part. For the last two years I have been attempting exposure therapy by placing myself in social situations I know will make me uncomfortable. It has worked a good deal for me. However, after two years I am frustrated that I still have some of these problems (shaking, stumbling with words, etcetera).

I hope your meeting went well! Thanks again.


#5

Mateo thank you too for posting. I have never posted on anything like this before. I tend to keep to myself online. I was really beating myself about writing my original post. I’m sorry it took me so long to respond. I know you did not mean any harm but something you said made me feel dumb. Yes I posted to a social anxiety forum of course other people feel the same way. Then I thought I should have never posted and just read all of the other existing posts on the website. I felt really stupid for posting in the first place and was trying to convince myself that I never posted to save myself the embarrassment I was feeling. Again, I do think you were trying to help and meant no harm. Hope this does not come off the wrong way. My brain just took it poorly. Then again, I would have also felt bad if no one responded! I just feel like I can’t win most of the time.

Thank you for taking the time to respond. You mentioned you had some of those symptoms. Were you able to overcome your social anxiety?