Introducing me!


#1

Hey everyone, I’ll try to keep this brief as I’m just introducing myself.

I’m 33, male, gay, I live in Denver and I love backpacking and hiking, cats, anime, science, drawing, reading, and video games.

I’m desperately unhappy and I believe social anxiety has ruined literally every aspect of my life from career to dating to my health. I joined this forum because I think learning that I’m not alone is an important part of beginning the path to healing. I’m basically in tears writing this because I carry so much despair around with me everywhere that I go. I’ve found it so hard to do anything about my issues because they are so pervasive and I’m so depressed about where my life has gone.

I’ve been single essentially forever. The one long term relationship I had was totally toxic and I cheated/he cheated from the beginning. All my other dating experiences have been humiliating and short-lived.

I coped with my anxiety in college by drinking a lot and smoking a lot of pot, resulting in a low GPA, tons of student loan debt, and essentially no career to speak of (I’m a lab technician and I absolutely hate it). I just started a new job about a month ago and my anxiety is through the ROOF! I’m in Hell all day long, 5 days a week and if my older brother hadn’t already killed himself, I probably would be contemplating suicide right now. But I’m not. I couldn’t ever do that to my family.

I’m lucky to be part of a group of friends who include me in things, but I’m still a satellite of the group and I have a very hard time connecting with anyone but my closest friends (which means I’m really only friends with like 10% of the people in this group).

Ok I’m rambling. Just wanted to introduce myself and say a little bit about what a giant mess I am. Despite my probably very whinny and annoying intro, I could really use some compassion right now. :pensive:

Ross


#2

Hello Ross,

Welcome!

Please find in this community a place to be understood and accepted. Hopefully a place for some hope, a path forward. I think you’ll find that, no matter how crazy you may think anxiety has made your life, we all understand that here. We understand and see it in our own lives.

So, there’s no reason to apologize. You’re not rambling. You’re not annoying. You’re not whiny. In my opinion, you’ve just been very courageous to introduce yourself to all of us in a very honest, sincere way. Thank you.

Without doing the math, I was roughly in my early 30s before I discovered social anxiety online, for the first time seeing how clearly that was my life. Similarly, I can say that before that, I’d never had any serious, successful relationshps. Mostly single, all my life. Social anxiety guaranteed that situation. I previously only had the word depression to describe my feelings even to myself, because I couldn’t understand the craziness that went on in my head, and I wasn’t about to admit that to anyone in full detail. I ended up with a lot of graduate school debt, never fully could enjoy any school years or go after a career that I had dreamed of. Social anxiety got in the way of that, too. I didn’t drink in college so much to cope with anxiety, just because I was more scared of drinking actually. Drinking for me came later, after college, and that turned into a coping mechanism for sure. Once I knew it was available, and was no longer scared to be drunk - then yes, that got messy. Surely wasn’t a solution. I had jobs where the anxiety never let up. A few times I could barely try to explain to people that the nerves never went down, even with repeated exposure. The responses I got were always the same: things will get better in time / you’ll get used to it. Those responses just proved to me that something was wrong, because things never did ease up. Things only seemed to be getting worse. How could you be at a job for 4 years, I thought, and still feel as nervous at the end of year 4 as I was on day 1? A hell that never ends and is only eased when avoiding everything - and that solution just brings its own type of depression and isolation. No solution there either.

I can relate to your introduction. Can you relate to mine?

Again, welcome to you. Thank you for introducing yourself.

-Mateo


#3

Hi Mateo, thank you so much for your thoughtful and kind response. Yes I can certainly relate to what you told me. I’ve recently started a new job and I’m under an enormous amount of stress and anxiety all day long, not to mention the ever-present depression that this kind of anxiety brings with it. To summarize the situation: I’ve been working as a lab technician since I graduated college. As a little background I’ll tell you I have 2 degrees. When I first started school my major was zoology, but because of my depression and anxiety I did poorly in school and had to change my major during my junior year because I was failing some math and science classes. I ended up graduating with a BS degree in Religious Studies in 2008. Basically the worst degree you can have, graduating at the worst time to graduate (beginning of the great recession). I spent a year working terrible odd jobs like canvassing and cashier before I went back to school and finished my science and math classes to get a BS degree in Biology. Since then I’ve been working entry level lab tech jobs, most of which don’t even require a college degree. I make very little money but work very hard. My new job is in a huge lab where I work with a large group of millenials (average ~10 years younger than me) who are all very outgoing, but not particularly friendly to me. I can tell that they think I’m weird and too quiet, and it’s hard for them to hear me when I talk to them. I’ve tried getting to know them by making conversation while they are training me but they don’t seem to be interested in getting to know me. It doesn’t help that it’s a very high pressure/fast-paced environment and the job is very complicated. I know I’ll get it eventually and I don’t think I’m a stupid person, but it’s hard to focus on learning the job when I’m so anxious all the time. I literally felt like I was having a heart attack for the entire day today. You really said it right when you described your job as ‘a Hell that never ends’. That is what it feels like to me. Every cell in my body is telling me to RUN out of there and never look back…but then I’d be homeless.
And of course, my sister, my friends, my parents - they all say things like “just give it time”, or “you’re focusing on the negative”, or “you always hate your job”. But to me this feels like an emergency. I feel like I NEED to get a new job immediately And in my defense, I’ve had several jobs in labs before and I’ve always had some degree of anxiety there, but it’s never been like this. This place is too big, my coworkers are too young, it’s too loud, no one is nice to me, there’s too much stress (oh and I have to wake up at 5 every day and my commute home is 1.5 hours long).

Anyway, yes I really can relate to your experience Mateo. So how are you doing now? What did you do to change things from how your life was in your 30s?

Thanks again for your response!


#4

Hello Ross,

Full disclosure, if you didn’t already know, I’m the community admin. So I am biased, naturally - I have my opinion about the solutions, my experience (as we all have), and I work for the Social Anxiety Institute.

This forum was created, funded, and is maintained by the Social Anxiety Institute with the original purpose of being a closed forum for the therapy series users. A decision was made early on to allow the forum to stay open to anyone, therapy series users or not. Thus, there are any types of conversations, within reason, as long as they’re not offensive/out-of-bounds. But, I tend to keep myself to the posts which relate to the therapy series and finding solutions, according to the therapy series - keep focused on the original purpose of the forum.

People come here with all sorts of opinions, and there are almost too many opinions anymore online - so much confusion really that adds to the mix of advice people give. There wasn’t a lot on social anxiety when I first tried to find help in high school, college… In the meantime books were being written about social phobia, so yes… the knowledge was out there, but finding it for someone who is confused and not knowing how to search for what they’re confused about is another issue many of us are familiar with. And, sure, I tried things even back then, suggested therapies/self-help, counselors, therapists, a well-known workbook that is still out and often cited as a great workbook for anxiety - none of that ever helped me with social anxiety. It all came together for me, the first clear understanding, etc, when I finally landed on Dr. Richards website, www.socialanxietyinstitute.org.

To make a long story short, I started with the audio therapy series that Dr. Richards created, a comprehensive cognitive-behavioral therapy program for social anxiety. Then I attended behavioral therapy groups here. Life happened. Years later, here we are.

In truth, there is no “long story short” for getting over this - well there is and there isn’t. The one I gave you above is true. But the longer version is how long I did, and we all should do, the therapy, and then the time I spent with the groups, ups and downs of life after, times I was more proactive, times I was less… Life happens again, and either one chooses to move forward with it and apply the therapy still, or perhaps one has natural setbacks. And other things work themselves out over time based on, I feel, if one has done and continues to allow the therapy to move you in the right direction. The longer story involves life, events, new things I learned, etc - but that’s life anyway. The shorter 1 to 2 year term where I was focused more intensively on the therapy - I guess you can separate that out if you want to make distinctions on the timeline.

So, I don’t have social anxiety anymore. I’m no superman, this doesn’t mean life just becomes a rainbow, but yes, I got over the hell of social anxiety as it’s defined. Every choice, every moment is not pushed down because of this thing that I don’t think much about anymore. I think about it more because it’s part of my job now.

In some ways I feel lucky there weren’t so many voices in the field yelling out solutions when I landed upon Dr. Richards. I still tried to look for alternatives, but there weren’t many, and I trusted what I read. So I went with that. It helped me. There could be other CBT programs, and I know there are some now. You could see a therapist and they understand that “CBT is the way to go here”, but then I tell people to ask those therapists - “okay, so what’s the program, in detail?” Sure, people may understand what CBT means in general, but what’s the day-to-day? How does one apply it? Do most therapists get that? Do even the other programs work? All the ones I tried before getting here did not work. Of course, I wouldn’t continue searching past this one anyway. If this didn’t work, maybe I’d have found another, or just stopped trying by that point.

Fundamentally, for me, the process needs to go “back” farther, starting at a more basic point than what any of my previous therapists ever understood. This is similar to when people say “just do it/ get over it/ it’ll be fine.” With that kind of assumption, if it’s a person who has never had social anxiety, I think that’s a natural assumption. Thus any program I’ve used, or book I read, or “top 3 things you can do to cure yourself” completely miss that. They never had a chance be effective, if we assume this is serious social anxiety, not just someone who says “hey, I’m a little shy sometimes” (which is every human in the world). Such a program would not know how to break it down so much to get you there. The jumps they try to make you perform are too high for the mind to believe at each step. People will certainly understand CBT, and KNOW that they shouldn’t be irrational, but that doesn’t get them to being rational. And plus, we already know it’s irrational. We don’t exactly need that enlightment anymore. That just makes you feel worse right? We’ve all been there. So perhaps that’s my opinion on the other noise out there about a book here or a CBT program there. They jump too high too fast. I don’t mean to say that we don’t gain from other books - we do, or other healthy practices - we do. I did such things during and after therapy, and they were helpful. But at the start, I answer on these forums from the perspective of - this is a person with social anxiety disorder. Where should they start NOW.

So, for me, I did a CBT program and it happened to be this one. I’m glad it was. If you find another that works for you, it’s the daily consistent habit of this repitition and reinforcement of rational thoughts that will get you there. That combined with slowly applying it to your life and moving it more and more out into behaviors, and then back to reinforcing the cognitive part again. If you’re doing that, sounds good, man. Seems like it could be a way for you to go.

I’m sure you can read my other responses/posts on here to get a sense of my experience, or read other people’s too. A lot of people here in my same shoes. A lot making the choice to change their lives now, with the usual good and bad days that come from that.

I have noticed that you, too, like many of us with social anxiety, are very empathetic and supportive - as you have posted on another thread, giving another community member rational feedback - the realization that there is hope and a way forward. Many of us allow this for others, and are very supportive here, and we are completely horrible to ourselves. This is similar to “Seeing Things From a Different Perspective” in Session 22 of Dr. Richards therapy series. This idea is not just here, it pops up at different points in the therapy, and it’s not necessarily a concept we all haven’t used or know that we already do. Still very useful. We should be treating ourselves as we would, and do, others. You’re giving that person rational feedback, supporting them, telling them a healthy perspective that is very real and rational. It helps us all to get that feedback, to break up our irrational thoughts. To help ourselves, we might use this exercise of taking ourselves out of the picture and thinking what we would say or do or suggest or know to be true for other people, and then apply it to ourselves. But, to be able to believe and do such an exercise with any real benefits, lasting benefits anyway, we also have to gradually get our minds up to that place - the process of therapy. Doesn’t matter that we just know these things… we have to start believing them. Practicing, reinforcing.

So, I’ve made a short story very long, as I often do here. What’s true for what you told that other community member is true for you. In my opinion, it’s not worth settling for social anxiety for the rest of your life. It’s scary at first to change this, but it’s completely possible for each person here to do so, in their own way, on their own timeline.


#5

Hi @RainInTheMountains I just wanted to say i read your post & you are not alone in feeling any of it.

I have also recently joined the forum and started Dr Richards programme (on session 5) it was a leap of faith after having tried counsellors, hypnotherapy, medication etc. I have found it useful so far.

Mainly because its always available when i need it. I can take out my phone & remind myself that SA has no real power over me, I can gain some control by slowing down. I am a long way from being over my particular brand of SA but just knowing the programme is in my pocket & this forum is here to gain support from I feel some relief.

Work is where alot of us feel it the strongest. I know I do. I qualified as a nurse in 2010…i got a distinction with my degree, which meant i was in the top 5% of the class. Sounds great right, but i would get so anxious about being observed i couldnt control my hands, so i would tremble…alot & noticably. Not exactly reassuring to the patient as you can imagine. So, i gave it up. Well that & the recession meant no secure jobs. I just couldnt deal with the constant being watched by patients, colleagues, relatives they were everywhere! Or so I felt. It meant I thought about it all the time, before during & after work. I would dream about it. It ruined my time off work aswell. Eventually i got burnt out and quit. I went back to office work. Super! Great for the Self Esteem.

In my next job i got so overwhelmed (because it turns out the SA comes with you, annoying!) I simply walked out the door & didnt go back for 3 months! I went straight to the doctor. I cried all the way there, in the street & in the waiting room I was just exhausted and couldnt hide it anymore. I must have looked lovely when i got there :sob: and i said i cant go on, you have to do something to help me. Living just felt like too much to handle and those thoughts of ending it, l did cross my mind. I got signed off work and put on antidepressants and then…well nothing. No real guidance or support at all. I tried exercising, sought out counselling & I felt ok after about 2 months but as i realise now i still didnt know what it was, this thing that was wrong with me, what was it! I still had no idea.
The counsellor wanted to discuss my childhood etc to find a route cause, I guess. This did not help at all & as my childhood was pretty decent i just felt hopeless, she made me feel like unless something awful had happened in the past i had no right feeling like this. So i didnt go back and tried to ‘pull myself together’

After another few months i got a new job. One that i dont hate & I get on ok with my colleagues. Yet hello, Hi…SA is still with me! The point i am making is, not liking your job sucks (understatement I know). We all spend way too much time there to hate what we do. I know exactly how you feel.
However, if it wasnt for SA would you like it? Would it still be a crap job or would you find it ok, or enjoyable even? Thats important because it will follow you everywhere until you start to treat it.

I write this not as someone who as overcome SA, because i havent. Yet. I write this because I relate to you. I know this place. These feelings. I get it. I write this because i wasnt sure about this programme but ive found it useful so far and thats what i wanted you to know. I would recommend trying it & staying active on here. Let us know how you are doing - progress & setbacks. :blush:

Best Wishes


#6

Hey Overit, thank you so much for that response! You really know how I’m feeling. I’m so sorry abut your nursing career. It sucks so much how intense these feelings are that we have to deal with, not to mention the intensity of the desire to RUN away.

What is your new job? What makes it better than previous jobs?

So many people have been telling me that I’ll get used to it and all jobs suck, but I know that isn’t true. Just like you said, the SA problems will follow you everywhere. But some places are hardr for people with SA than others. I think the big problem with my current job is that its REALLY not good for someone with SA, and the last few jobs I’ve had have been pretty good places for someone with SA. The best job I’ve ever had was great because I worked in a small lab with only a few coworkers (small lab within a smallish company) and I became fast friends with a coworker who was very extroverted and kind of took me under his wing and was really personable and nice to me. That helped tremendously! Then my most recent job was a smallish lab where all 8 of my coworkers were significantly older than me, very laid back and friendly, and the job was slow-paced. In fact it was too slow paced and there wasn’t enough work for me, so I got this new job. Now the new job is very fast-paced, very intimidating, tons of coworkers, all of whom are younger than me and NOT very friendly or inclusive. I am just starting to get through to one of them but she’s very rude and crass, and she’s the friendliest of the bunch! It’s such a drag. I literally feel like I’m having an adrenaline rush the entire day, and I’m worried it’ll trigger a panic attack. Not that I’ve ever had one, but if I do have one at work I will not be able to return there.

I am definitely interested in Dr.Richard’s program. I also agree with you on counseling. My experience in seeing counselors has always been pretty blah. They haven’t been able to help me thus far, but it’s always been 1 on 1, without any kind of support community like we have here. I’m hoping that is the change I needed.

Well, I have to get to bed shortly because I have to be at work at 6am tomorrow to start training on a new, very challenging assay with a super intense and uptight scientist. Oh joy… wish me luck!
Thanks again!!


#8

Hi all. I’m also new and been looking for other people who are sufferers of social anxiety to share thoughts and experiences with :slightly_smiling_face:

I feel as if I can relate to all of you. I am a 30 year female who has a degree that has been unused and I generally tend to go from job to job and place to place as if I’m running away from something… I too drank a lot in uni, which affected my studies and have always seemed to let other people influence my decisions in life.

I have however never had a problem finding a partner and my latest partner has made me more stable for the last 4 years. But yes I hated my last job, it was very isolating, and I don’t have any really close friends where I live just people I catch up with now and then. I have decided to study to be a vet nurse as I would like to work with animals and its actually what I’ve always wanted to do. I had quite a stressful, sometimes depressing childhood where I felt anxious a lot. Trying new things and opening up to people has helped but I still have my bad days and I find when I’m not enjoying life as much my social anxiety gets worse.

I didn’t realise I had social anxiety until a couple of years ago because I was always told I was shy and nobody in my immediate or extended family suffers from it. Now that I realise I have it I want to keep working on overcoming it. I’ve never really thought about committing suicide but sometimes when I’m at my lowest I wish I was never born, which I guess is a similar thing.

Maybe a good way to look forward is to come up with goals to work towards and to also try to fit in things you enjoy in your life… I don’t know I’m still trying to find solutions :thinking:


#9

Hi @RainInTheMountains. You are very welcome, we are all in it together. It was a mixture of things that stopped my nursing career in its tracks, It has now been so long I dont even think about what could have been. My jobs after this were in Banking, more specificaly complaints! Not an ideal mix with SA. I never ever thought it would get so bad I would walk out the door.
I didnt really understand at this point either that it was SA. Being off work for 3 months gave me some time to reduce my SA (mainly because i was isolated, which i dont recommend) this did little for my self esteem & definetly did not cure anything. So, I really wasnt able to even think about looking for something new. So, I pushed myself back into work.

Now, I work for a stockbroking company, (back office) which i am far more suited to. The job can be stressfull, such is life, but i dont hate it - so yes it is possible to find a job you dont hate. By now you have started the training you mentioned, how is it going?

Have you started the programme?

I moved house this week so this has meant dealing with alot of people, alot of stress and just generaly very busy. So, I have had to put the therapy on hold.
However, I have still tried to apply Slow Talk, Rational coping statements and the look around technique. All of which you will read about and hopefully find useful.
The point is to read the material everyday so you can call on it at any time. You may not FEEL it (calm) but you have to believe that someday you will (this is where I am currently at, i do these things yet still feel anxious, but im hopefull)

Best Wishes.