What I wouldn’t do to just be normal and not have to fight this horrible disorder alone.I have left countless jobs because being around people is to overwhelming and at times debilitating.I need to make money so I can’t just not be employed.I recently applied at what I thought was a little shop that sold apple cider and baked goods after my interview and then being hired over the phone I was informed that it’s actually a tourist attraction and gets INCREDIBLY busy…I’m terrified and crying as I type this out I think I may have to turn this job down because I just can’t handle it.I feel like such a complete loser that finally I land a job and have to turn it down because it’s too much for me to handle. I googled photos of the store and begin to panic as I seen first hand what it would be like to stand in front of a line of people still being new and not knowing what to do but having to serve them …I’m terrified.
Welcome to the club. Everyone I know with social anxiety has had it control their lives, make decisions for them, quit job, avoid, avoid, avoid.
I sympathize for you. I know in my own life, and I NEVER admitted to anyone ever during that period, that the first and strongest thing guiding all my decisions was my fear - my social anxiety. I made up reasons why I was doing something or another, but even I knew that was all bogus. Probably, truth is, I could have done those things I avoided, and I may have benefitted by doing rather than avoiding. But having said that, I did try to do a lot, and it was still excruciating, and I still fled on many occassions, quitting many jobs because of social anxiety.
That’s where I stop with the sympathy - not because I don’t understand your pain - I do - not because I don’t care - I certainly hope you find a way to move forward. I stop because, if it were me, I’d want to find a way out, a way forward. That way forward for me was doing the therapy. Nothing would have changed otherwise.
I’ve certainly made more than my fair share of decisions guided by fear and anxiety in my life. I may make more now - I’m human - but I generally don’t make decisions that way anymore. I’ve taken jobs I never would have before. I’ve done things I never would have before. That wasn’t made possible by a snap of the fingers and a magic wink. It was a gradual process of cognitive behavioral therapy. Changing my thoughts, changing my feelings, changing my reactions, changing my outlook, changing my reality.
You’ve come to the right place to be with a whole bunch of people who know exactly what you are talking about - more than likely they’ve done many of the same things you’ve done for the exact same reasons. You’ll get a lot of support and feedback that we know what you mean. That’s good. Share, get it out, talk about it. I hope you also choose to look for a solution. I don’t mean just “you”. This is for all the people here. It is hard to face down fear, to do something about it. Less hard than we think at first, but doesn’t matter - seems very hard now. It’s easier to stay in limbo, more painful but easier. So many will stay here for quite some time just talking about social anxiety. By all means - talk. That is something better perhaps than not talking. And there will always be people who won’t get over this perceived fear to start down the path of the solution. For whatever reason, and I don’t know everyone’s reasons or everyone’s specific situation. I know my own personally. I know I had to make the same decision, too. And luckily for me it finally became (and it took a long time for me to finally see that) a decision that was easy to size up. On the one hand a boxed in future and life as you describe above, getting smaller and more depressing by the day, and on the other hand - I have nothing to lose by trying therapy. I did commit to it though. I didn’t just try half-heartedly. The choice felt more like life or death to me, so that may have helped too.
I hope all the “yous” out there sharing your story - that you share and make this community supportive. And then I hope you listen to the people working on therapy and make the best decision for yourself to act, to do, to make overcoming social anxiety possible for yourself, too.
Thank you so very much for responding I can’t express how awesome it feels to talk with someone who has such a better outlook on this disorder than I do.With help from my therapist and working on my CBT skills I hope to get to a better place.
Everyone who is in this community for the right reasons, such as yourself, will be able to understand what you’re feeling and going through. It might make “sense” to other people who don’t have social anxiety when/if you try to describe it to them, but it probably won’t make logical sense to them at all. It wouldn’t anyway - it’s not exactly logical. But follow the reasoning, the way our minds have gotten to this place of functioning, the avoidance, etc., then perhaps they could begin to understand why. They may never really understand the total scope that this will cover though - because ultimately it touches on your whole life.
Everyone here with social anxiety will understand you. This is not something you alone have developed in some unique bubble that no one else has. It feels like to all of us, but now you know. Now you’re here. It’s a real thing. It’s also not the touchy feely “love my shyness and my timidity for the rest of my life” thing. It’s an anxiety disorder that can be addressed in the proper way that can be overcome with time, patience, repetition and persistence. You can do this.
I have a normal outlook on this now, yes, perhaps a better one, for sure a better one! It doesn’t represent all the pain, shame, guilt, and blah blah that it used to for 30 years. It packs NONE of that punch anymore, and each and every person here or anywhere, working in a systematic way to change your thoughts and feelings concerning this can get to this place, too.
I’m glad to hear you’re working towards solutions. I hope your therapist has an understanding, or at least a willingness to try to understand how to apply CBT to this. It’s good to hear of therapists out there truly helping people with social anxiety, as we don’t get much feedback on that side. It could be that many just don’t really “get it”, but it also could be that there are indeed many good therapists who do “get it” and thus their clients don’t end up here in our discussions. I hope that anytime a good therapist for this is identified, or a good group out there somewhere, we would all share that information to help others in those areas.
This seems like an amazing community that I can really benefit from.I don’t want to give up I want to strive to live a healthy happy life and I want my teenage daughters to have a mother that they can be proud of and even better I WANT TO BE PROUD OF ME! The feeling I have after going to an interview that had me stressing and physically sick over and actually going through the whole thing makes me feel empowered and proud…and also exhausted (I take about a 3 hour nap after) It’s a big step a step that someone who doesn’t suffer from this wouldn’t understand.You’re right to those who don’t suffer from this it wouldn’t make sense.It doesn’t make sense to me but the feeling is bigger than me.I have decided not to take that job I feel terrible but what really hurt my heart was calling the employers and telling them. I don’t do too good talking on the phone so I left a message on their answering machine expressing how very sorry I was that I couldn’t take the position that was offered I must have apologized 5 times but I’m genuinely sorry how dare the employers suffer because I have an illness they need a reliable employee and that’s not me.Here’s the kicker a local store messaged me on Facebook for an interview tomorrow at 9:00am.My stomach is quesy my mind is racing and numb at the same time I feel irritable and can’t seem to get comfortable all I keep thinking about is “Here you go Krissy back into the Lion’s den,back into Hell,back into vomiting every morning before work,back into sweating and stumbling over your words in front of customers,back into feeling like you’re going to pass out because you messed up the customers change and now their irritated with you,back into crying in the bathroom on your lunch break…here we go again Krissy time to pay the bills” Like I said before this is bigger than me.I feel weird typing this out…shameful and relieved and embarrassed but it feels therapeutic to get it out to someone other than my therapist.Any advice for my interview tomorrow?
First of all give yourself credit for getting the job, even if you ended up not taking it. Give yourself tons for it in fact, and I saw that you made you feel empowered! That is actually ONE of the strategies in the therapy. Giving yourself credit. Another is not anticipating the future, instead just “do it.” People with SA think to much, dwell.
None of this is your fault, but it can be changed and in a relatively short time by following the therapy to the letter. Trust it. If something doesn’t make sense, just reread it. If it seems boring, repetitive, just stick with it. A lot of new things at first are boring, but as you build on the lessons before you will feel empowered. Remember not to listen to you SA brain, you can’t trust it. Trust instead the therapy.
As far as your interview, in the therapy it teaches in the behavior part, to only do things that make you a little nervous, then you accomplish it, (cause you will) your ready for the next harder thing. If you can put off the interview, instead work like crazy on the therapy full time. In a realatively short time you will feel so much more confident and ready for the challenge of a job. It all depends on how motivated, committed to following the simple instructions in the therapy.
It isn’t easy, as any new habit is, but it isn’t nearly as HARD as your SA brain perceives. You got nothing to lose but a lot of useless anxiety.
I learned the therapy, as I wanted to help my son’s SA, but ended up helping myself instead. This is great information for anyone, but it is especially geared for SA people. I was able to do things that I once saw as scary, within months. SA therapy changed those scary things into welcomed challenges instead. I also felt empowered.
Well said, Carolv.
I think the therapy you are specifically talking about is found here: https://socialanxietyinstitute.org/social-anxiety-treatment/online-therapy/overcoming-social-anxiety.
The “Overcoming Social Anxiety: Step by Step” audio therapy series, by Dr. Thomas Richards.
Krissy, you mentioned seeing a therapist and doing CBT. Excellent. I hope your therapist has you on a structured plan for this CBT, one that gives you DAILY a habit of therapy to do - because that is what it will take to get your brain changing. If your therapist does have a solid, structured plan for you, and for what you should be studying daily, stick with it - especially if you feel it is working. Trust yourself. If not, you might consider the audio therapy series above, or the series in conjunction with your therapist.
Krissy, I hope you got the job! There is no doubt that you can conquer SA. Reading your post brought me back to my own struggles years ago. I thought I would never be able to ride on public transportation because of my fear of getting sick or passing out. I would feel trapped like I couldn’t get out and that everyone was looking at me. I was very young – in my early 20s– and suffered with irrational fears like this one. Slowly through exposure I was able to conquer those fears. Today I have absolutely no fear of riding mass transit.
I know what you’re going through must feel like a life sentence but please trust that it is not! You WILL be free of this! Keep focused on your therapy even through any setbacks. Reach out when you need us. We’re all here to support each other. And please tell us about your victories so we can celebrate with you!
It’s difficult when you first accept a position to know what the actual job entails. You’re excited, and it was a slow day from what I understand. I can identify with quitting jobs (I’ve lost more than my fair share, and though it was more because of task challenges, there was always an interpersonal component). I can appreciate how fearful and disappointed you feel. I have just learned the very difficult way to listen to your intuition/gut reaction to whether or not you can handle the job. As disappointing as it is now, the distress that comes with feeling out of your element for whatever reason on a job can be overwhelming. I was recently accepted (without an interview) for a workshop designer/facilitator position. As I developed a couple of life skills workshops I thought how difficult could this be. However, the consistently negative feedback on all three lesson plans upset me so much and made me feel incompetent. I dreaded opening up emails or responding to phone messages. After receiving more criticism on my last lesson plan I replied to their email, saying based on the consistently negative feedback, it was apparent that I did not meet their expectations and that I was resigning from the position. My point in sharing this is that there were telltale signs that this would not work out but I did not act on my intuition or knowledge. Your mental health is as important as income security. If you are experiencing this much anxiety from a working condition that you were unaware of when you accepted the position, then there is a chance it is not a good fit for you. It is also much harder to walk away from an untenable situation once you start the job. There’s a difference between giving up and removing yourself from an untenable situation.