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Social anxiety support thread!
July 6, 2011
02:00
Hallowspite

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If this isn't allowed, please delete.

 

Some of us aren't just shy, we're debilitated by fear at the thought of speaking to other people and suffer an anxiety disorder. We deal with panic attacks when we're forced to talk to others, or we shake and stutter. Maybe you can't even walk down the street without the pungent fear of judgement. Maybe you find it hard to leave the house or talk to others online.

 

I wanted to make a thread where we can support and encourage each other, and meet one another with the understanding that it's harder for us. It's not something we can snap our fingers and get over, we need that extra bit of support to do even the little things, I want this thread to be the place where we can get that. Our victories, which healthy people take for granted, are for us to celebrate. So let's celebrate them!

 

Introduce yourself. Tell us what your limits are, whether you're getting help, and how you fight it.

 

I'll go first -- hi. I'm Hallowspite. I've had social anxiety for a few years now, I was diagnosed with a depression/anxiety combo four years ago. I can talk to strangers without any trouble a lot easier than a lot of healthy people, but I am terrified of making offline friends, of talking to people offline. For that reason my only offline friends are my immediate family, and one friend I have that I met online that I can only cope with meeting once or twice a year. Speaking to people is such an effort for me that if I go out and talk to people a lot, I have to take a nap when I come home, I'm so tired. I worry about getting a job because I know I'll have to talk to people every day then. Speaking comes second nature to a lot of people but I deliberately choose every single word, expression and my body language and it's a huge chore.

 

Online it's a different matter for me. For a long time this was the place I could flourish -- I noticed Benny refer to "webtroverts", introverts who are silent IRL but never shut up online. (Well, that's not *exactly* what he said, but it describes me well enough! Lol.) Not having to worry about tone of voice and body language and keeping the other person entertained is basically heaven for me. But at one point I had a bad experience with someone else online and basically shut down and my anxiety even crept into here. I play World of Warcraft, and only played with one person after that, and whenever they talked to someone else in front of me I fought off panic attacks. Partly at the thought of losing my friend, and partly because, you know, there's another person there.

 

Not healthy at all. I faced it and while I still feel a lot of anxiety around other people when I play, I managed to minimise it quite a bit and I'm trying to get back to my old, chatty self online. Step one: create this thread! Lol.

 

So come out and say hi. You don't have to share details that you don't want to. :)

July 6, 2011
17:41
Olivia
United States

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Hallowspite said:

I worry about getting a job because I know I'll have to talk to people every day then. Speaking comes second nature to a lot of people but I deliberately choose every single word, expression and my body language and it's a huge chore.

  Not having to worry about tone of voice and body language and keeping the other person entertained is basically heaven for me.

 So come out and say hi. :)

Hi, I'm Olivia. I have Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD) which is very similiar to SAD or Social Phobia. (I'm self-diagnosed, of course–like many Avoidants, I can't stand the idea of going to some doctor/therapist and exposing myself to them.) I can definitely relate to those quotes. Talking to anyone outside my immediate family and one or two friends is horrible. :/ Also, my cell phone is my worst enemy. Texts are fine but not being able to see the other person- more accurately, their body language- is a nightmare. 

 

I'm just going to leave it at that before it turns into a novel and go ahead and post. Let's conquer these things and show our mad language skills to the world! Wink

Speaks:  (Native)  (Advanced) Learning-High Priority:  (Beginner)  (Beginnner) Learning-Low Priority:  (ASL-Beginner)   (Klingon-Beginner)  Wants to learn:    Na'vi   ~To me, languages are like Pokémon-I want to learn them all!~ ~Skype name is agentorc-add me if you want but please specify that you are from Fi3M~ 

 

 

July 6, 2011
21:48
Lisa
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I have social anxiety too. I also have a mild form of autism, which means even at times I don't have a lot of social anxiety (it gets worse when I'm depressed), I'm always kind of socially awkward. :(

 

I can relate to the things you say. I'm a lot more social online too, I worry about getting a job, I hate phone calls, blahh.

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July 9, 2011
14:10
kuikentje Jar-ptitsa
Wallonia, Belgium

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I'm veyr shy and therefore got some problems with the social things, make some mistakes etc but I like to have written conversations in the different languages.

Native : Belgian French      Advanced : Dutch German      Intermediate : English Spanish

July 10, 2011
02:12
JamesAE

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Seem as this is a "support" thread, my advice for you would be to get rid of that fear factor. In most cases, that's what seems to stop people from talking to others and making friends. They don't wan't to be judged.

The large majority of people are the same as each other. They just want to chat and have a good time. People aren't naturally unpleasant. It's just that small group of vocal idiots who make them appear so.

So, next time you are at work or whatever, I wouldn't sit there staying silent. Comment on what's going on. I always try and reflect the other person's attitude and thoughts on the matter. You'll notice them ease up and you'll start having a nice conversation. You'll relax as well. You'll also become that little more confident! That's my experience, anyway.

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July 10, 2011
15:08
kuikentje Jar-ptitsa
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JamesAE said:

Seem as this is a "support" thread, my advice for you would be to get rid of that fear factor. In most cases, that's what seems to stop people from talking to others and making friends. They don't wan't to be judged.

The large majority of people are the same as each other. They just want to chat and have a good time. People aren't naturally unpleasant. It's just that small group of vocal idiots who make them appear so.

So, next time you are at work or whatever, I wouldn't sit there staying silent. Comment on what's going on. I always try and reflect the other person's attitude and thoughts on the matter. You'll notice them ease up and you'll start having a nice conversation. You'll relax as well. You'll also become that little more confident! That's my experience, anyway.

To get rid of that fear factor is a good idea, but for the people who've such fear, not so easy I think.When I was younger, for example in my old school, hundreds of people have laughed at me, including the towns (or cities) where I wasn't in all my life).

 

maybe the people on this thread who've some problems can have some strategies lessons? In my school we've strategies lessons, for example for the conversations, for discover somethings or test your perceptions, and those strategies are very helpful I think, although they are difficult (but improve with the practice) and you must concentrate truly much, then some people would become fed up during the conversation if you must do this things. Therefore in my real life I talk only with few people,who aren't annoyed by a slower conversation, and for sure not with the ones who would laugh or criticise.

JamesAE said:

Seem as this is a "support" thread, my advice for you would be to get rid of that fear factor. In most cases, that's what seems to stop people from talking to others and making friends. They don't wan't to be judged.

The large majority of people are the same as each other. They just want to chat and have a good time. People aren't naturally unpleasant. It's just that small group of vocal idiots who make them appear so.

So, next time you are at work or whatever, I wouldn't sit there staying silent. Comment on what's going on. I always try and reflect the other person's attitude and thoughts on the matter. You'll notice them ease up and you'll start having a nice conversation. You'll relax as well. You'll also become that little more confident! That's my experience, anyway.

Native : Belgian French      Advanced : Dutch German      Intermediate : English Spanish

July 12, 2011
04:31
XCSkier
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I want to share a bit of my own story since I think it might help.  It is a long story, and please forgive me, but I don't like to talk about the details of what set all this in motion, but for the sake of this post, suffice to say that middle school and high school were…difficult.  To this day I still sometimes struggle to meet people and be as social as I want to be, and its hugely important for me because I'm a personal trainer professionally, so I had to really force myself to start opening up and being able to be more social. 

 

What helped me were a couple of things, the 1st thing is a little trick I tell myself whenever I start to notice that I start getting anxious or assuming that people are judging me or whatever the case may be, I think to myself "STOP.  This is noise, and I don't need it".  Basically it just breaks the chain of thought, and I repeat as much as I have to. 

 

The 2nd thing is just before I go into a situation such as work or going out with friends.   I stop, take a deep breath, and just say to myself something along the lines of "Oh what the heck" and put myself into a devil-may-care mindset.  What that does is just let me relax and do my thing, sure sometimes I manage to make an idiot of myself, but that's just part of the learning process. 

 

Like I said before, I do still deal with those old issues sometimes.  I dont know if social anxiety in all its forms can really be "cured" or not, but from my own experience, it CAN be managed.  James is right in the sense that at some point you do just have to go for it, but I also know that's easier said than done!  Hopefully what's worked for me can help.  Good luck everyone!

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July 12, 2011
05:44
Hallowspite

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JamesAE said:

Seem as this is a "support" thread, my advice for you would be to get rid of that fear factor. In most cases, that's what seems to stop people from talking to others and making friends. They don't wan't to be judged.

The large majority of people are the same as each other. They just want to chat and have a good time. People aren't naturally unpleasant. It's just that small group of vocal idiots who make them appear so.

So, next time you are at work or whatever, I wouldn't sit there staying silent. Comment on what's going on. I always try and reflect the other person's attitude and thoughts on the matter. You'll notice them ease up and you'll start having a nice conversation. You'll relax as well. You'll also become that little more confident! That's my experience, anyway.

There are very, very few people with social anxiety who don't know this.

Social anxiety isn't shyness. It isn't even Benny's concept of "shy". Social anxiety is a life-altering mental disorder which is very difficult to manage, let alone overcome.

For some of us, even getting out the door into the world for an hour a week is an amazing breakthrough, something which "normal" people take for granted. :)

XCSKier – I'm glad that worked for you! It does come down to being conscious and a lot of practice before one can learn to manage it, but it definitely is possible to learn to manage it. Sometimes I forget how powerful it is -- today I went for an eye appointment and usually I'm fine because when professionals act professional I can forget they're human. One of the professionals was more casual and had more personality and I was fighting a miniature panic attack. Not fun. I forgot to take conscious control, hopefully next time I won't be so blindsided! :P

Vleer – I think it would benefit us all if we learned to identify our limits and push them gently. Just gently. As for strategies, I'm afraid I don't have any to share. I rarely speak to people outside of professionals or my family, so I don't have to use management techniques because I haven't put myself in positions where I have to manage them in person. With the exception of today. Having said that, posting this thread was going outside my comfort zone. I'm working on online interaction first before I go offline.

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July 12, 2011
16:51
Hekje
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Hallowspite said:

There are very, very few people with social anxiety who don't know this.

Social anxiety isn't shyness. It isn't even Benny's concept of "shy". Social anxiety is a life-altering mental disorder which is very difficult to manage, let alone overcome.

For some of us, even getting out the door into the world for an hour a week is an amazing breakthrough, something which "normal" people take for granted. :)

XCSKier – I'm glad that worked for you! It does come down to being conscious and a lot of practice before one can learn to manage it, but it definitely is possible to learn to manage it. Sometimes I forget how powerful it is -- today I went for an eye appointment and usually I'm fine because when professionals act professional I can forget they're human. One of the professionals was more casual and had more personality and I was fighting a miniature panic attack. Not fun. I forgot to take conscious control, hopefully next time I won't be so blindsided! :P

Vleer – I think it would benefit us all if we learned to identify our limits and push them gently. Just gently. As for strategies, I'm afraid I don't have any to share. I rarely speak to people outside of professionals or my family, so I don't have to use management techniques because I haven't put myself in positions where I have to manage them in person. With the exception of today. Having said that, posting this thread was going outside my comfort zone. I'm working on online interaction first before I go offline.

 

Kudos to you for making this thread, then! I'm sure you don't need an invitation, but I'd really like to see you posting around in the rest of the forum. :)

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July 12, 2011
18:07
Katewise
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Exactly, I think the thing that has to be acknowledged about Social Anxiety and similar disorders is that it is an irrational part of our psychological make-up. One can try to rationalise as much as one can, but it doesn't have an imprint upon the subconscious processes, chemical links and instinctual reactions that are all involved in social anxiety.

 

I think a lot of psychologists agree that the best way to tackle it is through experience, and as Hallowspite said, 'gently' pushing at limits. Challenging worries and anxieties about situations and people's reactions gradually, and ways that you feel comfortable with.

 

I really admire all of you coming forth and telling your stories, and I hope you enjoy this forum as much as I do!

Speaks: English (native), French, Norwegian, German and Arabic Learning: Dutch and Spanish Improving: French and German
July 13, 2011
15:28
kuikentje Jar-ptitsa
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XCSkier said:

What helped me were a couple of things, the 1st thing is a little trick I tell myself whenever I start to notice that I start getting anxious or assuming that people are judging me or whatever the case may be, I think to myself "STOP.  This is noise, and I don't need it".  Basically it just breaks the chain of thought, and I repeat as much as I have to. 

 

It's little bit similar with one of the strategies we've learned also in my class.

 

Hallowspite said:

Vleer – I think it would benefit us all if we learned to identify our limits and push them gently. Just gently. As for strategies, I'm afraid I don't have any to share. I rarely speak to people outside of professionals or my family, so I don't have to use management techniques because I haven't put myself in positions where I have to manage them in person. With the exception of today. Having said that, posting this thread was going outside my comfort zone. I'm working on online interaction first before I go offline.

I've learned quite many strategies, and we've those strategies lessons often but I don't know about to push the limits or identify them, or maybe it's a different name and my lessons are in French. The ones which we learn are for example to exactly know who has said a thing, in the room or not or see the lips of a person, and other such tests, then also in the conversations and make the appointments, or plan something and structure for example some organisation of the things. So many strategies, I can't remember all or describe them, but mostly they're useful, sometimes bit stupid. I hope that you can visit here and feel okay Smile

Native : Belgian French      Advanced : Dutch German      Intermediate : English Spanish

August 29, 2011
05:54
M.
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September 5, 2011
00:15
Kevinpost
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I am a very social person and love being around people. Everyone I've ever talk to about this can't believe that I didn't talk until I was five years old and had to go to years of speech therapy. I didn't graduate high school until I was 19 years old because I was held back as a child to work on my speech. Now to this day I speak two languages fluently with little accent and am learning other languages quicker than most people and with limited resources.

The point I'm trying to make is that I had a problem with speech growing up but I didn't let that stop me from doing the things I enjoy and I used my disabilities to my advantage. Due to years in relative silence and speech therapy I learned to listen and mimic people very well. I have a gift at imitating people and it has greatly benefited me in social circles. Most of all it has been a huge benefit to learning languages because when I am exposed to a way someone speaks I can easily repeat and mimic them.

 

One thing I still greatly struggle with today is I have trouble making eye contact with people I don't know very well and I have no idea why. I bought a meditation bracelet that I play with to relax me and clear my thoughts before I look someone in the eyes. Just by looking into the eyes of another person has greatly benefited me over the past few months and I've realized that looking into the eyes of someone isn't all that scary. In Colombia, people always compliment on how beautiful my blue eyes are which also has helped me realize that I need to share them with everyone :)

 

If any of you need some judgment free practice speaking with a person you don't know too well via Skype never hesitate to write me. I am a very passionate and patient person to talk with :)

By the way, great story Meghan!

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September 5, 2011
01:28
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While I have never been diagnosed with anything specific (perhaps that is because I am too timid to go to the doctor) I have always struggled in social situations.  I abhor being in crowded places if I don't have someone to latch onto and I will go out of my way to avoid making phone calls or going places I am unfamiliar with.  As some of you may have seen, I do post a bit here and have gotten quite comfortable sharing my thoughts and opinions here.  In addition to that, I have a job that has forced me to overcome much of my shyness, and while I still struggle at times, I have come a long way from when I was a child.  That being said, I have an interesting situation coming up this week.  A friend of mine who I have only met through Skype is coming from Mexico to stay in NYC for a week.  She has invited me to come see her one day during the week as I live about about an hour and a half from NY.  It is a great opportunity to meet her face to face and spend an afternoon conversing in Spanish.  I agreed to go, only to wake up this morning panic striken.  The idea of taking the train into the heart of one of the biggest cities in the world has suddenly hit me and I am not sure what to do.  I am uncomfortable traveling alone and I am nervous about meeting her in person.  She speaks both English and Spanish, but I find when we talk on Skype, I am more comfortable speaking Spanish only, almost as if it is a way to mask my shyness.  Undoubtedly, I will have to revert to at least some English if I go to meet her and I am not sure how I am going to manage this.  On one hand, this is a great opportunity for me, but on the other, I want to find a reason to pass on it and be happy studying my Spanish in the comfort of my home.  Any thoughts on this?

Speaks: English Learning:  Spanish    Wants to add: Portuguese  If you´re bored and want to follow my progress, check out: http://jaimito424.wordpress.com/ 
September 5, 2011
07:07
Chrystal G.
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New York City is someplace that I would imagine would be hard to prepare for! I hate people touching me, and it looks like people are always bumping into other people there. Lol. Is part of your anxiety due to the anticipation of noise, or just so many bodies? If it's noise, I would maybe practice tuning things out. Have the tv on and blast it while trying to concentrate on something else. It'd be odd, I guess, but may help? :D if it's people, I always find a focal point above and away from them, like looking up at the sky or a window of a building; sometimes I fiddle with my phone or focus only on the person that I'm with. It's really pretty individual, though. Do you have something that you do normally that calms you in stressful situations? Sometimes people count in their head or say the alphabet backwards to take focus off of the situation. Maybe put something in your pocket to clench?

I wish you the best of luck.

Native: English Learning: German (active), Polish (active, secondary)
September 5, 2011
07:22
Kevinpost
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Completely unrelated to the topic of this thread but international cities such as New York are gold minds for language learning. If you live in a major city like New York take advantage of all of the diversity and opportunities to practice your target language.

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August 8, 2014
07:08
arnoldbrame
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I have seen many people suffering from social anxiety disorder and also recovering from it. It totally depends upon the will power of the patient.The more he talks to himself that whatever he is feeling is a not real problem the faster he recovers. By the way, I was also used to have anxiety but now it is under control to a very satisfactory extent.

 

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Arnold Brame
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August 13, 2014
04:25
Stephanie S
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I once was having a panic attack and nothing could help me calm down until I asked someone to tell me a story. Stories (movies, books, people telling them) are my "safe place," and I think whatever your safe place is, if you can connect to it, it can help. 

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