I was overprotected and now I can't function as an adult - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-04-2017, 02:42 AM Thread Starter
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I was overprotected and now I can't function as an adult

Here's my situation in a nutshell: I'm 30 years old, an only child and I have been protected all my life, even up to now. All my early memories involve me being ridiculously shy and scared (I now realize I probably suffered from Selective Mutism). In 3rd grade, I was "analyzed" unknowingly while I played and a therapist observed me. The observation didn't benefit me and treatment was never pursued. I grew up, each grade becoming more difficult socially and academically. My dad doesn't believe mental issues exist so up to now he doesn't see anything "wrong" with me. He's a total hermit so he doesn't see it as an issue. My mom only let me socialize with cousins under her supervision. On the rare occasions that I hung out with actual friends, I was never allowed to stay overnight, even when I was 18. I never spoke for myself (even now, my dad will order for me at restaurants unless I speak up first).

I had my first job at a fast food restaurant when I was 22 and it was too much to handle, I didn't stay more than 3 months. Then I got a job working as an office assistant but the phones gave me so much anxiety, I couldn't do my job well and was relieved when my boss said she no longer needed me (it was a mutual agreement). Once I got to college, at 18, I suffered academically and couldn't find any interest and motivation. I moved to the dorms but got incredibly homesick and long story short, I am still living at home, STILL trying to finish my degree (10 years later) online and my only social interaction every day are my parents, who never go anywhere and are complete hermits. I work in a shop seasonally for Christmas for 2 months out of the year. I literally feel like I'm sinking into a deep hole. I can't see a way out. I tell my mom how much I am suffering but she doesn't seem to understand and just thinks that I need to put myself out there more. Yeah, if it was that easy, I would do it. Also, I am too anxious to drive so I feel embarrassed that if I make new friends, I can't drive places to meet up with them and I don't want to have to get a ride from my parents all the time. Public transportation is almost nonexistent and I live in a tiny town where no one is my age. I know I have to do something because literally all my 20s were spent in college and I only hung out with people less than 10 times in those 10 years. I am just waiting to graduate (assuming I am successful this time around) and will leap into job hunting but I don't want to find a part-time job until then because with my lack of motivation and extreme anxiety, I don't want to risk failing again. My mom thinks a college education will instill instant confidence but it definitely doesn't work that way and I can't make her realize that.

I know no one can help me but myself. I just want to know I'm not alone because I feel so helpless and hopeless. I know it's not right of me to blame my parents (they only wanted to love and protect me) but it really really affected me that they never encouraged me to be independent or social.

Thank you so much for reading this.
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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-04-2017, 04:37 AM
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WOW I could have written that myself, its so relatable. I grew up very sheltered, my dad is a hermit too, he has pretty much no friends and doesn't go out much. I was pretty much mute in high school and then dropped out at started homeschooling at 15. I also took 6 years to do my degree and don't even work in the field because my anxiety is too much to handle.

My parents never encouraged me to be independent and social and I'm paying for it now. My advice is to start moving foward right now, don't avoid this issue and hope that things will turn out better, it's going to take a tremendous amount of effort as we need to learn the skills that most learn on their own. I've been in such a hill, I completely isolated myself and cut myself off from human contact. Now I'm paying for the years and years of isolation and dependence on my parents as it's only made things harder as time has gone on. Start off by doing something like learning to drive, I promise you it's not as bad as it seems, I didn't get license until 2 years ago because I always had anxiety over driving but you'll get used to it after a while. Just take small steps and realize things will take a lot of time to change as you've spent so long living a certain way. But I wish you the best of luck, to both of us. It's hard to do this.
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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-04-2017, 05:36 AM
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I feel that I qualify to be in this boat as well. In addition, however, I have Asperger's, POIS, and other issues that don't necessarily have names, such as ongoing difficulties keeping mood related neurotransmitters (i.e. serotonin and dopamine) in proper balance. In addition, I also believe I now have adrenaline fatigue, a byproduct of years of stress, anxiety and tension, no doubt. These kinds of things are what collectively keeps me back from things like driving.
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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-04-2017, 05:37 AM
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Dam I am also like this. My parents don't have any friends or social life, and sheltered me all through my life. During school when people starting becoming independent they treated me like I was a kid, which really affected my self esteem. I felt incapable so all I did was stay home. Now I still feel dependent on them and can't make decisions for myself. I'm still scared of letting people know about me thinking they will laugh at me for being so sheltered, so I don't have any friends and am unable to make any. Not having grown up properly means we're still stuck in the childhood phase, without the right tools to live as an adult. All the other people have grown up, so it feels too lonely having no one in the same stage around.
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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-04-2017, 03:22 PM
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I was much the same except my mom was the opposite putting tons of pressure on me to do things and be normal. I didn't get my license until 18 though because I refused to go through drivers ed. My stepdad didn't want people bothering him in his house so we could have no friends and he would get verbally abusive sometimes. One time he kicked my sister's only friend out for being there too often and yelled things at him when this was one of the nicest guys you'd ever meet. My stepmom wouldn't give me a chance to order food at places and wouldn't order for me. Even if I was willing to try it I would be waiting for everyone to get done so it was my turn and then she'd say well I guess you don't get any. I reached the point I was willing to go without filling my needs even if they were truly necessary requirements like food and drink. I can out stubborn pretty much everyone if I need to. I call it survival mode. My body turns off signals of pain, hunger, thirst, and fatigue. I can't really do higher brain function like school work or some conversations when I do that though. It's like that part gets turned off too. If I'm not being constantly pushed to interact during one of those times I will go off into day dreams and just wait. I can do that until I risk passing out from low blood sugar or heat stroke. I got minor frostbite when young so that some of my toes and fingers will still go completely numb when they touch something cold.

I got out of it by finding people online. All my friends and relationships have been online. I met my first bf online and he was 900miles away. We moved in together when he graduated high school to a nearby bigger town with a university and community college campus. I just kept going from there. At first phone calls from my mom would leave me crying all the time so I quit talking to her. I got stuck with my family for a short time when I broke up with my bf (he was seriously messed up but it was better than staying at home) but still found a few relationships online until I met my husband and got my own house a couple years ago another 50miles away from family. I show up after holiday events to see my mom and sister and that's it.

Unfortunately since I didn't try hard enough when I was younger finding actual friends instead of romantic relationships. (or more hang out and have sex with some guy I don't really plan to have a future with) A lot of people don't have cars, especially when younger, so it's not that odd. Even in the middle of small town Iowa with no public transportation worth noting. Most who grew up here have just gotten used to driving far or meeting halfway for things. If you go looking when young before people have families, kids, and work it's much easier to find someone willing to pick you up to share an interest. You can find groups on meetup.com that will often carpool to events and it's a great place to just find events. There's one group I have never met but I have gone to a lot of the same places or events just with my husband instead. It can help keep you up to date with what's around an otherwise rather unpopulated area so you can find places to go and ways to get there.

My greatest point is my persistence.
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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-04-2017, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by ManInAShed View Post
WOW I could have written that myself, its so relatable.
Same. I'm in a similar situation, although mine is more of the result of chronic depression than anxiety. I highly recommend everyone to try to get professional treatment, therapy and medication. I'd be in an even worse situation if I was never treated.

What is the most important thing you can be doing right now, and why aren't you doing it?

Training is nothing! Will is everything! The will to act.

Often a 80% plan executed right away is better than a 100% plan executed later.
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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-04-2017, 05:24 PM
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Seek out some CBT and exposure therapy.

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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-04-2017, 05:43 PM
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You are still young. Get out and learn stuff
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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-04-2017, 08:45 PM
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You're not alone on this issue because this is a topic that consistently pops up. My parents were also very strict, and their devout faith (Catholicism) heavily influenced this. Every lecture I received always had to have a fearful element to it and pretty much implied that I was going to hell if I screwed up. They weren't always like that, but when my older siblings started making poor decisions in their teens, they had to find a way to prevent me and my little sister from growing up to be rebellious like them. I knew my parents wouldn't have approved of my friends at school because they were primarily nonconformist guys that were atheists or at least irreligious. So I had no choice but to focus on school and getting scholarships so I could move out to attend university by the time I was 17.

Unfortunately, because I was so sheltered, I was falling behind socially and even academically. I was so afraid to confront my professors during office hours whenever I was struggling. I flunked out of school by the time I was approaching my third year, and I had to move back in with my parents which I was dreading. I thought that living with them again was going to restrict my freedoms.

Surprisingly, my dad ended up not being so strict on me as he had previously. I can only speculate that he feels guilty for limiting my freedoms and feels that he might be at fault for why I was being held back. As a result, he never *****es at me for coming home late from parties after drinking so much as long as I get home safely. Neither does he lash out on me for taking trips out of town without letting him know ahead of time. I know he only had my best interests in mind and I don't want to blame him completely for why I matured so slowly because I am also at fault for not challenging his whack decisions at the time. But at least I'm slowly getting back in the game. I might even get to move out again this summer to continue my education. Earning your degree might just be your ticket to independence, so keep it up. As for the driving thing, what put me at ease when learning was to practice in parking lots first. Then I moved on to uncrowded areas with lower speed limits like military bases.
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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-04-2017, 09:08 PM
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You sound exactly like me. I have over protective parents, live with my Dad who has no social life. I took about 7 years to get a 2 year degree and at 33 I still have no drivers license. I'm extremely ashamed and hate myself very much, but I don't feel judgmental of you. So I guess try and have compassion on yourself as if you were looking at a stranger. Easier said than done I know. As for hope I can only wish you may find it because I don't know where to find any myself.
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post #11 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-04-2017, 09:11 PM
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You arent alone, Im going in same way too

There is always a light of hope...
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post #12 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-04-2017, 09:24 PM
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I feel your pain, my parents were so strict with me. They homeschooled me, they didnt let me go outside the house alone until my late teens, they chose what clothes i wore until my mid-late teen years, they pulled me out of school because i was lightly bullied, etc. As a result i have no friends and i only really talk to my sibling, my social skills are crap and i have social anxiety, i cant relate to people at all, i cant comprehend how life works and i struggle to function as a human being. And i missed out on a childhood and normal teenage years. And i get angry whenever i go near people. But i have been trying really hard lately to change things, and believe me you can chanve your life around too, it doesnt have to be like this forever. Take small steps towards accomplishing your goal. Challenge yourself with harder things each day and orient yourself with how life works and practice socializing. Whenever you socialize, apply different self therapy tactics, such as learning to relax in social situations, telling your mind that you have no reason to be anxious, etc. With time if you do these things, you will become more independant and your social anxiety will decrease a lot. It sucks that we have to out so much effort judt so we can be somewhat like normal people but thats just the way life is. Put your all into improving your life so you can live the life you want to live
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post #13 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-06-2017, 02:24 AM
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I'm also experiencing the same problems. Have been accompanied to places all ma life. Now I feel guilty for not being able to be an adult let alone think like an adult. At 23 can't even answer nor make a phone call. Due to my past experiences in school now I hesitate and struggle a lot to say my name and introduce myself which is why even the thought of going to college terrifies me even though I'm yearning to pursue a degree but I can't bring myself to behave normally like other girls of my age would. Due to my lack of exposure I don't know to go to places on my own and I can't even respond to situations like any other person would. Maturity and people intimidate me. I know I'm normal but I just can't help but think others are better than me. Seeing girls behave and respond l feel like I don't have a mind of my own. It's like I've retreated into this shell and unable to come out of it. Now my behaviour response everything is like preprogrammed my mind makes me feel bad for behaving in a way and makes me feel guilty too. I was doing bettr but now I feel worse now I can't even listen to the songs I once used to listen to due to my negative mind which makes me feel guilty and bad about myself. I know it's lack of self-esteem inferiority problems and trouble in the way I see myself but again the negativity is too much to overcome and focus on my positives. I also feel unintelligent and these feelings have resulted on my looks making me look thinner and not just feel but look unintelligent too. I don't know what to do. Even though I want to achieve in life I feel lost with this mind of mine. I also don't act sensibly because I keep thinking about these and end up doing something stupid
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post #14 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-06-2017, 02:47 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you all so much for the encouragement and for sharing your stories. Even though I'm sad that so many of you are also experiencing the same thing, it's good to know I'm not entirely alone.

When it comes to driving, it's the most ridiculous thing but I fear that other people are a danger on the road. I'm okay at driving but feel nervous about the other drivers. I just secretly fear that if something were to happen to me, well, I've got so much to live for and most of my life has been me hiding away, shying away and I feel like I haven't even LIVED to my full potential and I don't want to lose that yet, you know? I realize this only creates more fear but, well, that's my anxiety for you.
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post #15 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-06-2017, 03:34 AM
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It's true nobody is alone in any problem. There are those who experience the same and we are not the only ones. But the problem is overcoming the anxiety which seems to be so difficult
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post #16 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-06-2017, 03:53 PM
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my mum and dad did everything for me from speaking to teachers to ordering my food. its all carried over into my adult life
i can't even do basic things like ordering food without making a big deal out of it

you're definitely not the only one. i think this is a cause behind a lot of people's social problems
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post #17 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-06-2017, 11:54 PM
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my mum and dad did everything for me from speaking to teachers to ordering my food. its all carried over into my adult life
i can't even do basic things like ordering food without making a big deal out of it

you're definitely not the only one. i think this is a cause behind a lot of people's social problems
How old are you now? My parents were the same and I've had to do a lot of internal work to work through the resentment I hold against them for ultimately they've done a lot of damage by not encouraging me to be independent and stand on my own two feet, they were way to overprotective.

"I look back throughout my life and so often in the walk I see only one set of footprints, and I truly understand that is because for so long He carried me and without His blessings I would have never achieved anything of any significance". - Haystak, Pray for Me.
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post #18 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-07-2017, 01:08 PM
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I used to freak at all the cars coming at me and drive so close to the edge I almost wiped out the corner of a bridge. Eventually I got used to the fact for the most part cars stay on that side of the line and I stay on my side of the line. It should all go good. It's some of the weird stuff that I have issues with like when the interstates turn to 6 lanes or even stay at 4 and there's ramps coming off and cars coming on from both sides. Trying to find turns in a busy city with cars honking at me for slowing down.... I take the long route around big cities if traveling and make someone else drive otherwise. I take the empty stretches of highway and interstate or handle the gravel roads. It helps to grow up somewhere with no traffic so there is nothing complex but following the long highways with a handful of cars to worry about. I slowly learned specific routes to stores on the edges of towns. My husband still laughs when I make a series of right turns and an alley or 2 to get to a light so I can go left with an arrow to get going the correct direction without having to cross traffic.

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post #19 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-07-2017, 01:15 PM
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Same. I'm barely trying to get my bearings.
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post #20 of 34 (permalink) Old 03-07-2017, 02:23 PM
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yes this describes me and a lot of people here.

slowly but surely we must begin to do things on our own.

we must fight this. its difficult but we need to fight.

the key thing is only using your money and rejecting your parents help at all costs!

my plan is to create my own bank account with zero dollars, start a job. deposit my paychecks and make a stern rule that i can only spend and use my money. this will force me to get away from parents.

eventually get my own place. only with my money.

then next thing i know no more dependance on parents.


crash course: adult 101

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