New and feeling dumb. - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-22-2015, 06:41 PM Thread Starter
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New and feeling dumb.

Just as I'm sure everyone else feels upon their first post, the idea of "spilling my guts" to strangers on the internet is making me feel sick. I've left this screen open for around an hour trying to decide how worthwhile it would be to put myself "out there" even though I know no one knows, or most likely will know, who I am. I've just become overly reclusive and paranoid over the past year, and I guess I'm finally feeling ready to try to reach out for some type of help. Even if the help is... I guess just getting my feelings out of my head.

Anyway, Hi, I've had social anxiety my whole life, but it has a tendency to fluctuate greatly over time. I've been going through a "worse" phase for the past year ever since I had to move back in with my parents. They, unfortunately, live in the middle of nowhere, at least an hour to the nearest true city where everyone I know lives. In this time I've slowly stopped going anywhere besides to uni and back, and now it's gotten hard to even go outside. All I can think when I'm outside is all the neighbors are watching me and wondering why I'm acting so weird. That they are going to tell my parents of some type of "odd" behavior I'm exhibiting, even though when I go outside it's just to smoke, garden; or walk my dog, which has become almost impossible for me. I think all the neighbors just think I'm a terrible dog owner and are chiding me for being such a terrible irresponsible person.

I feel as though I've suddenly lost the ability to do anything, and what especially hurts is I can't do the things I was doing just last year anymore. Everything that took so long for me to finally be able to do has all just vanished. I mean, I went to Europe alone for a whole month last year! I even went on a couple of dates! For the first time in my whole freaking life! Though they did all end badly, me being ghosted, and now have turned into fodder for me to obsessively ruminate and suddenly crop up at the least expected time for me to relive.

I remember the first signs I noticed of my decline; I'd go to stores, feeling fine, thinking nothing of it, thinking I'd be able to chat with the cashier, but when I tried this foggy cloud enveloped me and I lost my ability to speak. My sentences became choppy and that, in turn, amplified the stress. I had no reason to feel that way. All the previous times were fine, and now it's like I've regressed 10 years.

I've started to not be able to reply to texts, or missed calls, check my emails, look at bills etc etc . The light on my phone is flashing right now and it's making me ill. I've started rapidly gaining weight from how sedentary my life has become, and all the free time I have to obsess and eat. I've gone from an active person who hung out with friends, felt the best I personally can about myself, went shopping and on "adventures" alone to someone who can't pull himself away from a book, computer screen, or smartphone because the second those things (my security blankets) are taken away from me I only obsess about myself which sends me into a downward spiral. Being distracted and numb feels better than having to face myself.

I tried to walk down a trail semi recently to collect leaves for an herbarium I'm making. I had to pass these two ladies, and all I could think was they thought I was a creep, that I was like a sexual predator or mass murderer. Then I obsessed about it the rest of the day, not the fact they thought that, but why my brain makes me think those things; why I can't just ignore them. Why am I such a waste I can't even walk down trails that are MEANT for walking. I walk around what little is left of the woods near my house and fear the neighbors think I'm spying on them, or plotting to rob them or something, that I'm doing something terrible out there like drugs or killing small animals. It's just constant intrusive thoughts that everyone thinks I'm awful.

I feel like I can hardly even speak to my own mother because my anxiety just gets too bad; I can only think that she thinks I'm a burden on her, that I'm a strain on her relationship with my step-dad, so I just feel this constant guilt and shame being around her. I'm too fearful I'll offend her, she's constantly criticizing everything I do or say making me feel like I just can't do anything. Then she tells me how bizarre my behavior is or how odd my fears are which only reinforces to me how I should feel ashamed of myself. That I never have anything positive to say about myself etc. That I'm emotionally cold and never think of others. It just makes me want to be even more reclusive.

The huge factor going into all of this stress currently is I've finally made it into a "real" university. No more community college for me! I'm actually feeling pretty excited about it, but it's two hours away and I can't handle the stress of finding a place to live and the thought of moving in with a stranger is just too much.

On top of this, my freaking car has broken down, and it's just making everything feel all the more impossible. My mom suggests us going to a dealership or checking out a private seller's car and I instantly start having a panic attack, I can't even think about it without stressing out. I just know I'm going to look so stupid trying to buy it from them. The thought of fumbling around, looking stiff, possibly not knowing some tidbit of info I feel I should have known... especially after all the intensive research I HAVE to do on everything constantly because the idea of not thoroughly knowing the subject I'm going to have to face with strangers is too overwhelming. Then the stress making me forget everything I've learned. I've already practiced what I'm going to say in my head a 1000 times, but it's useless because I'll still choke once the pressure is on.

And how am I going to find a job to support myself at school? I don't even know if I can handle the stress OF school. Classes going from my current under 30 people to classes of ~300 people. Then if I do overcome all of this to get my degree will I even be able to handle working afterward? Will it all have just been a waste? I'm going to be 28 early next year, how stupid I'm going to feel in classes full of 18 year olds, all thinking why is that guy here? He's probably just wasted his life away doing nothing. They're all accomplishing their goals and I've been left behind. I'm cycling through a million irrational possibilities in my head and I've never felt relaxed for a second in my life.

I'm afraid I'll get there and make no friends and the intense seclusion I'll experience will just make everything worse. I don't know if I can do it, but I'm doing everything in my power to force myself to. Classes start January 11th, I believe, and I'm not prepared in the least.

I can't look in mirrors anymore without picking myself apart literally and figuratively. My hygiene is suffering because I can't handle looking at my body to take off my clothes to shower. I'm worried the neighbors are watching me through the windows thinking I'm just so lazy now, that I'm always home, that I'm a bum, why do my parents even let me live here. I don't make loud noises in the house because I'm afraid someone will hear me and think I'm doing something bad, that I'm hiding something, even when no one is there. If I go somewhere and know my parents will get home before me I obsess I've left some type of incriminating evidence out that they will be disappointed in me with, even when I own no such thing...

Ugh, sorry for the rant about my brain's ability to allow me to function normally. The more I typed the more I wanted to say and my thoughts just got all jumbled, and I'm refusing to go back and read over it for mistakes. If I spend too long thinking about it I'll just erase it and spend the night in regret that I could've in some way made myself feel better or at least feel like I've made the first step into trying. I know if I don't get some type of "specific" response my fears will just increase because they will have been proved right, and I hate that, I hate constantly feeling personally attacked by everything that anyone does, or doesn't do, and I'm sorry if I never respond or even read any responses I DO get. Sometimes I just can't do things like that.

---Ok, I lied. I went back and reread it. I had to, I couldn't press send. I felt like it was all a ramble because I started actually, kind of, seriously crying near the end of writing. I guess it was cathartic to just put my thoughts to words with the intention of others seeing it as opposed to just writing it in a journal and it being all secret, like an extension of my own head. Then I reread it, thought it was terrible, not in the sense of how it was written,all stream of consciousness, but because suddenly all my fears seemed trivial. I felt stupid, I semi edited it (went over limit 2000 characters), added some things, now it doesn't seem natural, or forced or I dunno. It feels contrived. To me it almost reads as someone faking it. Someone who doesn't have serious enough problems and is begging for attention. The fact I added things broke the flow and in my head I feel like everyone is just going to think I added things for effect, like I had to add things to make it seem worse. I just didn't think it came across strongly enough in a way to show how it affects every single aspect of my life, how I'm no longer living and have turned into a slave to unrealistic beliefs. How I can't do anything without a constant nagging in the back of my head everyone thinks I'm disgusting. How I can't date or get close to people. How it's taken me over 6 hours now to get enough balls to eff'n post this crap.

If you're still reading this, Hi, my name is Ken and I have social anxiety and I don't want to feel like this anymore. I recently saw a sliver of light and I don't want the door to shut again.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-22-2015, 07:17 PM
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Hi Ken, I've just read all that and just want to say I can relate to some of what you've written. It seems you were fine before making progress and have now lost yourself in anxiety again. Change doesn't happen for us, as much as we want it to, and it sounds like you've managed to change before if your social anxiety fluctuates, so you are more than capable of changing your situation again. Make that move to university, no matter how much it scares you, you've got to push yourself. Even if you fail, it's a chance to move away and start again. No one will think you're stupid for being there at all, I go to university and don't really care who's is the lecture hall with me, we're all there for the same reason.

Don't take this the wrong way, but nobody cares about the things you do and how you act, as much as you. Yes, they care for you, but make mistakes, say something stupid, have abit of a nervous laugh, nobody will care and will forget quickly and so will you. People aren't waiting to judge, people don't see you walking down the street and think "look at that loser", they are living their lives, same as you are. Who cares if you check your internet emails, or stutter when talking to a store clerk, or go to buy a car off them? These are all normal things that happen and it's ok to make mistakes, trust me, I fell over in front of a group of teenagers the other day and just responded "What am I like, huh?" and they laughed with me and forgot almost instantly.

The last thing I want to say, something that I'm trying to realise too, is we live short lives, so short and in the future everything we've ever done will be forgotten. Who was Bill Gates? No one will care in the future, the earths going to end, everything on it and all that has happened in its entire life-span will be gone and forgotten. So, why are we all so afraid of the little things, why we live our short exsitances on this planet? I ask myself everyday, and I'll keep asking it until I begin to live my life without consequences, you should too.

Good luck, Ken !

On a mission to reach that point in my life, where I can say "Hey, wait a minute, I'm not doing too bad here".
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-22-2015, 07:31 PM
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'ello Ken, you Bama person you. Go Tigers! LSU LSU LSU

Now that that's out of the way, I hope you find something on here to help quiet your mind. Parts of your post sound like a guilty Catholic on steroids, and having been there (although not like you of course, we're all different) I know it can eat away at you.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-22-2015, 08:02 PM
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Ken, you should be incredibly proud of yourself for even posting anything at all. I thought your post sounded intelligent and eloquent, actually. You're very brave! Much braver than you think!
These things that you think and feel are really not all that uncommon, and I think you'll find a lot of people on here who can relate (including myself). You're not some bizarre freak and I highly doubt anyone thinks that way of you. And if they do, well...then they fuggin' suck anyway!

You've got this shi*, Ken.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-23-2015, 12:17 AM
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Welcome, Epiphyllum!

You are a success story waiting to happen!
Live and let live VACUUMS more than a Hoover....
Live and HELP live is better!


(troll activity on the increase)

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-23-2015, 08:29 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks y'all.

Once I pressed send I instantly felt better for having done it. Putting myself out there or what not... At first I thought I'd press send and run away, but I'm not going to. I just had to wait a day to read the replies; I knew they were there, and felt bad I couldn't just click them to see. They were just grating on my mind. I couldn't help but assume I'd be told, in some way, I'm just over reacting... or some type of platitude meant to placate me. I just didn't wanna be told what I've been told a 1000 times before.

And yeah, I know I can get "better", but it's a slippery slope back to obsession. I can't ever get to a "normal" person level of fine, but I can get to a state where I feel mostly happy/able-bodied. Or at least mostly independent. That's my goal, independence. I can't keep using the safety net of my mom's house everytime things get rough. It only makes me regress to a point where it feels I can't start over again. The back slide reinforces to me my anxiety's cyclical nature making any new attempts at escape feel less and less likely to succeed. The knowledge that it's probably just going to happen again makes it seem less worthwhile.

I understand logically that everyone isn't preoccupied with my every movement, but it doesn't deter me from "feeling" like they do. Then after the avoidance making me feel better it reinforces that THAT is what I should do. Even if in the end I know it will only causes me more anxiety and dillusional thinking.

Unlike a lot of social anxiety sufferers, but like a lot of catholics, I can easily confess my sins. I just have to have my attention directed at whoever I'm telling. It has to be a personal plan to do so, it won't work if it's forced upon me by some outside force such as introducing yourself the first day of class Haha. For that reason, it's the act of posting that triggers the panic, and not the things I say or admit to. I have anxiety about not being my true self, otherwise I feel stifled and fake, and being liked for being fake isn't really being liked at all...

Damn, I rambled again. Anyway I'm appreciative that everyone is so understanding, and I am feeling pretty proud if myself! Also, if I were into football I'd definitely cheer for Alabama! Not evil Auburn... even though Auburn is the school I'm going to be going to Hahaha. I have faith I can accomplish this task I've set before me. The anticipation is just temporarily clouding my vision.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-23-2015, 01:18 PM
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Feel free to ramble bud! Glad you are getting it all out there. And also I like the fact that you get anxious about not being true to who you really are. I love individuality and anyone who tries to conform to others really isn't the type of person I would want to hang around with. What are you looking to study at evil Auburn? I'm about to start grad school and I absolutely loathe the idea of meeting new people and having to give individual/group presentations! Oh well, have a great day and keep writing! The amount of words you can pop off is quite extraordinary. You should write a book on your struggles and your path to less anxiety!!
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-23-2015, 02:12 PM
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Welcome Epiphyllum-
It's been hard for me to put myself out there. You've done a good job and yes I bet you do feel a bit better.
Your words inspired me to want to share more about myself and what I am going through. Hopefully I'll get there soon.
Thanks for sharing.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-23-2015, 04:10 PM
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wow.. could your posts get any longer...jk welcome to the forum
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-23-2015, 04:12 PM
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Hi. I feel dumb as well, i dont even know how to start a topic or change my picture. Help please?
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-23-2015, 05:32 PM
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hey y'all you guys are amazing (esp. Ken!)and brave for posting all of this helpful stuff to a bunch of strangers on the internet. I was wondering if any of you have considered going to therapy and talking about your struggles to a professional? If you have that's great, and I hope it has helped you, but if you haven't you should research therapists in your area! From doing some research myself I know that there are therapists geared towards helping people with different types of anxiety, and they can give you little tips and guidance on thinking positively about yourself and optimistically about the future. If you're worried about the price you can always just go to a school therapist because they don't charge anything. If you don't go to school you can research group therapy sessions in your area, which are often free. Yes, there will be other people, but just remember that they have the same exact troubles as you. If none of this sounds like a good idea to you then you should at least try out this app called MindShift. Its made for people with anxiety of all kinds and has helped me form a more positive outlook about my social anxiety. It gives you a place to write down your thoughts and feelings, gives you step by step help with dealing with an attack while it is happening, and provides you with tips, inspirational quotes, and support. Don't worry, you can set it to have a password so only you can access it if you are worried about people looking at your private things. I have it on my android phone, and I'm pretty sure it works on just about any device. This is just my experience with dealing with SA, sorry if it is not adequate help. But anyways, good luck y'all!

so let's laugh, let's learn to laugh at ourselves again
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