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.