My social anxiety (and depression?) - Social Anxiety Forum
 
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-10-2010, 09:08 AM Thread Starter
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My social anxiety (and depression?)


My name is Michael, I'm 24 years of age and I'm from the Netherlands. I've decided to make an account on this forum, because there aren't really any active Dutch social anxiety forums. I guess I've been struggling with social anxiety since my puberty or so, but I've never been diagnosed with it by anyone. After reading some stories on this forum and viewing some youtube vids about social anxiety I've pretty much come to realise that I'm a sufferer as well.

As far as I can remember I've always been extremely introverted. People usually remember me as the quiet kid. Since I was young i was fascinated by computers (started with Commodore 64) and it soon became my primary preoccupation during my spare time. I've always had friends, but they were also rather computer obsessed (not really nerdy types though). I went out though and did pretty much things everyone did. Ever since highschool though I always found it difficult to be in the center of attention. Having to say anything in class or do a presentation has never been easy, cause of the performance anxiety I would get. It was easy however to avoid these situations (we had to hold like 4 presentations in all of highschool), and so I did, rather than really fix the problem.

I've never had any problems getting good grades, I made it through highschool without too much of a hassle. Then went on to study History at the University, which went ok, got a bachelor's degree in 3,5 years time. At that point I did not feel ready to get or hold a job. I felt like I hadn't really learned anything and wasn't ready for life after college. Then I decided to go to lawschool instead, to study some more and to further develop myself. This has been going relatively good. It's been easy for me to get good grades once more without really putting in too much effort. Still however I feel increasingly inadequate for life after college.

Since a few months I've been having some symptoms that made me believe I had some physical disease. These symptoms include a general feeling of tiredness, feeling extremely tired after doing anything that requires concentration, having pressure in my head (like my brains are trying to push my eyes through their sockets), and alot of symptoms that could point to clinical depression. Also i've been experiencing episodes of derealization in which it seems like my mind is not 100% in synch with the world so to speak. I especially notice this outdoors with alot of things happening and moving, that it seems like my mind can't process it all fast enough. This problem seems also to be occuring in the games I play (team based first person shooters mostly), where I quickly lose track of the hectic situations that occur and I feel dizzy/exhausted as a result.

I went to my GP with these complaints, but he couldnt think of any underlying physical cause. He gave me some "anti-dizzy" pillls, which had no effect as I expected. I've always been a pessimist and maybe even a hypochondriac when it comes to my health, so I naturally assumed it HAD to be some terminal disease that made me feel this way. My bloodwork came back positive though, although liver function was slightly decreased, but nothing to worry about my GP said.

I then started looking into psychological problems that could cause the symptoms i've been having. After filling in some depression selftests I had to conclude I had a severe clinical depression (like 20 out of 25 scores on depression tests). Went to GP with this and he sent me to a social psychiatric helper. It's been nice talking to her, but she doesn't seem to think anything serious is wrong with me. I've pretty much told her everything I've typed here so far and more, but still she is convinced i'm a healthy young man that just needs to get a relevant part time job next to my study so I stop thinking so much at home and get satisfaction from it at the same time. Also she adviced me to participate in a "stop-worrying course" for students. Been to 2 meetings so far and it's been somewhat helpful, because i'm identifying the mistakes in my thought process (and i'm making ALOT).

Also I've been trying to help myself by participating in a commission of the student association I'm in. I am even chairman of the commission. I can't say it's been the most fun experience so far, in fact it's very confronting for me. Even though objectively things seem to be going pretty well, it's giving me loads of stress already. I'm often unsure what to do or say, and I really dread the required contacts with people I barely know. Despite having these negative thoughts, I've been receiving compliments for my work.

I'm still not convinced I don't have clinical depresion, since I have these symptoms: fatigue, derealization, head pressure, sleeping problems (a regular sleeping pattern of like 8 hours per night still makes me wake up exhausted), feelings of shame (about my condition and the fact that I didnt try to fix my problems earlier), worthlessness (don't think I could get a job, even after studying for all these years), emotionally numbness (no real highs or lows, just rather low most of the time). I never had any suicidal thoughts luckily, since I've always figured there probably is a way out of how I'm feeling right now that doesn't involve dying.

The problem is that because of the way I feel most of the time now social interaction has been harder than ever. I pretty much believe that I can become happy again and get rid of the symptoms I have now, once I lessen/get rid of my anxiety, but doing so has now become harder than ever, since my self-diagnosed depression is messing with my concentration, slowing my thoughts and making me feel tired/miserable most of the time which usually ends up in non-satisfactory social contact.

Anyway, I hope some people can relate to this or have some advice for me on how to proceed, since just doing more things "out of my comfort zone" doesn't seem to cut it at the moment.Thanks for reading in any case, it's become quite a story
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-10-2010, 10:47 AM
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Hey, pretty interesting story and if you do have SA you are doing pretty good managing it already. These are just my opinion and I am sure some people will disagree but here are my solutions,

1. Get cognitive behavior therapy help. You will learn how to re-wire your brain. It will teach you how to see the world in a more practical and realistic way.

2. Just moving out of your comfort zone wont do anything by itself. Thats why it follows after your worked on changing your thinking. The goal is not just to go and suffer through something that you dislike. The goal is to go do something and change your thoughts so that before you hated to give a presentation but now you look forward to it and see it as a interesting challenge or opportunity.

3. I believe exercise is also crucial, if we dont use our bodies then they become weak and slow.

4. Meditation is also a must for me.

and let me just say, you probably are very capable of moving on past college and getting a job. You have just told yourself you are not and that has become reality.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-10-2010, 11:55 AM
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Hello,

I was just wondering how long do you play computer games for? Maybe your symptoms are caused by sitting in front of a computer too long...it is great you are a chairman in the student association! Social anxiety definitely lessens with some socializing! its ironic but true..i try and practice out the things i am phobic about every chance i get at work...eg. take the initiative to talk and be the center of attention although this initially makes me nervous...
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-11-2010, 08:24 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eek a mouse View Post
Hey, pretty interesting story and if you do have SA you are doing pretty good managing it already. These are just my opinion and I am sure some people will disagree but here are my solutions,

1. Get cognitive behavior therapy help. You will learn how to re-wire your brain. It will teach you how to see the world in a more practical and realistic way.

2. Just moving out of your comfort zone wont do anything by itself. Thats why it follows after your worked on changing your thinking. The goal is not just to go and suffer through something that you dislike. The goal is to go do something and change your thoughts so that before you hated to give a presentation but now you look forward to it and see it as a interesting challenge or opportunity.

3. I believe exercise is also crucial, if we dont use our bodies then they become weak and slow.

4. Meditation is also a must for me.

and let me just say, you probably are very capable of moving on past college and getting a job. You have just told yourself you are not and that has become reality.
Thanks for the advice! I'm already working on points 1 and 2, by participating in a group course that will allow me to identify my wrong thought patterns (predicting future, having negative thoughts about "neutral" situations etc). Also I'm trying to figure out what my real interests are instead of doing things that other people enjoy (and therefore i should enjoy) or doing everything i think society demands of me.

I've actually started exercising again more regularly (jogging 3 times a week) and joined a football team consisting of friends and acquaintances that will play like 2 times a week (1 match and 1 training) and it's making me feel better already.

Meditation I don't know, never been really into that, but I guess it's worth looking into.

Quote:

Hello,

I was just wondering how long do you play computer games for? Maybe your symptoms are caused by sitting in front of a computer too long...it is great you are a chairman in the student association! Social anxiety definitely lessens with some socializing! its ironic but true..i try and practice out the things i am phobic about every chance i get at work...eg. take the initiative to talk and be the center of attention although this initially makes me nervous...
Thanks for the reply! I've been playing games for most of my life, really. Like I said I became fascinated by the computer at a young age. Probably also been addicted all my life, but luckily I've always kept friends and been able to finish my school/studies without problems. I just wish I recognized the addiction earlier, because I would have participated alot more in social things so my anxiety would probably have been less severe by now.

I can totally imagine some of my symptoms are caused by sitting behind a computerscreen for hours every day, so I'm gonna try to mix my day up more by going out more and doing other non-computer related things.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 05-11-2010, 10:45 AM
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so it seems like you are on the right path, just stick to it and eventually you'll get rid of SA. Its good to see someone begin very proactive and you will be all fixed up in a short time. Everyday you push yourself in those areas is one day you are getting better...

Now that you have it all down you have to remember it takes a bit of time. What I remind myself a lot is that it took me some time to get in this situation and it will take some time to get out. As long as you keep at it things will get better you just have to keep it up, even on days you dont feel like it, those are the most important days.
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