Social Anxiety and/or something else? - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-03-2019, 12:48 PM Thread Starter
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Social Anxiety and/or something else?

First, a little background: I was diagnosed with depression at 17, and spent my last year of high school and first few years of undergrad in therapy for depression and anxiety. I went back into therapy for about a year while in my late twenties because I was feeling more anxious than usual during a significant reorganization at my workplace. Despite my depression and anxiety, I did well in school and a first career, have lived independently, am in a long-term relationship, and am now in grad school (not as successful as my past academic experiences, but getting by).

Although I wasn't diagnosed until age 17, I remember thinking that I was different and that I didn't fit in as early as age eight. I often avoided social situations or felt intense anxiety and fear of judgment when I braved social situations. This wasn't entirely without cause, as I vaguely remember that I was the butt of what I perceived to be verbal and physical bullying around that time. My anxiety was particularly intense when I was with people that I didn't know well or in large groups, and usually manifested with distracting rapid cycling thoughts and self doubt before, during, and after social events. I have often felt clumsy, awkward, or inept in these situations. People frequently commented that I seemed very quiet and I remember some people calling me "awkward". I've often worried that I seem to be less social than others. One of my greatest challenges has been grappling with low self-esteem and overthinking my actions.

I'm now 29 and can't seem to shake the feeling that there is more to what I am feeling than depression and anxiety. In my late twenties, several of my s.o.'s friends have asked her whether I am "on the spectrum". People have commented more directly to me in social situations and professional coaching scenarios that I don't make normal eye contact. I also often feel ignored when interacting with waiters, grocery store clerks, etc. while out with my s.o. unless I am extra assertive. For instance, sometimes I will pay for things and the cashiers will ask my s.o. rather than me whether she would like to round up to make a donation despite the fact that I am the one who paid and am standing right there. When they ask "How are you?", they seem only to address my s.o., not me. To be fair, my s.o. is very outgoing and several years older than me, and I look young for my age, so it has occurred to me that people may just be deferring to her because they see her as the more mature party. Regardless, I have been questioning if I have something other than just anxiety going on.

I've talked to my past therapists and looked more thoroughly over my medical records; no strong indications of any learning disabilities, developmental disorders, or additional mental health problems. Am I just an anxious, introverted guy on the awkward side (who is overthinking this as much as I've overthought other things) as I have long believed, or might I have some underlying disorder or disability that has gone unaddressed?

Have others had similar experiences? Where have they led and how did you cope?
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-03-2019, 01:04 PM
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sounds within the realms of normal personality differences and some heightened anxiety etc.

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 06-03-2019, 01:34 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the feedback, andy1984. I am trying to look at my experiences objectively, but I also recognize that my anxiety may impact my ability to do so, so it's helpful to hear from a third party.
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