I feel completely frustrated and feel absolutely hopeless against my social anxiety.
Hey, I'm Brittany & I'm 19 years old. This is going to be a pretty long thread, so you don't have to read all of this, if you just wanna skim through thats perfectly fine, I just need somebody to tell me Iím not crazy or alone.
But I am completely frustrated and feel absolutely hopeless against my social anxiety. And if you feel the same way, I encourage you to read my story of my frustrations, because it would mean the absolute world to me to have somebody tell me they understand. Nobody I know does, and itís killing me that I feel I have nobody to talk to that gets what this stupid debilitating disorder is like to live with.
Now let me go back a little bit. The beginning of my sophomore year, I moved twice. Once from Maine to Arkansas, once again from Arkansas to Colorado. I think this is where my social anxiety first began to develop. Moving twice was really hard on me, but the second time was definitely worse than the first. The first day of going to my new school in Colorado I was late. I walked into class and was immediately the center of attention.
A socially anxious persons worst nightmare!!
A few kids from class talked to me and tried to get to know me, and I tried my best to talk to them comfortably, but I found myself not really knowing how to carry a conversation with them, I found myself worrying they wouldnít like me for some reason. Although a few people talked to me, none of those people had lunch with me, so I ate by myself. Actually, I would leave school at lunch and walk around outside until it was over so I wouldnít eat anything at all. I didnít talk to anybody in my classes, and I feel everyone probably thought I was snobby and thought I was to good to speak to anybody, but in reality, I was just to anxious and self conscious to say anything to anybody. So I kept quiet. Better to keep quiet than put yourself out there to possibly be negatively judged, teased, or criticized, right? I grew to hate this school and everything about it. I had never felt more alone than I did during this period of time, it was absolute HELL. I started to refuse to go. It became a problem, and eventually, I began going to school online. This definitely helped me at the time, but I think more than anything it helped my anxiety. I know longer had to face the fear of going to school physically on a regular basis and interacting with people, I could go to school online at home and avoid anything that made me anxious. I know longer had to try to fit in with a group of people. I was alone. I was safe. And I believe I fed my anxiety this way for a long time. I began working a lot harder, and I got really good grades, I was very successful school wise, but I was still very alone. Now not going to school everyday, nobody was around for me to talk to. I had no friends that I could hang out with in person. I wasnít interacting with anybody in person other than my family for nearly 2 years. I still was unaware that I had social anxiety disorder at the time, in fact, for a very long time being alone did not bother me. I didnít mind spending so much time by myself. I didnít think it was unhealthy or that something was wrong. I just enjoyed my own company, especially after all the stress I had endured from moving twice in the course of two months.
A little while after going to school online, I did meet a friend. A best friend who's name was Adam. I met him online, and we met in person the summer before my senior year. He was a grade ahead of me, and we hit it off pretty well when we met. In the beginning of our friendship we had a thing for each other, so the 2nd time we hung out was a date. Although I was nervous, and a little bit anxious, I found it really easy to be myself around him, and a lot of the social anxiety I experienced around others didnít really apply when I was with him. Things in the beginning of our relationship when we had one were great. He made me laugh all the time, we spent a lot of time together, I was extremely happy I found somebody I could spend time with whom I wasnít socially anxious around, it felt amazing. That started to come to an end when he began mentioning meeting his friends and family. When he started to ask, I remember immediately feeling anxious, fearful, as if I was in danger all of a sudden. One of his really good friends was very eager to meet me, and I told him I couldnít, that I wasnít ready. Even then, I still was unaware of the possibility that I could have social anxiety. I thought my thoughts were reasonable, and I convinced myself that there was nothing wrong with not being ready, that I would when I was even though we had been dating for months and he had already met my family.
Anxiety convinced me that my thoughts were reasonable. That I was protecting myself. I was ďliving in my own head.Ē
This among other things due to my social anxiety at the time, ended our romantic relationship. Although we continued to be best friends soon after.
After graduating in 2016, I once again moved, this time to Oregon. Once again when I moved here, I did not have any friends. I didnít know anybody. I was alone, or at least felt alone, once again. I was attending college in the fall (I didnít end going for to long partly because financial reasons, partly because it was to much for my anxiety), and was living at home with my parents during the summer until then. During this time, I met a guy. His names Jesse and he is my current boyfriend, weíve been in a relationship for almost a year. And its around this time that I began to discover that I had an anxiety disorder.
In the beginning of our relationship, things were absolutely amazing. We hit it off very well, and I felt like I could be 101% myself around this guy, which is very hard for me to do now-a-days with the severity of my anxiety. I knew he was a keeper. Since I didnít have a whole lot of other people here, we spent a lot of time together, almost every single day. We began spending almost every single night with each other too once I got my own place. For the first 6-7 months, there was not a whole lot of mention of meeting friends or family on his part. He had met some of my family, my roommates, and a few other people I was around here and there. But he never brought up meeting his people. And when he did bring it up, I began reverting back to the same behavior I had in the last relationship I had been in. The thought of meeting/being introduced to new people made me sick to my stomach with nerves. Even just the thought of it was difficult for me. It hadnít even happened yet, but just the thought was enough to cause fear and panic inside of me.
People are unsafe. Other people represent an enemy.
Thatís what it felt like. This is the turning point, where I realized I avoid situations where I could possibly be judged or evaluated by others. Any situation where I worried about the opinions of others, I avoided as best as I could. I finally woke up and realized that this is problematic. It was causing major interferences in my life. My ability to keep & make friends (whenever I was invited out places, I would almost always avoid going), my relationship, even work from time to time.
I noticed I would monitor myself in order to make sure that other people accepted me and did not think I looked stupid in any way. Even with my boyfriend of almost one year, I found myself behaving this way from time to time. But I feel when he mentioned meeting his friends and family, my anxiety prevented me from doing it or even being able to think I could do it. It made it feel impossible to do so. I began to feel horribly self conscious, and the anxious thoughts would flood in. What if they donít like me? What if I say something embarrassing? What if they think Iím weird because of how shy I am? What if my anxiety is obvious? Iím also worried Iíll be judged by my physical appearance. What if they think Iím ugly? I have 0 self-confidence. I would immediately began fearing the social situation, even though it had not presented itself yet. I would obsess about the possibility of meeting his friends or family, spend time thinking about everything. What could I say so theyíll like me? What should I wear? How do I hide my anxiety? I would shut down or zone out whenever he brought this up because I immediately just felt like I couldnít do it. What if I didnít know what to say? Didnít know how to carry on a conversation? I would become angry and frustrated with myself for feeling this way. What was I so afraid of? I know my thoughts were irrational. Knowing something is very different from believing it Iíve come to realize. Knowing it didnít seem to help very much, because my anxiety convinced me that there was real danger.
The social anxiety persists even though I wanted to face the fear and I know I had to.
We want people to like us. I wanted them to like me, desperately. My anxiety convinced me and still does, that they wonít. The thought of being the center of attention, which I would be for a small period of time, also makes me want to run far far away and hide. It scares the hell out of me.
I have anxiety in a lot of other situations, including most social encounters with strangers, or meeting those in authority. My anxiety has reduced the level of functioning that I have in building friendships and relationships and Iím so sick of it. My relationship is the biggest one of all to me because I donít want my anxiety to drive a wedge between us like it has before with others.
It feels like its me against the world. More and more recently, Iíve resented being alone and I hate how I isolate myself because of my anxiety. I feel like Iíve lost my mind. I want to make it all stop, I want to find a way out.
I want to feel normal.