Here is my story so far...
I haven't been here in about a year.
Since then, I've tried Lexapro and gotten a job where I'm mostly only dealing with a couple of people at a time (which really is comfortable for me).
I'm considering going back on Lexapro cos of how it reduced symptoms. I've joined a group for people with SA and shyness, we're meeting this time next week. And I'm considering doing Group Therapy CBT and exposure sessions (with psychotherapists in training, however, since they are so much less expensive!!!).
Some things I wanted to say regarding how I've progressed...
Shame and judgements about having this "disorder" perpetuate it. I believe that shame will keep a person locked in this same lonely and painful experience. Judgements and shame exasperate anxiety and they also stop a person from doing what they actually can do, step-by-step, to positively change: it's like expecting perfection when your perception of what this even is is incorrect. And trying to do too much, whilst not doing what you actually can do.
I think that the world around and ourselves also, make add-ons to this condition. Judgements.
Only after being pushed to my limit did I seek help -facing up to having this; then facing my need to get some balance back by taking medication; and now, more recently, joining up in a group of people in my same position. With this Group Therapy that I'm also considering, we'll be doing Exposure Therapy (where we put ourselves in situations where we're accustomed to feeling phobic in).
...What have been and still are my judgements about having Social Anxiety...???
-That I am weak, inferior and pathetic for getting so overwhelmingly nervous around people
- That I have an innate "loser" complex that renders me forever inferior to other people
- That I am doomed to a life of utter loneliness and deprivation
...Thus, I have mostly spent the past decade (in which I've suffered from this) hiding from the world ...waiting it out... hoping I'd snap out of it and become like a normal, adequate member of society.
...Which didn't cure me of my social anxiety. And when I did venture out again, it came back -aborting any new friendships I was forming and getting me fired from two jobs in a row. ...And then leading to profound depression and despair.
-The point I am trying to make with all this is that shame and the judgements about being this way I think keep a person locked in.
So, let's take the opposite approach then: instead of feeling ashamed about this and instead of adding-on judgements, I'll reduce this to what I actually believe it is -what social anxiety really is at its heart.
-Namely: it is high sensitivity, a propensity towards shyness and bashfulness, and quite possibly a great scope for empathising with different people.
...The negatives of being this way, can be grouped in what it means to suffer from social anxiety disorder, S.A.D.
But it needn't be a DISORDER. It could be a personality trait.
Take away the judgements, the immense shame for being so highly sensitive... Train yourself with CBT, exposure therapy, group therapy ...Take medication if it has all spiralled out of control ..Join meetup groups with people who have SA and go to them ...accept the seeming silliness of feeling so self conscious without judging it ...think of how relatively fine it is to basically be very shy and sensitive -when there are so worse things a person could be.
...Essentially, act in ways you would act if you weren't ashamed about being so sensitive.
That's all I think this is. ...High sensitivity, that makes being out in the world a challenge, but a challenge that can be handled and even potentially mastered.
It's the judgements based on shame (-the REAL definition for Social Anxiety???!!!!
) that take a a highly sensitive disposition and make it something crippling and disabling.
In short: think and act, and believe, that the way you actually are, at heart, is perfectly acceptable in this world. You will have to adjust, but the adjustment is likely no where near so massive as your shame and doubt would have you believe.