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This will probably be long, sorry. I developed anxiety in August when I moved into a college dorm for the first time. It got so bad that I had to come home by the third week. I was constantly anxious around everyone and couldn't make any friends because of this. I was getting little to no sleep because of panic attacks at night. My anxiety also completely zapped my appetite. I was constantly nauseous to the point where I could only eat maybe one granola bar or some potato chips a day. I could sometimes eat chicken noddle soup when I was completely alone. What made it worse was the fact that my roommates kept asking me if I had an eating disorder. I've always been naturally thin and self conscious about it, so of course that sparked even more anxiety. I've always loved food and had no problem eating anywhere and anytime, until recently.

Now after being back home I think I've developed social anxiety. I do have a couple of friends in my home town still, but I've only hung out with them a couple of times, due to anxiety stopping me the other times. Being able to eat around people has also gone down the drain. I can't eat around anyone but my immediate family. I get really anxious around old friends and new people, but to the point where I can sometimes still cope. However, when food is involved I get extremely anxious and nauseous and cannot take a single bite without barfing. When food is involved I have to tell them I feel sick and can't eat, which only makes my anxiety so much worse when they give me weird glances or start questioning me.

I recently started commuting to a new college from home. When anyone talks to me I get really anxious for no reason, especially any guys. When I get anxious I tend to tense up and not be able to respond coherently which makes people look at me weird. At random times I am fine and can talk to anyone. I was very social in high school and I had many friends. Now I find myself avoiding all social situations for fear that food will be involved (because my anxiety makes me nauseous in social situations) or fear that I will get a really bad anxiety spell and not be able to act "normal". Not having friends or being able to make any friends anymore is really depressing me. Even if I do make a new friend social anxiety will hit me and I'm too nervous around them to talk anymore.

This is starting to ruin my life. I no longer have friends and I fear making new ones. I can't join any school clubs or social gatherings because food is usually involved and I don't want to embarrass myself any further. My anxiety is also preventing me from doing study abroad that I have always dreamed of. I'm afraid of all of the social situations that I will be put in. And I'm afraid of not being able to eat. In the study abroad programs my college offers, everyone eats as a group, which terrifies me. I know that part of my anxiety stems from low confidence and the fear of being judged. I think it also stems from the fact that I've always been teased for being thin. And now I think if I don't eat enough for someone's liking the will assume the worst (which has happened before), which makes me sick to my stomach. I don't know how to get better, and go back to my old self. Any and all advice is welcome.
 

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It seems like quite a predicament you're in. I think I can only help with the eating part.
My anxiety and depression destroyed my appetite for a while. But my doctor said I was underweight.
I'm focusing on my carb intake so much that i can eat practically anything.
Though I still can't eat in public so I cannot help there, hopefully someone else here can provide better advice. Sorry.
 

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Hey there,

I've had quite a similar experience with college. I'm now in my fourth semester (or second year). I did have some social anxiety before I started, but college intensified it ten-fold. The anxiety was so bad for me that it drove me back home the very first weekend, and I came home almost every weekend for the entire first semester. Those first months were the most dreadful of my life, and I almost dropped out of school.

It has gotten better for me, despite the fact that I haven't gotten close to anybody yet. Your situation and experiences aren't going to be the same as mine, but let me just say that if you keep avoiding social interaction out of fear that something embarrassing will happen, it will only make the problem worse.

If the anxiety is severe enough that you can't even keep food down while eating in public, or you can't talk to anybody without freezing up, maybe you should think about seeing a psychiatrist. He or she might try to put you on a daily medication (SSRIs), but if you are uncomfortable with that (I didn't want to take them), you might want to look into a benzodiazepine like Xanax or Klonopin. You don't take them everyday (although some people do), but rather for specific situations. It might help you calm down briefly so you can keep food down. There might be other medical options to help with the nausea issue.

Do you have anyone to talk to, like a therapist? That's another route if you are skeptical/worried about medication (like me). I would recommend seeing a therapist that is of the "CBT" discipline, as they focus on behavioral changes (the sessions are usually more practical and not just sitting and talking about feelings for an hour). This has helped me a good amount in dealing with college.

I guess I just want to say this again: avoid avoidance. If you are afraid that you will get nervous when you speak to people, and then you proceed to rarely/never speak to anyone new, you are digging yourself in a deeper hole and it will only be harder to climb out of it in the future. Try to make a hierarchy of things that are least to most intimidating, and then start slowly.

Also don't think of anything like this as "ruining your life." Maybe you won't make friends for a year, two years or longer. Just because you haven't been able to for awhile doesn't mean you automatically can't ever make friends again over the course of your entire life.

I hope this helped and all the best to you.
 
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