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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I see a lot of threads asking about the dynamics of social situations or wondering how people interact. I definitely understand those questions and where they come from because I had to deal with the same things. My basic question, however, is this:

Are there any people who were once at least mostly "normal" (sans SA) after at least the early-mid teen years, and/or feel like they developed a basic level of social competency, and are only hindered from leading normal social lives because of the physical/mental anxiety triggers that make many social interactions nearly unbearable?

I have seen a few people (including one of the mods) write about what could be described as adult sudden-onset SAD. I'm curious to know if anyone else has experienced this or has a situation similar to my own (see below).

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A quick bio for me:

Lead-Up: I was socially unsure of myself until around 17-18. By 19-20, I felt like I finally understood the basic principles of how people and interactions worked. I had a girlfriend from about 20 untill I was almost 21 (don't imply too much - she was very religious :sus ) and dated a bit after that. I moved and started college at 22. Just after I turned 23, I was working part-time+, going to school full-time, and only socializing a little. It was a bit stressful, but everything seemed to be going fine.

Events: One night (after a long day including, strangely enough, a presentation in front of one my classes - it went well) as I was having a long phone conversation with someone it happened. As I was talking, I started feeling uncomfortable/nervous/anxious, and began to lock up. All the symptoms became stronger and stronger - breathing quickly, heart pounding, face flushed, feeling a desperate need to escape the situation etc... I tried to brush it off, but could not. At the end of that week I was working at my sales job. I though everything might be back to normal and was fairly relaxed talkative with customers. I had just started talking with one couple, when I suddenly had an almost out-of-body experience. I saw the people staring at me, then I noticed the manager was also intently watching me. Instantly I felt all of the anxiety and accompanying symptoms take effect, and I had pass the sale off to someone else as I suddenly felt "sick". Ever since, it seems that even the possibility of that happening again has dictated the boundaries of my social life.
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I have always had SA but in my teens and early 20s I was more social. I had a group of friends from high school that I hung out with and that continued on into my early 20s. I moved away from where I grew up and have pretty much lost contact with everyone from that era of my life.

Which one of the mods, I am curious, are you talking about? :con
 

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dazed and confused
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I've always been weird and kind of backward (socially), but I went through a period in my late teens/early 20s where I was able to at least go through the motions of being social. I can't do that anymore. My SA got much worse while I lived overseas for 15 years. Now that I'm back "home", I feel like I can't function anymore. I need to get a job, and I'm dreading it. Not that I don't want to work -- I do. I'm going nuts staying home all the time, and wish I could get out and earn money and feel like I have a purpose in life.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
...I'm making an effort to straighten things out while I can - without therapy or medication. I do think it's easier for someone who hasn't struggled with SA their entire life to control their anxiety, though I really doubt that anyone with SA will eliminate it from their life completely.
Now that sounds somewhat ominous...is there supposedly a point of no return? Or, are you just saying that the longer it goes on for, the more likely you will have use therapy or medication to fix/control the problem.

and...

What are you doing to in an attempt to straighten things out?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That makes sense.

How did you make it through the interview and the first few days? That would probably be the hardest part for me. I continued working at a job doing commission sales for the first two/three months of my anxiety, and it was hell most of the time. There were times I could snap out if it and be completely normal, but in general it seemed to get worse the longer I stayed there.

I'm in a similar situation to the one you were in I think. I'm not working, but I am going to school full-time (but taking classes that normally require lots of talking or presentations online), so the situation seems acceptable. I'll probably have to get a job this summer though, and it's sounds crazy just thinking about it.
 

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I was a very outgoing child until I was about five, then I got shyer and shyer. I became painfully shy around middle school age, and started getting panic in social situations/social anxiety disorder proper towards the end of high school.
 

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As a child, I NEVER shut up. People who have not seen me since I was 11 all notice the change in personality and wonder why I never say anything. In middle school I got shyer but was still fairly outgoing. High school was where mild SA came along. I avoided talking to kids I didn't know and even got really shy with those whom I have known since we were 7. My best friend since we were 5 noticed it and so we drifted apart. College was where I fell off the cliff. You know the dorm recluse a la the Unabomber? That was me. Being able to slink around in silence, I was able to overhear conversations about me which made things worse. The rest is history.
 

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Suit up!
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I didn't really develop SA until high school. In middle school has 4 best friends, technically 6, but two branched off to other people near the end. I don't even think I cared about what others think when I was in middle school. However, none of my friends went to the same high school as me and a mix of that and finally hitting puberty and caring about what others think doesn't blend well. It's just been getting worse ever since and not having a single friend in college isn't helping. I've noticed the more I withdraw from society the worse and worse I get.
 

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Yes, I was fine until I moved up here (from the middle of nowhere to a large city) and had several job interviews which made me paranoid and insecure, which led to me feeling anxious outside.

Without about two months I went from great to couldn't leave the house alone and I haven't been able to leave the house alone since December 2007.

I will be able to cure this though, I never had it a few years ago so I won't have it in a few years time.
 

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2002
Posted 01-17-2009 at 03:33 PM by Amocholes
Major crisis this year. Although I have always been quiet and introverted, I have become quite confident in myself the last 10 years or so. I have been noticing a tendency to avoid being around people. Although I'm not really socially active, I am pretty active at church. It began simply; I would come home from work and tell myself that I was too tired to go to choir practice. Then I would begin feeling guilty for staying home.

One Sunday morning in February, I was sitting up front with the band. The children's story had just begun and I started feeling edgy. I began to get the feeling that I needed to get out of there. I began getting hot and sweating. My heart was beating fast and I had to concentrate to control my breathing. This was unlike anything that I had ever felt before. It got to the point where I couldn't stand it any longer. Since I was sitting next to the door, I quietly got up and stepped out. I stood there trying to control myself for a few minutes. I realized that the feeling wasn't going away so I went outside and sat in my truck. I couldn't understand what was going on. It was a period of sheer panic. Finally, I calmed down enough that I felt I could drive. There was no way I could have gone back into the church. I drove home in a daze and spent the afternoon slumped in my chair in front of the television. I couldn't stop thinking about what had happened and couldn't figure out what had caused it.

By the next morning I was feeling somewhat normal but was still feeling slightly anxious about the whole thing. The following Wednesday I went to band and choir practice early and talked to the Pastor. Andrew was very sympathetic and suggested that I see a Dr. I sat through band practice and told them what had happened. I couldn't bring myself to continue through choir so I went home.

The next few months were difficult. I had not been to see a Dr in over 10 years. I didn't really have one. I checked for providers with my insurance company and found one. Unfortunately, he couldn't get me in for over a month. I went to work and I sat at home. Being out in public was almost unbearable. Every time the phone would ring, I would sit and stare at it. I would 'know' who was calling and what they wanted. Surprisingly, the few times that I actually answered it, I was right. This just reinforced the need to avoid people. I finally unplugged the phone.

I went to see the Dr. Sitting in the waiting room was sheer torture. Finally I was called in and after checking my height and weight, I was taken into an examining room. My blood pressure which has always been on the low side was at 127 over 80. This was high for me. After explaining to the Dr what had happened, he left the room. He returned a few moments later with a month and a half supply of Paxil. The entire transaction took about 10 minutes. He didn't give me a prescription for the drug, only the samples. I took them for about 2 1/2 weeks. I felt like I was half stoned all the time and knew I couldn't go through life like that. I quit taking it.

I did some research on the internet and found that what I was experiencing was Social Anxiety Disorder. It felt good to know that what I had had a name. I also found this site and joined immediately. I figured that if I was going to overcome this, then I would have to be totally honest from the beginning. I let the board know that I was gay right away. There were no negative responses to this announcement and I began feeling that I had found the right place.

In August I decided that it was time to seek help. I called our Lifeline service at work and they set it up for me to see a therapist. He had me try a few things. I changed my diet. No caffeine, no salt, no sugar, no spicy foods. I also began walking a mile and a half every day. This gave me time to think. I still couldn't see anything that could be causing this. After 4 sessions with the therapist, he had determined that my problem did not seem to be emotional or caused by some past trauma. He suggested going back to the Dr and trying medication again. I agreed. This time the Dr gave me a prescription for Paxil CR. I didn't get the feeling of being half stoned all the time and so I continued taking it. I was still avoiding gatherings of people but was able to cope with my day to day life.
This is an entry from my blog. Up to this point I had never had anxiety. It struck suddenly and hard. I have always thought that mine was a chemical imbalance. It hit when I was 42, about the time that menopause would be hitting if I was a woman. Chalk it up to male menopause.
 

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Starlight and moonbeams
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I was shy in high school, but had a wide circle of friends and people I was friendly with. I think what triggered my SA was when I moved into the dorms at age 23, and had a roommate who basically made my life hell. Suddenly, I started spending more time alone, and pushed all the friends I had made in college away.

There was a short reprieve when I moved out into my own apartment, but things weren't the same as they were before. I couldn't approach someone or ask someone if they wanted to go do a social thing, even if I was friendly with them at work. Then I had a short breakdown because of this medication my quack doctor prescribed, and it was evident that I was becoming scared of being around people. I holed up in my apartment and didn't do anything.

Since then, it's only gotten worse. I think by not going out and doing things, I'm making it worse, but I also fear the panic attacks when I do go out and do something. In essence, SA has become a reality for me.
 

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That is an excellent question !

Up to the age of 7, I was completely "normal". I played with all of the kids in my neighborhood; was outgoing, extroverted and happy; did not retreat into myself at all.

For some reason, suddenly I became very introverted and withdrawn. I stopped being with the neighborhood kids and reduced my friends down to only 2. I lost all contact with all the other kids and I started living a life largely as a recluse.

To this day even after years of instrospection and meditation, I have NO idea what precipitated that. There was no traumatic event in my family. My family life was the same. My health was still good. Nothing had changed in my environment.

All I have been able to surmise is that it was genetic; an inborn nature that began to manifest itself as I got older as a child.

From the age of 7 onwards I have had moderate to severe SA and it has plagued me and tortured me since.
 

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I never used to have any problem with making friends or getting invited to things, socializing etc. and people seem to like me, but the symptoms have really taken over my life big time in the last several years. I just can't seem to find a way to effectively deal with the physical and mental symptoms of SA and it leads me to extreme isolation. Other people always told me I was fine socially, and they liked me and wanted to be around me etc, but my brain wont seem to accept that so I continue to be alone and dominated by SA. I used to get out a lot with friends and females and go to parties and other outings, but by the time I was around 21 the symptoms of SA began to become debilitating and sadly it hasn't gotten any better despite my attempts at recovery through many different types of treatment and medication. It's extremely depressing. So yeah I used to consider myself pretty normal, but SA has definitely kicked my butt.
 

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breaking free
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I was never completely "normal". Nobody is 100% normal. Referring to my SA, however, I was always somewhat of a shy kid, but still had a few close friends throughout elementry school. My shyness did not turn into SA until I was about 12 years old.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
This is an entry from my blog. Up to this point I had never had anxiety. It struck suddenly and hard. I have always thought that mine was a chemical imbalance. It hit when I was 42, about the time that menopause would be hitting if I was a woman. Chalk it up to male menopause.
I found the second paragraph especially interesting because the experience sounds somewhat similar to my own. I don't think what I felt could be compared to hot flashes (but then again I guess I've never had one), and so far I haven't had any physical symptoms similar to what you described in "2003" and "2004" or what is listed online, so I don't know. In any case, it's always good to hear that treatment and time do help in these situations.
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To this day even after years of instrospection and meditation, I have NO idea what precipitated that. There was no traumatic event in my family. My family life was the same. My health was still good. Nothing had changed in my environment.
That is probably the most unsettling aspect of the whole experience. It was something that happened fairly suddenly, and there seemed to be no good reason for it to happen.
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And yeah, the first few months were hell for me as well. I don't think I started feeling better until at least half a year had passed, really. Good luck with the summer job - hopefully you find one that helps you without turning into an anxious blob. If you've worked before and already attend school, you're definitely capable of managing the social aspect. It's always good to make an effort.
Thanks, and that's good to hear. I think staying in school has benefited me, but my hope is that a job will provide more constant exposure to positive experiences so I can "reset" mental/physical reactions. If anxiety does subside after a few months in a particular situation, maybe there is the possibility that social anxiety in general situations might fall to tolerable levels as well. Has it worked that way for you?
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...by the time I was around 21 the symptoms of SA began to become debilitating and sadly it hasn't gotten any better despite my attempts at recovery through many different types of treatment and medication. It's extremely depressing. So yeah I used to consider myself pretty normal, but SA has definitely kicked my butt.
I hear that...it's not fun at all. Can you point to one or two experiences that started the SA, or was it just something that developed progressively over time?
 

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I hear that...it's not fun at all. Can you point to one or two experiences that started the SA, or was it just something that developed progressively over time?[/QUOTE]

I think it's been there my whole life. I was always awkward and shy, though I didn't really realize it as I wasn't very aware of myself. But around 18 or 19 it just started getting a lot worse. I can't really point to any event that set it off, it just started becoming overwhelming and I couldn't figure out what was going on or how to deal with it.
 
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