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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone.

I'm not really sure what to say. I've been browsing this forum for a while tonight and have been deciding whether or not to post something. I just feel really sad about things tonight and wanted some advice.

I've been with my partner for 5 years, and over that time his social anxiety has gotten worse. I always knew he was shy, but at first I thought he was offish and rude. I confronted him (it was when he met my parents it really seemed that way) and he was gutted he came over like that, and told me it was shyness. He promptly apologised to my parents also. After that initial hiccup, we have just been perfect. Over the years his 'shyness' (what I now know is SA) has gotten worse, and anything out of his comfort zone he just can't seem to manage. We went to a bar recently (it's the first time in ages we'd been out to somewhere where a potential social situation would arise - with someone he doesn't know well) but after 1 drink he became uncomfortable and panicky so we came home. We used to do things with other people all the time.

Anyway, it all came to a head last year, and we decided to go to our GP, where my boyfriend was referred for CBT (I have also had CBT for health anxiety). My experiences with CBT were fantastic, I put in alot of work and had a supportive therapist. However, my boyfriend had a different experience. I would go in and talk about my fears easily, I have always been outgoing and have no issues socially; he unfortuantely can't open up as easily, so when his therapist asked about his childhood.. or what he thought could cause his SA, he said it was all 'fine.' This isn't the case and we have even discussed things from his childhood which we think are the root cause. The therapist deemed him 'just shy' and 'you just have to come to terms with being the quiet one at the party'. The therapist then cancelled the next few appointments, and said he would ring my boyf with a new date. However he never rang and my boyf didn't have the heart to chase it up. I appreciate it will be hard for a therapist to address problems if his patient isn't being forthcoming, but knowing your patient has a social anxiety, shouldn't he know that he may not easily divulge personal info? I think the way he brushed my partner off was belittling, and I didn't push him to follow up his appointments. I suggested asking for a different therapist but he said the fear of his first one seeing him going to someone else bothered him too much.

After his therapy didn't work out, he bought a self help book straight away, "Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness" and we discussed how this may be a better way for him to confront his problem. Unfortunately he just doesn't seem to have any drive to do it - I don't think this is laziness though, I think it's more of a 'hide your head in the sand' reaction. In 6+ months we've not reached the end of chapter 2. I read out and we discuss at points, but it's usually just him staring out and then after a while he will say he'll get tired and not want to do more. I'm always the one suggesting we have a go at the book tonight, and I've also suggested that he just work through the book if he'd prefer (I'm conscious of sticking my nose in where it's not wanted) but he just shrugs and says he has no preference. I suggested it tonight and he said he didn't want to and to just 'leave the book for now'. When I've mentioned it in the past he's shrugged it off and said he's fine, but he's not. I'm going to a psychic night with a friend next month, and her husband is also coming. I asked my boyf (with trepidation, I've become cautious of asking him to do social things with me because I don't want to put him in a panic / make him feel like he's letting me down - which I know he does) if he would come along, he said he doesn't fancy it cos it's not his scene, but he would if I wanted him to. This is a relatively unknown friend of mine to him, and he's never met her husband, so I was shocked at his blaze attitude. However the next day when I decided I would want to go as a couple, he just flat out said he didn't want to and got very upset and panicky. He's obviously not fine and he knows this. This is just one of many examples throughout our relationship and it's not improving. It's also beginning to affect his career prospects. I feel so many different emotions; frustration, guilt, sadness, worry.

I 100% believe he wants to get better, he's seeing how it's affecting [some] aspects of our relationship and other parts of his life. I also want to say he is literally the most wonderful person I have ever met, he is the perfect partner. I just feel at a loss tonight. What can I do for him?? Thankyou for letting me speak. I feel the majority of people don't understand SA so thought I could come here for a sounding board, because I don't want to feel like he is being judged and that he should just 'get over it'. I don't know if there's any advice any of you can give, but please if you have any words of wisdom please share :) Thanks.
 

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Hi,

First of all: well done to you for being such a fantastic partner for your bf & supporting him & recognising his good qualities.

The best thing you can do for him I think is to carry on being a brilliant partner & (gently) pointing him in the direction of help which may work for him. If CBT wasn't the right thing then maybe medication might help if he hasn't already tried something? Or a different therapist (one who better understands SA)?

Sorry if this is of no help. Hopefully someone else will have better advice.

Best wishes.

Emma
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi,

First of all: well done to you for being such a fantastic partner for your bf & supporting him & recognising his good qualities.

The best thing you can do for him I think is to carry on being a brilliant partner & (gently) pointing him in the direction of help which may work for him. If CBT wasn't the right thing then maybe medication might help if he hasn't already tried something? Or a different therapist (one who better understands SA)?

Sorry if this is of no help. Hopefully someone else will have better advice.

Best wishes.

Emma
Thanks so much for your kind words, Emma. They mean alot :) Medication is something we've never tried, or even thought about, and it wasn't suggested by our GP. I will give it a few days and I'll talk about it with my boyf and see what he thinks. It may give him the confidence he needs to work through the book (and in turn, address the problems he has)
 

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Thanks so much for your kind words, Emma. They mean alot :) Medication is something we've never tried, or even thought about, and it wasn't suggested by our GP. I will give it a few days and I'll talk about it with my boyf and see what he thinks. It may give him the confidence he needs to work through the book (and in turn, address the problems he has)
You're very welcome.
By the way, there's a sub-forum here about medication which may be useful.
Once again, he's fortunate to have you!
 

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The psychologist he went to sounds horrible. Its terrible for someone with SA that had to be daring enough to go see someone and then have the counselor turn around and behave that way. I suggest you have him see a psychiatrist (he could also probably benefit from a better psychologist, but from his experience I wouldn't expect him to jump at the thought of trying it again). He definitely sounds like a candidate that could benefit from some medication to help him deal with this stuff, be it short term or long term, you should strongly consider it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks, I'll go and have a look now. I'm feeling better about the situation already, and it's reassured me I'm doing ok for him too. I'm glad I came on here :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The psychologist he went to sounds horrible. Its terrible for someone with SA that had to be daring enough to go see someone and then have the counselor turn around and behave that way. I suggest you have him see a psychiatrist (he could also probably benefit from a better psychologist, but from his experience I wouldn't expect him to jump at the thought of trying it again). He definitely sounds like a candidate that could benefit from some medication to help him deal with this stuff, be it short term or long term, you should strongly consider it.
Thankyou for your advice :) Yes I was shocked by what he said, so dismissive of someone who's built up the courage to attend an appointment. Looking into medication definitely seems to be the way forward, thanks.
 

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I wish I had a girlfriend like you :(

I agree with the above poster. You should encourage him to try alternate options such as medication. I'm not saying for him to stay on them long-term, but for as a temporary solution to aid him along with exposure therapy, it could definitely work to his advantage. Gradually increase the exposure more and more while simultaneously gradually decreasing the dosage of medication. CBT therapy is the other option but as we already know it appears he isn't the best candidate for that. The only way to overcome this is to practice and be exposed to/confront his fears. Again this should be small steps but in due time the fear should diminish slowly. Guide him through it and be his coach. He needs all the encouragement he can get. If and when he fails at something, keep him thinking positively and maintain his optimistic mindset. Tell him what he did that was good instead of the bad. Help him focus on improving his self-esteem/confidence by paying more attention to his interests/hobbies/things he is good at. Social anxiety is partly created because of self-shame. He needs something to counteract whatever quality flaws he is ashamed about with the good qualities he has. Everyone has them.

Talk to your GP or a psychiatrist. There are plenty of medications out there and it is merely a matter of trial and error before he finds the right one. To name a few types, there are Benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety), anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, and beta-blockers (help with physical symptoms). Wish you guys the best and stay in touch. We are happy to help along the way.
 

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As others have mentioned, it's so great that you are being supportive and willing to listen to him. It's great he is also able to talk about social anxiety with you, so it means he's comfortable (at least to an extent).

I think finding a therapist was a good first step, and also reading the self-help book on SA. Perhaps the problem is finding the right type of help for your boyfriend. Maybe therapy is a good answer, but he just didn't find the right therapist. Maybe more research can be done on which person is more suitable for him. Go around talking to different therapists or contact them through e-mail to get an idea.

Maybe the book doesn't address his problems properly either. Another book could be searched for... but after all this, something needs to be done. It might not be the type of help, but rather him being 100% dedicated to confronting his issues, accepting them, and willing to work through them. He needs to learn to recognize when his SA affects him and learn how to combat it. It's easier said than done, but actually realizing and seeing the cycle of his SA will help him in lowering it.
 

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Wow yeah you're an awesome girlfriend. It took me ages to even be prepared to try to change. Sometimes there's comfort in the discomfort. I don't think you can push it (I believe it's kind of like trying to get someone to quit smoking) we have attachments to our recurring thought patterns and emotions, my experience is that deciding to conquer SA, just having that intention is so empowering that you're halfway there already. That's why it's scary and hard to begin because it's a big mountain and if you're not ready you're not ready. But he will be eventually, my opinion is that it's not the therapist or the book - he's just got too much resistance (generally I mean, to like, life). For me, I found I wanted to help myself when I had a few "free" moments - it's hard to explain but kind of realising that all the negative thoughts were because I put them there. Vipsssana meditation (donation only retreats dotted around the place) helped me - it's brilliant for someone with social anxiety because you take a vow of silence! So I guess what I'm saying is if not now the he will eventually! I find positivity is stronger - like the idea of how easy life could be if I resolve this, what I could do as opposed to having a bad experience and saying I need to change
 

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You are a great partner and friend. I wish I have someone like you who would help me step out of my comfort zone. In my opinion, maybe you should try smaller activities. Going to the bar may be too much for him to handle. I myself have never been to a bar and just the thought of it makes me anxious already. The same thing with meeting your friend who is a stranger to him. I guess you should start by hanging out with people that he already knows.

Whatever happens, please be patient with him and never leave him. If I had a friend like you, I would really appreciate your efforts and would try my best to be a better person, not just for myself, but for someone like you.
 

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I don't really have much advice I'm afraid, but you're an amazing girlfriend and he is really lucky to have you.

I guess his lack of motivation is due to depression, that's what it is in my case
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
It's been great waking up this morning and seeing more responses, so thankyou.

Bert Reynolds, I think the idea of slowly increasing exposure and decreasing a medication is a really good idea. I'll see how he feels about getting to the GP to discuss meds (our GP is really good and has previous experience in specific mental health work, so he is very understanding) I just worry he won't want to go as he may think he will be seen as a failure for not completing the CBT he was referred to ?

Thanks for the advice Vanishingpt, however living in the UK and using the NHS you can't really 'choose' who you see (you can choose not to see someone if you've had a bad experience with them) when it comes to specialised things like therapists, however saying that, I had a wonderful one for my health anxiety and I still have her email. If he's up for giving therapy another shot, I could email her and ask if there's anyone she could recommend/put a good word in.

That does make sense, Booradley, he does have alot of resistance. I think there's things in his past he acknowledges but doesn't 'delve' into, and I think this is (somewhat) causing his SA.

s0mebody I really agree, and this has made me realise that suggesting things that are too big for him will make him feel worse, as having to say no he may feel like a failure. I think for now anything I can see is definitely outside of his comfort zone I won't ask, I'll let him know I'm doing those things and if he's up to it I'll let him offer. (Do people thing this is a good idea, I don't want to feel like I'm pushing him away or 'not bothering to invite him cos what's the point' ) Tbh I'll probably explain beforehand that I'll stop inviting him and let him make his own mind up. Everything is laid out on the table in our relationship.

Thanks apx24 :) Just writing out last night about his somewhat despondency towards help with SA did make me wonder if he also has depression. Are these two things commonly linked?

Thanks again for all of your responses. In everyone's experiences, have you found you can address your SA without delving into the possible root causes (if there is one) and your past? Can you 'fix' the symptom without addressing the cause? If this is a thing I know he'd feel better about it because maybe one of the reasons he's resistant is because he doesn't like talking about things.
 

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Hi again WorryGf:

I think some people imagine that CBT is right for everyone; it isn't. Your bf hasn't failed - CBT didn't fail either - it just wasn't right for him, at least in that way & at that time.

I think it's a great idea for you to let him know what you're going to do & see if he offers to go with you.

Are there things he enjoys doing alone or just with you as a couple? If so, I would keep those going as that will contribute to his quality of life.

I think anxiety & depression are often linked, but I'm not an expert. It would make sense that the former (if it's on-going) would lead to some degree of the latter.

Finally, personally I don't think anyone should be pressured into disclosing their personal history & I'm sure most doctors would be happy to treat the symptoms without attempting to explore the possible causes. Related to this is the fact that some people experience trauma, recently or in childhood, and yet don't experience psychological problems as a result, so the 'link' between the two isn't necessarily always clear.

There's a good NHS website www.patient.co.uk - you should also find helpful infomation there if you use their searcch function for the conditions you want to look into.

Best wishes,

Emma
 

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Yeah they are commonly linked, social anxiety often fosters feelings of inadequacy, which can lead to depression. Being unable to do things that other people can do easily lowers one's self esteem. Also, there is a stigma against depression and anxiety, people and the media perceive sufferers as weak and lazy who make excuses. This is my experience anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hi again Emma :)

That's a good way to look at CBT and I will tell him that, I have sometimes said 'It worked so well for me' as an encouragement to start the book (because the book uses cbt) which I see now isn't helpful considering he didn't continue with the one on one therapy, and if it worked well for me and doesn't for him - he could see it as his failings which it isn't. And I have said I have no expectations from these things, but it may need reitterating. It may be a fear if he starts, what if it doesn't work? So I'm gonna let him know that actually it may not be for him. Then we can go on to talk about possibly using medication.

And yeah there are lots of things we do together which is good and he feels he can do, it's more if there's gonna be a chance of other people interacting or looking or watching him. So going out for meals, the cinema, or to shows (so it seems when the focus is definitely going to be on something else) we can do as long as there's no one new going. Although he can get worried he might see someone he knows so they might have to interact. We also really enjoy our own company so alot of weekends we spend in cooking and watching films etc. So we do have a good time with each other. If there's more than just me, him or my immediate family (he's very close to my family and they know about his SA), or it's somewhere busy, he can't usually manage it.

I will also tell him there may not even be a link (even though I think there is) so he shouldn't need to get into things to feel better :)

Thanks for the link and your advice, Emma.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Yeah they are commonly linked, social anxiety often fosters feelings of inadequacy, which can lead to depression. Being unable to do things that other people can do easily lowers one's self esteem. Also, there is a stigma against depression and anxiety, people and the media perceive sufferers as weak and lazy who make excuses. This is my experience anyway.
Yeah this makes sense. And there's such a reaction of 'grin and bear it' if you say to someone 'they can't make it because of there depression/anxiety' - it's such a problematic response.
 

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Hi WorryGf,

I forgot to say: remember not to neglect your own needs...

And, as we're both in the UK, it's compulsory to mention the weather - so I hope it's as nice where you are as it is here in the Midlands :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hi WorryGf,

I forgot to say: remember not to neglect your own needs...

And, as we're both in the UK, it's compulsory to mention the weather - so I hope it's as nice where you are as it is here in the Midlands :)
Haha I'm north west and yes it's very lovely thanks! And I won't, thanks :)
 

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Hello :)

I'm disgusted to read the attitude of the therapist your partner had, they obviously should not have been qualified to do what they're ding if they gave up like that, you're right, they should know what people with SA are like and expect that sort of brick wall behaviour. If that was me, I would have reported that therapist...

But anyway, you sound like you're a brilliant girlfriend to your partner, he's so lucky to have you! If only everyone with SA could have someone as supportive and understanding and as patient as you have been, I really admire you for doing that for him.

I have SA and I have a partner who's is understanding like you :)
 
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