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Social Anxiety Leaving Me Lonely


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I've been struggling all my life with various mental health issues. I'm 19 years old. When I was 15 i was admitted to a physciatric hospital. There I was diagnosed with PTSD (related to a sexual abuse incident when I was 14), rapid cycling type two bipolar, and generalized and social anxiety. I was also diagnosed with an obsessive disorder a few years later. I don't know if all of these are true, but it's what I was told. When I was in high school I had very few friends and I didn't really even like most of them, I just felt pressure from my parents to be with my peers. I never dated in high school. That didn't really bother me then. I didn't see a great need for a romantic relationship at the ages of 14-17, plus I was struggling with my past history of sexual abuse. I'm in the second year of nursing school now and I still haven't dated. I've only been kissed once and it was because I was drunk. I think about this almost all day. I have a really hard time interacting with people and I think that effects my dating status. I have had a huge crush on this guy that lives down the hall, but my lack of social skills makes it hard for me to do the typical girl thing and flirt with him. I can't stop thinking about him and I feel like I should act on it, but don't know how. I feel like my social anxiety will never get better and its starting to effect my progress in nursing school (because of my general awkward interaction with my patients in the clinical setting). I've been trying to not let this rule my life, but I feel like at 19 almost 20 I should at least have had one love interest. I'm not looking for anything wonderful. I just want to know that I'm capable of being romantically involved with a guy. I need to figure out a way to keep my social anxiety from ruling my life.

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Hello, from your post it almost sounds as though the only reason you are concerned with dating is still from the peer pressure from others. I may be wrong on that as I am no Doctor. You seem to be a highly educated person from what you wrote and the career path you have chosen and I personally do not see anything wrong with putting off a serious relationship until you have reached your career goals. As for the guy you have a crush on, why not try to start a frindship with him and see were it may lead. At least you know you will have him for a friend and someone to turn to if he is a good friend. You are still at a young enough age to not worry about a romantic interaction with a male. Good luck to you in your schooling, even though all my rambling on probably did nothing to help you.

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Did you see that comedy not long ago "the 40 year old virgin" ??? I think that some of the message in that movie might apply here (the part about feeling awkward upon realizing that you don't know how to behave and feeling very anxious about it, and being able ultimately to get some help from caring friends).

Sometimes this sort of problem can be thought of as "social phobia" although that may be too strong of a term to apply to you. You end up feeling too anxious to act (for fear of doing something embarrassing) and then you don't act and feel bad about that, and you don't get better because you can't learn because you can't act because you're paralyzed. There is really good psychotherapy for this sort of thing. The key here is to get some coaching on how to act (from friends/peers/therapist you trust), to learn how to control your anxiety reaction so you don't choke, and ultimately to take the risk of making an embarrassing mistake, becuase that is the only way forwards. It really helps to have someone to act as coach/mentor/cheerleader so I do recommend that you talk to a therapist about this, and also share your concern about your shyness and lack of experience with trustworthy friends who can offer you guidance.

Sexual abuse is a common way that people get into problems with their sexuality. This sort of experience does mess people up, but while the memories will never go away, the impact they have on you can be offset. As is the case with dating - the key is to face the fear. Most forms of therapy for PTSD sorts of incidents involve some kind of exposure therapy, commonly a continual retelling of the events of the abuse until you find that you're less sensitive about it. And addressing any beliefs about your self-worth that may have come to enter your head as a result of being victimized (such as "I'm not worthy" "I'm damaged goods", etc.) You need to talk about these things with other people you trust who can tell you that these things aren't true. And not just tell you with you blowing it off, but to really examine those beliefs to find where they are logically flawed and thus fundamentally untrustworthy. Cognitive-Therapy is designed to help peope with this sort of inventory and analysis, and I recommend that you look into getting some for yourself if negative self-beliefes are a problem.

Mark

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