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CA Central Coast
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I've always been afraid to be around people. When my parents would have friends over, I'd stay in my room. I didn't go to high school parties with my friends, for fear of how my peers would act toward me or that someone my may start a fight with me. I didn't go to any school dances, for fear of looking foolish dancing and because I was afraid to talk to females. I also had this fear, that I describe as a feeling of "embarrassment", of having a "girlfriend" around my friends or family. Incidently, I've seen that last trait in some of my family members. Which makes me think it could be heriditary. I never had a job until I was in my 20's. I mentally forced myself to take the job, because I felt that I needed to get on with life. I did this when I began dating my wife. I mentally forced myself. I just told myself, "you have to do this, you have to do this, you have to get on with life" I was scared to death, she practically had to force herself on me to get me to kiss her. But, she was told by people who knew me, that she may have to take that approach. It worked, and I was able to overcome most of those particular fears eventually. Oh, I did have a paper route as a pre-teen. I was afraid to collect door to door. And if someone didn't pay me, I would never be persistant and I was afraid to cancel their paper. I ended up dropping out of college because of constant anxiety. I also had this fear of not passing a class. The fear would overwhelm me and I could barely function. At times it would be so bad that I couldn't focus on my studies. I literally could not remember what I was reading from sentence to sentence. I ended up quiting college after a couple years. I 've had long periods of unemployment in my life. I feared failing at jobs and looking less than qualified. I always sought out menial jobs because I felt, "hey, I can handle this". Or I'd fear getting hurt. For example, become an electrician? no I fear being electricuted and so on. Being around strangers is a TREMENDOUS fear. I get nervous going to the grocery store. I won't take my kids to the park if other people and their childeren are there. There's more, but that's quite a bit of my situation.

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Hi CA Central Coast, nice to have you with us. :-)

Have you ever discussed any of this with a therapis?. It sounds to me like you have always been a shy and introverted type. I was like that young (until my early 30s), but there really are some things you can change with regards to that, with work and practice. Therapy can be helpful in this regard. Is there something in particular that you are wanting to change or improve?

Salut

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I have never been to a therapist, but I want to see one. Two main things I'd like to change/improve on are my work/career situation. My anxiety/phobia has really prevented me from getting any real meaningfull or successful employment. I'm getting to the age where this has to be figured out. A person my age with a spotty work history just doesn't look good. Also, and maybe most important, I want to have the ability to speak to ANYONE regarding ANY situation. What ever it may be. This inability on my part has negatively impacted my life in so many ways, I wouldn't know where to start. The list would go on and on. The fear of confrontation or the fear of not being able to be articulate in an important matter, has paralized my life.

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi CA Central,

I want to recommend that you try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy because it works really well in teaching people how to reduce their anxiety symptoms, and how to function with greater ease. You come away with specific stratagies but also with the experience of using those and seeing how the anxiety was reduced.

Allan:)

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Hi CA,

What worked the best for me was taking a course in Public Speaking. It was scary as hell, tears rolled down my face the first time I got up there, but with time I got used to the feeling and I realized I was no worse than anyone else. I then took some university courses in group facilitation and that really put me out there, forcing me to present on all sorts of different topics. It was hard, I have to admit that, but it changed my life. It took me from looking too much inward when I was with people, to looking outward, listening to them, becoming attuned to the crowd I was speaking to, daring to voice opinions and take charge of groups. It also changed my career in that I then had a university certificate on my CV, I became more articulate and by the end of 10 courses I was confident in my skills, capacities and potential. With time I dared other things, projects, and I built up my job to the point where I am now a Senior Human Resources advisor. I have no formal education in this field, but I do have perseverance and now I have the communication skills to do the job. I was a junior secretary before taking these course, I never would have imagined being to accede to a job like the one I have today.

It's the biggest fear out there, public speaking that is, but it really is a wonderful tool to build confidence. There are organizations like Toastmasters where you can practice public speaking for free, in a safe environment, and I think they also have workshops. If not, your local college will offer some at very reasonable costs. The thing is that these are safe environements to practice, who cares if your presentation is not the best, it's just a class with strangers. But the fact that you are up there facing the music changes you, breaks down some insecurities, and builds some inner strength.

Anyway, it worked for me. I never thought I could even say my name and my title in a room of strangers who were looking at me, but now I can public speak to hundreds of people without feeling intimidated. It is possible my dear, but you have to step out of your comfort zone to change things. Trick is to do it safe environments where you get support and encouragement, and the rest comes naturally....

If I did it, I am certain you can do it too!

Edited by Symora
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I've recently learned of CBT. Only in the last 6 months have I even began to address my mental health issues. CBT is something I very much want to do. Part of my condition is trouble in making phone calls. I convince myself I'll make the phone call the next day, but I do that everyday. I do plan on calling a therapist soon.

Oh yes, public speaking. Your story is very encouraging, thank you for sharing. I dropped out of college after 2 yrs. because of public speaking. It was one of my last requirements to move on to a university. I quit because of that. I quit because I had to take the class. It's so increadibly frustrating to think that is what possibly prevented me from receiving a degree, a successfull career, a happy life. The last 20 yrs. I've sought low-level menial jobs, if I've worked at all. I tell myself, "well anyone can do that job, I'll at least be able to do that". I've purposely sought low paying jobs with zero career advancement. I'm not saying that the fear taking a public speaking course is the reason I don't have a happy life. But, it's 90% of the reason for dropping out of college. So, I wonder how my life could have been different had I gone into this world with a degree. I don't know.

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Hi and welcome, CA!

When I read your posts, I felt like I had written them, though I am female. How much harder it is for a man! Men are supposed to be self-promoting, socially-adept, all that stuff. But fear is the dominant emotion in my life, too, ever since I can remember!

The funny thing is I never had too much trouble with public speaking!! It's with people where my problem lies, verbally, unscripted, one-on-one. There I am often tongue-tied or just baffled! I took drama when I was a teen, I'm not even sure why, and I remember how hard it was for me. I ended up dropping out of it, but it gave me some good training. One thing you must remember is that your audience WANTS to like you! They WANT you to be good. People crave entertainment and instruction (whatever) so much!! They're so ready to hand themselves over to be entertained or enlightened. That was a realization I had one day, and in difficult situations I tell myself that.

I'm lucky in that I can work from home online, and that my husband is very socially adept (when he wants to be) and charming. My fear is what happens to me if he dies or throws me out. I too have a spotty work history and didn't finish community college.

Please do get therapy if you can at all. I have Avoidant Personality Disorder, which I believe is actually more common in men? In any case CBT was really helpful for me at the time. It gives you useful tools and strategies. :)

Good luck! Keep us posted on your progress!

Jane

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I'm not good thinking on my feet either. Hours later I'll be obsessing about what I should have said and it may go on for days. I believe you're right about it being harder for a man. I've been dealing with this condition for 25 years. Only recently did I begin to look into it when I was prescribed Welbutrin for depression. By chance on the internet, I saw something referring to Love Shyness. Out of curiosity I read it. 90% of it applied to me. That led me into reading about social anxiety and phobia. After all these years of wondering why I wasn't normal, I realized that I almost certainly have this condition or something similiar. I'm in the process of making an appointment with a psychiatist. I finally realized that I really need help. I want to be a good example for my kids. Yes, I'm married. The only reason I am so, is because my wife pursued me. If that hadn't happened, I may still yet have not ever been in a relationship.

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi CA Central Coast,

First, I want to assure you that CBT can really help you overcome your shyness and avoidance of public speaking, etc. In fact, I want to assure you that you can go back to College and complete your education. I do know how old you are but, if there is one thing I have learned, it is that it is never too late to complete an education nor is it ever too late to continue learning. So, do not question what you "might have been with a college degree," but, "what do you want to be with your college degree." !!!!!!! :)

Allan

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Guest Ilook@allthelonelypeople
I've always been afraid to be around people. When my parents would have friends over, I'd stay in my room. I didn't go to high school parties with my friends, for fear of how my peers would act toward me or that someone my may start a fight with me. I didn't go to any school dances, for fear of looking foolish dancing and because I was afraid to talk to females. I also had this fear, that I describe as a feeling of "embarrassment", of having a "girlfriend" around my friends or family. Incidently, I've seen that last trait in some of my family members. Which makes me think it could be heriditary. I never had a job until I was in my 20's. I mentally forced myself to take the job, because I felt that I needed to get on with life. I did this when I began dating my wife. I mentally forced myself. I just told myself, "you have to do this, you have to do this, you have to get on with life" I was scared to death, she practically had to force herself on me to get me to kiss her. But, she was told by people who knew me, that she may have to take that approach. It worked, and I was able to overcome most of those particular fears eventually. Oh, I did have a paper route as a pre-teen. I was afraid to collect door to door. And if someone didn't pay me, I would never be persistant and I was afraid to cancel their paper. I ended up dropping out of college because of constant anxiety. I also had this fear of not passing a class. The fear would overwhelm me and I could barely function. At times it would be so bad that I couldn't focus on my studies. I literally could not remember what I was reading from sentence to sentence. I ended up quiting college after a couple years. I 've had long periods of unemployment in my life. I feared failing at jobs and looking less than qualified. I always sought out menial jobs because I felt, "hey, I can handle this". Or I'd fear getting hurt. For example, become an electrician? no I fear being electricuted and so on. Being around strangers is a TREMENDOUS fear. I get nervous going to the grocery store. I won't take my kids to the park if other people and their childeren are there. There's more, but that's quite a bit of my situation.

First off, being able to admit to these feelings of fear, in a society that still promulgates a somewhat macho image for men, takes immense COURAGE. You're a keeper. :)

I can identify with a lot of what you've said. I, too, didn't hold a job (a real one...I'm not counting the very brief fastfood stint when I was 18) until I was 21.

It really irritates me that people have thought this was because I was lazy. Actually, I'm very industrious, I just have problems feeling motivated at times. Overwhelmingly, the reason I didn't seek employment more assiduously was for the exact same reason you're describing. During college, I was so anxious to talk to people--just making small talk--that I would hallucinate the walls were closing in on me.

For a few years, I, like you, job hopped in blue collar realm, not because I wasn't capable of handling a better job, but because I knew what I was expected to handle involved more than the job at hand. I'd be fighting two battles--social and the actual work involved, and I thought (erroneously) that the blue collar circuit would alleviate some of this stress, since there wouldn't be as much at stake.

I wanted to let you know that you can change. I don't have problems with being anxious around people the way I used to. I'm still fearful of them, but it's more generalized; like an entomologist studying a deadly new insect species. It's fascinating, but also scary. Humans are, quite technically, the most deadly species on the planet, so fear of people isn't entirely unjustified from that standpoint. Anyway, I have no problem relating to people face-to-face and individually. (Everyone has their own unique phobias. Mine's groups, although strangely I have no problem giving speeches. Shows ya how logical it is!). In fact, these days I tend to over-compensate by being especially gregarious. I've reached a sense of balance with myself and my career, and have come to the understanding that even if I am fearful of what people could do to me, politically, at work, I'm not going to let it control me or the course of my life. I'm not going to worry about whether they can see how shy and anxious I used to be. Besides, I've gotten better at understanding some of those political machinations. All it takes is practice; doing again and again and again and again those things you're most fearful of. I think you're on the right track. All the best luck to you. :)

Edited by Ilook@allthelonelypeople
Oops; misspelled assiduous
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Thank you. I must admit it is hard for me to comprehend that change is possible. I've had these issues my whole life. Even as a young child I can remember being anxious. It just got worse and worse as the years rolled on, becoming severe as a pre-teen and teen. What would amaze me most is if my employment life turned around.

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  • 3 months later...

Having a bad day today. My anxiety is hurting the health of my family. My problems are way too extensive to be helped with one therapy session a week. Life shouldn't be this hard. Why was I made this way? I feel like a prisoner in my own body and home. I can't ever remember actually feeling happy. I felt a sense of joy when my children were born. I love them more than anything, but I can't say they bring joy to my life. I'm ashamed to say that, but I believe it's the mental illness. When finances and employment are issues, it's hard for me to enjoy anything. But solving those problems still wouldn't make me happy. I have severe social anxiety and fear phobias. I've hated being me for nearly 30 yrs. I need my life to improve ASAP. One psychotherapy session a week won't do that. I need some sort of meds, my life is a waste. I have to feel better somehow soon. I can't stand to see my family suffer like this, I'm hurting the development of my children being this way, I'm failing them. I hate this life.

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Your going to need to see a psychatrist for meds. Their are a lot of different types of medications out there to reduce anxiety, fear, and phobias . I do not want you to feel like you let your family down. you need more help , and usually a combonation of meds and therapy are what helps to feel better .

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have an appointment to see a psychiatrist in a couple weeks. It takes 2-4 weeks in my area to get into see one, there aren't enough around here. Hopefully a combo of meds and therapy with my LMFT will help me.

My LMFT gave me a anxiety and phobia workbook to look through. Wow, did that open my eyes. I'm beginning to understand myself better. Any what circumstances in my childhood my have caused this. It's hard not to be angry with my parents. I can almost guarantee they would call me crazy or laugh in my face if I told them they caused this. Or my have caused this. I have a lot of therapy coming up.

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