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I just need someone to listen.


BrookJean
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I have been dealing and living with social anxiety most, if not all, my entire life. It started off as just being a shy person, but quickly escalated to the point where it's affecting my every day life. It's worse than it's ever been. I can't control my negative thoughts, my brain won't focus, I see and hear people talking but nothing ever registers. It's like my brain is full-to-bursting and won't collect any more information. I break out in a weird heat rash, my heart beat increases, and I get shakey whenever I have to talk to strangers. I've been dealing with this for so long, that I doubt I'll ever overcome it. I need help. But, I can't get help. I can't just go to the doctor and ask for a magic pill. I can barely afford to pay my bills.

Believe me, I've tried to deal with this on my own. I've tried just putting myself out there - but it only ends with me feeling worse than before. I've tried subsituting alcohol for pills (as terrible as that sounds) - but that only works for a short period of time. I've tried several "anxiety" and "stress" remedies that I've either found on the Internet or vitamin shops. Nothing.

I just want to be "ok" (whatever that means) on my own. I don't want to feel like I need someone around me at all times to feel "ok".

I know this probably sounds crazy and you might not understand, but this is what I deal with every single day. And I've come to the conclusion that I'm never going to get better.

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I suffer from negative thoughts & some anxiety but not as bad as you. I do not think there is any silver bullet. For me exercise & limiting alcohol helps along w feeling good about small accomplishments & counseling. I was into meditation for awhile & think it is worthwhile.

I encourage you to keep trying things. Don't give up.

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Hello, BrookJean, and welcome to our community. :)

I'm sorry you are suffering with so much anxiety. :( I had social anxiety in the past and I can now say it is gone. This did not happen overnight and I needed some therapy as well, but change is possible. Things can get better. You can do it too.

What are you fearing? Maybe it helps to look at your negative thoughts with a different frame. Have you tried challenging your fears little by little? Positive experiences can build confidence and lead to greater feelings of self-efficacy. I also agree that learning relaxation techniques can be helpful, such as deep breathing and meditation. It is always okay to come here for support as well. We are listening.

Take care.

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I feel like the pill-pusher of the forum... but why can't you go to the doctor and see if s/he thinks medication might be indicated? There are no magic pills, as you know, but there are definitely medications that can help with anxiety - I am on one myself. Doctors like to use anti-depressants as they also have an anti-anxiety effect and do not have the potential for addiction that tranquilizers can have if abused.

Therapy would probably be enormously helpful - but you said you can barely afford to pay your bills.

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I feel like the pill-pusher of the forum... but why can't you go to the doctor and see if s/he thinks medication might be indicated? There are no magic pills, as you know, but there are definitely medications that can help with anxiety - I am on one myself. Doctors like to use anti-depressants as they also have an anti-anxiety effect and do not have the potential for addiction that tranquilizers can have if abused.

Therapy would probably be enormously helpful - but you said you can barely afford to pay your bills.

I haven't been to the doctor for the same reason I haven't seen a therapist. I simply can't afford it. So, I'm just trying to deal with this on my own the best I can. It just feels like when I try to take a step forward, I end up taking 5 steps back.

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I've also gotten over my anxiety (for the most part) and medication was only a small piece of that. Basically I needed medication when the anxiety was so bad that I couldn't even work on it, but I only took it for about a week at a time and even then found that anxiety meds only mask the symptoms; they don't touch the underlying issues. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has had great effects for me on anxiety and can be done through self help books. The one that I have used and found recommended the most is Feeling Good by David Burns (I think US $7-8 in paperback). Fact is, many self help books are crap, but the ones that are good are worth their weight in therapy appointments.

I know you said you just want someone to listen, so I hope you are encouraged by the several people listening to you in this thread. Sorry if the advice is too much. I only offer what worked for me because I have gotten so much better on it, and hopefully this gives you some ideas of possibilities that may help in your situation

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I've also gotten over my anxiety (for the most part) and medication was only a small piece of that. Basically I needed medication when the anxiety was so bad that I couldn't even work on it, but I only took it for about a week at a time and even then found that anxiety meds only mask the symptoms; they don't touch the underlying issues. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has had great effects for me on anxiety and can be done through self help books. The one that I have used and found recommended the most is Feeling Good by David Burns (I think US $7-8 in paperback). Fact is, many self help books are crap, but the ones that are good are worth their weight in therapy appointments.

I know you said you just want someone to listen, so I hope you are encouraged by the several people listening to you in this thread. Sorry if the advice is too much. I only offer what worked for me because I have gotten so much better on it, and hopefully this gives you some ideas of possibilities that may help in your situation

I definitely appreciate any advice I'm given. I'm willing to try anything to get over this.

I'll be sure to check that book out. You're right, a lot of self-help books are crap, but there are a few that have given me hope.

Did anyone else ever feel embarrassed when they tried to talk about or explain their social anxiety to someone? I can't help but think that the person listening probably thinks I'm a complete nutcase, which is why I don't even bother talking about it anymore. I have a really, really hard time opening up to anyone. I let my negative thoughts get in my way. I'm constantly thinking,

"This person has their own problems, they don't need to hear about mine."

"Stop being a weak person & suck it up."

"Everyone will think you're pathetic."

"You can't do the simplest of things because you LET this control you. You're weak."

I don't know why, but I'm good at pretending there's nothing wrong with me. But when I'm finally alone, I just completely break down.

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One of the underlying fears I experienced with social anxiety was a fear of judgment from others. You have described feeling fearful of such judgment as well. In truth, though, most people aren't focused on on us; they're focused on their own stuff.

Your self-talk does sound very harsh on you. :( I do hear you. Do you also have other parts of yourself who might offer gentle support to you during such times of stress? Having fears and vulnerabilities does not make any of us weak, it makes us human. We all have fears, insecurities, soft spots...

Take care.

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One of the underlying fears I experienced with social anxiety was a fear of judgment from others. You have described feeling fearful of such judgment as well. In truth, though, most people aren't focused on on us; they're focused on their own stuff.

Your self-talk does sound very harsh on you. :( I do hear you. Do you also have other parts of yourself who might offer gentle support to you during such times of stress? Having fears and vulnerabilities does not make any of us weak, it makes us human. We all have fears, insecurities, soft spots...

Take care.

There are days when I'm feeling very optimistic, motivated, determined, and just plain happy. But, it never lasts long. When I'm around certain people I'm ok. But, I can't just drag someone around with me 24/7, you know? I need to learn to be ok on my own & learn how to quiet these negative thoughts/feelings. I do have hope that one day I won't have this problem, and I'm willing to explore all of my options (well, the ones I can afford :P).

It's just, when you've dealt with something for so long, sometimes it feels like "there's no light at the end of the tunnel".

A couple of weeks ago, I experienced the first panic attack I've had in 3 years. I went out with some friends (some I knew, some I didn't). Everything was going fine! But, then again, I was drinking... Anyway, I got home, got in bed & it just happened. I started shaking & all of sudden my chest tightened & I felt like I couldn't breathe.

I had another one this morning. :/

I really do appreciate you all listening to me & offering me wonderful advice. I definitely plan on trying a few of them.

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"This person has their own problems, they don't need to hear about mine."

"Stop being a weak person & suck it up."

"Everyone will think you're pathetic."

"You can't do the simplest of things because you LET this control you. You're weak."

These are exactly the kinds of thoughts that the CBT that Ralph mentioned will work on. :)

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Did anyone else ever feel embarrassed when they tried to talk about or explain their social anxiety to someone?

Yes, that's why I'm on internet forum discussing this. I don't tell people face to face about my problems except my therapist, and she is paid to listen to me. Then again I'm a guy and men are not known for talking about feelings. The upshot is you have a forum here of people who come to specifically give and get support for mental health problems. Chances are that when you need help you will be able to find someone who understands here.

It's great that you've already identified the negative thoughts that could explain your emotions. The next step is to consider the evidence for those thoughts - do they look realistic? Are they logically consistent? Does holding this belief help you or hurt you?

"This person has their own problems, they don't need to hear about mine." - True, we all have our own problems. If we go around "dumping" on people then they won't want to talk to us anymore because they will feel used. However if you are in a relationship of mutual support, you could be offering the person the chance to give of themselves. Do you like helping people? Maybe there is someone else out there who does as well.

"Stop being a weak person & suck it up." - What is a "weak person?" Do you really fit that definition? Does having this one problem automatically make you weak? Does "sucking it up" make you a stronger person or do you have to be a stronger person first in order to take these challenges in stride? Will telling yourself this make you stronger or weaker as a person?

"Everyone will think you're pathetic." - Really? Everyone, even your mother, your best friend, and the mailman? How can you know that? I'm willing to bet that you don't, because it is normal for anxious people to assume things without evidence, even if this implies that they can read minds. I do it too, and i have learned not to believe these thoughts. Anyone who will judge you for this is probably someone you don't need in your life anyway.

"You can't do the simplest of things because you LET this control you. You're weak." - Are you sure you can't do the simplest of things? Can you tie your shoes? Make a bowl of cereal? Maybe you don't feel like doing these things, but give it a try and see what happens.

After disputing these thoughts, the next step is to look at some more realistic thoughts that are more consistent with the evidence. Then, how do you feel after that? Probably not all better right away, but a little bit better. You've taken a step. The more you use this method, the more steps you take, and the more relief you will get. Don't get me wrong this is a very intensive process in that it takes a ton of willpower and effort on your part. Just reading the book won't get you anywhere, you have to practice the exercises over and over until they become habit. Still, even if you only do a few exercises, doing them consistently will give you noticeable relief over the long term.

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I find your state of mind very interesting. I had it when I was your age and throughout my youth/ adulthood. It took me a lifetime to learn lots of this was due living with and around folks who had varying degrees of personality disorders which made them intolerant and demanding to an extent I was pushed into my own shell of confusion over how to respond, be me, and find ways of connecting to others.

Google "traits for personality disorders" and see if your life has been surrounded by any of this? It can leave you with C-PTSD type feelings.

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