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Social Anxiety really makes relationships hard

Janie223
Community Member

Hi, 

 

I’ve been diagnosed with social anxiety and depression in the last couple of years but have struggled ever since I can remember. 

I have never really managed to hold on to friendships and at the moment, can’t actually even name someone who is my friend. I’m really lonely and ashamed about how alone I am. I’m realising how scared I am to reach out to people because I assume they will reject me. I’ve just stopped trying. But this just continues the cycle of loneliness. I don’t know how to break out of it. 

This has been an issue I’ve dealt with my entire life and I don’t see it getting better. I’m now in my mid thirties. 

I’m so tired of constantly worrying about what people think about me. I’m exhausted. 

I’m sorry there isn’t much positivity here - it isn’t going well. 

9 Replies 9

Batukawa
Community Member

Hi Janie223

Don't be afraid, don't be nervous. You're welcome here. You will find friends and support. 

Thanks for your message. It means a lot. 

Maisy Nina
Community Member

Hi there,

So sorry to hear how you are struggling 😞 I sometimes get social anxiety as part of overall anxiety disorder/depression too. I know how hard it is to feel that loneliness and not have the strength or confidence to interact with people, let alone make new friends. I have always been self-conscious and worried that people didn't like me since I was a little girl, time and maturity helps (mid-forties now), but it still gets me sometimes. Years ago however, I was at an event where I didn't know many people other than my then-boyfriend and his mum. I noticed a woman standing on her own and something made me go up to her and tell her how much I liked her jacket. It broke the ice and we ended up having a nice long chat. Now I use that trick to meet people in social settings and get outside of my comfort zone, just think of one compliment and (usually) people will happily respond and it can be a conversation-starter. But actually getting to social events can be another story entirely, i know. 

 

I don't know if it is for you, but I am involved in a fab local church and joined a small group (life group/small group) 5 or so years ago and although it was a little daunting walking into a room of people who know each other and I didn't really know anyone, it has turned into a wonderful source of connection and friendship.

 

I don't have a wide circle of close friends these days, life happens I guess, but I really make an effort to stay in touch with them all, even if it is a random SMS, sharing a funny video on Instagram or actually making and committing to plans to meet up even for a quick coffee is a positive thing that I find helps me.

 

I don't know if I have helped at all, but I hope you know that it actually doesn't matter what others think about you, you are unique and wonderful and talented in your own way 😆 Take care and stay in touch with people on here, write back to posts and see where it takes you x

I don't have great answers but I can share my own experience with social anxiety.

 

One of my sons suffered from social anxiety when he was a around 15. I can't be sure when the problem started. He was a very popular kid in school during the primary. But when he was transferred to a new secondary school mid term, he couldn't quick fit in. We found out later that he was badly bullied by his classmates. He really suffered over a few years and his grades went from bad to worse. We were upset with his academic performance and didn't fully understand his school life. His teachers could only help in a limited way. We eventually took him to see a psychologist. That was a big help to him but the school environment hasn't changed.

 

We eventually transferred him to a new school for his year 11 and 12. That was the best move we've done for him. He had moved to a new school environment with a clean slate. He made new friends, settled into the new school and began to deliver good academic results. He also found a girl friend, I think the new school, new friends and a girl friend all played a critical role in his transformation.

 

He is now happily married, works as a manager in a professional environment, is highly respected at work and found a deep interest martial arts. Recently, he was part of an Australian team, representing Australia at a world championship. We are so happy that he has managed to escape from the shadows of his social anxiety.

 

 

 

 

Richju
Community Member

Dear Janie223,

How brave you are to discuss your issues on the forum. I think you have come to the right place to feel more comfortable with communication.

Did something happen in your childhood to cause your social anxiety? I have found it's not worth worrying what people think because you'll probably never know. I'm very eccentric and direct. Some people don't like that but others do. It's how I am and I can't really change.

Please continue posting on the forum. I would love to hear more about you and I'm sure I can speak for everyone who posts that we are keen to support you. 

I feel lonely at times but I find that my communications on this forum help me to stsy in contact with others.

Warmest regards Janie223,

Richju xx

Janie223
Community Member

Thanks for the support. 

I think I just struggled so much as a child to fit in and was diagnosed with anxiety from about 4 years old. I don’t really know where it comes from but I’ve just always worried excessively about really random things. 

I wish I could be more direct! That’s very cool that you can have that approach. 

loneliness is such a horrible feeling and I really appreciate the support of you all in reaching out. 

Richju
Community Member

Hi Janie223,

Thanks for your reply. I was also diagnosed with anxiety at 4 years old too so we have something in common. Please continue to post and tell us more about yourself.  I have recently been in bed with the flu and as I live alone, I didn't see anyone for a week. The forums have helped me keep contact with others. 

Have you tried meditation to control your negative thoughts? I've been practising meditation for over thirty years now. It's become an integral part of my life. You can find the app here https://www.smilingmind.com.au/smiling-mind-app It does take practise and gentleness with yourself while you are learning. I find it's best to do your meditation at the same time each day so you get into a habit. After breakfast is a good one for me.

Hoping to hear from you very soon Janie223

Warm regards,

Richju xxxxxxxx

therising
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Janie223

 

I'm wondering whether it would make some difference to you if you were to say 'I've always been a feeler my whole life. I've never lost that ability'. While perhaps a strange angle, it could help explain your sensitivity to feeling so much, so easily and so deeply. The question then becomes 'How do I manage being a feeler?'. I'm learning it definitely requires a lot of skill and self understanding, that's for sure.

 

I've found it rather amazing, the difference between highly sensitive people and highly insensitive people. Put me in a room full of sensitive people and I'll instantly feel at ease. There'll be a sense of ease, a sense of belonging, a sense of connection and so many other things to sense. Put me in a room full of insensitive people and it can all feel like seriously hard work, with some of that work being felt through my nervous system. Insensitive people can definitely be hard work at times.🙂

 

With Richju mentioning meditation, I wonder if you've ever considered guided meditation within a group setting. It's one way for a sensitive person to feel a little more at ease in meeting people. It can also be a way of practicing mastering the nervous system through the imagination. While I've tried this myself on a couple of occasions, to be honest there's no instant relief (regarding social anxiety) the second you walk in the door. It's more about learning to become more relaxed. A good facilitator makes all the difference in getting everyone on the same relaxed level. I also tried private yoga sessions which although being done on my own led me to experience emotion in a new way that I'd never felt before. With yoga being a first time experience for me at 53, only about 6 months ago, it really surprised me. It was not what I expected. If emotion is energy in motion, I definitely felt it. In one of the yoga meditations, I found myself in a state of grief I just wasn't conscious of until it suddenly surfaced. Definitely became conscious of it when I started sobbing uncontrollably. The yoga instructor was so incredibly supportive as she explained what I was feeling.

 

Coming to life more as a feeler is definitely an interesting experience. Practicing feeling or sensing in new ways is a part of the challenge. 'How do you feel?' can take on a whole new meaning. I feel through my nervous system, through my imagination, through different forms of meditation, through conscious emotion (conscious of the energy in motion and what that kind of energy is telling me), through my different lenses of perception, through my physical chemistry etc etc. Can also feel the need to emotionally detach, when feeling too much too often becomes somewhat overwhelming. Can definitely get exhausting sometimes. The 'off' switch or, at the very least, a 'dimmer' switch is a must have for someone who can be sensing way too much. 

therising
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Janie223

 

I'm so glad you've found people here who can relate to how you feel in a variety of ways while also offering different experiences to get a feel for. I think it can be really tough, trying to work our self out (who we are and how we tick) if we can't find anyone who relates to our struggles or challenges.

 

Coming to life bit by bit can definitely be a challenge. I figure I'll be doing this for the rest of my life, coming to it/connecting with it, bit by bit. The process can be a little easier in the first decade or so of our life, based on our parents helping us manage in certain ways. There are still some struggles there but it can be easier when our parents can be doing most of the talking when at social gatherings, when they're picking out schools for us, choosing our clothing, what kind of friends we can keep as opposed to those who aren't so good for us and so on. The list goes on in how we're led to manage life. Our parents act as our leaders to some degree. And then, BAMM, you're kinda on your own, especially from your 20s onward. 'How do I manage challenging social situations on my own? How do I manage choosing the best environments to work in? How do I manage to appear? How do I manage judging who are the best people to be associating with?' etc. What I eventually came to realise is...while a lot was managed for me in life when I was a kid, I was never given the skills and confidence with which to manage well independently. So, I think this 'coming to life bit by bit' business is very much about skillful development. Even better if it's done with support and guidance. At 53, I figure better late than never (skill development and greater self understanding, with guidance).

 

Maisy Nina mentioned something I can relate to, when it came to her going up to that woman and complimenting her on her jacket. Being someone who's recently come to name where my inner dialogue's coming from, 'The stresser' in me or some self conscious part of me used to always insist on stuff along the lines of 'Don't tell that person you think they're really nice' or 'Don't tell that person how good they look, they'll think you're an idiot'. One day something simply said to me 'Tell them, it will bring them joy'. I think it was some soulful part of me that came to life that day, a part of me that began insisting I make a connection with people through telling them some beautiful truth about themself. Whether something makes us or something says to us 'Tell that person some beautiful truth', it's that something we choose to name (as our higher self or some aspect of self or divine guidance or whatever) that gives us the ability to make connections beyond social anxiety. Sometimes the challenge can involve tapping into that something which has the ability to guide us and put us at ease.