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Why am I afraid of people?

Mitch_D
Community Member

Why am I afraid of people?

Hi, my name is Mitch and this is my first ever post. I am 29 going on 30 this year. I made a pact to myself a few years ago that I would have my ideal job or be heading towards that job by the time I was 30. I have come very close. I have just about finished an adult tertiary course hat will allow me to apply for uni and I did really achieving honours in all of my subjects. Problem is, I am afraid of people. Now I know what everyone is thinking. Everyone has a fear of public speaking. Yes, this was my main concern with this course. I had to do 3 presentations throughout the course. All of which I had this agonising churning going on in my stomach leading up to the speeches the moment I heard we had to do them. Yes I knew that there were going to be speeches and that there was no way around it. But I am almost 30 years old. Why can I not be able to talk in front of people? I have been doing it for 29 years now. Even social situations. One on one I am pretty good. Not great, but sometimes I can have a real connection with people, once I get to know them. But as soon as there is a third person in on the conversation I seem to find this invisible corner within the group and crawl my way inside until someone prompts me for a response or says goodbye. This may seem like such a minor thing. But I want to "live" my life, not wait to be prompted to do something.

I had a few issues when I was in my late teens. I smoked a bit of weed and I think it made me really nervous. At first it was great. It was the "social" thing to do. But then every time I did it, I would again go into my shell and never come out until it wore off or woke up the next day. So, after a few years, I stopped. Completely. Stopped hanging around certain people, started an apprenticeship, got fit, focused on gym, eating healthy, all of the "right" things to do to turn this problem around. Did the anxiety go away? No. If anything it increased as I got older. Fast forward a few years, I finished the apprenticeship, left that place because I hardly spoke to anyone and had a "fresh start". This I thought would surely stop me being anxious along with being healthy. Still no. Fast forward to the current day where I have figured I will get a better education and that will help me to interact with people. Still no. I have tried certain meds also and I am still struggling.

Why am I afraid of people?

6 Replies 6

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Mitch, welcome

I can feel your pain. I'm wondering if we sometimes choose a career that involves an element of a challenge we will never be capable of conquering?

A good thread to read , use google is

Topic: fortress of survival- beyondblue

Topic: 30 minutes can change your life- beyondblue

Topic: accepting yourself the frog and the scorpion- beyondblue

Just reading the first post of each thread might give you an idea of what I'm talking about.

repost anytime

Tony WK

MsPurple
Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

HI Mitch.D and welcome to the forums

Althought I am not a dr it sounds like you may have some social anxiety. Have you looked that up? Maybe discuss it further with your doctor. Social anxiety (well anxiety in general) can be different in different people. I have been told by my mental health nurse that I have aspects of anxiety disorder although that is not my official diagnosis. I may not struggle with it as much but I do understand how it affects you.

I have found since therapy my anxiety in general has reduced. I struggled with the idea of going to a social gathering with only one person I knew. For me wanting to work in the health field and seeing clients I needed some help in overcoming this. Through therapy and CBD I found that I am now not as anxious at the idea of meeting people and I can now manage it. I know this may not be a great example, but it does get easier with time and persistance.

I suggest finding someone you click with whether that is a psychologist/mental health nurse/GP/counsellor etc. They will you strategies and tools on helping you deal with social gatherings. In the mean time I have found meditation helps. It stops my racing mind and helps me de stress. I also find getting enough sleep and regular exercise help with my anxiety in general. Sometimes lifestyle changes can help but you need to remember changes takes time and persistance.

Hope this helps

kanga_brumby
Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Mitch Others have made several good suggestions. I believe we are all scared of public speaking. The trick is to get all the butterflies in formation. In my case they are pterodactyls. I have a suggestion if your scared of public seeking join toast masters. They teach public speaking to people who wish to become teachers, layers, politicians, ministers of religion any thing where they are speaking in public.

Kanga

romantic_thi3f
Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Mitch.D

Welcome to the forums and thanks for joining us.

I think there's been some great replies already so I'll try not to echo too much of what's already been said -

In your post, you talked about being afraid of people - 'I am afraid of people' - 'why am I so afraid of people?'. I really want you to challenge your mindset here. You aren't afraid of people, because if you were you couldn't have conversations just one on one. So switch that to being 'afraid of public speaking'. It's not much but it does change things. People aren't scary; it's the situation that is.

Given that you're 29, my assumption is that there would have been a lot of social gatherings that you've been apart of; birthdays, parties, nights out, or even group assignments at uni. How did you go with these? Were these as easy or as difficult as talking to 2 people?

Also, when you're talking with a person 1 on 1 and someone else joins, what happens? You talked about finding a corner, but what happens in-between those two steps? Learning how to deal with anxiety is about figuring out what's happening that makes you want to step away from it (literally or figuratively). The thoughts that come in your head, the sensations that you may feel - all of these are important to notice so that you can help find a way to move forward and past this.

Hi,

Thank you for your response, I found this intriguing and it seemed to hit a point with me.

You are right in saying that I am not afraid of people, in fact, I love people. It is more so the contact I myself have with them that is un-nerving. I sometimes have great connections with people when 1 on 1, it is when that second or third person joins in that I feel the anxiety start to rise. Today for example, I was having a coffee with a guy I had just spent 6 months with doing a TAFE course and had become quite good friends. He is a guy that is quite the opposite to me and does not seem to have and social anxiety (on the surface). Anyway, I feel comfortable talking to him and then he said his gf was close by and was going to maybe join us. This is when all of those crazy feelings started to arise and I started to worry about the experience of not being able to talk properly in front of this "new person".

As it turned out, she did not end up coming and I immediately felt the release of anxiety. That is the feeling I want to be able to cope with but currently struggle heavily with.

Thank you for your response. I feel it is heading in the right track.

Mitch

Hi Mitch.D,

Thanks for your post.

I'm happy to hear that it was intriguing!

I appreciate you describing what that experience was like for you. It's interesting to note how the anxiety came and went so quickly, but only by hearing and seeing that your friend's girlfriend didn't arrive.

Can you talk more about what it's like when those 'crazy sensations arise'? Anxiety in people can feel and look different for everyone, so for some they notice themselves getting clammy and sweaty, for others they'll notice their heartbeat start to race. Trying to be aware of these sensations (without judging them) can help for the future.

I'm also wondering if it might be helpful to look at some of the worries about being able to talk properly. What does this mean for you? Is it that you might stumble your words, or forget what to say? Or is it that you're afraid of going too quiet? I say this because in anxiety it's often just a general fear of 'what could go wrong' but the reality is that you've probably been faced with situations like that before (a third person coming into the conversation), and still went okay. You may even find it helpful to brainstorm what the worst case scenario is - really picture it in your head. My assumption is that the anxiety would skyrocket - but at the end of the day, you'd still be okay.

Oh - I will just say too that if you're interested a psychologist might be really helpful in helping you manage your anxiety. It might be something that you want to consider, given they're an expert and all.