Don't know how to feel like myself again
I'm not sure how to begin, but I feel like life has become so painful in the past few months. During the second lockdown in Melbourne, I feel like my mental health has really plummeted. I didn't go out at all after we started remote learning due to my family being extra cautious, so now I don't have the courage to go out anymore. I feel really paranoid due to the stuff I read on social media or see in the news (although I don't really look at either of those things now). I've been really struggling with not assuming that every stranger hates me and everyone is out to hurt me. I've tried talking to the school counsellor recently and she's helpful, though I feel like I'm getting nowhere and just feel a bit hopeless. I haven't talked to my therapist for a while because I feel like she doesn't really help me learn to cope independently.
I used to be quite confident and independent, but now I'm always scared and on the verge of panicking. I really don't want to continue like this. My parents say that things will improve heaps after my exams and I really hope so, but thinking about starting at Uni just makes me so anxious. Has anyone been in a similar situation? If so, could you please share how you rediscovered yourself again?
I feel for you so much as you face the unexpected challenges that have come with lock down. While I can't fully imagine how hard this is for you, I can relate in some way.
Living in Melbourne, the return to school had proven to be unexpectedly difficult for my 18yo daughter, a person who is normally rather social and positive. She expressed to me how she felt she was developing social anxiety and really couldn't tolerate interacting with people. It was even challenging interacting with close friends. I set out to wonder why she felt this way. A possibility came to me, which I posed to her:
Part of the way into year 12, I suggested paying her to stay home and study, so she wouldn't be dealing with a lack of study time and a casual job with crazy hours. She accepted the offer. I never realised but working allowed her the opportunity to face the challenges that come with interacting with people (including the difficult ones). When lock down hit, isolation had a similar impact, not giving her day to day challenges and achievements that come with social interaction. I asked her if she felt she had forgotten, in a way, how to naturally face and rise through the challenges that come with social interaction. She considered this as a strong possibility.
My daughter decided to start small and work up. She started pushing herself to interact with her close friends, which eventually made it a little easier to interact with people outside this circle. By the way, she was able to explain to her friends she was having difficulty with natural everyday conversation. They helped her through this. Yesterday, she actually met up with a group of people she truly likes but hasn't been all that close to throughout the year (all very natural folk). She wasn't comfortable going on her own so she asked her closest friend to go with her. She managed with the help of this friend. She's gradually finding ways to manage returning to her natural self, the self that is comfortable dealing with everyday social challenges. As I said to her, to reach the state of courage we must move through fear. There's no sense of courage without a sense of fear. Every time you feel fear in your body (as a physical emotion), you know you are beginning to work up to courage. Even though things have been challenging, she's enjoyed being courageous on numerous occasions. She is defining herself as 'courageous' and 'someone who manages challenges', sometimes with a need for help.
I hope this helps 🙂
The Risng has given you very helpful suggestions, so I will not repeat her idea.
This year has been very difficult for you and as a result you are not as confident as you once were.
I am older than you and my background different but I can relate a little.
Due to the fires I have moved to a different community a long way from where I lived. Due to covid I have met no neighbours and find it hard in social situations.
I started to volunteer at a local charity so I would meet people. It was hard at first and I felt teary at times.The more I went out I gained some confidence .
I agree with the rising, small steps and see your self as courageous.
I have a meeting of friends in a months time and getting there as it is 5 hours away and the number of friends there is making it a challenge. I hope to try to face the challenge.
I am glad you could express so well how you are feeling and many will relate to you as more people read the posts than reply. So people reading your words will be nodding and not feel so alone.
Thanks, therising and quirkywords. therising, I hope your daughter continues to be as courageous as she is now; it sounds like she is rediscovering her old self steadily. I agree that I must challenge myself a bit more in order to get comfortable with dealing with social challenges, but I just feel like I'm going to be targeted by strangers due to the various instances of racial abuse that I've read online. Some of those are just comments left anonymously on Instagram, while others were reported in the news. Logically, I know many of those peple online wouldn't say such things IRL, but I can't convince myself. Right now, especially with masks, I can't tell whether someone is frowning at me maliciously or just glancing innocently. I don't think I have personally been subject to such abuse, but I am super sensitive and take offence for other people even when they seem to have laughed it off as a light-hearted joke. I'm left feeling really confused and scared and I don't know where I will find the courage. Another thing is that all of my friends are from school, and since we all live a fair distance from each other, we've never really met up much outside of school (even without any travel restrictions), so I'm not sure how to facilitate a meet-up. I have a best friend who is supportive, but she's someone who isn't so sensitive to other people's reactions, so she doesn't quite understand my concerns. Although I've been trying to walk and cross a really busy main road intersection near my house to try to build up my exposure to people.
quirkywords, I'm sorry that you were affected by the bushfires and have had to move. I'd like to think I can empathise a bit as I've had to move 6 times and some moves were easier than others, but I'm sure you will get to know your neighbours very soon. I used to work as a gymnastics coach and moved up into taking a competitive class last year, but I resigned mid-year due to it requiring too much outside-of-hours planning time. My experience there was mostly good, except for this one time a mum came and yelled at me in front of the other parents for not having a certificate ready for her daughter. My manager tried to reassure me that it wasn't my fault and she had yelled at her several times too. But it just wasn't the same after that. My mum is planning to volunteer at our local op shop before Christmas and suggests I go with her. I'm hoping to go, but I'm pretty scared too.