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Re: Social Anxiety.... Advice please!

Posted: Mon Aug 20, 2018 7:46 am
by deb1960
Hi Em

I still have that quote to look out!

Likewise, knowing you on here is lovely for me too.

I wish so much that my mental health would just leave me be. I'm lucky in as much as I never feel my life is wasted. Some people who have good health feel they've wasted their life.

Take care
Love Deb x

Re: Social Anxiety.... Advice please!

Posted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 4:01 pm
by paulshipmansmith

Both depression and anorexia are conditions that are very difficult to overcome, so going into a relapse can make the situation even more difficult for you to deal with. It is good that you are working on your journey towards recovery but unfortunately 'relapsing' can be a part of that journey.
There is also that 'deflated' feeling of negativity that is similar to walking up a steep hill and then rolling back down again. This leaves you looking up at the hill, knowing you have to climb it again. That can make you feel like wanting to give up!
It is good that you appear to be seeing the positive aspects of life and you are hopefully experiencing the 'way up' after hitting your 'rock bottom'. Life after being hospitalised - even if for a short-term stay - can be very difficult when it comes to adjusting back to the outside world.
On the subject of adjusting back to the outside world, there can be the issue of continuing with your counselling/therapy after hospitalisation. If possible, it is important that you continue with some counselling/therapy in order to keep your treatment 'ongoing'. This would benefit you more than simply leaving the hospital and assuming that you are 'cured'.
Many of us don't just simply walk into social situations and immediately 'mix in with the crowd'. It is always difficult for many of us to interact with people we don't know. In this day and age, we can find it even more difficult because everyone is very 'weary' of each other and conscious of the 'stranger danger' attitude to people in general.
You are certainly not alone in finding social environments difficult. If the truth be really known, it is very likely that most people - particularly children and young adults - can only socialise comfortably on a computer/tablet/mobile phone. This is because they do not have to deal with people on a 'face to face' basis. They can also avoid any 'confrontation' issues with anyone.
In today's modern society, people are genuinely afraid to interact with people who they do not know. They will purposely, psychologically isolate themselves from the others around them.
Notice how many people walk around, sit on buses/trains, go about our everyday lives with headphones on their ears. It can often be a way of saying to those around us....'Leave me alone'......Of course, they are listening to their favourite music - and don't tell everyone to get out of their face! However, it is their way of creating a 'barrier' around them and they very likely feel much safer with this invisible, psychological wall between them and the other people.
You were planning to start college in September and were sensible by booking a 'taster' course. This can be a good way to 'break in' to the way of college life and further education.
It is understandable that you were afraid to go as it does seem like you are taking a very big step. This is certainly the case for you because of your own personal situation. You are dealing with a lot in your life at the moment.
It is often the case for new students to feel afraid of being excluded for whatever personal reasons. There is this fear of not being able to 'fit in'. Of course. You may want to consider the fact that you may not be 'excluded' at all. There is the likelihood that there are other students who do feel the same way as you do.
You harbour a fear of being mocked and humiliated which is likely because of your own past experiences from your younger years. Your experiences of bullying will also contribute to this negative frame of mind when thinking about starting a new job or going to college.
Although you have had many bad experiences regarding the bullying etc, you are now making your own choices in your life such as going to college. Bullying thrives on the fact that the victim cannot 'escape' or is trapped in a situation beyond their control.
When you were younger and at school, both you and the perpetrators of the bullying will have all been together because there was no choice in the matter. You had to go to school. The bullies also had to go. Of course, you could 'skive off', but that would again create more trouble for you. Most of us just won't want to do that because we are too afraid....This means we just have to 'put up with it' and be bullied....
You are now considering going to college, and although you are very apprehensive about it, you are going there 'of your own free will'. The other students in the classes/college are likely to be in the same position as you are. If they are not 'compelled to go', they will not feel the need to exert the animosity that can be found in a 'compulsory' school/college environment.
Bullying sadly does not end when we leave school. Bullying also (and often) occurs at work because we have the need to go in order to earn our money. Again, people fear for their jobs and won't 'rock the boat', so they put up with it until they 'break'.
If you find yourself in a 'work bullying' situation - due to your circumstances - it would not be wise to just 'put up with it'. If you feel that you cannot fight it, it would be best to leave the company. Should you find yourself very unhappy in a job because of people seriously upsetting you, then you need to accept that the job isn't worth it.
It you find yourself getting 'over-stressed/over-emotional' in a pub/nightclub environment, again, you are acting in your own best interests to simply leave. This can be the safer option especially in your situation.
Again....Hopefully.....You should not have this experience at the college/university.
You may have had many bad experiences in your younger years - although unfortunate and difficult to forget - but that is now something that you need to accept as part of your past.
The thought of going to college 'triggers' your negative thoughts. Your negative thoughts are of you being 'boring', a 'freak', a 'weirdo', a 'loser', a 'nobody' which will make you feel depressed and anxious. Were you called these names when you were bullied at school/when you were younger?
When people call us names such as the above, or when people start rumours regarding these names, it can be similar to when people are 'phobic'. Underneath, they are trying to express how they feel about themselves.
They just can't face the thought of accepting how they feel about themselves, so transfer it to someone else who appears vulnerable and will be susceptable to that sort of 'name branding' and will therefore 'carry the burden' of their perpetrator's own self-expression.
The perpetrator's of this form of name calling are - very deep down - angry/guilty/frustrated about themselves or may have strong - but secret/hidden - negative feelings - about members of their close family or spouses/long-term partners. They need to 'express' this very deep/hidden burden they carry.
You socialise with your family but only when your mother or auntie are with you. Without them you feel intimidated and awkward. You mother and auntie appear to act as a 'comfort barrier' for you. You seem to have a very close, protective based relationship with both of them. This is very good in many ways.
However, the problem with this closeness is that you may have become too 'tied' or too dependent upon either one or both of them being with you. This can make it difficult for someone such as yourself in any social situations and will make life harder when it comes to 'branching out'. There is perhaps an element of fear of leaving your mother's side when it comes to social situations and this may be one of the reasons for you having difficulty joining in social groups.
This can also include 'outside' or 'extended' family members when attending 'family gatherings' such as weddings, funerals or family parties. Your mother and auntie act as 'security handles' to hold on to when involved in these social situations.
There is a feeling of 'freefall' or being 'adrift' when they suddenly disappear or not turn up to the party. This can leave you feeling like riding a bike downhill without stabilisers. This can lead to you feeling socially anxious, awkward and even panicky. There is of course - as with any social/family gathering - someone asking lots of questions/being nosey! Sitting on your own whilst being 'interrogated' can be uncomfortable!
You can cope with voluntary work because the atmosphere in a voluntary organisation such as a charity shop or community centre/cafe will not have the hostility of a business/work environment. You will find the atmosphere rather more pleasant in a setting such as these.
You also don't have that pressure placed upon you to 'fit in' with a group in a way like you would at school/college/university.
When dealing with customers or helping people, you are not being judged about what you look like or whether you are 'cool' or what clothes you wear/material possessions etc. The people you serve/help are only judging you on your service/helping skills and if they are happy with that, then everything is good.
In a way, there is a social barrier that is created by having the interaction with the customers but not having to 'reveal your inner self' as - of course - you would when socialising with family or a group.
Continuing with the voluntary work will be of great benefit to you because there is an element of social 'positivity' for you. The more you work at this, the more confident you will be when dealing with people in general. This will also help you if you want a career working in shop/sales/store environment. This is a good time for you to look into these oppurtunities.
Working in an environment such as a shop (or even a cafe or a bar) would allow you to build confidence in a 'face to face' situation with people. You could deal with all sorts of people from all 'walks of life' and the positive aspect is that you will not need to be 'too involved' with them. They will be your customers and you will be judged upon your service to these people. Good customer service will give a positive feedback from them.
OK....There can be negatives such as 'miserable' or 'awkward' or even 'angry' customers. However, the 'barrier' that you already are able to place between you and the customer will allow you to deal with them in all situations. There is usually in-store training provided for dealing with these people as well.
If anything, you may actually be at an advantage over a colleague who relies on the company of 'close companions' and who needs the feedback of very close, friendly interaction from anyone they meet. If someone is not friendly towards your more 'outward', friendly colleague, then the colleague will take it very 'personally'.
You may not generally be one of those 'social' people. Not everyone is naturally overly social. Some people can be very polite and friendly without having to go 'to deep' with socialising with people. Some people actually feel that it is the 'best way to be' with people because being to 'over-familiar' or over-friendly with people can lead to that close friendship becoming rather 'strained'. Keeping some 'distance' can make a more stable living/working relationship.
Many people prefer to take this attitude with neighbours especially. They also do this with colleagues at work and may also adopt the same attitude towards clients/customers. This is a way creating a 'barrier' of protection because when we become 'too friendly' or 'familiar' with others around us, personal feelings can become a hinderance and thus put a strain on what was a pretty good working relationship.
It's absolutely brilliant being friendly with neighbours/colleagues/customers etc. However, when the 'wheel falls off the cart' - as the old saying goes - massive 'fallouts' can occur and friendships can be lost.
Of course - for many people - this doesn't happen and friendships can be made for life. It's all about choices and compatibility with the other people around us.
It is - of course - your choice whether or not you wish to socialise 'outside' the workplace and you are a person who is perhaps having some conflict with this issue. There is no need to just 'dive into' any social outing if you genuinely feel that you don't want to go.
Perhaps you could start by attending a 'festive' funtion or a 'leaving' do in order to break into the work's social circuit. Of course, some people do not believe in 'mixing work and socialising' and will not attend any of these outings/functions/parties.
Some people feel that when they 'clock out' at the end of the working day, they wish to 'distance' themselves from anything to do with the workplace. Again, it is all about choice of whether or not you want to go.
Would you go to these company outings if you were not fearful of 'showing your true self' and 'being rejected'? Usually, on company get-togethers you will find that most of your collegues and the partners will actually be feeling rather 'awkward' themselves. It is surprising how many people do feel the same way as you do about themselves.
Many of your colleagues - either at present or in the future - just don't get out much at all. You'll find that it will take a few drinks - especially if it is a 'free bar' - to 'get them going' and before you know it, the will be fully sociable!
On the subject of the college causing you anxiety, costing a lot and affecting your 'employment support allowance', you could consider speaking to the appropriate advisors. Your local college will provide counselling/student support before and during your time of study there. You could arrange to work part-time if this is possible and you will need to take further advice regarding your ESA.
Your mother is upset because you are not doing the course and her reason for wanting you to achieve is because she 'wants what is best' for you. She wants you not to be hindered by your mental illness which is understandable.
However, mental illness is not just a simple ailment such as a cold or a headache. Mental illness is complex and no-one - not even the best doctors/psychiatrists/experts etc can 'see' and understand the human mind.
Your mother and auntie seem to play an important, influential part of your life. Especially your mother. Does your mother/auntie/family understand the full implications of your mental illness/issues?
You may now be approaching a period in your life when you are beginning to question - for yourself - what you really want in life. There is definitely a large part of you that does want to further your education, get on with your life and fight your mental issues.
You could benefit from having some form of counselling/therapy in order to address these different fears/issues regarding the anxiety you experience when not by your mother's side and how to follow your own path .....Again, there is the issue of asking yourself what you really want. The counselling is something that you will hopefully continue.
You are very much attached/influenced by your mother which could be the reason for your fear of upsetting her. The guilt and sorrow that you are feeling after any upset between you will fuel your feeling of anxiety. Could there be some conflict between thinking and doing what you feel is right for you and then questioning what your mother would think about it?
The relationship/bond between you and your mother is strong and this can be a very positive/beneficial situation to be in for you both. However, as you begin to question where you own 'life journey' will take you, there is that element of influence in your life that could hold you back.
In a positive way, the fact that your mother is upset at you not going to college could mean that she is aware that you do need to 'leave her side' from time to time and discover new adventures for yourself. There will understandably be some tension between you and of course there is the issue of how well she does understand your mental illness.
It is understandable that she is upset for you not going to college. However, she may not fully understand how hard it is for you to 'just go for it', even though she has your best interest at heart.
The good news for you here is that you (by yourself and by your own admission) understand that going to college will enable you to get a better job. You appear to have made that correct assumption on your own. You've had 'dead end' jobs and now feel that you need to do something positive about that situation. This is something that no-one else can do but yourself.
You will certainly need the emotional support of your mother/auntie should you embark on your new educational path. However, you will need do this on your own.
You could benefit from counselling/therapy in order to address the issues of your past experiences regarding 'being mocked and bullied'. Your past experiences do not need to be a guide to your future.
When you were mocked, bullied and humiliated, you were younger and also both you and the perpetrators of your bullying were in a situation of 'no escape'. Bullying thrives off the 'no way out' situation. This is an area where you will need to continue your counselling/therapy.
Your low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence combined with the fear of being hurt and rejected will understandably make you question your own inner 'mental strength'. If the worst comes to the worst, there is the burning question of whether or not it will 'finish you off'.
Will it finish you off? For a start, you are now older - and because of your life experiences regarding mental health issues, you are wiser. You will make positive improvements concerning your anxiety issues with the help of counselling/therapy. The college should be able to help in this area as well.
As for the bullying. You are now going to the college because it is your choice. There shouldn't be the aggression associated with 'school bullying' because both you and the other students on your course will be there by choice - not conscription, such as school.
As for the other forms of humiliation. Much of that can be caused by people who actually see this in themselves but cannot face the problem. The problem is caused by their own 'self-reflection' and then presenting this deep personal issue they hold to the outside world. Unfortunately, it's poor you who ends up 'taking the full brunt' of their self-reflection.
Being called a weirdo, loser, freak and nobody are examples of people expressing their own self-reflected anger at you. Having this knowledge - combined with counselling - will help you understand people a little more deeply and this, in turn will build more confidence in yourself.
If it is any consolation, you'll likely find that when you start your college education, you will find that there are many others who feel the same way as you do. They will be feeling nervous about embarking on college life and may also have similar experiences to you.
You will find yourself becoming more confident when if comes to socialising with your new-found classmates and this will open more oppurtunities for you in general. You certainly don't need to go to every 'social event'. However, you will find that with more confidence in yourself, you will want to try different college 'groups' or 'activities'.
You should be able to continue some form of working in order get money (necessity). There is also the opportunity to continue volunteering, producing your crafts and - of course - the very important therapy (priority).
Your family can play a very important role in all of this new adventure. They can offer you the support needed in order to positively encourage to towards your goal.
However, there is still going to be issue of you struggling with your independence away from 'your mother's side'. This is an area you do need to address in therapy. Going to work, volunteering, college and so on will help you to achieve this on your own.
Your mother may - 'on one hand' - try to encourage you to 'go out' and do things on your own because she wants what is best for you. However, 'on the other hand' she could cause a form of 'contradictory' conflict between you both by challenging your independent decisions.
One example of this would be your mother telling you to go to college.....Then 'in the next breath' telling you that you should be grateful for being in a job and shouldn't take the risk. Or....Telling you to 'get out more' and then as soon as you tell her your going out somewhere, she then moans because 'it's not safe at this time of night'.......And so on.
At the end of the day, the decision is yours. You can find a balance between work, family (especially your mother), college and all the things that you can do and work your way towards your 'life ambitions' without the fear of your mental health 'holding you back' and defeating you.

Re: Social Anxiety.... Advice please!

Posted: Wed Sep 05, 2018 2:48 pm
by littleem
Hi Paul! :D

Thank you so much for your message. It really meant a lot to me that you took the time to write back with such care and insight. :)

Hospital was certainly the very first step in my recovery. I have since completed five months of CBT sessions for overcoming low mood and depression and have found the right dose of medication to stop my mood from hitting rock bottom again.

This put me in a better place to start therapy for overcoming anorexia. I currently have two sessions a week until mid-November and thereafter I will continue having one session a week for a further five-six months. Hefty! :lol: But it’s going well so far.

I experienced a BIG turning point in my recovery just yesterday. I finally went to a support group! My mother came with me for support and now I feel able to go alone next week! I feel so motivated to (at a slow and steady pace acceptable to me) try out further groups, workshops and community college courses that are realistic, achievable, accessibile and of interest to me (all the time taking care not to take on too much too soon!)

I also know that I can now rely on my mother to support me to overcome that initial first-session anxiety if I feel it necessary which immediately takes off a pressure. Coming to the group yesterday was good for her too actually as now she understands more the extent of how anxiety affects me. She enjoyed the group yesterday and even contributed with her personal experiences to offer support to somebody else! This meant a lot to me. :) Nobody excluded me, nobody laughed at me, nobody called me those spiteful names, nobody humiliated me.... so unlucky anxiety! :lol:

It was the sensible option not to start the particular college course. It would have been too much too soon.

I do hope to gain employment in a retail/shop environment in the future. I’ve always previously worked in catering which is a toxic environment for me because it keeps me locked in anorexia, fuels my obsessions, increases my stress levels and lowers my mood because I hate working in such environments. So the shop volunteering is good. They also support me there and understand that I get bad days which helps me a lot. I’ve maintained this voluntary work for eight months now which honestly is a record for me! :)

It will be a long time before I work through overcoming my low self esteem, low self confidence, fear of rejection, social anxiety and the tension within my relationship with my mother. But it is not unattainable. I just have other things to get through first. Baby steps. :) I’ve come a long way since where I was last year and I’ve not relapsed to that state since.

My CBT therapist has already said that I can receive further therapy next year once my eating disorder therapy has finished if I feel it necessary. The CMHT can offer me twelve weeks of CBT for improving low self esteem as well as therapy to overcome social anxiety etc.

But I don’t think that far ahead anymore. It took a long time, but I’ve finally been able to focus on the present day. :)

Thanks again for your very helpful email. It really was very much appreciated! :D

How are things with you?

I hope you’re as well as you can be right now. :)

Best wishes,

Em x

Re: Social Anxiety.... Advice please!

Posted: Wed Sep 05, 2018 2:51 pm
by littleem
Hi Deb! :D

How are you?

Of course, your life is absolutely not wasted!! :D

I hope you are well. Take care of yourself and keep positive. :)

Much love,

Em xx

Re: Social Anxiety.... Advice please!

Posted: Wed Sep 05, 2018 8:16 pm
by emloja
Hey there, Good to hear from you on here. Em i think that you are saying college is too much of a jump right now- this doesn't mean not ever- just not now. There is no reason why you cannot go to college in the future when you feel stronger. I know the anxiety of feeling that if you push too hard things may get bad again and you may not bounce back- but also not wanting to avoid something which could be life changing. You should be kind to yourself and i think you need to reflect on the inner dialogue you have with yourself- i know it is easy to say but it is important that you give yourself credit for even considering college right now and for caring so much about your mum, and accept that your judgement is that right now college isn't for you. I often have affirmations or phrases and "just not now" is one of them. Not going now does not mean you cannot go ever!
I also want to say that you should not underestimate how well you are doing socially (and have done) with your volunteering- you are able to go there without your mum and get on with the work and even enjoy it. i get that you feel it is different however you show transferable social skills which would also be seen in a college environment. Not all pupils go to college to socialise. I had some difficulties at uni and tbh it just helped me to really focus on my course and studying. It wasn't easy but i got a weekend job too so that avoided me having to socialise at the weekends- sometimes avoidance is also self preservation. I hope some of that helped my dear. Also another year down the line you may feel differently about what you want.

Re: Social Anxiety.... Advice please!

Posted: Thu Sep 06, 2018 7:54 pm
by sirhugo
Hi. I totally identified with your dilemma (dil- EMMA lol :lol:) wanting to move forward and expand your horizons but the old fears are holding you back, I totally get that

one thing that I don't think has been mentioned (too many long posts, didn't read them all sorry :D ) is that you could have the best of both worlds. Im sure that a lot of colleges can do courses that are suitable to do from home, in your own time. then you can get qualifications, better yourself etc but not have to worry about the social anxiety side

just something to think about

Re: Social Anxiety.... Advice please!

Posted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 8:21 pm
by littleem
Hey Em!

Lovely to hear from you, too! :)

How are you doing? What's news with you? I hope all is well. :)

Thanks for your kind message. I have been able to cope quite well socially this week actually. I went for coffee with people from Church and I am able to chat comfortably with people from Church on a daily basis as well as comfortably with other volunteers in the shop - all without my mother or auntie or anyone else. Okay, the age-range is 60-90 with most in their 80s and I'm 24 but I do live in The Retirement Home Head Quarters! :lol:

I have a job interview next week. I don't regret not doing the college course either.

Take care,

Em xx

Re: Social Anxiety.... Advice please!

Posted: Fri Sep 07, 2018 8:31 pm
by littleem
Hey sirhugo!

Firstly, excellent pun! :lol:

Good advice, too. Thank you. I've since opted for shorter community college courses. Two hour short sessions for ten weeks on loads of different topics at a very low price.

I've also since adopted these mantras -
1. To try is to take one more step AWAY from where depression and anorexia want to keep me.
2. To try is to overcome the bullies who want to hold me back.
3. A negative prediction is NOT a factual experience.
4. In order to know, I must have first tried.
5. The more I do, the easier it will become.

I hope you're as well as you can be. [/i]

Take care,

Em x

Re: Social Anxiety.... Advice please!

Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 7:45 pm
by emloja
Hi Em,
Things have been going in the right direction- thanks for asking. I continue to work on being kind to myself and to manage those not so good days. I'm currently trying to accept the good and bad and be okay with having a bad day or bad night, without completely freaking out and thinking that this is it. My mind is just so frantic and busy- be it with or without negative thoughts and at times i just find it hard to slow it down, i also keep having some really bad days. It is also the return of the anxiety- which i have quite enjoyed living without- that dread! I have worked hard on not freaking out about these days (as yes, they are only days-which is a massive improvement). I had a really bad night two nights ago where i literally went through my whole tool box and repertoire of techniques, to no avail. I took some sleeping tablets last night which i haven't for a while- and now i am deciding if i should try and sleep naturally tonight or take a tablet - just to get into a routine as if i don't and then i don't sleep i am going to worry. I am freaking out i guess because i am on the highest dose of my AD and am already worrying having seen some returning behaviours. I am also aware my mood is heavily impacted by the weather and the dark nights are coming and the cold. I know i am generally so much better and i know i am not a fortune teller- however i don't want to try a different AD and really worry about life without it. I keep planning on visiting the doctors to share my concerns so at least they are out there and maybe we could make a plan but the steps involved in a visit are too much.
Life should be so much easier and i think in some ways it is- i now only work 3 days a week, so i don't have to put on such a mask and really feel i should be able to function how id like for those days. I have a book about depression and anxiety and diet- so i plan to look into this a bit more. I have one of those lights i hope to use better to help with the dark. I also hope to get into gear with exercise. OMG- i am really sorry about all this waffle- i obviously needed to get it out!
Im glad your church is such a source of support. I love older people- i bet you brighten their day.
How did the interview go?
Sorry again for the non sensical waffle- take care,
Emma x

Re: Social Anxiety.... Advice please!

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 6:06 pm
by deb1960
Hi Em

It sounds like you're doing well. You have done excellently to come through such a difficult time. You are a real fighter.

God Bless
Deb x