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Social Anxiety.... Advice please!

Posted: Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:37 pm
by littleem

I'm currently in recovery from a bad relapse into depression and anorexia.

There are loads of positives and I have overcome and achieved a lot since hitting rock bottom and being hospitalised last year.

However, as I am taking steps to continue moving forward, I have hit a stumbling block. I struggle immensely in social environments with groups of people I don't know.

I was planning to start college this September part time. Yesterday, I had booked to start a taster course to prepare myself but couldn't bring myself to go. I was terrified of being excluded, being mocked and humiliated and of being rejected. I dreaded the accompanying feelings that would come with this - namely depression. The prospect of starting college triggers negative thoughts like 'I'm boring/a freak/weirdo/loser/a nobody .... Which drags down my mood and hikes up my anxiety.

I can socialise with family but only if either my mother or auntie are with me the whole time. Otherwise I feel intimidated and awkward but I feel safe and understood when I'm with my mother and auntie.

I can cope with voluntary work (have been working in a shop environment for six months)and so starting a paid job in a shop environment does not fill me with such negative thoughts and feelings. I feel able to start this. Work allows me to put up a barrier to social interaction. I am friendly and engaging without the pressure of becoming friends with anyone. I can stay in 'work mode'. I never attend any opportunities to socialise after or outside of work though for fear of showing my true self and getting rejected.

College causes massive anxiety, costs a lot and could mess up my ESA, whereas permitted work causes little (if no!) anxiety, doesn't affect my ESA and enables me to earn money and gain some independence.

Only thing is, not doing the course upsets my mother because she wants me to achieve and for mental illness not to stop me doing things I want to do. Upsetting l my mother causes me so much guilt and sorrow. It creates tension between us. Also, the course would enable me to get a good job (I've had dead end job after dead end job for yeeeeears!)ll

I've been mocked and bullied through my adolescent into early adulthood so my fears of getting hurt naturally stem from these horrible experiences. I couldn't take any more hurt and rejection. Not now with such low self esteem and confidence. I don't have the mental strength to cope with it. I know this might not even happen, but I also know if it did... It would probably finish me off!!

Just wanted to hear some thoughts from others who really get how crippling social anxiety and low self esteem can be.

By not going to college, am I avoiding? Am I in self destruct mode?

Or am I being sensible? Accepting my limits and being motivated to positively work on what I have and can achieve, e.g. volunteering, social interaction with family, producing crafts and selling them for charity, going to therapy etc. ?

Please do be as honest and hard hitting as necessary! Any thoughts most appreciated.



Re: Social Anxiety.... Advice please!

Posted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 11:54 am
by cookiemonster
By not facing your fears you are effecting your destiny. Nothing will change. You are allowing the bullies to beat you.

I agree we need to be aware of our capabilities / weaknesses. But really how do we know what we are capable of if we don’t push ourselves.

Re: Social Anxiety.... Advice please!

Posted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 11:55 am
by cookiemonster
Research what support services are available at the college. They usually have services for people with mental health needs or disabilities.

Re: Social Anxiety.... Advice please!

Posted: Mon Aug 13, 2018 8:10 pm
by littleem

I know you're probably right. It's just IF the experience was negative, I honestly don't think I'd be able to bounce back. I'm coping so well BUT my confidence and self esteem are flat on the floor.

I will speak to the cmht and college about the support.

Hope all is well with you.

Em x

Re: Social Anxiety.... Advice please!

Posted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 12:20 pm
by deb1960
Hi Em

Personally I think that by not going to college you are looking after your health. Your priority must always be your health. Well that's how i live my life. I was doing a brilliant french course 5 years ago I became ill again and had to pack it in. It really upset me but I couldn't face the pressure

Your mum means well but unfortunately doesn't understand. She sees success as a sign of good health. You do voluntary work and I believe that who you are is more important than what you are.

Be compassionate to yourself. You have done brilliantly and have reason to be proud of yourself. I do not in any way live the life I wanted. But if I'm well that's all that matters

Love Deb x

Re: Social Anxiety.... Advice please!

Posted: Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:41 pm
by andthistoomustpass
Hiya Em!

I dropped you a message but I wanted to reply to this post too :lol:

Social Anxiety is so, so, hard.

I can talk about how I've pushed myself over the years and how much I've benefited but it wouldn't be fair not to say how stressful and panic inducing it was to push past those barriers. You know I think you're EMazing and am convinced you would be fine but only you know how much strain you can put up with right now. It has to be your decision about what is best for you.

Whatever you decide, it isn't a judgement or label on you. It is just another small event in the chaotic and near infinite series of events we call life. You are worthwhile whether developing a career or working in a shop. Who you are is good enough, no conditions apply. :)

Re: Social Anxiety.... Advice please!

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 2:35 pm
by littleem
Hiya Deb,

Lovely to hear from you as always. :) Thank you for your message.

The course will cause me a great amount of stress and anxiety - which I do not need. There is a lot going on right now. I've just started therapy twice a week for overcoming anorexia and my therapist agrees that treatment and getting well should always come first.

I remember something you said to me before Deb, which really helped. It was 'there are things I can do and things I can't do'.

I am now doing things that last year didn't seem possible for me to do. I feel I want to build on what I am achieving now and work towards doing more of what feels achievable.

That's not to say that I won't ever be ready for this course. I can do it next year when I am both mentally and physically stronger.

Being mentally and physically stronger will actually enable me to have the guts, confidence, energy and general 'oomph' to challenge myself in unfamiliar social situations with new people I don't know.

All of the support will still remain available to me if and when I re-apply.

Ah, my mother just doesn't like seeing how my illnesses impact on the real me. She is so supportive and gets over-involved so when I stress or change mind or whatever, it has a negative knock on effect on her. It's a lack of understanding on her part and a lack of consideration on mine.

How are you doing, Deb? I'm pleased to hear that you're feeling well.

Love Em's x

Re: Social Anxiety.... Advice please!

Posted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 2:43 pm
by littleem
Hey attmp,

Thanks for your message.

I think it's really admirable how you've pushed yourself for the benefit of getting well. You have had great success and I am both proud of you and happy for you. :D That takes real courage and strength.

Thanks for your encouragement. I hope that I will be able to challenge my social anxiety in the ways that you have but as I am just starting my anorexia therapy, I think I probably don't need any other panic-inducing, scary and uncomfortable experiences! :lol: Getting those wheelbarrows full of cheeseburgers down my chops will give me enough to chew on for now, haha!

One step/Zimmer frame-slipper-shuffle at a time, hahaha!

Much love and admiration,

Em xxx

Re: Social Anxiety.... Advice please!

Posted: Sat Aug 18, 2018 8:44 am
by deb1960
Hi Em

I think I.can understand your mum's reaction. She can't get past her fears for you. When my daughter self harmed years ago I found it immensely hard to handle. Also she went through a few periods of being off work with depression. I was obsessed with the whole thing, catastrophing all the time. Because I understand depression I was inclined to encourage her to reduce her hours. Your mum wants to put the ill you away as you say.

Always be gentle with yourself. Someone with a heart condition shouldn't be planning to be an exercise coach until their heart is mended. Please love yourself for the beautiful person you are. I read a qoute which I will post in a wee while. It is in a very old religious book written in the 1800s when middle class religious people wanted to live a.good life. Prob post it this evening or i will miss bus

Unfortunately my mood dropped last weekend. The beginning of the week was awful. I'm trying to put a positive spin on my mood. That can help but right now I feel like a failure even though i know it's not true.

Take care
Deb x

Re: Social Anxiety.... Advice please!

Posted: Sun Aug 19, 2018 11:03 am
by littleem
Thanks Deb,

You always say such lovely things. I can tell you're a really kind person with a good heart.

Yes, she only wants me to be well. I would quite like to lock the ill me in a cupboard and throw away the key too!

I hope your daughter is feeling much better now and that she doesn't feel she has to cope by self harming.

The new course of therapy is really taking it out of me. I'm realising just how isolating and destructive anorexia is. But even though I can see that it is robbing me of a better chance in life, over coming it actually causes intense mental distress in order to get well. I feel trapped.

I'm focusing on the pots and start selling at a second venue in September. I am positive about this, even if I don't feel the positive emotions.

My mood has been on the floor, too. It's horrible, isn't it? Please be kind to yourself, Deb. You are not a failure. Keep reassuring yourself of this truth. A change of scenery and activity can help lift my mood a little. Something as simple as strolling along the beach or feeding the ducks with my mother or picking blackberries and making jam have helped me recently. I haven't fed the ducks or picked fruit since I was a child! Going out for coffee with family helps, too. The social and caffeine aspect, haha!

I am pleased to know you on this forum. Your genuine compassion is always evident and you have helped me a lot with your shared experiences, advice and encouragement. Thank you.

Ah, I run for every single bus I catch! I'm always almost-late for everything, haha!

Thinking of you. Take care,

Em x