I still have no real concept of small talk, I hear other people do it and know it goes on but it’s like hearing them speak Swedish and wondering what they are really going on about. Sometimes even when people occasionally spoke to me first I answered them and they looked like I had said something insulting and then moved on. This happened many times but one that springs to mind was when I went to see the queen visit a few years ago. I was taking pictures when an attractive woman said something quite general about how she was just passing and did not know the queen was coming and although I thought I answered appropriately there was that awkwardness and then she walked off with that look of “he’s strange!”and I felt embarrassed. That’s a common theme (feeling like a complete twat when I spoke to strangers) and one that I know well although attractive women usually never spoke first to me.
Doing things that fail increases anxiety, negativity, avoidance and paranoia. I don’t know how to get that into the heads of the chosen ones. That is the ones who always want to make you feel guilty for never doing enough and apparently WORKING HARD like they had to. I did work HARD in the same job for 20 years but I kept acting anxious and getting treated like a weirdo. Perhaps they have never encountered being treated badly for having anxiety and in reality it is different for everyone. I don’t think its avoidance alone that maintains social anxiety; it’s doing stuff and failing massively again and again. This shatters your confidence. People in general treat you like shit or mock you for being very shy so you stop doing stuff. In order to succeed you have to have already got to a certain level of social competence in the first place otherwise you just stand or sit around looking awkward and then you become unpopular.
Of course it’s even worse if I am expected to make small talk and initiate the conversation myself. How on earth for instance do you go to a shop or supermarket and speak about the weather to staff without sounding like a sad weirdo who only speaks about the weather and then becomes an object of ridicule. You are supposed to this repeatedly to get over anxiety remember so do you get a list out of new conversation subjects every day and accost people on celebrity gossip when they are trapped in an elevator with you? If you sound nervous or awkward you come across as weird anyway and being self conscious you are totally aware of those little looks or smirks and being laughed at.
For instance as an older man is it really appropriate to make small talk to younger women and smile at them on the street as self help books advise or do you come across like you are trying to chat them up and a perv? The way they just advise you to make small talk about the news or any subject as if it’s irrelevant makes it seem to me that they are ignoring the reality. Your voice, your facial expressions, your body language are all highly relevant in how you come across. This idea that nearly everyone is nice and friendly and do not even notice your behaviour is absolute bullshit. Almost every time I blushed at work somebody mentioned it in a mocking way. It’s always noticed. If you are a blushing sweaty man nervously trying to talk about the weather of course they notice it and of course it’s embarrassing and you will get weird looks every time you go back to a shop. So you become even more avoidant and have to use an entirely different supermarket.
If its not OK to to demand someone who is depressed to be more cheerful why is it OK for someone with bad social anxiety to be told to be more sociable and friendly and when they cant that its all their own fault?
It’s these little things, they can pull you under
Live your life filled with joy and wonder
I always knew this altogether thunder
Was lost in our little lives
I think I need to concentrate on doing anything to ease my depression and stop thinking about social anxiety at all as every time I read blogs about depression they are much more in tune with the way I am feeling most of the time. That is chronically tired, hopeless, seeing no future and with intense irritability and rage with sprinklings of paranoia. Sounds more like a recipe! The recipe for creating a mad person maybe.
This is confusing as my depression has been caused by anxiety and some treatments say that the anxiety should therefore be treated first, while completely ignoring the fact that depression makes all pleasant social interactions almost impossible and that when you act miserable or shy most people think you mental and avoid you thus making your anxiety even worse. In fact reading about treatment for social anxiety has made me feel more hopeless than anything I have ever read about mental health in my life. Thats even ignoring how useless the NHS is.
While looking at so many blogs and self help sites for anxiety they almost totally ignore any other symptoms despite depression being so common and insist you just keep going out and doing stuff as the only way to get better. Do the hard work you coward! Some people even seen staggered that you are not highly motivated and enthusiastic when in reality I dont have any urge to speak at all most days and want to hide in a cupboard under the stairs. Accusations of being a coward only increase guilt and suicidal feelings which makes me think that many people who are supposedly experts have no idea of what they are really talking about. They also dont have a clue what getting older while never coming close to even having a relationship does to your confidence, self esteem and negativity in a society that treats such men with contempt.
This is a video I found on youtube last night. The NHS is currently getting worse by the minute it seems under weight of pressure. More people every year use it while the funding goes down. Its hardly surprising then that mental health treatment in the UK is especially feeling the effects. The fight to even get help is especially hard as this video shows. Unfortunately this girl’s treatment isn’t unusual as post after post on the anxiety and depression forums sadly shows. You may get lucky as she says and get a great therapist after a not too long delay but in the crowded cites that is unlikely. Even getting a doctor who is understanding and willing to give you therapy or any kind of treatment can be difficult. Some just hand you a leaflet that could be printed off yourself from a website on things to do to to reduce anxiety or depression. Then there is a 6 to 18 month wait for therapy and then even after this your therapist may be a complete asshole and its back to square one.
My own friend who had therapy many years ago had a particularly bad therapist who would have been more at home in a secret sinister government facility and seemed to actually enjoy upsetting her. Although there is nothing to lose it makes it particularly hard to ask for help especially as many people dont feel a mental health problem to be as important. To have to go down the route of fighting every step of the way as this girl has done to even get to see anyone would be too much for many people who already have little motivation and could be a good deal older. Even worse is that treatment for CBT has in some areas been cut and they now only offer 6 X 30 minute sessions instead of 12 sessions of one hour. Although results still looked promising as the participants claimed they had improved when they again tested after 1 year they found that over 50% had relapsed to the same level of anxiety and depression as that before therapy even started. Its unlikely to get any better in the next decade.
I think an appreciation of nature can be of great benefit for mental health issues. Some of my most peaceful times have been when wondering in the countryside. Thats why becoming so much more avoidant in recent years has probably effected my moods and resulted in a downward spiral. This is another of my most favourite trees. Although its old its not particularly large but has the benefit of the sun setting in winter right behind it for better photos. As soon as the autumn returns will try and go out more. the summer is not especially great for walking as its too hot and there are too many people around.
The thing is I know my misery and depression annoy or repel people. I also have paranoia increasing again (and as I type this my left eye starts twitching uncontrollably!) In fact I felt very edgy going for my daily walk again yesterday and thought someone was smirking at me the day before. Rather than totally irrational this stems from me walking funny due to a bad hip and even getting punched in the face for it once by a local yobbo. I also have deep irritability and an inside raging anger. Even little things irritate me like this shit computer which takes 30 seconds to do anything once you press a button(well it is still windows XP!) So I dislike myself a lot of the time. I have also read these emotions are common for people with anxiety/depression.
And yet……….. the advice, the constant advice it seems is to learn to love yourself (how? drugs?) and then go to any and every social occasion. BUT if I am miserable and irritable even ignoring my chronic social anxiety I will almost certainly be repelled and disliked and avoided which will make me MORE paranoid, MORE depressed, MORE avoidant.
This is just so incredibly obvious and also logical that it appears to me that the people offering the advice are either liars or delusional, perhaps both.The common theme is to get angry with you as if its your fault for behaving this way and totally ignore the depression or anxiety in any way whatsoever.They demand positivity to socialise, they demand positivity if you start therapy without ever telling you how to get it in the first place.
Thats why so many people dont talk about mental health and hide it as they get attacked and blamed for it when they do. There is so much pressure to be positive that nobody dares speak for fear of being attacked and blamed. Its probably why so many blogs are from people who are already in the positive mindset or have recovered. For those still drowning in the depths of depression and anxiety the help is basically telling them its all their own fault for not swimming hard enough.
So I perfectly understand the concept of catastrophizing and all or nothing thinking which the therapists talk about. Basically its always thinking the worst which almost never happens. Except sometimes it does. For instance I thought even at school that I would never marry or have a relationship and I still haven’t and I’m over 45 although obviously my sexual problems made this way more complicated. I thought I would never find a job again after being made redundant and that was over 12 years ago. In fact it was a nightmare even finding jobs to apply for and I got turned down from all of them.
I have joint pain and a bad hip and after seeing the doctors several times they basically offered me no help whatsoever and I had to change departments at work so I already have exceptionally bad experiences from the medical profession even for a physical condition which showed up on the X ray. I now think I will end up homeless and as I am not entitled to any benefits that is a very good chance of this really happening and I still aim to kill myself before that occurs and many days even now I struggle to not self harm and almost yearn for all this to end as I see no way out. Yet people cant understand negativity or depression. Like I have said before life is nothing more than survival of the fittest and the results of evolution.