I had a good time with a forum friend for a week before Christmas. I am due to see her again in January. After that it becomes harder. There is no worse time of the year for me than post christmas and into Spring. Despite being mostly alone I still like many Christmas things and find the atmosphere special. The time running up til Christmas usually goes quite fast. However after New Year there is this never ending slow boring drag into spring with every day a monotonous depressing dark existence.
Almost all advice centres around meeting and being around people and yet of course ignore the fact that as someone suffering severe anxiety that being around strangers is usually cringe makingly awkward and then the other people think I am being unfriendly/ rude and hate and ignore me making the situation impossible and I go home and want to die. A good proportion of people are not particularly nice either so would make me feel worse. I also hate the questions you get from strangers and that look when they realise that you are not exactly normal. You live alone? You dont have a partner/girlfriend? You dont have any friends? You never go out? You haven’t got a job? etc?
Some eccentric people cope with this by being jolly,extrovert and joking all the time making them fun to be around. Of course I am very depressed, quiet and often become quite agitated under stress so that doesn’t work. Some people think you must be gay to be alone at this age but of course this is becoming totally acceptable in the modern word so can no longer be used as an insult so that confuses them especially if they are ignorant. You really do start to see why much of the advice falls apart under scrutiny. It demands total compliance and then blames you for not trying hard enough when things dont work. The most important aspect of much of this advice that I still dont understand is how do they make you feel motivated and enthusiastic when you feel totally exhausted and longing for death?
But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for
I remember being young and doing things and blushing and stuttering and feeling like a fool so I stopped doing things. Yes, thats basically why people become avoidant and are still SA into their forties. I remember teachers picking on me to read aloud in class to apparently encourage me and help me as I was shy. So I blushed and stuttered and the other kids took the piss out of me so I became worse and even shyer and even more avoidant. This came back to me yesterday while looking for some stuff and I came across my old school report. “Must try to take part in class discussions, must seek help, must try to do more!” Well I was so shy as to be mentally ill you ignorant f**ks and nothing you teachers did helped me in any way.Don’t the morans who embrace any exposure realise this? Are they actually insane or just ignorant? To induce recovery from SA I would have had to talk well without blushing and stuttering, the other kids not to ridicule me and then me feel good and happy to do it again, not go to bed at night wishing to die instead. They may well feel comfortable to ridicule me now years later but as a confused and often desperate teenager quite frankly bollocks.Exposure to constant ridicule resulted in worse avoidance and worse SA, not recovery.
I think I also have much intense anger and aggression in me stemming all the way back to school days. As I had so few friends and felt disliked and almost hated by many other kids this builds a natural wall or barrier and you start to feel as if you are fighting against the system and against everyone. Obvious examples of this are the shootings in america where almost every kid who did it were weird loners who felt hated by everyone. Although I have no desire at my age to go back and kill anyone there are still several people I wish to go back and punch in the face. This applies to many people I worked with also. No one had the right to hate me for just being quiet.
And the tears roll down my swollen cheek – think I’m losing it – getting weaker
We will walk – on the land
We will breathe – of the air
We will drink – from the stream
WE WILL LIVE – hold the line
San Jacinto – Peter Gabriel
I remember my mother once saying she cleaned all her underwear ready for her death when they came to collect her body as she did not want to look dirty. This was not in old age but in her 30’s while having one of her spells of anxiety attacks. She lived for over 40 more years but it shows how some people think when in gets into this frame of mind. I know understand it totally as this is the way I have started to think. I feel like I am at the end of my life and death is just a whisper away. People and even so called experts will try to tell you that it is paranoia or a huge overreaction due to not thinking properly. For me it seems like a sensible choice. Rather than being the cowardly way out its only because I am so scared of death that I have not done it already. I don’t have a normal life at all. Forget being a 47 year old virgin with virtually no contact with the outside world. Forget being long term unemployed after my redundancy and a day to day drudgery which makes me depressed the moment I wake up. You see I now expect to be a homeless person and quite frankly I’d much rather be dead.
Getting a job which I can do with not only my mental health problems but also after my history is looking so hard as to be almost impossible. Getting any worthwhile help from the NHS which is not only on the verge of collapse but run by a tough love style Conservative government who want to not only stop all benefits but also treat mentally ill people in the same way as work-shy benefit scroungers. All these things are not only insurmountably hard but require a go getting positive attitude and personality where I feel exhausted, spent and quite frankly hopeless. I think lots of people who commit suicide are not mad at all. They have probably come to the same conclusion as me that a future of almost daily stress, unhappiness and struggle is worse than non existence. Life is not a gift at all if all pleasure has been removed, if the chance of happiness is smaller than winning the lottery.
There is nothing worse when feeling very low then using a support forum and seeing other people replying to each other while ignoring almost any comment you make. You then try to reply to others to be more emphatic and often still get ignored. Of course if its a social anxiety forum the people there are probably more likely to ignore you and not reply than any other type of support forum. Thats why it often doesn’t help for those with the worst anxiety and often makes you feel even more lonely and more depressed. The popular people on such forums are always the ones who appear the most normal and show the least amount of anxiety (online anyway).
Exposure to such forums does not teach you how to behave or makes you better but makes you want to give up. This happens in real life too of course in that if you keep acting anxious, keep making a fool of yourself in public situations your anxiety gets worse and not better and you hide away.
Why is it that the social anxiety forums are so youth orientated? It now feels like I am entering a student forum and I almost feel embarrassed mentioning my age. It’s the same on blogs or facebook groups with social anxiety being almost always spoken to as if from the point of view of a teenager or someone in their twenties. Yet there are many people aged 40+ with serious anxiety problems who occasionally comment on the forums. They don’t often stay around long or post much though. Perhaps they also feel like they don’t fit in. Although many people claim age has no relevance its clear from past experiences that most people relate best to people their own age and also ignore you once they realise that you are over 40. Some even seem shocked as if they just assume that no one at all uses the internet at all past 40.
Is this age obsession more to do with cultural rather than any scientific reasons I wonder. Is it something to do with shame and guilt? The notion that we are supposed to simply grow out of shyness by a certain age and that it is only acceptable behaviour for children or young women. If we dont grow out of it by adulthood it’s our own fault and we should be ashamed? Perhaps it’s also the assumption that shyness and social anxiety are exactly the same when one is considerably worse than the other.Despite ideas about gender differences being very unpopular and the obsession with equality I also think that shy men are much more unacceptable in our society than females. Perhaps due to past cultural behavior whereas men were expected to be brave, confident and more assertive. You read about blushing young women all the time in literature but almost never young men.
If you look at depression it’s far more widespread between ages. There are loads of depressed people over 40 and even into old age who suffer serious depression. It has also been seen historically and rather ignorantly as a sign of weakness but now it’s seen as a major illness that can affect almost anyone and of any age. Perhaps because of more public awareness it’s not got quite the stigma it once did. That cannot be said for social anxiety however which is still virtually unknown by the general public and still seen as simply shyness which you will grow out of. I imagine there must be loads of older people who although not as shy as they once were they are still racked with other forms of general anxiety and stress. However they just learn to cope and plod on. From some of the comments on the anxiety forums even many doctors still do not take it seriously or just assume its depression.