I went out for a long walk yesterday. I sat down on a bench near the end of the day in the country park as I waited for the bus. I see some people look at me and immediately become self conscious. Not once but two or three times in 5 minutes.In the morning when I was taking pictures of an old tree I saw a young couple laughing as they went by. He said something and she looked back at me smiling as if he had just called me a c**t. Is that paranoid behaviour? To imagine people are laughing at me, mocking ? Its happened a million times before though. I have been out on walks now for over 10 years. Have I gotten used to them? No. Have they made me feel better and more confident? No. I still feel a lone man walking and taking pictures is a target for abuse. I think even lots of normal people love taking the piss out of others if they act in any way different. I bet 90% of these people think they are tolerant and accepting of all other people too. Everyone lies.Its human nature.
I keep reading CBT that starts with telling people to go to a coffee shop every week on their own. They assume that not getting attacked will prove its all delusional thinking and that we will then get better. Its never happened to me. Because I would be awkward, nervous and strange people would look at me. This would make me more nervous and act even weirder. I imagine the staff laughing at me as I go in each week and calling other staff so they could also come and laugh at me. That’s because its often chronic anxiety, not minor shyness.I have even got laughed at by strangers and on one memorable occasion punched in the face for walking in a strange manner so its obviously not all in my head. Now I imagine myself walking like John Cleese or a sasquatch so I am more avoidant so obviously exposure therapy only works if you are normal and dont have any major problems to begin with.Thats why they say do it on small steps but to me going to a coffee shop alone is like being dropped in the Atlantic ocean and told sink or swim. I’m depressed, anxious and alone. There is no way out I can see short of divine intervention. People tell you to sort your life out. I wish I knew how.