Reflections

I got on the train quickly just thankful to get a seat. First my bus to the station was 10 minutes late meaning I had missed my train by about 1 minute. Then after 1 hour of loitering around the station with heavy luggage looking for working toilets my next train was 15 minutes late increasing my anxiety and annoyance even further. Why on earth are UK trains so unpunctual, expensive and generally crappy? You would never believe they the railways were invented here!

I sat at a table seat as it was the first one I found unreserved and had to take the aisle as someone was sitting on the opposite side against the window.  I was facing the wrong way as all the seats in front were facing me so I had to avoid eye contact for the hour journey home. Even worse four of them were young women; probably students form some local university. Of course that makes me even more uncomfortable as I feel like a dirty perv if I so much as even look in their general direction.

However on the next table there was another man similar age to me. Unlike me he was very talkative and immediately started chatting to a young woman opposite him like she was a friend. He even asked her to help him with some computer problem and got his laptop out to show her.  Rather than be uncomfortable herself the girl was polite, friendly and keen to help him or that was the way it seemed. Oh to have the confidence of someone like him. To just be able to talk to complete strangers and put them at ease.  Although I know its negative I just know that if I tried talking to a stranger like that as some CBT therapy wants you to do I would get a stroppy, aggressive and nasty girl who would probably tell me to F**k off. It’s easy to be this negative when so little positive has happened in the past. In fact it’s not just easy, it’s normal and natural.

I survived the holiday which I mentioned in my previous post and I’ll probably post more about that later. However my biggest disappointment was that when I often forced myself to try and make chat it was harder than expected. It was not because of the other people who were good and nice or even not knowing what to talk about. It was my voice. It brought back the memories of my youth and the problems that I had. My voice became weak, I struggled to be heard. It’s more than that though, it’s as if my jaw aches and I physically struggle to make conversation for long and it really knocks my confidence which makes me more avoidant.  Even my head hurts.  It must be because of anxiety as it is not a problem with people I know although I have always struggled to be heard when there is any other background noise. I would sometimes love to have the deep voice of a famous actor. Carson from Downton Abbey has just come on the TV. He has a great voice. Little things like this all add up.

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Author: klodo

I am male,English and have had social anxiety since I started school at 5 years of age. I like photography, walking, wildlife, history and moaning.........CONSTANTLY! Oh you must stop being so negative! Shut up!

7 thoughts on “Reflections”

  1. Hi, I went through many of your posts and felt really connected to your struggles. As a fellow sufferer of social anxiety(I’ve had it all my life as well), I hope that I can offer some information that may be comforting. I am currently seeing a psychologist who has systematically helped to greatly improve my social anxiety by providing many books/resources/recovery plans. After having a few unhelpful therapists, this is very refreshing. He himself has ADHD, Aspergers, crippling social anxiety and sought professional help in his 40s. Perhaps this is why he is the best therapist that I ever had – Simply because he understands and used many of his own trial and errors and training to help his patients. He is now 80 and living a very healthy and fulfilling life.

    From what I understand from your posts and from my own personal experiences, I noticed something that I personally think could be difference between severe and moderate anxiety- Avoidance.

    [Please don’t view me as a condescending guy that doesn’t understand severe social anxiety, because I’ve been ostracized, bullied, laughed at and hated on because of my weirdness around people for years, having lunches in secluded spots in school/at work etc, so I’m definitely not mildly shy. I’ve been trying all kinds of techniques and resources in order to get better(In my desperation)]

    Maybe CBT is especially difficult because the avoidance period has been too long, and your tolerance level has dropped. (I recalled reading your comment about getting to like your job after the initial phase of intense anxiety) Of course, depression is definitely an issue as well, but on a good day, is there any way that you can slowly incorporate small exposure steps into your daily routine? Talking to strangers is certainly too big a step, but what about seeing how long you can endure being outdoors etc?

    Also, if self-help and CBT are not working, how about mindfulness?

    1. Hi PoT,
      Thanks for taking the trouble to make such a long and thoughtful reply. I do go outside almost every day. In fact I used to go on three 3-5 hour walks a week and 1 hour walks every other day for several years on and off. I even went out today to a local festival. The trouble is that I still hate being in crowds of people or near people and as I live in a city its hard to find peace. You are right about how I had improved considerably at work. Its just so cruel that after all that time I had finally started to almost enjoy working with no fear when they made me redundant and I fell to pieces.I think the near isolation of the last few years and also looking after my dying mother for a long time was quite bad for my mental health. I am lucky I still have a friend who I visit several times a year.Its not just exposure for me though, its trying to find a positive attitude when I feel hopeless so often. You are always hopeful that things will change when you are younger then suddenly you realise that you are much older and that its not.I am not sure what mindfulness is so will look it up.

  2. Also another point, my anxiety is a lot easier to handle once I understand human behaviour better. For example, if someone laughed at me at work, I make it a point to be extra friendly and kind towards them. It usually overwrite their initial opinions of me. Of course, I will be sweating like a pig during those interactions and wondering if they’re thinking that I’m fake, weird, creepy etc..But I learned through experience that by smiling a lot and pretending to be all earnest, they will usually react positively back.(I usually have tensed facial muscles and stomach cramps when I get home, but it’s necessary to get through the initial stages) I’m an imposter at first, but I get to know them in time and form a few friendships.

    Another thing I learned is, if I have to make conversations, it is ok to be awkward and say unchrismatic, awkward things as long as you make it known that you came with good intentions. For example, when my mind is in a blank state, I would ask things like, “What is your hobby?”. It sounds lame and pathetic and some of the people DO feel awkward when asked an awkward question, but they will usually be kind and answer sincerely.

  3. Here’s a video on mindfulness. There has been many research and studies showing its effectiveness. I’m starting an 8 week class this Friday, if you are interested, I can keep you updated!

  4. Thanks PoT, I cant see a video though. Is it on Youtube? I have just looked at a couple and it seems to be some form of meditation so I will look at some more later.

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