While reading about therapy for anxiety I keep coming across fear hierarchy lists. Basically these are lists of things you avoid in order of terror and anxiety. You can even have separate ones for fear of being the centre of attention, fear of public speaking and fear of speaking to certain people like attractive ones. As the worlds shyest man I could probably do 57 lists, however I thought I will do one and combine them.
- First it has to be speaking in front of a large group of people, not surprising as it’s a big fear to even normal people. Speaking in front of the class at school was pure terror. If I was expected to do presentations at university its a good job I dropped out at college stage.
- The same but in a smaller group like your department having a meeting at work. I think I spoke once in six years but always felt way too awkward.
- Dating of any type whatsoever, actually even speaking to girls or women for the majority of my youth. Having never been on a date it’s not a hard choice. I have so many humiliating memories from work I still wake up in the middle of the night whimpering to myself Sex? WTF?
- Job interviews and applying for work. It’s similar to dating in that you have to sell yourself and have confidence but unlike dating if you dont get work or money you end up homeless or dead. If even I don’t like me and think I am shit then how do I sell myself to others?
- As mentioned in previous post, a party or social gathering. I once avoided my best friend from schools wedding but was not going to go alone and sit there with strangers.
- Speaking to authority figures. Not going to doctor or dentist for 20 years. I avoided my boss like he was a Jehovah’s Witness at the front door on Saturday morning.
- Eating or drinking alone in a café or canteen. My paranoia goes into overdrive. However I think most normal people don’t often eat alone, they don’t have to.
- Speaking to shop staff. I never do small talk with cashiers. Sometimes they talk to me and I do OK but most see I am strange and ignore me. Sometimes they speak first and then when I answer they look at me like I have shit on the floor which massively undermines my confidence. Yes, I know I have bad body language, a weak voice and inability to smile which makes me unapproachable although trying to force myself to smile or speak more clearly often goes badly.
- Oh peeing is a good one. I have to go in a cubicle as peeing next to other men showing off their thingies intimidates me and means I can’t relax and let it flow.
- Speaking to strangers on the street. I can ask for directions but still don’t like it. Safety behaviours mean not asking young people or attractive females. Old age pensioners are the norm as they are much more polite and nicer and I don’t fancy them.
- Not making eye contact or smiling with anyone even when out walking in the countryside. I wear dark glasses and peaked cap now its summer. Despite the advice most strangers don’t go around cities smiling at strangers or they end up getting punched. Overreaction or truth? Perhaps men my age are seen as weirdos whereas if I looked like a young Brad Pitt smiling at an attractive woman would be perfectly acceptable.
- Using the phone. I can use one but still put things off. I could procrastinate for a living.
Even the so called simple things on this list like making small talk with strangers are something I would not even contemplate doing tomorrow to cure my anxiety unless threatened with torture. Then i would still do it badly as speaking to strangers requires optimism and a pleasant voice. Therefore the therapy that makes you write out your fears and then expects you to do them just because a therapist tells you to is really a pretty shit idea for depressed people. God knows why this is successful unless only motivated people apply for CBT and the 9 out of 10 that never get help are the ones like me. However I have no motivation, am becoming increasingly depressed and angry with paranoia and pray for death so perhaps someone needs to come up with a cure for that first.