In the dark of the sun
Will you save me a place
Give me hope, Give me comfort
Get me to a better place
In The Dark Of The Sun, Tom Petty
From: About Social Anxiety
“Does it ever strike you as odd that social anxiety disorder (or SAD, as I will refer to it sometimes on this blog) is among the top three most common mental health conditions (yes, up there with depression and alcoholism), there are science-backed treatments for it that we know work, and yet around a third of people with social anxiety experience symptoms for 10 years or more before seeking help. 10 years? Surely you can do better than that.”
Arlin Cuncic- Author of the self-help books Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder and 7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety
First things first Arlin, 10 YEARS! If only! I have had anxiety for over 30 years now without ever seeing a GP. My mum did though and the help was poor, my sister did and the help was poor and my best friend did and the help was poor, often awful. British NHS, I know.Its failing to pieces. If only we could all afford to go private. Perhaps therapists should not charge £40-120 an hour then when normal working class people here are on less than £10 an hour. Although I actually read somewhere else that 9 out of 10 people never seek help for social anxiety and most that do only go because of their depression getting worse. In fact that’s the reason I was thinking of going BUT…..
……………….. whenever I actually look at help for Social anxiety online all therapy basically says is do lots of social exposure stuff on your own and demands you just keep doing it until you get better. Humiliating stuff, embarrassing stuff. Stuff you have avoided your whole life and now you have added depression, paranoia and probably other issues like anger too. Its hardly surprising life long avoidants are not lining up to be non avoidant and face all their worst fears just because a therapist tells them to. Doing lots of humiliating stuff on my own isn’t exactly my idea of help. if just me doing everything on my own as I always have and that never before worked did it? Even the so called easiest tasks like smiling at strangers on the street or making small talk with cashiers makes me cringe with the near certainty of being humiliated yet again.
Being told that doing this is the only way to get better and that you are basically a coward for not trying only makes me think actually there is no real help at all. Therefore its not effective therapy is you cant even convince someone to try it without having to guilt trip or shame them. It looks like it only works for people who are already highly motivated enough to start with and willing to do anything. I mean who the F**k would would walk backwards slowly or lay down on the street unless they were brain washed, mentally insane or hypnotised?
Thinking about your problems can make you even more stressed so I think its good to completely zone out and do other things for a while rather than obsess about mental health. or is doing other things merely avoidance? For instance every time I look at self help for anxiety and depression it makes me much more depressed and more anxious! Yes sometimes avoidance is good, isn’t that what most relaxation techniques really are? So walking in nature is one escape and so is photography, even indoors. On Friday I spent some time just trying to get pictures of the numerous apples which have fallen off the tree I planted over 20 years ago in the back garden.
Macro photography is harder than it looks. You need a good clear background, preferably dark. You then need to have the right lens so you can get close enough and since it only focuses on one spot of the subject you need to take several photos and merge them together. I dont have a macro lens so this is the best I could get and you can see that its already beginning to lose focus and detail as I get closer. Pro photographers often take hundreds of shots in every possible setting and use only the best or merge them together with software.
I also went back over the thousands of pictures I have taken over the last 12 years or so. Sometimes they make me feel happy and bring back good memories and other times I feel sad as they remind me of the turmoil of the time or that I may not go back to many of these places again. This stag from two years ago was completely ruined before as there were other deer in the background but using software I have managed to remove most traces of them if you dont look too close.
In other news I previous mentioned my dizzy spells which had completely gone for the last few weeks. This morning I actually felt dizzy again and passed out when I got up to go to the toilet and hurt my arm. I still wonder if its something to do with my allergy tablets which I have to take almost daily. A normal person would probably go to the doctors but I am I normal? The ForK I am.
You see the guilt tripping advice of “DO ANYTHING!”ITS ALL YOUR OWN FAULT FOR BEING SO AVOIDANT!”etc! often makes me feel like i should go on a local photography meetup group.(or kill myself, its a close call) However, most of their meets are miles away as they all drive. I dont and I would not feel comfortable car sharing for hours with people I did not know.
Rather than maladaptive and negative thinking its more like the truth.Thats because I dont do much better than expected, I usually do worse. Experience has taught me this. Its also taught me that I dont get on with people when acting shy, they dislike me and think I am weird, rude or boring! This is the real world therapists!
Secondly and its back to small talk. especially stuck in a car with strangers for hours. First my voice is often so weak nobody can hear me which puts me off speaking entirely. I have had this problems since I was at school. Its never gone. Then all meets are at the weekend as they mostly all work. I dont and have not for many years. I feel ashamed and embarrassed because society deliberately makes unemployed people feel this way. If they ask me every week if I have got a job yet I would never go back.
Apart from work other people talk about families, I dont have one. Their friends, I do have one but I only see her 4-5 times a year. What they do and where they go. I barely leave the house any-more apart from shopping a weekly walk in my local area. When you are isolated and a freak you are so far out of the norm of society its hard to connect again. Did I say again? I meant ever.
And then of course I am expected to be friendly, pleasant and sociable when as mentioned MANY times I feel utter despair and often wake up crying or wishing i would die in my sleep. No such luck. I am as miserable as f**K (look at all these negative posts! Oh how dare I do a blog that’s not positive!) even when ignoring my anxiety problems like being nervous and awkward. Age also matters. I am not going to any meet where people are much younger than me as it makes it even more awkward. People’s sex matters too as I was always worse with attractive women although I doubt there would be many women at a photography meet and I am so much older now that I find hardly anyone my age attractive any more.
Its just so ridiculous and hypocritical isn’t it? if you are social anxious people will continually ridicule you for being too negative and miserable and avoidant. However if you are depressed then people expect you to be negative, miserable and avoidant yet 1 in 3 people with long term anxiety also have depression and yet its never taken into account on any self help sites for social anxiety. The idea is you just get out more and then become Mr Happy! Do you just force yourself to not be depressed like you are supposed to just force yourself to not be shy?
I forced myself to go on another walk yesterday afternoon as the sun came out and it was a fine autumn day. I did not feel so good this time as I got quite agitated and started talking to myself again. Is a lot of mental thought just a bad habit? Is self talk and criticism inevitable if you see no way out or future and all therapy a pile of delusional shit? You see I have been going on similar walks for over 10 years and despite the vast majority of time nothing bad happens I never habituate or get used to going the same places and I never relax and I seldom if ever enjoy. In fact all my most memorable walks appear to be when there were no people around. Perhaps I am allergic to them.
Is depression even curable if the reason due to real problems like severe anxiety and the prospect of being homeless or dead? The future gone and a family life now impossible despite almost all therapy and self help books seeming to believe that everyone reading them is 23 and you still have the rest of your life ahead of you.
Can social anxiety even be cured if depression has taken such effect that you are now unmotivated and so far down the hole that only a miracle can save you? if I go to a meet wont they think me a miserable so and so and quiet and boring and hard work like so many before them and then not want to see me again making me even more close to the edge? How can you demand people go to every social event and then assume they will be friendly and sociable when they in reality depressed and socially inept? Where does pleasant conversation come from when you have no job, no family and spend most days at home thinking of the end? Do I just drink alcohol before meeting new people and hope for the best? Why is advice for socially anxiety absolutely shit?
Even looking back at some of my old posts I see the people who used to comment regularly all left and never returned because they were sick of my negativity. Thats the reality of being depressed. Other people cant handle it and demand you are happy to please them. Some actually had the nerve to get angry with me because they couldn’t bully positivity into me. “I cant believe this depressed life long virgin and totally isolated, been unemployed for years, hasn’t changed years of negativity overnight because of a few comments I sent him on WordPress! Some people are SO ungrateful! He should go out and speak to strangers. That’ll cure him!”
This is not really happening, not happening at all.
You bet your life it is.
Its hardly a coincidence that many people with stable lives and positive mindsets had stable and good upbringings and that so many people who are screwed up had bad upbringings. A good proportion of our prison systems and homeless populations have mentally ill people in them. So how much of what we have become and our lives is a choice and within our own grasp and how much is beyond our control? We like to believe that it all is as that gives us control. I am not so sure any-more. My grandmother had problems and so did my mother and most of my uncles and aunties on that side of the family. My own brother and sister have anxiety and so do some of our cousins.
Some people will say that this is just an excuse to pass the blame and evade personal responsibility. However my anxiety, depression and negativity is a mirror image of my mothers so this was all passed on through either genetics or learned behaviour probably both. A fear of impending doom and thinking the worst has been there since childhood and has never left. Having a happy stable upbringing would have almost certainly resulted in a different personality and greater chance of success and contentment.
So you are put here with these problems and if you cant solve them and become successful yourself then you are blamed as if its entirely your own fault when most people who succeed never had to go though them in the first place. Of course I am the only one who can now do anything about this but I did not know about SA until I was in my thirties,most things did not work and there is not much help available on the NHS anyway so people demanding you get help and that will definitely cure you are completely deluded.
Even going to the supermarket makes me feel jumpy now. Today the cashier actually said something and laughed. I had no idea what she was on about and no witty banter appeared in my head so I just so Oh and tried to smile. I probably looked a twat. You see just demanding you say witty banter at strangers does snot work if you are a feeling bad, that is why so much advice for social anxiety is absolute shit and does not work as if you are a nervous and on edge to begin with then all normal conversation goes out of the window even if someone speaks to me first. Forcing yourself to speak and when nervous or anxious nearly always results in failure and greater anxiety.
Escape is on your mind again
Escape to a far away land
At times it seems there is no end
To long hard nights of drinking
How Will You Go? Crowded House
I think the overwhelming sadness is one of the harder things to cope with. Its always been there since I was a little boy. The not fitting in or feeling normal, the family always being a bit strange and the underlying tension, the complete lack of security as if always standing on a cliff edge and feeling like at any time I would be pushed over. This started at school which I absolutely hated and never really stopped.
Then people say its your fault for not trying hard enough, heaping yet more guilt on a mind racked with self doubt for decades when of course most people dont even have to try that hard because these things are supposed to be normal and available to everyone. You didn’t ask to be this way but if you dont do everything they say to be normal its still all your own fault.
Sometimes I want to lie down and cry and yet no one else must know as they dont really understand and most dont care anyway. Self pity is reviled from society especially from people who think its all your own fault as you did not work as hard as them. In fact people who have supposedly recovered are often the most critical of all as they were hard on themselves to succeed and so think that gives them the right to be just as hard on you too. It doesn’t, they’re simply selfish ass-holes. All the hopes and dreams you had for yourself are pretty much gone forever now. You mourn for what you could/should of had, that love you always wanted, the family life and children that would have been yours but for a minor alteration in the wiring of your brain. All those fantasies and hopes you you waited your whole life for did not happen, they stayed just fantasies.
I dont much care now if its all over. I keep finding myself saying I want to go quite often as its all becoming tiresome and boring. I dont see much hope for the future and absolutely no self help site, book or person has shown me any whatsoever. In fact for many people optimism seems to be no more than a delusional fantasy based on making things up that they like the sound of. The more I look for hope the more depressed I become as quite simply if you’re mental,weird or different its hard to fit in to normal society as they dont want you. If there is some kind of afterlife or not who cares. Existence in misery is no kind of life at all. The hope of youth, that it would all change and come good one day like the end of a story has vanished long ago. The only thing I have learnt from life is the unfairness and random nature of it. Some of the worst of mankind have everything while so many good people have nothing.