Social Anxiety AND Depression is WORSE!

I saw a sparrowhawk out of my bedroom window this morning. It made me feel better for a while. I will try and force myself out to some kind of festival in town later. To be honest being alone in the midst of many strangers often makes me feel worse but its better than staying at home.

I know I have spoken about this before but it still makes me FURIOUS! I still cant quite comprehend the advice and treatment plan which accompanies anxiety WITH depression despite them being so common together. This is quite often even from people who suffered from anxiety themselves. Despite some ignorance in the general population I think lots of people now can at least grasp some concept of depression and the hopelessness that entails, of becoming isolated and not wanting to get out of bed, of wanting it all to end in any way possible. People are encouraged to try to take exercise, do things they used to enjoy and try to integrate back into life again.

Yet when you accompany depression with social anxiety its a little different. As the anxiety is often the root cause of depression they think this has to be cured first.  SO they tell you to go out, to talk to strangers to socialise to improve your anxiety. “DO ANYTHING!” All CBT for social anxiety revolves around exposure which is to simply force yourself into a variety of ever more difficult social situations and to do this they demand you smile, make witty banter, approach and talk to everyone. WHICH is absolutely impossible when feeling depressed. If you try you come across as a miserable bastard and fail which makes you feel even worse! My depression is also accompanied by intense irritability, rage and paranoia. When things go bad I become very upset and either want to get drunk and self harm or attack. So I can’t just learn by my mistakes and carry on regardless. A therapist just telling me to just think differently once a week after all these years will not work.

Because of the depression even leaving the house has become hard. As you may well already have a suicide plan in the back of your mind as you are already at the hopeless stage then there is absolutely no motivation.  There are other problems like trying to find work after long term unemployment when you know full well if you were 100% normal tomorrow it would still be an enormous struggle to get anyone to employ you after many years of doing nothing in a world that treats such people as simply lazy or wasters. I have no children or partner to motivate me to stay on and I am too old to have a family life now anyway so I have no rosy future but more like a desperate struggle for survival into old age.

To make things more complicated therapy for depression alone may not work as it cant re-engage me with a more productive life as I never went anywhere or did anything before I had depression due to my social anxiety.  I never had friends or family or socialised for years before depression hit. Many people cant grasp all these factors and then just get angry at you, say you are just making excuses and that some people just cant be helped. Maybe I cant and there is no way out now so demanding that there is lots of help available and that your condition is highly treatable is a complete lie. Giving me false hope has angered me even more.

They also say you will think differently when you start therapy and yet the anxiety forums are full of people saying that CBT was absolutely useless and their therapist was not a nice or sympathetic person but abusive or a bully.

Weird and creepy- Join the club

I think shy men are often seen as weird and creepy. In fact even on the UK social anxiety forum a female once said she was put off going to a meet in case she was approached by weird and creepy men. It’s a shyness forum FFS! Half the men on there are afraid of coming across as weird and creepy! You see in the real world again, a very shy man will probably die a virgin  unless he makes the first move so he has to approach women even  if he comes across as creepy. Most women never ask men out or even chat men up. From my experience of 20 years of work they don’t usually even speak first even when working in the same office and then slag him off for being strange. This is almost certainly evolution at work as males and females behave quite differently in virtually every species of animal on earth. Yet once again on all the books and advice on social anxiety it’s barely ever mentioned that there is any kind of difference whatsoever. Well perhaps they don’t want to come across as sexist. However evolution does not give a F**k for human values and has always been very sexist.

So for the majority of men the only way to get a relationship is to make the first move. This means finding and then approaching and making witty conversation to gain a woman’s trust in order that she might like you and agree to go out if she is straight and single. But then you act shy. Oops, you immediately appear weird and creepy!  I used to blush so intensely I could feel my whole face go red, sweat would pour down my forehead and even making coherent sentences would be very difficult and random nonsensical words would appear to embarrass me further. So of course I become avoidant. To go through that and keep doing it I think you would have to be clinically insane or have no self consciousness in the first place.  Yet much of the advice for such men is just keep doing it which is shit advice as something this traumatic actually makes you get much worse.  And because there is no prolonged exposure you don’t get to the habituation stage or recovery. Yet often the advice you see is still the tough love approach to shyness and that you just need a good push or kick up the backside to force you into situations and you are bound to get better. It’s obvious that people have vastly different levels of anxiety and completely different triggers so assuming there is a one size fist all approach is completely wrong.

 

You are constantly told and even encouraged to smile at and talk to every single attractive woman you see as that’s the only way to get a relationship and perfectly normal behaviour and at the same time if you act very shy and nervous you will be labelled weird and creepy and often ridiculed. I am starting to think that there is actually still a lot and ignorance in therapy and treatment and the people who think themselves geniuses are anything but. They have absolutely no idea of the levels of humiliation created by such things and what you will contemplate doing to escape them, even death.  Then their excuse is that because you did not try they can always say it’s your fault for being a coward or not willing to take chances and face your fears and yet if the therapy is so difficult that it can’t even persuade you to start and that 1 in 4 drop out of social anxiety CBT then it’s hardly fool proof. In fact after reading that two years later the majority of people taking CBT were no better than before they started it makes you wonder how much these experts know at all.

A million to one he said

I actually got to the stage where I was about to visit my GP for the first time ever about my anxiety. This  apparently often happens  because of something else which in my case is depression which has meant that I have become so avoidant I am only leaving the house to shop at Tesco and have given up doing everything else. However I made the mistake of looking online at all the types of treatment available.  Sounds reasonable? However realistically many GP’s dont even offer therapy for older people with anxiety and depression and just hand you a leaflet. Great, that will cure me!  Then there is about a year, yes one year sometimes even 18 months to wait to get therapy on the NHS. And finally……….. I have read the UK anxiety forum and lots and lots of people who took therapy for social anxiety said their therapist was a complete moron and it actually made them worse or no different at best. Yes, there is loads of help for social anxiety! Online advice anyway, in real life its almost non existent.

Getting help for anxiety or depression in the UK reminds me of the Drake’s equation for the chances of finding intelligent life on another planet. Several million to one or more.There are just so many factors to be taken into account before anything gets done. The next problem is that I have read countless CBT manuals for anxiety online and self help books and they all pretty much say go out and EXPOSE yourself!  No not in a naked kind of way but expose yourself to fear inducing social situations so you get used to them and get better. Then do more harder ones for ever and ever and ever!

I cant even think of easy ones I feel I could try to start of with.

The Cure for Social Anxiety?

I have downloaded absolutely loads of stuff on shyness and social anxiety the last month and some of it consisted of entire manuals of 700+ pages.  The thing is and its quite hard for me to say so but, but THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO CURE WHATSOEVER!

All of the manuals and self help sites say only one thing. Go out and do stuff and hope you get better and then do more stuff until cured. Strange really as rather than scientific knowledge this is basically what i was told to cure shyness when i was a small child. Oh they may have breathing and relaxation techniques and also make you challenge your over the top irrational “Woe is me! Everybody hates me!” type of thinking but there is absolutely nothing else whatsoever on any website I have ever come across that helps in the slightest.

The problem is that depression fucks all that up.  No motivation whatsoever, already suicidal thinking so being told to go and smile at strangers on the street and make banter with shop assistants about the weather or Donald Trumps snazzy hair are about as useful as being told to Just do it! or my favourite as a youth “Just Go Talk to her!”

In reality acting nervous got ridicule or contempt which increased my anxiety which increased avoidance. If in doubt I go straight onto YouTube where hot girls say how much they hate shy men as they act creepy and make them feel awkward. Women love confidence , its officially one of the biggest turns ons. The advice also ignores your age. Contrary to belief not everyone with social anxiety is 23. A man my age smiling at women considerably younger than me on the street will be thought of as a creepy weirdo after sex so why not say that when advising smiling at 6 strangers per day as exposure therapy as if its normal. Virtually no strangers smile at people on the street unless well they do fancy each other.

Social etiquette still matters or do you assume that very shy people will understand who to and who not to smile at? Just like advising you to ask attractive females out as what have you got to lose?  Well there are lots of attractive twenty and thirty something years olds but as someone in my forties(Shock! Horror!)I would have about as much chance as bagging one as I would attracting Cameron Diaz(although at 44 she’s way closer to my age range!) Oh you mean only ask people your own age but once again just assumes you know that.(even though at my age everyone is much uglier including me!) Do I tell them how long I have been unemployed as well, that will impress them. Fact, long term unemployed men are avoided as much as ex cons so something else to destroy confidence.

I prepare myself on a daily basis for the inevitable end now. I almost long for it after all these years of pain and loneliness. Today was absolutely awful and I struggled not to self harm. The reason I feel worse is because I looked for help and found there wasn’t any.  People just like to pretend there is to make themselves feel better. They like to pretend that the majority of them are nice and kind too.

Random Cheeses of the Midlands

Why on earth would you go to therapy and willingly make a hierarchy list of things you fear when you know the therapist is going to ask you to go through them one by one as part of exposure therapy? Its like admitting you fear being buried alive and then knowing someone is then going to do it to you in the vain hope you get used to it.But of course being buried alive is not a condition of a normal life whereas speaking to other humans is. Every time I look at CBT exposure therapy online and my God there is tons of stuff to download it takes away any last glimmer of hope and makes the claim that there is a cure for chronic shyness a complete lie.

Then there are just so many examples of therapy where they assume you must have a friend or friends to do stuff with or that you are just overreacting when all evidence points to the contrary. A ludicrous example of this is writing down each day things you are proud of or things you have done or achieved to motivate you. I would be lucky thinking of three things per year, no, make that decade. Brainwashing techniques by secret government organisations would probably be more useful.

In other news I got my first irritating reply from someone making a sarcastic comment to one of my posts so I marked it as spam. F**k him. this is no recovery or self help blog as I frequently mention. Its the reality of being a real life 40+ virgin and long term unemployed loner in  a world that treats you with contempt and as a loser. Actually considering how much bullshit I have posted here its quite astounding I have not gotten any more offensive replies.Being mentally insane is now my excuse for everything. Just be yourself even if its a C**T!

Its a Wonderful Life?

Look at me here, here on my own again, up straight in the sunshine
No need to run and hide, it’s a wonderful, wonderful life

I am trying to go out more in the day, at least when its sunny. It helps in the short term at least to stop suicidal thoughts although has no effect whatsoever on my long term anxiety or behaviour as I’ve been doing it for over 10 years now. In fact some walks actually make me feel much worse if there are a lot of people around and I almost feel trapped. I very rarely feel peace of mind or relaxed when walking.Sometimes my paranoia still gets the better of me and I think people are ridiculing me. I also have to stop the habit of  talking to myself. Yes, I am still quite mad. I thought walking was supposed to help depression but its like eating when you are hungry but eventually you always feel hungry again.

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A long cold lonely winter

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You know when you felt terrible when you were ill. Your head hurts and you are irritable with all other people and almost in mental pain. Just like having a bad hangover after drinking too much the night before or you have had a virus. You cant think of anything intelligent to say and what you do say seems nonsense or is such a struggle to get out that you dont even want to try. You want to hide away from it all.Well that’s sort of what having anxiety and depression is like every single day, to me anyway. Along with the added suicidal thoughts of course. Watching TV,listening to music, walking, shopping. Whatever you do to alleviate these feelings only has a fleeting beneficial effect and before long you are back at square one again.

You are desperately lonely but if you do try and contact people online as you dont know any people in real life at all you always get the feeling that they think you are a nuisance and just wish you would F**k off. People tell you its paranoia but deep down you know its not.You know a negative attitude is never taken well and so you pretend to make jokes or interesting comments but as you have never formed a social network then you may as well be talking to yourself in the toilet again. They say be yourself but they really mean like everything that I like and hate everything that I hate. People lie all the time.Then you give up. Then they blame you for not trying hard enough. Check mate.

Things Only People Who Suffered From Extreme Shyness Will Understand

Yes, just for a change its one of those FUN quiz type things off of the internet.

1) Family gatherings with anyone other than your immediate family were an absolute nightmare. 
Yes I hid upstairs when relatives came round but as my parents were both nuts too that was only about once a year.
2) You did absolutely EVERYTHING you could to avoid making or answering a phone call.
Again yes although i did get much better at work before the C**ts made me redundant.
3) And even to this day, you’re still hesitant to answer a call. 
Sort of but only because it may be something terrible. When I answer a call they are mostly cold calls trying to sell something.
4) You can absolutely forget about calling the Pizza Delivery
Yeah, I’ve never ordered food EVER! These days its too expensive.
5) You were always the last kid on holiday to join the ‘friendship group’ because you were too shy to say hello. 
Hmm, must be an American thing. Never heard of it and we only went on a few family holidays and never spoke to any strangers.
6) You absolutely DREADED the idea that you would get called on in class.
God, yes.One of the all time worst things.
7) And you NEVER raised your hand in class in case the answer was wrong, even though it was 100% right. 
True again, My maths went downhill fast because I never ever got help from the teacher. Never understood quadratic equations and calculus. She’s dead now and her ashes on the local park with a memorial. I leave her a chocolate digestive sometimes as a symbolic gesture.
8) You also tried to avoid any speaking responsibility in any presentation you ever had to make.
Speaking in front of the class was akin to public torture. It never got any better. In English we had to read one page of a book each aloud starting from the front of the class. As it got closer to me I prayed to God to kill me just so I wouldn’t have to read.I meant it to.
9) You never EVER went to the toilet in a restaurant without your mum when you were younger.
If you had anxious parents you never ever even went to a restaurant anyway! Actually I went to a cafe with my parents and sister on holiday once. The only family meal I have ever had not at home. Chips of course.
10) And you were totally guilty of whispering your order in the restaurant to an adult and avoiding all eye contact with the waiter. 
If we had of gone to restaurants its the sort of thing I would have done, probably. I always had trouble asking for things or ordering things in shops well into adulthood.
11) Everyone always thought you were the quiet one, when in reality – you were the stand up comedian.
I dont even know what this means! Does it imply you were telling jokes in your head but not out loud? I was very sarcastic in my head, still am.
12) But heaven forbid you’re left in a one on one conversation with someone you barely know – aka your friends Mum!!!
It didn’t matter much when I was a kid, all these things still applies into adulthood. My friend left me with his girlfriend at the cinema once. Not a word was said. My fault of course as I am male. Its funny in these awkward situations I never get the one who speaks. Plenty of these situations when I was at work too, almost always with girls(funny how so many girls never seem to speak first! Perhaps shy men come across as weird and creepy!)
13) Pretending you’re on the phone when you see someone in public? Yep, you’re still guilty of that one!
I would but as I am so alone and devoid of all human contact I dont even have a mobile phone or in fact need one as I never need to speak to other humans and have no friends. I hardly leave the house either!
14) You spent hours and hours thinking about hypothetical conversations so you knew what to say what the situation arose.
Still do! I often imagine the worst thing possible happening and then go into a full blown argument with this imaginary person in my head!  We sometimes even have an imaginary fight! Bastard!
15) Your flirting game has been diabolical since day one. 
Yes, I’m actually a 97 year old virgin. Only once did a girl like me at work and when she tried to say hello I bottled it, looked away and avoided her for all her remaining time at work. It freaked me out so much that this girl expected me to chat her up and probably ask her out that I never even dare look at an attractive female ever again just in case she liked me back and expected me to speak!

16) But the worst thing of all? The worst thing about growing up shy was having to answer this damn question every. single. time. “Why are you so shy?”

Actually I probably got asked “Why do you blush?” more as it was far more noticeable(unlike me!). I was mostly so avoidant and reclusive that nobody spoke to me unless they had to.

 

Coping

I have found it very frustrating to look up ways of coping for depression. Just as for anxiety much of it seems totally irrelevant or to be written by somebody who has never had it.

 

  1. For depression they tell you to meet people talk to people and be with people. Oops I am a weird loner and know virtually no one due to lifelong social anxiety which is the main cause of all my depression in the first place.When I sometimes tried to befriend someone at work I was often turned down as the other person didn’t like me as I was socially awkward, weird, not normal. I found this deeply humiliating which massively increased my avoidance.
  2. Next is exercise. Yes I’ve done that. I used to walk 3-5 hours for 3 days a week and 1-2 hours on the other days, almost every week of every month for about 10 years. Did it help? Sometimes but no more than for a couple of hours afterwards and the problems are always still there at the end so the depression returns relentlessly. I also live in a city so hate walking in the city as there are no nice walks and lots of potentially nasty people. I am way more lethargic now too and ache quite a bit. Could be due to suspected diabetes but also to having a chronic hip condition for 20 years and other joint problems which all doctors failed to diagnose properly or treat.
  3. Food? Yes I am eating healthier and have tried to cut down on sugar intake. However, I still drink almost every evening and consume about 23-30 units of alcohol per week. When I drink nothing I just get far more anxious and feel desperate, cant concentrate and think about suicide.
  4. Better Sleep? I had chronic insomnia and sleep problems going back 20 years due to any noise so as mentioned I use ear plugs and ear protectors and even sleeping tablets I bought off Amazon that they don’t even sell in the UK I have daily bad dreams about death, my late dying mother or my last workplace when things went wrong but I sometimes still feel good when I wake up. Then almost every day I get worse as the day goes on. However, I often have to pee many times a night and drink 2-3 pints of water which is why I think I have diabetes. However all insomnia advice ignores where you live and that you cant move unless you win the lottery so the advice is limited.
  5. Occupy the mind. During the day keeping busy can help for short periods by doing housework and gardening but as usual it doesn’t last long. And apart from medication there is nothing else. I think I am depressed because my life is so f**ked up. How do I cure that at my age? Oh yes, get out more and meet new people.  The trouble is I am negative and depressed so no one would want to know me anyway.

I also find it quite contradictory that I have read recently not to be so hard on yourself and at the same time for anxiety reading everything is your own fault for not trying enough, doing enough and not taking personal responsibility so trying t make you feel guilty.Confusing, isn’t it?

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