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?
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 F**KING IMPOSSIBLE IF YOU HAVE DEPRESSION! 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. SO THEY GUILT TRIP YOU THINKING IT WILL MAKE YOU TAKE ACTION WHEN ALL IN FACT ITS DOING IS MAKING YOU MORE LIKELY TO COMMIT SUICIDE! Maybe I cant change now 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. Even simple exposure tasks are close to impossible as I cant think of appropriate words or sentences or smile or make jokes or ask questions or act like a normal human being. In fact I act awkward and so make other people feel awkward and want to leave. What a surprise! Then people dislike you and make you feel worse! Its never ending!
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 at all but abusive or a bully.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.