A silly walk by John Cleese
I felt terrible and restless on Saturday after waking early and so took a sleeping tablet and felt pretty miserable and exhausted for the rest of the day. Its strange how chemical imbalances can effect your mood uncontrollably and makes me wonder how much self control or even choice people really have if they are feeling a bit doolally. The next day due to exhaustion I slept great, the best in weeks in fact and and felt wonderful all day. Even watching TV felt different as I was able to concentrate and I was not restless and irritable.(Restless and Irritable, another new name for this blog?) I went out and took some pictures in the autumn sunshine and actually felt good and even slightly happy when I got home. Did it carry on? of course not. This is me after all. Today i woke early at about 6 AM again after only a few hours sleep and felt absolutely awful all day again. Even the noisy neighbours were quiet and yet I still could not sleep, I can only post this now as I am drunk yet again and earlier I had to delete it all in a fit of melancholy and rage.
Anyway, I was looking at a comment on an old post about maladaptive thinking and that someone said that I must realise that what I had just written was mostly untrue. Really? If some social exposures by therapists are supposed to prove to us that when we go out dressed strangely or even act strangely because the vast majority of normal people dont notice us or care at all then why is it that there are so many people both kids and adults on TV and online who have been viciously and repeatedly bullied by others due to looking or acting different? Surely this proves that lots of people not only notice but attack or belittle us on a regular basis. Of course not only did I get punched in the face for walking strangely due to my bad hip but on several other occasions I saw people mocking me not just smirking which could have been for any reason but actually mimicking my walk like it was hilarious and open to ridicule. This made me so paranoid that I thought anyone who was laughing or smirking near me was mocking me for ages. So one of my safety behaviours now is to always take a back pack that I can link my hand into so I dont swing my arms and look like a sasquatch. Yes, and I am going to keep using it as it stops me thinking I am going to get punched so F**k you therapists when you tell people to stop using safely behaviours.
Lots and lots of people who have social anxiety and are loners do have physical problems and deformities. Obviously much worse than mine so they are not maladaptive in their thinking at all. I read about a bald woman having chemotherapy for cancer who was punched in the face simply for having no hair. When she said why the thug apologised! He thought it was OK to punch a women for having no hair through choice but suddenly had regrets if it was for cancer! Thugs and lowlife are everywhere. Human history proves it. If you are different you stand out and are the subject for abuse, that’s where the very concept of racism comes from in the first place, just being different. It again makes me believe that many therapists are f**king clueless. At work I was a quiet miserable loner who did not speak to anyone and a nervous wreck so I was unpopular and disliked. Fact!
If I had said when i was 18 that I would never even go on date in my whole life and die a virgin they would have said this was just maladaptive thinking or maybe catastrophizing and yet here I am over well past 40 now and its all come true! Its the Reality! Then they will blame me for not doing the HARD WORK required but of course normal people dont do any of this hard work as its just normal life.
That was just a dream, just a dream, just a dream
I have never been abroad which is highly unusual for someone in the UK. My parents were obviously crackers and never took us many places when I was young although we did go on holiday on the East coast when I was in my teens for several years. But Skegness is hardly the same as the Caribbean. In fact I seldom left my own county apart from the yearly school day trips. I also never learnt to drive due to anxiety and so only really started travelling in the UK more when I got made redundant. I quite enjoyed it although anyone travelling on UK trains and buses can understand the expense and the often crappy service. Even so I could rarely travel further than the Midlands due to the time constrictions and arranging to get back in the same day. I remember going to Wales via 3 trains once just so I could say I had left England once in my life. I went once again on a coach trip with a family member but am unlikely now to ever get to anywhere more exciting.
I would have loved to have visited iconic places like Rome, Paris and America at least once in my lifetime if only for the photography opportunities. There are some locations that have always seemed magical since seeing them on TV as a child. Yosemite and Yellowstone in the US are two such places and also have amazing wildlife. Even though unlikely it would still have been an ultimate dream of mine to travel one day. Something to dream of and motivate me if ever I managed to make a recovery and attain anything like a normal life.
However even if I wanted to apply for a passport now in the UK its basically illegal for me to attain one as very shy or socially anxious people are not allowed out the country. Yes, its almost impossible for someone with extreme social anxiety to get a passport even if they wanted to one day travel aboard and chase their dreams. Thats because you must have someone countersign your application. These people must have known you for two or more years and they must also have a professional occupation. Oh they even said it cant be your own doctor any more although I think they used to allow this.
As I speak to no one for months and have virtually no other human contact its completely impossible. I have never even known people with professional level jobs in my life. Therefore the only way I could legally travel abroad is to find and deliberately befriend someone in a professional level job and then keep in contact with them for over two years before I could even apply, that’s if even if they agree to sign it. How the F**K does everyone else find it so easy to get a passport? Surely there must be some kind of scam going on. I am not sure if its just as hard to get a driving license as well but looking on their website it says you need a passport as proof or you then also need a signatory who knows you well so it would also be impossible for me to learn to drive even if I wanted to. Its strange how even the most simple and basis things are made impossible by anxiety yet are completely dismissed as excuses or irrelevant. As said before once on the bottom rung of life society keeps you there and does not allow you to recover. After all we dont want mental people going abroad or learning to drive! We already have enough of them in the house of commons!
So I try and go out every single day even if for just a short walk now. Exercise is good for mental health and all that. I now even try to look people in the eye as I pass. Making eye contact is essential and a first step to communicating and feeling more confident according to many self help sites and books on social anxiety. Actually its still very hard. In fact its getting harder. As I often get people look back at me quite negatively and aggressively then it just reaffirms that people hate being stared at in cities.( or hate me!) Perhaps I look like a serial killer myself and dont know it.
Attractive woman look at me the worst as if I am an old pervert and they are far too good for me which once again just confirms all negativity. Perhaps I need instructions on who I am allowed to look at without being arrested or thought of as a pervert. Therefore I am actually getting more paranoid and thinking that I was right all along. If I have to feel comfortable with this before I actually try talking to strangers I may be doing this for a very long time and still no better. I wonder if these therapists actually live in the real world. they give all this advice as if its all obvious and never give details even though they are speaking to socially inept people and those with mental illness, paranoia and depression. A bit like saying just make small talk and assuming you know 99% of what to say anyway.
Obviously people dont like negativity or negative people. You bore and depress others and bring them down.(Just like this blog!) Evolution at work again, we evolved to avoid losers unless we already know them and care about them and then we want to help. Therefore there is great pressure in society to appear happy and positive and interesting even if you are suffering major mental problems and are as depressed as f**K. For instance, the question “Hi, how are you, how was your weekend?” is never really intended to be answered truthfully for mad people. The normals expect you to say “Ok, not too bad thanks.” even if it was a terrible weekend. We are even told off for being negative even if that’s how we feel.
Therefore you isolate yourself because of other people and their lack of understanding and even hostility towards you.You even start to think of all people as the enemy and can never imagine anyone being nice to you again. This even happens on anxiety forums where unless you have already formed a social network(by being positive and probably humorous) most of your posts are ignored. So you become more and more isolated and get even worse. Yet the advice almost everywhere is to go out there and do anything as if its a certain cure. But of course when you do you still come across as negative and depressing and with anxiety you may also be socially inept and so also appear rude and the whole thing starts again. Its a disaster so you give in.
There is absolutely no emphasis on how you have to appear friendly, enthusiastic and good company to start with to make a good impression. Bit hard to do if you are feeling suicidal dont you think? Just doing anything does not work if you just stand around looking at the floor and looking miserable. We are regularly told how most people judge others in the first few minutes and then also that nobody cares about our strange behaviour or even notices when its obvious that they do and shy people often give a terrible first impression. All evidences suggest to me that therapists and self help experts really dont have any idea or are deliberately lying. Depression and chronic anxiety together and with no support network can send you into a downward spiral where all hope begins to vanish. I am still trying to find anything online which does indeed offer any hope other than just force yourself to go out and talk to strangers.
Even thinking too much about my social anxiety had me drinking more and taking a sleeping tablet again last night as the anxiety starting to escalate and I was still awake at 2AM going over things in my head. An overwhelming desire to die becomes ever closer if only to end this mental turmoil,guilt and shame. If guilt over not doing enough is supposed to motivate shy people into action then is it OK if it makes them want to commit suicide as well? Are the imbeciles who do this not aware of how close you are to the edge? How you have been thinking of death since the school years when this really began to get bad and you realised what a freak you were.
You see when lack of motivation and depression start to overwhelm me then this guilt only makes me much worse and believe there is nothing left so death becomes quite a sensible option. Exposure therapy? Go F**K yourself! Once again an important aspect of social anxiety totally ignored on self help sites and in books even though one in three people with long term SA have depression. Yet its barely even talked about on any social anxiety help site. Doing things at a right graded level is important and is why people attempting too much too soon get set backs and give up. Yet lots of self help advice says never turn ANY social situation down. Constant contradictions. Guilt and shame from others often makes us do anything as if it will help. For instance I did loads of things when younger that did not work and actually made my anxiety even worse because I failed due to people treating me like shit if I acted shy or nervous or awkward. Not paranoia, they do.
As I walked down the street yesterday afternoon I attempted to make eye contact with several people. As mentioned previously this is an idea for easy exposure exercises in several self help books.Even then I wore dark glasses and it was still f**king hard. It doesn’t feel natural at all and I am still not sure normal people(those without anxiety) do it at all. It feels like staring at or judging people and I have never liked someone looking at me for very long. One younger woman gave me a look like I was a twat so I stopped. It was just like being back at work again! There is no way I would go even further and smile at strangers and say hello as the books advise as the next step. I think the problem is there is absolutely nothing to bridge the gap from near total isolation, paranoia and suicidal thoughts to making first contact with real life humans and not coming across as a depressing weirdo or mad. Even most exposure therapy seems to ignore the obvious social skills and etiquette required for the most basic conversations and assumes you will be positive and friendly if you just force yourself to talk to strangers.
So here is a video from the private therapy clinic in London on social anxiety I saw on YouTube. I know its on about avoidance strategies but I think its interesting that at one point she brings in another person and says “Talk for 2 minutes!” Of course she does fine and that’s the point but it also begs the question that do some therapists and so called experts have any understanding of crippling social anxiety at all?
I say this because I have seen videos on group therapy and they just expect people to speak on random subject for so long or for homework approach strangers and make random conversation as supposedly easy tasks. As said previously perhaps only motivated people who have recovered to a certain point are even able to go to therapy and in which case why would I go to the doctor for help if the therapy demands a certain level of recovery before you are even able to try doing it.
You see, just bringing in a stranger and demanding conversion on a random subject may even now have me completely struck dumb and my brain freeze up entirely. This often then creates the classic nightmare of blushing and sweating and a full on anxiety attack. The thing is I am better now than I used to be. When I was in my twenties I blushed, stammered and had anxiety attacks almost uncontrollably and especially around attractive girls so even the most basics of simple conversation were excruciatingly awkward and any coherent sentences close to impossible due to the physical manifestations of shyness. Speaking to a girl I liked and assuming I would really be OK or that no one would notice(IF ONLY THAT WERE TRUE!)was not even close to my reality.
Of course I was F**king avoidant! The humiliation was so intense I was contemplating suicide and punching myself in the head while sitting in the toilets! Can you imagine the embarrassment of acting like that in front of girls and other people ridiculing me which as I was in a crap manual job full of blokey ignorant young men was a common event for anyone even slightly different. What the flying F**K is is about intense humiliation that therapist dont get? Is it just because they have never experienced it themselves? You would do ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING to avoid it. So the idea you go to a therapist and deliberately make a list of your most anxiety inducing situations and then agree to go and do them is not even a remote possibility for many people.
And then if you do go and force yourself to speak to people they assume things are usually much better than you imagine is yet more absolute lies. Avoidance may not be the answer but neither is extreme humiliation which traumatises you for years. When I watch all these experts and read the self help books they never seem to even consider that anxiety can be this bad and that exposure therapy is a straightforward task to recover from if you just practice hard enough. I wonder if they have ever even treated somebody who is really cripplingly shy.
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.