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When did your Social Phobia begin?


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I was never afraid of people when I was young. In fact, I was very much the center of attention. I went to a performing arts high school where I was constantly performing in front of large crowds of people. Of course, I had the usual pre-performance jitters, but I always put on a fantastic performance. I believe I had a heightened sense of self-confidence because of my talents on-stage... I knew I was talented because I constantly received praise from others & I was always getting scholarships to prestigious schools and such. It made me feel really good to know that I was "better" than everyone else. (Ok, just being honest here about how I felt when I was younger...) I really didn't have a fear of other people because I really felt like I was better than them.

Well, that was then.... This is now. Years after I dropped out of a very prestigious university (where I was studying dance), I developed an VERY INTENSE fear of performing. It hit me very suddenly. It was a complete and total surprise to me, too. I specifically remember the episode... I was due to give a presentation in front of a group of people. No problem, I thought. I used to be a performer.... I am fantastic when it comes to performing in front of groups! However, that day I had a HORRIBLE reaction when I got in front of that group. My heart was POUNDING, my palms were sweaty... My voice was shaking.... I thought I was going to pass out. All of this was happening uncontrollably. It had never happened before. I was totally shocked that I was reacting this way.... Ever since that day, I have the same terrifying reaction whenever I have to do anything in front of a group of people... I don't even have to be in front of the group of people. I can be sitting down, somewhere in the back of the crowd. But, if I have to SPEAK at all.... I have a terrifying fear that comes over me.

I think it is getting worse. I HATE those times when you're supposed to "introduce yourself" to a group of people. OH MY GOD....! I cannot tell you how frightening that is for me.

Now, I am getting to the point where I am terrified to meet new people. I don't know what to say to them. My heart pounds & I am overcome with a feeling of dread.... I HATE IT when people come to my house. It makes me SO uncomfortable. I feel like I am performing for them or something, and I just want to hide! Whenever someone new comes to my house (someone I don't know very well), I get that same terrifying fear that I get when I speak in front of crowds - heart racing, hands shaking, etc....

What the hell is wrong with me & why has this just come out of nowhere..??? Ten years ago, I was a regular ham. Now, I'm running scared....

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In my case, I think growing up with undiagnosed and untreated ADD caused me to impulsively embarrass myself in ways I couldn't control to the point where the fear of public embarrassment became ingrained.

SSRIs can help a lot with this, but only if you take them.

Edit: Realizing I didn't put an age on it, probobly 4th or 5th grade.

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I had what I suspect was a cross between an undiagnosed, untreated social phobia and a mixed state from the time I was thirteen until, well, I've been gradually getting better over the last 5 years or so.

It also hit very suddenly. A friend made a comment to me about how we shouldn't do something because it would be socially inappropriate, and there were social rules and you had to pay attention to them.

It was like falling down a well. Nothing was ever the same after that.

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My social phobia probably started (or I first became aware of it) when I was about 14-15. At school I was never the most popular, but not unpopular either. Until my mid teens I always had at least one best friend.

I can remember a couple of incidences when I was about 12 where I said or did something that temporarily caused me to lose friends or some of my classmates to dislike me. But then we moved cities and I went to a new school.

I guess the social phobia really began in about my mid teens. I left school and lost touch with my friends. From then on, I became withdrawn and kept to myself a lot, and in the rare instances when I was around other people I would not communicate with them, just sit there in silence not uttering a word, listening to everyone chatting around me but not joining in. This may have bee due to the fact that the new group of acquantances I had at that stage in life were from "the wrong crowd", I never spoke up, and didn't say anything for fear of being disliked. I thought (wrongly) that if I don't say anything they won't have a reason to dislike me. I got out of that crowd when I went overseas for a year.

The social phobia has continued throughout my life. I use alcohol as a crutch in social situations, however this is BAD because alcohol causes you to lose your inhibitions and act out, so my behaviour doesn't exactly endear me to people in that state. And so I remain almost friendless. I can't relax around people unless I drink. People in a social setting get the wrong idea about who I am when the only time they see me is when I'm drunk. And so I stay friendless. When I'm sober I avoid contact with people cos it makes me nervous and I subconsciously assume that they aren't going to like me anyway. Or I'm scared that I will say or do something that makes them not want me as a friend. It's a hard and lonely existence. Although I'm told i'm pretty, guys back off after 1-3 dates. Now I don't even date anymore. Life sux.

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mine started in elementary school. it rolls in and out like the tides over months or years, but it never goes away.

the last time that it reappeared was a hugely stressful time for me. i was trying to find a job, i was a full-time student, i was beginning to develop chronic migraines, my best friend just kind of abandoned me...i basically started falling apart. so sillyme, maybe yours is being triggered by stress or something. just a suggestion.

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Mine started at a logical time--the start of junior high. I had never been the most outgoing girl, but that transition from the safety of elementary school just did something to me. It was terror. I was so self-conscious that writing or eating in front of other people was hell. I would get pizza all the time so I wouldn't have to use utensils. The idea of trying to light a bunsen burner in front of other people in earth science class was horrifying. I can't remember how much I actually shook in front of other people but I imagined them scrutinizing every little movement my body made.

I have a more generalized form of social phobia I think. Over the years it has gone from being able to have a few friends but being terrified of "performing" (i.e. doing everyday activities in front of other people) to being able to "perform" but not being able to make friends. I don't know which is worse. One thing that has never changed is my intense fear of all things job-related.

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I was class captain, and danced ballet and modern on the stage infornt of hundreds of people. Weird, what happened to me. I work in a call center, 700 employees, and they made me supervisor, MY NERVES!!!! tHE SWEAT!!! I started smoking with the rest of the crew in the smokers room. I had to resign my position I couldnt take the pressure! I felt really bad didnt mean to dissapoint the people that had faith in me doing a job well done.

About a year ago!

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I was a shy, nervous...okay, neurotic kid. Always.

It went totally haywire when I was in college. I had my first manic episode, then plunged into a horrible, dark abyss-type depression. I was never the same after that. I couldn't make a friend to save my life.

Now, in adulthood, I am terrified of people, of the phone, of crowds, of going into stores where I might have to interface with a salesperson, etc etc etc. I never know what to say. I have one friend. And he is a "misfit" like me. We hold each other up.

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Its hard to say. I was a youngion. I had Selective Mutism with SA since I was 4. Social Phobia runs in my family, and i Caught it on early. Undiagnosed until I was 16. Most meds dont work for me. It lessens the anxiety, but i stil cant handle people.

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Would you still have this anxiety if you were performing in a play as opposed to speaking in front of people?

Donny Osmond developed performance anxiety later on and was able to overcome it. Maybe his story would be helpful. Maybe not.

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I was always a shy kid, but the social phobia really started in 5th grade. My best friend turned on me and most of the class went with him. It was worst during high school and the couple of years after. I guess I've dealt with it so long, I've gotten better at dealing with it. Not good, but better.

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