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Are there Any Meds that Can Help a Shy Person Make Friends?


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Are there any medications that can help a very shy person with social anxiety make friends and socialize in public places, like a "normal" person?

 

My sister's boyfriend made me feel strange yesterday because I don't have any friends, and I haven't had any for about 17 years (I'm 30 now BTW.) He told me having friends is the best feeling, so I must be really missing out. :( 

 

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I think therapy would be your best bet for working through the social anxiety.  Group therapy, like social skills training groups, or seeing a tdoc could be very helpful.

 

I've found an SSRI to be fairly ineffective when it comes to social anxiety.

 

Basically, I don't think there is a quick fix. 

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I do see a LCSW, about once every 3 weeks. My parents want me to try seeing a Clinical Psychologist, because I've only seen Social Workers and my parents think they don't help that much, and that a Clinical Psychologist would be better for me. But I don't know if there would be any difference between a LCSW and a Clinical Psychologist.

 

I've tried Group Therapy called DBT- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy- which is used for Borderline Personality Disorder, but I don't have Borderline PD. I attended those group sessions because it was the only thing I could afford, and the therapist I was seeing thought that it could help me with anxiety.

Edited by lisa2712
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Lisa,

 

I am sorry for your social isolation.  I was painfully shy as a young child but somehow forced myself to be friendly.  Though solitude is my preference, close friends provide me with the safety net I need.  My hubby is what you would call 'normal'.  He has ONE close friend.  One.  That is all he wants.  All he needs besides me and my girl.

 

Having a working medical cocktail and successful therapy is imperative for those of use living with the crazies.

 

Beyond that, live your life.  That is the only way to make friends.  Go out and do things you want to do. Whatever they are, walking around the block, taking laundry to the laundromat, returning a movie to redbox.   Maybe there is a drumming circle nearby, or a yoga class that lets you hang from the ceiling, or a poetry reading at the library.  REad the local paper and find free events.  PUSH yourself out the door, little by little.   Maybe start tomorrow by hugging a nearby tree.  Make small goals for yourself.

 

Start a blog on Crazyboards about your journey outside into the universe.  I agree with Lifequake.  There is no quick fix, no pill for friendship. Only motivation which you seem to have plenty of.  Ignore sibling boyfriends, family members, anyone who makes you feel worthless.  Never compare yourself to anyone else.  (ha!  listen to me talking.)  LIke Popeye, you yam who you yam.

 

Remember, one day at a time.  Talk to the cashier at the grocery store.  The crossing guard.  Anyone who seems safe.  And never forget that most everyone else out there is also afraid, and lonely and anxious.   

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lexapro helps me some. therapy has helped some. but, it's an on-going process for me. People tell me I'm a lot more outgoing, I actually speak and look at people and am able to go out and interact.  I even do some public speaking.  It's hard for me to notice changes because they seem to come slowly. for me a lot of it is self-confidence.  The better I feel about myself the easier it is to believe I have something to say that anyone would want to hear.

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Lisa,

 

I am sorry for your social isolation.  I was painfully shy as a young child but somehow forced myself to be friendly.  Though solitude is my preference, close friends provide me with the safety net I need.  My hubby is what you would call 'normal'.  He has ONE close friend.  One.  That is all he wants.  All he needs besides me and my girl.

 

Having a working medical cocktail and successful therapy is imperative for those of use living with the crazies.

 

Beyond that, live your life.  That is the only way to make friends.  Go out and do things you want to do. Whatever they are, walking around the block, taking laundry to the laundromat, returning a movie to redbox.   Maybe there is a drumming circle nearby, or a yoga class that lets you hang from the ceiling, or a poetry reading at the library.  REad the local paper and find free events.  PUSH yourself out the door, little by little.   Maybe start tomorrow by hugging a nearby tree.  Make small goals for yourself.

 

Start a blog on Crazyboards about your journey outside into the universe.  I agree with Lifequake.  There is no quick fix, no pill for friendship. Only motivation which you seem to have plenty of.  Ignore sibling boyfriends, family members, anyone who makes you feel worthless.  Never compare yourself to anyone else.  (ha!  listen to me talking.)  LIke Popeye, you yam who you yam.

 

Remember, one day at a time.  Talk to the cashier at the grocery store.  The crossing guard.  Anyone who seems safe.  And never forget that most everyone else out there is also afraid, and lonely and anxious.   

 

 

You have to understand, that I'm 30 now, and I've been "socially isolated" without any friends for about 17 years. So, I've been this way for a long time, and it's what I'm used to, although it may not be healthy for me. Before my sister's boyfriend had this talk with me, I never thought about having friends and how not having any may be effecting me negatively. He told me something like, "You're going to blink your eyes and be 50 and wonder what happened with my life" and he made it sound like I was going to regret my life when I'm older, which kind of upset me. He told me I should really to go to a meetup-like thing with other young adults, which I will do.  He said "Humans are made to talk and interact with one another,"

 

Another confusing this is- I went to one mental health counselor and she told me not having any friends isn't healthy. Then I went to another counselor, a LCSW, and he said it was an individual preference, and if a person doesn't have or want friends, than that's their individual preference, and there isn't anything wrong with it. So that further confused me! :wall:

 

To be honest, I don't think I have a lot of motivation to make friends. It's out of my comfort zone, and I'm so used to not having any, and I don't have social skills. I've tried talking to people at the gym I go to, and I didn't enjoy it. It was more awkward than pleasurable.

 

But my sister's boyfriend was telling me I need to make (making friends) my No. 1 priority because it's very important for my health.

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I've found SSRIs and benzos helpful for social anxiety.  Also booze, but there are better ways.   

 

What happens when you're around people and try socializing?   Do you feel anxious or do you simply not desire friendship?

 

I have severe Social and general anxiety, and I was avoidant and anxious of my peers in High School, which is why I never made any friends in high school.

 

I take Zoloft 50 mg and it does help with anxiety (I know because I was able to talk to my sister's boyfriend, although I still was nervous talking to him, and without medicationn I would have been too nervous to talk with him.) I also take Klonopin .5 mg twice daily. If I go to a higher dose, I get into fights and conflicts with my sister, who I live with, so unfortunately I've decided not to go higher on the Klonopin dosage. :(

 

I don't really drink alcohol on Zoloft because I think it interferes with the effectiveness of the Zoloft. But when I took Prozac 40 mg, I did drink on occasion, and I didn't feel like it interfered with the Prozac.

 

Now that I'm on Zoloft 50 mg, my anxiety has lessened and gotten more manageable. The Prozac didn't help that much with anxiety. Now, when I'm around people I'm less anxious. The only time I'm around people is when I go to the gym (3-4 times/week) and to restaurants. In restaurants I still get nervous and antsy, but not as much as before I was put on Zoloft. Going to the gym isn't easy for me, also because I don't like exercising, but also because of all the people there. In the gym, I'm quiet and keep to myself, and I have tried talking to other people, but it was awkward. I also go to Zumba class, and there I don't talk to anyone, but a few times I have said things to people, but not held a conversation with them. I'm still nervous in ZUmba class, but not as much.

 

My whole life I've been very anxious and avoidant of people (since age 12) and it wasn't until I got put on medication (when I was 19) that the anxiety decreased. So, now at this point, I don't think I desire friendship, because I've been without it for so long, and it's what I'm used to. But I know I'm not a functional person, and having friends would make me mentally healthier. But, I have problems making and keeping friends.

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Celexa and Lexapro have both been successful at relieving social anxiety for me. 

 Yeah, I take Zoloft 50 mg and it's been helping my social anxiety. But I still don't talk to people that much, and I still don't have any friends.

lexapro helps me some. therapy has helped some. but, it's an on-going process for me. People tell me I'm a lot more outgoing, I actually speak and look at people and am able to go out and interact.  I even do some public speaking.  It's hard for me to notice changes because they seem to come slowly. for me a lot of it is self-confidence.  The better I feel about myself the easier it is to believe I have something to say that anyone would want to hear.

Yeah, my dad told me confidence is a big part of it. I probably lack self-esteem.

Edited by lisa2712
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I'm not sure I believe that having friends is a requirement of a happy, fulfilling life. I don't have friends, but I do have acquaintances - people I just bump into and say hello to, maybe talk about life for a minute, then go about our separate ways. When I have had "friends", they were completely related to our proximity to each other - the minute those people moved away we would no longer chat, hang out, etc.

 

My disability form says I am "unable to form or have meaningful relationships". The thing is, the only time I ever wanted "meaningful relationships" was when I believed it was a requirement to being normal. When I think of what I want, I don't want friends, I don't want a significant other. I'm not interested in hanging out with people, doing things with people. And I think that's okay. I'm a wayfarer, I'm more interested in coming and going through people's lives, hearing their stories and travelling along to the next tale. I'm more interested in random chats with people I don't really know, I'm not really interested in keeping up with their lives; I get more from those random chats with relative strangers than I do from closer relationships. I still have anxiety, and in order to be able to achieve a place of happiness I do need to work on my anxiety so that I can have those random chats as I desire, but my anxiety and not having friends are two separate things. I don't get joy from hanging out, I don't feel fulfilled going places with people I know, I feel bored listening to the same life stories day in and day out. I get joy and fulfillment from hearing the life stories of strangers, and that's okay.

 

So the question, really, is what do you want? When you reach fifty, do you want to say "I had friends"? Is that a requirement for your own happiness? Forget what others think you should want, forget what others think is normal, focus on what brings you joy and fulfillment in life.

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I think your sister's boyfriend was out of line telling you that you will regret your life simply because you don't have (or want) lots of friends.  No two people want or need the exact same things in their lives to make them personally fulfilling.  Maybe its just misguided but caring "intervention" or pep talk?  Or is he just generally a jerk?  I don't know.  Either way, it sucks that he said that because it sounds like the net result is not motivation but hurt feelings and fresh insecurity.

 

You mentioned talking to people at the gym or Zumba being awkward.  That's an honest initial try at connecting to people in your immediate proximity, which is generally a good place to start!  But honestly, talking to relative strangers at the gym is awkward for almost everyone I know, introverted or extroverted.  A common reason people are at the gym is specifically because they feel dissatisfied with their bodies or selves in some way.  The gym can actually be a surprisingly vulnerable place that makes a lot of people act more awkward than they would otherwise.  So its not that you necessarily did anything wrong that made the conversations awkward.  Its possibly the context more than anything else.

 

Personally, I never found it comfortable to talk to anyone at the gym with whom I didn't specifically go there together.  But, that's not to say that the people I went to the gym with were necessarily "friends" before that.  A bunch of loose acquaintances from grad school, some I only knew by names/faces, decided to sign up for a cheap gym membership "sale" deal.  The idea was that everyone was more likely to stick it out as a group commitment than as individuals.  Only two of the group were already my friends.  But I gradually became friends with several others over months of weekly appointed time together doing a shared activity and spending time together carpooling back and forth.  

 

In my case, being ostracized by peers for about 5 years in intermediate and high school left me with poor self-image and a gap in age-appropriate social skills that I've spent my entire adult life trying to heal over.  Nowdays I do have friends and I have a very people-oriented job.  But my feelings are still very easily hurt by social mishaps and I still harbor a lot of insecure feelings like I'm one blunder way from everyone hating me.  While I am now an openly expressive person (even prone to TMI) I am also guarded and cautious about deep trust.  Most of my friends and acquaintances are people I've met through specific college, work, volunteer, or special event situations.  I'm not the kind of person who talks easily to random strangers, so I often come off as aloof, but some people are.  Mostly I get to know IRL people by forcing myself out of the house to go do things in the presence of other people.  

 

There's a lot of after-hours work I could take home.  But I usually stay in my office with the door open because that's when other late-night people will randomly stop to say hi on their way by, and over time they start popping in to chat.  The beginnings of getting to know them come from simply making myself available to get to know.  

 

When I first started college I had almost zero social "network", basically starting from scratch.  I tried to ditch my self-protective hermit habits shield I had put up to try to show I was "choosing" to be alone instead of looking like I was being shunned.  So I spent time in open lab time, asked other people questions about the material, took almost any little invitation to go places or do things, joined a soccer team, joined a choir, volunteered at a charity fundraiser Halloween haunted house, and so on.  All kinds of random stuff to "feel out" what kinds of people I liked being around.  Meeting new people is almost always kind of awkward and confusing no matter what, though.  Its only over time that the benefits and responsibilities of relationships become apparent.  And those benefits also only come from being open and vulnerable enough to let people in.  

 

Anyway, that's just my long-winded anecdote of one person's way of slowly growing social/professional circles starting from an admittedly much shorter period of social isolation than you.  I'm a little older than you so that also means I've had more time to work on it after I decided it WAS in fact something I wanted to change in my life.  But if you decide you're happiest in solitude that's perfectly fine too.  

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I'm not sure I believe that having friends is a requirement of a happy, fulfilling life. I don't have friends, but I do have acquaintances - people I just bump into and say hello to, maybe talk about life for a minute, then go about our separate ways. When I have had "friends", they were completely related to our proximity to each other - the minute those people moved away we would no longer chat, hang out, etc.

 

My disability form says I am "unable to form or have meaningful relationships". The thing is, the only time I ever wanted "meaningful relationships" was when I believed it was a requirement to being normal. When I think of what I want, I don't want friends, I don't want a significant other. I'm not interested in hanging out with people, doing things with people. And I think that's okay. I'm a wayfarer, I'm more interested in coming and going through people's lives, hearing their stories and travelling along to the next tale. I'm more interested in random chats with people I don't really know, I'm not really interested in keeping up with their lives; I get more from those random chats with relative strangers than I do from closer relationships. I still have anxiety, and in order to be able to achieve a place of happiness I do need to work on my anxiety so that I can have those random chats as I desire, but my anxiety and not having friends are two separate things. I don't get joy from hanging out, I don't feel fulfilled going places with people I know, I feel bored listening to the same life stories day in and day out. I get joy and fulfillment from hearing the life stories of strangers, and that's okay.

 

So the question, really, is what do you want? When you reach fifty, do you want to say "I had friends"? Is that a requirement for your own happiness? Forget what others think you should want, forget what others think is normal, focus on what brings you joy and fulfillment in life.

 

I'm not sure I believe that having friends is a requirement of a happy, fulfilling life. I don't have friends, but I do have acquaintances - people I just bump into and say hello to, maybe talk about life for a minute, then go about our separate ways. When I have had "friends", they were completely related to our proximity to each other - the minute those people moved away we would no longer chat, hang out, etc.

 

My disability form says I am "unable to form or have meaningful relationships". The thing is, the only time I ever wanted "meaningful relationships" was when I believed it was a requirement to being normal. When I think of what I want, I don't want friends, I don't want a significant other. I'm not interested in hanging out with people, doing things with people. And I think that's okay. I'm a wayfarer, I'm more interested in coming and going through people's lives, hearing their stories and travelling along to the next tale. I'm more interested in random chats with people I don't really know, I'm not really interested in keeping up with their lives; I get more from those random chats with relative strangers than I do from closer relationships. I still have anxiety, and in order to be able to achieve a place of happiness I do need to work on my anxiety so that I can have those random chats as I desire, but my anxiety and not having friends are two separate things. I don't get joy from hanging out, I don't feel fulfilled going places with people I know, I feel bored listening to the same life stories day in and day out. I get joy and fulfillment from hearing the life stories of strangers, and that's okay.

 

So the question, really, is what do you want? When you reach fifty, do you want to say "I had friends"? Is that a requirement for your own happiness? Forget what others think you should want, forget what others think is normal, focus on what brings you joy and fulfillment in life.

I've never thought that far ahead- to when I'm 50. But I never would think I would be older and regret the way I've lived my life (as a very shy person), which isn't really a choice, anyway. I do think that the majority of people have at least 1 friend, and I've been told that it's unhealthy to have no friends, so really the reason I would try to get a friend is because people tell me I need that kind of social support in order to be mentally healthy. No, I don't care that I don't have any friends, but this guy basically told me I'd feel so much better about everything in life if I had friends and I'd be so much happier. I don't know if it's a requirement for my own happiness. I'm used to not having any friends, and I don't even talk to people, except a few words.

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I think your sister's boyfriend was out of line telling you that you will regret your life simply because you don't have (or want) lots of friends.  No two people want or need the exact same things in their lives to make them personally fulfilling.  Maybe its just misguided but caring "intervention" or pep talk?  Or is he just generally a jerk?  I don't know.  Either way, it sucks that he said that because it sounds like the net result is not motivation but hurt feelings and fresh insecurity.

 

You mentioned talking to people at the gym or Zumba being awkward.  That's an honest initial try at connecting to people in your immediate proximity, which is generally a good place to start!  But honestly, talking to relative strangers at the gym is awkward for almost everyone I know, introverted or extroverted.  A common reason people are at the gym is specifically because they feel dissatisfied with their bodies or selves in some way.  The gym can actually be a surprisingly vulnerable place that makes a lot of people act more awkward than they would otherwise.  So its not that you necessarily did anything wrong that made the conversations awkward.  Its possibly the context more than anything else.

 

Personally, I never found it comfortable to talk to anyone at the gym with whom I didn't specifically go there together.  But, that's not to say that the people I went to the gym with were necessarily "friends" before that.  A bunch of loose acquaintances from grad school, some I only knew by names/faces, decided to sign up for a cheap gym membership "sale" deal.  The idea was that everyone was more likely to stick it out as a group commitment than as individuals.  Only two of the group were already my friends.  But I gradually became friends with several others over months of weekly appointed time together doing a shared activity and spending time together carpooling back and forth.  

 

In my case, being ostracized by peers for about 5 years in intermediate and high school left me with poor self-image and a gap in age-appropriate social skills that I've spent my entire adult life trying to heal over.  Nowdays I do have friends and I have a very people-oriented job.  But my feelings are still very easily hurt by social mishaps and I still harbor a lot of insecure feelings like I'm one blunder way from everyone hating me.  While I am now an openly expressive person (even prone to TMI) I am also guarded and cautious about deep trust.  Most of my friends and acquaintances are people I've met through specific college, work, volunteer, or special event situations.  I'm not the kind of person who talks easily to random strangers, so I often come off as aloof, but some people are.  Mostly I get to know IRL people by forcing myself out of the house to go do things in the presence of other people.  

 

There's a lot of after-hours work I could take home.  But I usually stay in my office with the door open because that's when other late-night people will randomly stop to say hi on their way by, and over time they start popping in to chat.  The beginnings of getting to know them come from simply making myself available to get to know.  

 

When I first started college I had almost zero social "network", basically starting from scratch.  I tried to ditch my self-protective hermit habits shield I had put up to try to show I was "choosing" to be alone instead of looking like I was being shunned.  So I spent time in open lab time, asked other people questions about the material, took almost any little invitation to go places or do things, joined a soccer team, joined a choir, volunteered at a charity fundraiser Halloween haunted house, and so on.  All kinds of random stuff to "feel out" what kinds of people I liked being around.  Meeting new people is almost always kind of awkward and confusing no matter what, though.  Its only over time that the benefits and responsibilities of relationships become apparent.  And those benefits also only come from being open and vulnerable enough to let people in.  

 

Anyway, that's just my long-winded anecdote of one person's way of slowly growing social/professional circles starting from an admittedly much shorter period of social isolation than you.  I'm a little older than you so that also means I've had more time to work on it after I decided it WAS in fact something I wanted to change in my life.  But if you decide you're happiest in solitude that's perfectly fine too.  

 

He didn't exactly say I'd regret my life; he doesn't talk in complete sentences most of the time, so it was hard for me to understand what he was trying to tell me. What he did say was something like, "You're going to be 50 in the blink of an eye and wonder...." I had to infer what he was trying to tell me. What I inferred from his half-sentence was I was going to regret or feel bad about how boring I was when I was younger because I didn't have a social life or friends.

 

To be honest, we (my parents and I) don't think he's a good person for my sister. Yeah, my sister dates a lot of men who aren't ideal partners, many were abusive, because she'd rather have anyone than be alone. He's also 24 (just turned 24) and my sister's almost 29.(I'm 30 BTW)  And it's weird how he and I have never talked person-to-person before this "pep talk." All of the sudden he calls me into the room to talk with him, and starts telling me these things, and he tells me "I'm not trying." I don't know what he meant by that either- that I wasn't trying to overcome my emotional problems (which I am), or I wasn't trying to make friends (which I wasn't, until he told me it should be my top priority).

 

Yeah, he made me feel very insecure. The next day I went to the gym and got so nervous and kind of paranoid in thinking I was the only one there without any friends, and that I was strange. I felt like I had to try to talk to people, and I did talk to one older guy, but I didn't enjoy talking to him. But, I am going to go to the meetup-like events he told me to go to.

Edited by lisa2712
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