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dancesintherain

facing social anxiety disorder

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Or I guess technically social phobia now.

Looking for ideas on how to handle a situation tomorrow.  Forgot to ask earlier this week, so hopefully this will still catch someone's eye.

The local Al-Anon and AA chapters of a particular nearby city are celebrating their 64th anniversary tomorrow with pizza and snacks before the open meeting (Al-Anon and AA combined with speakers from each).  A program friend recommended that I go to hear the AA perspective.  It's not my normal city/meeting, so although I'll probably know a handful of people who crossover with one or both of mine, I won't know the majority or possibly even a handful of people.  That makes my social anxiety go nuts.  I've debated going late in the celebration so I can still get some pizza but I'll mostly be there for the meeting (it's food at 6, meeting at 7:30).  I don't know if that's being prudent or just avoidance. 

I'd love to hear any suggestions for how to handle the situation.  I imagine I might take an ativan (which is a little ironic), but I'm struggling beyond that. 

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28 minutes ago, dancesintherain said:

although I'll probably know a handful of people who crossover with one or both of mine, I won't know the majority or possibly even a handful of people.  That makes my social anxiety go nuts.  I've debated going late in the celebration so I can still get some pizza but I'll mostly be there for the meeting (it's food at 6, meeting at 7:30).  I don't know if that's being prudent or just avoidance. 

I'd love to hear any suggestions for how to handle the situation.  I imagine I might take an ativan (which is a little ironic), but I'm struggling beyond that. 

Are you able to rate your level of social phobia triggered in specific situations (like on scale of 1-10)? For someone that has high phobia (lets say, 8) of even showing up to hear the lecture among strangers, I think doing that alone, would be a huge effort and achievement. Baby steps, right?

If you feel minimally triggered by the lecture setting (say only 3-4) and highly triggered (8) by the thought of having to chat up strangers or even acquaintances for over an hour, then yep, maybe show up later, grab a bit of food, beverage, to keep you busy. Try a brief smile/hello/how are you to the person you know, if they are there? Throw in a small compliment (people always appreciate that). Before long, everyone will be focused on the speaker.

 

 

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I know what it's like to worry about things like this but what can realistically go wrong? You might have to talk to strangers who have similar problems to you and might be just as anxious as you to meet strangers. You'll know at least some people there so you can hang around with them if it's too difficult. I don't mean to say it's easy or anything, and I don't mean to sound judgemental because I'm often the same. I'm just thinking of the things I'd say to myself in such a situation. Not that they work but it's different when it's another person. You have no reason to be anxious, but I understand why  you are.

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Like BlahBlah said, it really depends where you are in your social anxiety treatment. For me, if I was in your situation I would just go to the lecture part and skip the food/socializing part, but I don't feel right advising you to do that as I don't know where you are in your social anxiety therapy. I know for social anxiety you have to challenge yourself, but not so much that you don't go to the event at all.

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thanks all.  I think right now that the speaker/meeting portion itself would probably lead to a 7/10.  So I'll go for it alone and leave the socializing for another year, assuming this part goes okay.

As far as what could go wrong--I could have a panic attack,, I could throw up, etc.  Anything related to a pretty significant anxiety response.  I know it's not logical, but the logical side of my brain doesn't turn on in this sort of thing.

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7 hours ago, dancesintherain said:

As far as what could go wrong--I could have a panic attack,, I could throw up, etc.  Anything related to a pretty significant anxiety response.  I know it's not logical, but the logical side of my brain doesn't turn on in this sort of thing.

You could also meet someone amazing, who you'll click with immediately, and they'll be your new best friend or partner. We don't think like this though do we? Always picture the worst. And it's hard to meet your new best friend or partner when you're just hoping you can get through this conversation without saying something which you'll regret, and which you'll later beat yourself up over. But I've often found that the anxiety all came from what I feared would happen. I've sometimes wished I could get ill or maybe 'accidentaly' fall down the stairs in order to get out of some social event. I go and it went ok. It was easy and it was good. I'm glad I went and I'm glad I didn't throw myself down the stairs. It's never as bad as we fear, because we can imagine horrors worse than Stephen King can. Subjectively at least. I mean killer clowns that live in sewers should be far more terrifying than meeting people, but sometimes I think "Bring on the clowns."

 

8 hours ago, dancesintherain said:

 I know it's not logical, but the logical side of my brain doesn't turn on in this sort of thing.

Yes that's mental illness in a nutshell. If you aren't completely crazy then you know that your thoughts might be utter bullshit. But we still half believe them and we have to prove ourselves wrong.

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I definitely appreciate the alternative perspective.  And I can see how it would be beneficial to go to the socializing part.  But I'm just not there yet.  I'll aim to be there for the speakers, which is further than I would go if my anxiety brain was totally in charge.

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I believe that it was a good decision in the long run.  I was there for the substance and got a lot of insight out of it (there were two women there celebrating 28 and 42 years of sobriety respectively speaking, which was pretty awesome).  But I didn't have torture myself with the conversations in advance.  Maybe by the time next year comes around I'll be more comfortable with the concept and be able to socialize also.  I currently socialize after my local group meetings, which is a start. 

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