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dancesintherain

what's your social anxiety look like?

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this is kind of related to this post that I made -

 so I understand if the answer is "I've already told you that."

 

The question though...what situations lead to social anxiety and which ones don't?  This came up for me today because my friend was worried about me participating in a walk for a cause--and I had to explain that it's not mass social events that scare me.  I can blend into the crowd and not interact with anyone if that's where my headspace is.  And it very well might be.  But the fact that there's a crowd doesn't trigger my anxiety.

He asked me what does and I said that the most typical  ones are where I kind of know some of the people but I don't know many or most and I have to interact with them.  So when I just started my past job, someone hosted a dinner with all of us who started at the same time (six people).  I almost backed out because of how badly it was triggering my social anxiety.  Or for more recent, my "class" of people who started together frequently has happy hours after work.  I've made it to one and used the fact that I have a regular Thursday commitment as a reason for not going to most.  But the one was rough.  I bailed after an hour and during that hour was mostly glued to someone who strongly asked me to come and said I would be someone she could talk to. 

So...it's not so paralyzing that I avoid it all the time, just most of the time.  Even with close friends, the criticizing myself after the fact is a hard one.  But give me a big crowd and I do fine.

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I’ll revise to say that I have mild social anxiety in a large crowd if there’s an expectation that I will interact with the other people.  

Edited by dancesintherain

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Any social interaction used to be paralysing. Just walking down the street I felt like a freak, and everyone probably thinks I'm a freak because they can see that I don't know how to human properly. I have got a lot better since then and I don't mind going out and meeting people. It took some practice to overcome the thoughts of - it's going to go badly, everyone's going to hate me, everyone's going to hate me, it's going to be a fucking disaster! Still a work in progress it but it's nowhere near as bad as it used to be. I go out all the time now and it's not a big deal to be around other people.

I still find getting close to people difficult. Or letting people get close rather. Someone likes me? Why? Imagine how disappointed they'll be when they get to know me and realise that their impression of me was wrong. Yeah thank you mum and dad for teaching me that I'm worthless and giving me a fucked up idea of love. You mean love is meant to be a good thing? Who'd of thunk it? For all the progress I've made there's still this wall around me which I do but don't want anyone to get inside. They'd get to know me! And that can't be good.

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Being in a small group setting where each person is encouraged to share their thoughts or opinions. That sets me off big time. I am really fearful of adding my "two cents" to anything. This was terrible when I was working, as we'd often have team meetings to discuss projects. My brain would jumble up and I wouldn't know what to say.

My husband's work events, where he knows everyone (co-workers) and I don't. I guess I'd be expected to hang out/converse with the other "partners of employees" but that's even worse tbh. In fact, any event where there will be lots of people and I am expected to interact is a trigger for me. Things like church are fine because I can just sit at the back and listen, then leave early before I have to talk to anyone, lol.

Sometimes I get in this mindset where I don't want anyone to look at me. So I avoid avoid avoid. I stay at home and avoid things like family gatherings and church etc. 

Being in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. For example, starting a new job. I HATE starting a new job. I know everyone struggles with that but I get so anxious I find it really hard to ask people for help with what I'm learning to do.

 

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2 hours ago, Melancholya said:

My husband's work events, where he knows everyone (co-workers) and I don't. I guess I'd be expected to hang out/converse with the other "partners of employees" but that's even worse tbh. In fact, any event where there will be lots of people and I am expected to interact is a trigger for me. 

I hate events where I’m supposed to talk to spouses. “Hi. Good chance we have jack shit in common and would never select each other as companions, but our spouses work together and that’s supposed to be sufficient reason for us to have a nice time talking.” I particularly hate being expected to talk to the wives. I suck at talking to 98% of women. 

And I loathe team-building, getting-to-know-you exercises. Are you shitting me with this? Another pseudo-relationship based on nothing. I’ll get to know you as we work together. 

Large anonymous crowds don’t bother me except for the noise. 

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Any situation where I am supposed to mill about making conversations with people is intensely stressful for me. I quit going to ACOA because I couldn’t handle the post-meeting mingle. I always took off immediately to my car and felt bad about myself.

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Thanks for this thread, dances.  I'm default afraid of all humans, but I'm a lot less afraid of people I know I won't have to interact with on more than the most superficial level and likely never encounter them again.  Existing in a large crowd with near zero social expectations (concert, Ted Talk) I only have the low-level fear I have all the time (what if there is a mass shooter at this event, that kind of thing; I live in the USA). 

Anxiety greatly increases when I know there's a significant chance of someone asking me anything personal at all, or of me being expected to ask someone else something personal.  For example I'm terrified of my family and of everybody in my apartment building.  I'm only mildly worried about fellow passengers on the train.
 

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It depends on a lot of factors including what meds I've taken that day, if I've taken my meds, how I feel physically, etc., but generally speaking most everything makes me anxious; it's just the degree of anxiety that's the true difference.

With treatment over the last ±5 years, I've gradually gotten better, but depending on the day I can be anywhere from almost nothing bothering me and not actively avoiding anything to not getting out of the house to get coffee at Starbucks, even when I can put in a mobile order and not have to open my mouth. 

I think the thing in life that has affected me most (both good and bad) is my job. For approx. the last 10 years I've worked as a direct care mental health worker on an acute, locked inpatient psych unit for people with schizophrenia, bipolar and other psychotic disorders at a free-standing psych hospital in New England.

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On 11/18/2019 at 9:20 PM, psychwardjesus said:

I think the thing in life that has affected me most (both good and bad) is my job. For approx. the last 10 years I've worked as a direct care mental health worker on an acute, locked inpatient psych unit for people with schizophrenia, bipolar and other psychotic disorders at a free-standing psych hospital in New England.

I’m sorry for the toll it takes on you, but I very much respect you for doing the work. We need our own taking care of us.

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On 11/17/2019 at 8:11 PM, Gearhead said:

Large anonymous crowds don’t bother me except for the noise. 

That, exactly. I’ve never been to NYC, but it sounds like a place I could be comfortable, in the “alone in a crowd” mindset. But the noise would be too much. 

Going somewhere where I would be expected to converse, and worse, *maintain* a conversation is the worst for me. It really doesn’t matter if it’s a party (that’s exceedingly rare) or one on one. It’s hard to say anything when my brain only wants to give me a slideshow on how I’d rather be on the sofa snuggling my furries. And it completely drains me, which just gives me further dread. 

Edited by Rabbit37

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On 11/23/2019 at 6:54 AM, Rabbit37 said:

That, exactly. I’ve never been to NYC, but it sounds like a place I could be comfortable, in the “alone in a crowd” mindset. But the noise would be too much. 

Going somewhere where I would be expected to converse, and worse, *maintain* a conversation is the worst for me. It really doesn’t matter if it’s a party (that’s exceedingly rare) or one on one. It’s hard to say anything when my brain only wants to give me a slideshow on how I’d rather be on the sofa snuggling my furries. And it completely drains me, which just gives me further dread. 

You might think so, but I've found at times the opposite to be true: the noise and visual stimuli was overwhelming and/or instead of thinking one or two people might be judging me, it was a whole crowd

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On 11/20/2019 at 8:09 PM, Gearhead said:

I’m sorry for the toll it takes on you, but I very much respect you for doing the work. We need our own taking care of us.

Thank you. As much as the work can be very physically and emotionally draining, it can also be very energizing and enriching to the soul (as corny as that sounds). I've seen some of the best and worst in people — many times, sometimes in the same day, and sometimes in the same people — that have genuinely changed me at my core as a human being. I still have work to do, but I don't think for a second I would be as thoughtful, kind, or empathetic without working where I work and that the patients are directly responsible for that in me.

I definitely try to bring my own experiences with mental health and treatment into conversations with patients, sometimes in the form of passing on skills I learned when I needed them, sometimes just encouragement when times are tough, and sometimes also self-disclosure of my own struggles, both so they know they're not alone and that, with hard work, things can get better. But I also try to inject a lot of self-deprecating humor and humility into it as well because I respect, at the same time really dislike, the power differential between us. That's why I usually joke and say, "For whatever reason, they've given me the badge and keys today; who knows about tomorrow. Maybe our roles will be reversed and that's just fine."

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yknow, i read this when you first made the thread, and thought that i'd like to contribute, but my meds had my social anxiety under control enough that i felt like it was too old of an experience to relate to you. however, now that i'm coming off effexor and my anxiety is back in FULL FORCE, i feel qualified enough to share.

crowds don't bother me. i loved living in the city because i just blended in with the crowd, and nobody looked twice at me. 

being recognized makes me anxious. it makes me feel like i have to perform a certain way to fit whatever image the person recognizing me has of me. i think i'm wording things badly, but i hope you understand what i mean. if i perceive an expectation, i freak out. it's far easier for me to be somewhere where nobody knows me at all.

one on one situations make me very, very afraid. asking questions is particularly difficult, because i fear that the other person will think i'm stupid for not knowing already. i begin to avoid face to face contact and try and hide behind texts and emails. if it gets worse, i stop checking emails and texts too. i fear that something i say will cause the person i'm talking to to lash out at me. i begin to avoid social interactions if i believe they may go badly, and in this mindset, it's hard to convince me that they won't go badly.

before a social interaction, i curl up very small and my breathing gets fucky. after, i feel overwhelmed and usually petrified, even if it went okay.

people are scary. when i'm well, i really like talking to others, and feel lonely in my relatively isolated job. when i'm unwell, my office is a sanctuary.

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I just look placid, but then I tend to stutter and talk in a very low voice when experiencing anxiety. 

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