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I am so sorry about your stroke. My grandfather (who had been very outgoing before) was very quiet around people outside of the family after a stroke. My grandmother said that he felt self-conscious because he did not have as much to say anymore -- and felt that everyone expected him to.
I think that if you can explain to your friends that you feel different than you used to and have a harder time in conversations that they will understand -- and that could take some of the pressure off.
I know that once I just acknowledged myself as "shy" to new people, I felt a burden lifted off of me because I knew that people would attribute my quietness to temperament and not take it personally and feel like they had to make me talk. It's weird, by acknowledging my shyness -- it made me feel less shy!
The fact that you feel ready to have practice conversations while shopping is good. Sometimes speaking with strangers is easier bc you don't have to worry about seeing them again! Also, you can be very formal with them and they will appreciate it as common politeness and not expect you to answer personal questions.
This is so true. I have tried to go over the different stages of my life and re-evaluate how my anxiety manifested. And it has done all of the things that you've said.
The terrible problem that I have is that when I push myself (or let myself be pushed) into situations where I am uncomfortable and it doesn't turn out well -- then it bothers me way too much.
I'm still trying to differentiate between which things I can get better at with time and exposure and those that I just don't like and never will.
I have found that anxiety can evolve over time, in many different ways, including getting worse, going away completely, morphing into a different kind of anxiety. It is how aware we are of the changes and how we respond to them that is important. Avoiding the situations that are threatening is the worst (and the best) thing you can do to lessen the anxiety. Best because you feel some relief, and worst because avoidance is a self-fulfilling prophecy that happens over and over again.
The problem is that the relief that comes with avoidance strengthens the avoiding behavior, making it more likely to occur. The more you avoid, the more your mind starts to think things that probably aren't true, especially in those social situations. I know because I have lived this.
I agree with several of you in that we are wise to be cautious around new people and in situations that have the potential to embarrass us. But I would also say that we need to make efforts to figure out what is real, and what is the insidious (and often wrong) voice of anxiety whispering in our ear, keeping us from living life fully.
"I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe." -Dalai Lama
Courage is simply the willingness to be afraid…and act anyway. – Robert Anthony
That is a very interesting point, Acacie. I would never have thought of that. I don't mind going out to stores and running errands where I won't necessarily see someone I know, but I avoid parties like the plague, never meet up with friends like I used to, and am generally the first person to leave any type of social gathering where I think I'll be forced to interact with people and have to talk about myself or anything of a personal nature. And if I happen to see someone I know while shopping, I get all jittery and either act like I don't see them, or say something stupid. I had a stroke a little over four years ago, so it's like I'll be thinking one thing, but something totally different will come out, and I get nervous that I won't know how to cover it quickly enough to not seem out of place. So instead, I run.
I'm practicing handling these situations better by having impromptu discussions with other shoppers or the cashiers, etc, and it's getting better but I feel I have a long way to go. I was thinking I had undiagnosed SAD as well, but now I'm not so sure. All I know is that my dr gave me Zoloft for general anxiety control and Ativan for when it becomes acute.
Edited by: SUMMARAH at: 5/21/2008 (13:08)
Forgive yourself and move on.
"If you have (love), you don't need to have anything else. If you don't have it, it doesn't matter much what else you have." - Sir James M. Barrie
"God give me the courage to love with an open heart." - India.Arie
Thank you both for responding to my question. I really appreciate the information, advice, comments and support. Thanks again!
While this is definitely social and may be anxiety, I'm not sure that what you're feeling is Social Anxiety: the condition.
You seem to be dealing with a lot of changes and responding to them in a way that seems pretty natural.
When I read your post I had just read an article the day before that discussed chronic tardiness and prompted the reader to explore the possibility that they were late social events (lunch with friends, etc.) because they were avoiding things that bothered them.
There were lots of possibilities; but one was that their friends may be making them uncomfortable for various reasons.
It's not hard to see why you are not completely comfortable with your new friends and might want to avoid them sometimes. You wrote that they are not close friends -- so while you enjoy doing things again as you did with your old (more close) friends -- you haven't gotten to that point with your new ones.
Maybe you're just cautious -- which is wise since it takes time to figure out new people. Maybe there are things about some of your new acquaintances that make you uncomfortable.
It's good that you are questioning your change in comfort level. But I do think that in addition to looking within yourself, you should also look outside at the situation(s) that are causing this change and then you will be able to deal with it accordingly.
P.S. I have never liked surprise visits either. It would rattle me too if someone called me and said that someone else was coming over! I like to prepare for things, and I get annoyed when anyone besides close family just drops in.
Edited by: CAIRI1 at: 5/14/2008 (11:29)
I would think so. Avoiding any type of social situation is a social anxiety, no matter how big the "crowd" is, even if it's one person. It's sounds like you are beginning to isolate yourself a bit which is not good, but I relate. I do that as well sometimes, I don't even like talking to people on the phone most of the time.
Family gatherings cause me to have anxiety as well. I have a wedding to go to this coming weekend and I'm really dreading it. I don't want to chat and be social with people I don't know at all or hardly know. I really couldn't care less about them and I always feel "fake" being social. I can't think of anything I want to discuss with them. It's just not who I am.
Leader of "Dealing with Anxiety" for people with anxiety of all kinds:
My definition of social anxiety has always been "having anxiety or feeling uncomfortable in crowds and avoiding situations with a lot of people." If you would have asked me before today if I had social anxiety I would have said no, but now I'm not sure. Maybe my definition is not broad enough. Twice today I have avoided unexpected situations to be around people on a one on one basis because I felt uncomfortable and unsociable. In one of the cases someone called me and said "so and so is going to stop by your house to see you." When they showed up I didn't answer the door and while they were still outside my door they called and their cell # came up on my caller ID. I felt bad but I just didn't feel like visiting with them. It seems like I am avoiding people on a one to one basis more often. I used to be very sociable and had a lot of friends,and went out with them on the weekends. But me & my husband moved to a town were I had a lot of family but didn't know anyone else. When we first moved I missed my friends and going out. Now we have met a lot of people, but have not developed close friends and now I really don't want any. It seems like I do better in a crowd or with a lot of people. It is usually a planned situation and I get in a different mind set. Like church for instance I'm sociable and I know people are going to do the "hugging thing" but I expect it. So I was wondering if this is a form of social anxiety.
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