Before I started my blog on WordPress I wrote a few things on Wattpad which I will start to upload here.
Starting with my Q&A social anxiety & me.
I answer questions from Gillian Butler’s book to help overcome social anxiety and shyness.
26 January 2017
Question One – How does social anxiety affect you?
Social anxiety affects me by making me fearful of engaging with people, whether this be people I know or not. This is because I am not confident enough to always initiate conversation and if it is avoidable I would prefer to leave it this way, so it also affects my behaviour by making me avoid situations either by ignoring people when I’m out or by staying at home rather than going out when I have been invited to something. I feel that if I do participate I will become awkward and left out. I become very self-focused and critical of myself and always compare myself to others and thinking that everyone else is better than me.
I am worried about expressing my views and thoughts as I fear that if I was challenged I wouldn’t be able to back them up and would therefore make a fool of myself. At the same time I feel this makes me feel very one-dimensional and I presume that I would come across as dull.
When I am in a social situation I find it difficult to relax and let go and because this has gone on for some time I feel that I am losing my identity and wondering what I used to be like. When I do socialise I like to be with someone I know and am comfortable with. This means that I am using someone as a safety blanket as I would feel too exposed to mingle with unknowns/acquaintances on my own.
Symptoms of anxiety that I’ve experienced include: lightheadedness, headaches, digestive problems including difficulty swallowing, the sensation of a lump in my throat and increased wind. The latter of which causes anxiety in itself as I have to control my need to trump when I’m in company as I feel it would be loud or smelly and this would cause me a lot of embarrassment! I have to excuse myself to relieve the build up. Obviously with this going on my mind is elsewhere and I am not fully cooperating in the social situation. Other symptoms include jitteriness and some involuntary muscles twitches. My speech can be affected with struggling for words or tripping over what I’m saying or even my mind going blank. My hands can become clammy and I sweat a lot under my arms. I also get heart flutters/palpitations which is a worry and I am often tired and my body feels weak. Most likely these symptoms of anxiety fuel it further as they cause a continuation of the worry, whether it be me worrying about my health or whether I worry that my symptoms may show when I am around people and that they will judge me badly (by thinking I’m odd/weird).
Unfortunately I feel that social anxiety has affected my ability to create and maintain friendships. I currently feel that I have very little support and having a limited number of friends holds me back from participating in certain activities. I find that if I am with someone I will let them do the talking and I fear that this means people don’t connect well with me and therefore wouldn’t consider a relationship with me. (Or worse I think that they probably wouldn’t even remember who I was.)
Sometimes when I do try to speak my voice is very quiet and sometimes I go unheard and am ignored which makes me less likely to speak again. After periods of talking my voice becomes quite hoarse so I become very aware of the way I sound.
I also have very tight and tense muscles in my shoulders as I hold my body very stiffly. This is part of my fight or flight response as my mind perceives that I am under threat. This also gives me surges of adrenaline. I get bouts of frustration which can make me become agitated and/or angry.
Working with this anxiety has caused me to take a lot of time off as I find the stress overwhelming and it affects my body by giving me neck ache which travels all the way up to the back of my skull leaving me feeling very numb and tired and not being able to fully function mentally or physically.
I have developed a lot of avoidance behaviours at work, particularly recently with not wanting to be caught by a patient at reception. I have a habit of remembering the bad experiences I’ve had with people so this causes me fear that it will happen again and I fear that I won’t be able to handle the situation well.
As well as struggling to express my opinions, I also struggle to say no to people and find that I go along with what other people say even though I don’t always agree.I find myself worrying too much about what other people think of me and I often make negative presumptions about what others are thinking about me so it makes me behave awkwardly and I find it hard then to interact with them. This makes me feel low in myself and I become distant. I can find it difficult concentrating on what people are saying and I can have trouble remembering what people have said. I do find that I am generally quite forgetful anyway forgetting places I’ve been or things I’ve done. I think this forgetfulness also hampers my ability to feel comfortable with people I’ve already spoken to in the past as I cannot remember what they were like and I feel like I am back to square one. I sometimes worry something might go wrong ahead of time which causes the anxiety to build before I even go out.
A lot of times when leaving a social situation I find it hard to say goodbye because I don’t want to draw attention to myself or interrupt and I sometimes feel that people wouldn’t notice if I left anyway so I have a habit of occasionally disappearing without a word. I know this is wrong so I do try most of the time to at least tell someone I’m going.
Another big problem is that I become very tired and lack motivation so when it comes to doing things I find it difficult and this then makes me feel bad about myself because I feel that I haven’t achieved anything and have been wasting my time.
Question Two – What are the signs and symptoms that bother you?
I find that every symptom I experience bothers me because I know it’s not normal and I just want to be happy and healthy.
Question Three – How would you like things to be different?
My main goal is to be confident in my own skin, to be proud of myself and to continue to improve myself. With confidence I feel that I will be able to tackle my social phobia. I want to be full of energy and life and I want to share that with more people. I want to make new friends and improve my current relationships. Once I believe in myself and stop the self-doubt, I hope to end the vicious cycle of anxiety.
A confident me will be able to share personal opinions, say no and be able to explain why if needed, have a clear and louder voice so that I feel people take note of what I say and to feel strong in my own right and not seek reassurance or feel bad about myself.