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Suffering from Social Phobia. Advice Needed.

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posted on Mar, 16 2012 @ 06:15 PM
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Hello!
I am making this thread because for a number of reasons, which I explain directly below, I believe I have reached my limits and I am hoping that some of you might be able to offer me some advice.

I am 25 years old and I am suffering from social anxiety disorder. For those that don’t know, a person who has SAD is afraid of social situations of any kind from the most trivial like waiting at the queue at the grocery store to the more demanding like giving a speech. It might not sound that bad, but you have to believe me when I say to you that it can literally ruin your life as it has done in my case.

Even though I am 25, I haven’t managed to obtain any kind of higher education degree for the sole reason that every time I started something new I had to give up after a while because of the immense amount of stress and anxiety I had. For most people, attending classes and hanging out with their classmates is an enjoyable thing to do, but not for me. Likewise, I have never had any romantic relationship and in general I haven’t really had those experiences that most people have during their young adulthood. I have missed many things, but I do try to comfort myself telling him that suffering from social phobia has also been an invaluable experience in my life, a lesson which taught me to appreciate all those things that because of SAD I cannot enjoy which extend far beyond the material ones.

Social phobia really started affecting me when I was 12 to 14 years old. Prior to that, I was a happy human being. From that point on however, my life has generally been miserable with some sparse moments of relative happiness. During the last 10 years, the stress has accumulated and has now reached a point where I cannot handle it anymore. During all these years, sleeping has more or less been a torture. Because of all the stress I am having during the day, when I go to sleep at night, all this tension which has accumulated during the day is felt in my body as a burden in my chest and my abdomen and because I cannot do anything about it, it expresses itself in the form of panic attacks. For the first 3 or 4 years, when I had panic attacks I thought something supernatural took place which resulted in my being totally afraid of going to sleep. Fortunately, as I got a bit older and around the age of 19 I managed to rationalize the situation and to at least overcome my fear of sleeping (till then I couldn’t sleep without the lights on and before 3 or 4 am). Nocturnal panic attacks didn’t stop happening however, because SAD was still there as well as all the stress because of it.

I have now reached a point where this burden on my chest is constant, where apart from panic attacks I also suffer from tremors which are also constant and are really messing up my non-existent self-confidence and where I am generally fed up with feeling and actually being trapped in my own mind. I want to study, but I cannot attend classes, I want to make friends, but I dread only at the idea of going out with someone just for a coffee, I want to experience romance, but my mind comes up with a million negative/defeatist/fear-inducing thoughts that inhibit me from pursuing that.

I have been having psychotherapy almost 3 years now and although it has helped a bit, it hasn’t been enough. My psychotherapist said that I should accept what I am (or have) because I will have to deal with it more or less for the rest of my life. Part of the SAD treatment is taking medication which so far I haven’t done because I don’t want to feed my body with chemicals that make me feel like zombie.

I don’t want to accept that I will live with that disorder for the rest of my life. I cannot begin to imagine how many things I will miss living like that and how incomplete my life will be. I desperately need to find something that will help me overcome social phobia, but so far I haven’t found anything. I would like to thank all of you who had the patience to read the whole text and I would like to ask if you have any advice, something that you think could help, anything. Words cannot really express the amount of desperation and disappointment I am experiencing. I would like to live a full life.

Thank you!

Alexander




posted on Mar, 16 2012 @ 06:25 PM
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The right medication at the right dose will not make you feel like a zombie. It will be a trial and error thing until you find what works best for you. Good luck!



posted on Mar, 16 2012 @ 06:28 PM
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Hello Alexander,

First of all, let me say that I have exactly the same disorder. However, I am twice as old as you are, so I have twice as many years of suffering and freaking out as you have had.

There are a few things you can do to dispel the anxiety, and one of those is exercise. You don't need to go anywhere to exercise, you can do it in the privacy of your own home with nobody watching. This will help you sleep better and also increase your self-confidence as far as your physical appearance goes.

HOWEVER: I have accepted that I need medication. At first it will wind you WAY down, but that is not "zombifying" yourself, that is the feeling of what it is like to not be wound up tighter than an 8 day clock. Probably you will be put on an antidepressant plus anti-anxiety medication (such as Paxil or Zoloft and Xanax). These will increase your appetite, hence the exercise suggestion to keep any weight gain under control.

I know the feeling of standing in line at the grocery store and having a panic attack, complete with sweating, shaking, feeling light headed, and fighting the feeling that I need to abandon my groceries and run out the door like a crazy person, or fainting right on the spot.

Your world will become so small and insular and you will suffer for years alone in silence and your life will pass you by. Don't let this happen!! You'd be amazed at what you can do once the anxiety is under control. I was able to get my bachelor's degree (in psychology, of course!), hold down a job, get married, and have children. To have a social life, to be able to go into a restaurant or store without having a freak out is a real pleasure. Don't deny yourself that.

Sometimes, medication is a blessing. Currently I have Xanax for anxiety and I need Ambien to get a full night's sleep, but it is a small price to pay for not being upset, anxious and afraid 24 hours a day.

Give the meds a try....and then, after a month or so, if you don't like them, then go back off, but don't be afraid of them. Your life is waiting, and nobody needs to know that you are taking them but you.

Best of luck to you.



posted on Mar, 16 2012 @ 06:29 PM
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Hi mate,

Just so you know, you are not alone!
I myself am a sufferer of this dreadful thing they call anxiety and panic, i have suffered it for years got worse when i hit 23. currently 24.

What i did was to do the things that my mind would tell me not to do, for example going out places socializing etc, if you force your self to do these things, you will overcome them, trust me. Remember, this Anxiety/Panic wont kill you or harm you, it's just in our head man. So go out there an just live! Life is short to be afraid of this sh!t.

I would also recommend CBT (Cognitive behavioral therapy) it will help you so much
along with meditation, listen to nice relaxing music and just let your mind fly.

Please do not take any pills for anxiety or panic, it wont make it go away, it may seem like it for a couple of weeks or a month or 2, but it will come back and hit you like a truck, making the sensation 100x worse.

So my advice is, go out there, see things, explore and don't be afraid of this, find a nice woman get married with a nice job.

I know what your thinking though "Yeah easy to say!" well it is, there is nothing hard about it, let the feeling come to you in most cases, explore the sensation, ask yourself what is this and how you can beat it, the more you try avoiding the more worse it gets.

Good luck mate, and remember this wont last forever, it eventually goes with your help. Stand strong and don't look down, always look up.



posted on Mar, 16 2012 @ 06:36 PM
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All I want to say is it doesnt matter what you did in the past, and those feelings of non worth, and whatever reasons you have for why people treat you a certain way, cant last forever. As long as you want to be a better person or make better choices for yourself, you are entitled to that same happiness and the pursuit of it. Good luck !



posted on Mar, 16 2012 @ 06:36 PM
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I feel you brother, I had severely for only about 3 years and they were the worst 3 years of my life, I couldn't even leave the house at one point when I tried my knees would collapse with fear, its really not a nice way to live. The good thing is that many people find ways to overcome it, I found that once I stopped fighting panic attacks and just accepted them they started to become less frequent.



Originally posted by Alexander1111
Part of the SAD treatment is taking medication which so far I haven’t done because I don’t want to feed my body with chemicals that make me feel like zombie.


If its really severe then you may have to decide whether the risk of medication still outweighs the reward of a normal life anymore. Your doused by chemicals on a daily basis and removing most of those would probably be better than removing medication.

There's a few things beside medication you can try. There's some other good ones that others have mentioned in this thread too,

Kava root
Meditation
Laugh therapy

And lastly just try a change in attitude, I just started not giving a damn, I was sick of always living in fear and had just had enough of it, I just didn't care anymore if I died tomorrow, at that point death didn't sound like such a bad thing. When your not afraid of death, what else is there to be afraid of? Then in the weeks to come the panic attacks become few and far between. I had accepted them and no longer feared them.




edit on 16-3-2012 by polarwarrior because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 16 2012 @ 06:44 PM
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reply to post by FissionSurplus
 


Hello FissionSurplus!

Yes, I already do some exercise and it does make me feel better. The only problem with that is staying motivated. As you probably know, extreme stress makes someone unmotivated and less interested in things they otherwise enjoy doing.

As for taking medication as NightStar also suggested, it's something that I would like to avoid if possible. You see, I am also suffering from epilepsy and I have been taking medication since I was 7. Instead of antidepressants, I have been taking St. John's Wort and Maca, but so far I haven't noticed much difference...

Thank you for your reply! I wish you the best! I am happy that despite circumstances you have managed to rise above them and live a happy life!



posted on Mar, 16 2012 @ 06:45 PM
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I may have the same problem as you do but I don't call it a disease or anything near it. Today people have fallen further apart from each other due to the vast amount of technology that can occupy your mind. I've never had a friend to hang around with as my "best" friend since I was little but it still wasn't an issue. I have no "schoolmates" that I hang around with but it's still great the way I am.

A re-read your text and It just popped in my mind that I've had the same symptoms just as you did when this all started, I felt bad waking up in the morning because I couldn't fall asleep at night, the stress just kept building up, it felt as if the heaven was on your shoulders. My heart became weaker, my pulse became stronger during random times for example when I saw violence and etc. I was doing good living a perfect life, but the stress just broke my plans apart and I had a tough time finding my way back.

You want to know how I got through it? Basically I've stopped hard studying for the time being because it only builds up more stress. Maybe I can continue in a time when my mind is settled.

I kept thinking about the future how it's going to be that it's going to be hard and I won't make it. I thought what's the point of studying and working when you're only going to die. But it's absolutely wrong to think this way, your only downing yourself seriously hard. If you know that you're eventually going to leave this world some day, why not make the best of it?

I advice you to not take any kind of MEDICINE and therapy. Your family is the best therapy there is, when you're always down they are the ones willing to help you stand up again. I think that they are you're solution to removing this mental "disorder", It's only made up in your brain. You have to find a way to crush those thoughts inside your brain. Something that makes you happy, that keeps your thoughts off this world.

I can understand what you're feeling, I've lived through a war and fled to another country to live in peace. But apart from that my life as a "perfect" and healthy student has been the worst part of my life. No one is perfect and no one will be, we all do mistakes. The wise guy is the one that sees it and fixes it.

I can feel the burden on your shoulders and I hope you will get some ease.
The only thing that brought my chin up and kept me thinking positive was my belief in Allah. I do my daily prayers and do what I'm suppose to do, and even If I fail to achieve in this world what's considered "education" then I can satisfy myself by knowing what's waiting for me in the next life.

A last tip, try to get outside as much as you can, If you don't have a hobby, try to jog at night, 15 minutes a day and then perhaps increase? I would say that something that keeps your mind of off thinking is a good solution to your problem. Fix a goal for yourself, perhaps loose some weight if you need it or build abs if you just want a goal. Do something that makes you think that you've actually achieved something! And keep your chin down, just to not show pride above others, but keep your spirit up and always smile to others.



Volume 7, Book 71, Number 582: Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "There is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its treatment."


You'll find your medicine soon enough brother, keep your spirit up.
Peace,

PS: pm me if you have any questions, Peace again lol
sorry if I made it to long to read.
edit on 16-3-2012 by ImaMuslim because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 16 2012 @ 06:51 PM
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reply to post by Alexander1111
 
I used to share your anxiety and then I found this test www.humanmetrics.com... formula according to Carl Jung and Isabel Briggs Myers typology along with the strengths of the preferences •The description of your personality type As it turned out I am normal and not like others and I am ok ....peace



posted on Mar, 16 2012 @ 06:52 PM
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reply to post by Alexander1111
 


First you have to figure out where this fear is comming from...

Low self esteem?

Peer presure?

Do you care what others think of you? IF you do... WHY?

Try to narrow down what causes this fear of being social.




posted on Mar, 16 2012 @ 06:54 PM
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reply to post by Zatox
 


You are so right in what you say, Zatox. I have made some progress with facing my fears and irrational thoughts, but the sheer amount of effort I put into it and all the anxiety leaves me totally exhausted. I am currently working at a fast food restaurant and it is a good place for me to face some of my fears.

I will try to include more things to do where I feel uncomfortable and put myself more to the limits, despite the fact I am already feeling I have reached them.

Thank you and good luck to you too!



posted on Mar, 16 2012 @ 06:57 PM
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reply to post by Alexander1111
 


I suppose I should clarify that I have not been on medication the entire time. I would go through times when I would have a lot of panic attacks and anxiousness, then go on meds. After 6 months or so, things would calm down and I would wean back off. The last time, I went about 10 years before I needed medical intervention again. Starting on meds to calm you down is not a bad thing, it is to break the cycle of anxiety. Once the cycle is broken, you can stop them.

Lately it has been really bad, and I suspect that it is all the "end of the world or some awful disaster fixing to befall us" that is triggering it. I have been prepping with food and water, etc., and the expectation of something terrible tends to get me feeling anxious, so I went back on meds this past year.

I suppose if the world has some kind of disaster or TSHTF, then I can relax....



posted on Mar, 16 2012 @ 07:01 PM
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reply to post by polarwarrior
 


I do have some experience with meditation being myself a Reiki master (I know, quite an oxymoron), but I haven't tried Kava root before. I'll give it a try!

I am a person who is concerned with every tiny detail of how he looks and how others perceive him, so not giving a damn would certainly help, but it is so difficult to change attitude because in reality you are trying to change the way your brain is wired. Faking it, might be a good start...

Thank you!



posted on Mar, 16 2012 @ 07:25 PM
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reply to post by ImaMuslim
 


Hello ImaMuslim!

Not having many friends, my family has been a great help to me. So, I agree that family is very important. Sometimes, however, clinging too much to your family members, might prevent you from becoming more independent. It is always good to broaden your social environment, but for people with social phobia this is easier said than done.

I am not a religious person, but I am very spiritual and believe in God whom I prefer to call simply Father. He has been a great comfort to me and my faith was instrumental in helping me overcome my fear of sleeping.

I am also of the opinion that one can educate himself and get a degree or two, but our soul's education and growth is not dependent of such knowledge. I am certain that a person can be extremely succesful, but spiritually in poverty and vice versa.

Thank you for your reply!



posted on Mar, 16 2012 @ 07:29 PM
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reply to post by Akragon
 


I know the reasons already. In fact, I believe I have perfect theoretical knowledge of what I am suffering from and why (3 years of psychotherapy have helped a lot in this regard). It's putting this knowledge into use that is proving to be very difficult...



posted on Mar, 16 2012 @ 07:42 PM
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reply to post by FissionSurplus
 


I always thought that one's organism becomes addicted to the chemicals of the medications. Is it certain that any positive effects from them would remain even after I will have quit taking them? I mean, it worked in your case, but is this what usually happens?

I am also a person who is greatly affected from global conditions and given the way things are right now one cannot be very optimistic. It does help however looking at the bigger picture of reality where your petty problems aren't that important as you really thought.



posted on Mar, 16 2012 @ 07:43 PM
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Originally posted by Alexander1111
reply to post by Akragon
 


I know the reasons already. In fact, I believe I have perfect theoretical knowledge of what I am suffering from and why (3 years of psychotherapy have helped a lot in this regard). It's putting this knowledge into use that is proving to be very difficult...


Right on...

Well the best way to overcome fear is to face it head on...

Fear is our greatest enemy as a species




posted on Mar, 16 2012 @ 07:56 PM
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The first thing to do, imo, is develop an ego. You'll want to get rid of--or tame it somewhat--later lol.

But for the time being realize this: Your intelligence is obviously substantially above the norm as evidenced by your more than competent writing ability and an exceptional ability for introspection.

It's a given that given the above attributes, the "world" won't always understand you. That's a good thing once you "convert" it to power.

Once you realize that you can compete, and believe me you can, the fear of social situations will begin to retreat. The problem with my advice is the same thing I stated above: Ego gives us confidence, which in turn gives us issues of it's own.


My saying has always been that, "Our greatest strengths are always our greatest weaknesses." You definitely have strengths my friend: Now go kick some intellectual butt...but ease off a little after you achieve your goals ha!

Good luck! Prescription drugs? Only as a last choice...but that's just me.



posted on Mar, 16 2012 @ 08:05 PM
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reply to post by The GUT
 


Good advice as well...

Ego has its uses.... You gotta know you're good to over come fears of inadequacy




posted on Mar, 16 2012 @ 08:13 PM
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Originally posted by Akragon
reply to post by The GUT
 


Good advice as well...

Ego has its uses.... You gotta know you're good to over come fears of inadequacy


As we both well know!!
...now what do we do my respected friend?




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