Hi, I'm a 29 year old male, and this is the first real thing I've ever done regarding my anxiety.
Ever since I can remember I've suffered crippling social anxiety in most public environments. I avoid group situations and social interactions with people I don't know well, especially authority at work, females and confident looking people etc. I use my phone to avoid eye contact, I avoid the management office, I avoid phone calls, I've avoided invitations to the point of losing contact with potential or old friends. And when I'm feeling really worked up, I literally can't even get the words I'm trying to say out of my mouth, feeding the anxiety even further!
But I'm not a total hermit. I do things like cycling with one or two mates at a time, solo travel, and I've done a lot of raving and partying, but over time I've realised that other than genuinely loving the music, this is kind of a coping mechanism as the alcohol, substances and loud music kind of mask the awkwardness and provide an escape for a few hours while getting my social fix. Albeit a shallow one.
When I was younger I thought that it'd just go away over time as I became an adult. And it looked like it was going that way as once I moved out of home at 18, as I gained friends, experiences and attention I never thought I was worthy of during high school. But those were the easy-go-lucky days before true "adulting," and now I feel like I'm back at square one - 30 soon and still dealing with this debilitating problem that holds me back in most areas of my life. I can deal with daily tasks like work, shopping and exercise far better than when I was in my teens, but still usually with some level of anxiety most of the time.
So, my questions are, are there any people with similar experiences who can share what has worked for you? and what are the best steps to take regarding help?
I've never gone to a counsellor and I have no idea what kind of money I should expect to spend or even where to go. So any tips would be greatly appreciated, because I am so so sick of this!!