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Topic: Anxiety spikes when directly facing someone

6 posts, 0 answered
  1. BradDad
    BradDad avatar
    10 posts
    20 December 2019
    Does anyone else experience this? My anxiety levels are ok if I'm talking to someone and we're side on, or if I'm seated, but if we stand directly facing each other I start to go into fight or flight mode. I feel like I can't escape their gaze and I don't know what to do with my body. The thought train starts 'they will see that I'm nervous and they will judge me etc...' and that makes my anxiety worse. This isn't a problem with some people whom I'm comfortable with but it is for a majority of situations, especially at work. I can be walking along side-by-side with a person and be fine. If we stop though and turn to face each other (as often happens) suddenly the anxiety spikes. I have started a new job which makes this all worse but it's always been a problem.
    1 person found this helpful
  2. Hanna3
    Hanna3 avatar
    1631 posts
    20 December 2019 in reply to BradDad

    Hi BradDad,

    I had something similar when I was much younger it doesn't happen any more - I was under a lot of stress at the time and developed anxiety and I had always been fairly socially anxious - then I began to have almost panic attacks if caught by someone to talk. Was fine if walking along chatting but not standing face to face just as you describe.

    It went away I don't remember when... I think when I got more confident. So I think it's a form of social anxiety and if you've just started a new job then you're under some extra stress so perhaps that's why it's become worse?

    I think if you can do your best to tell yourself you know it's just from the extra stress of the new job and anyway it's almost certainly not noticeable by the other person - I think anxious people think people really notice that they're anxious but often they are not really paying that much attention to you.

    I hope this helps, it certainly is unpleasant to suffer from it, but mine just vanished at some point so stress for some reason flared it up and then it went away. Maybe do your best to continue walking or make some excuse to need to stroll as you're talking to another person?

    Hope this is of some help. Cheers and best of luck with it I'm sure this flare up of the problem will settle down. Maybe see a counsellor or GP if you feel you need more help with it temporarily?

    1 person found this helpful
  3. white knight
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    white knight avatar
    8160 posts
    20 December 2019 in reply to BradDad

    Hi, welcome

    Anxiety comes in many forms but usually the same end result. Social anxiety and add to that perhaps low self esteem as it appears in your case deserves short medium and long term plans of recovery or development.

    Thats how it was told to me some 32 years ago and now I’m living an anxiety free life, it was worth the effort.

    So the multi pronged approach can include-

    Short term- introduce therapy via your GP, read articles on the www and carry out deep breathing exercises and muscle tensioning exercises and any other exercises assigned to you by your professional medical staff.

    medium term- seek less stressful employment meaning no shift work, no food sales, no customer service.

    Long term- a quieter life maybe a move to the country, carefully selected friends, protection from aggressive or manipulative people. Career fulfilment.

    The main message here is to accept that, without effort your anxiety won’t heal itself and will worsen leading to more withdrawal and even depression..

    To get more detail about this I have some beyondblue threads you can read. You only need to read the first post of each.

    please google

    beyondblue topic anxiety, how I eliminated it

    beyondblue topic fortress of survival (also part 2)

    beyondblue topic worry worry worry

    beyondblue topic he helped me for 25 years Maharaji

    That last one includes links to Maharaji and his YouTube videos, well worth listening to those, he has many on youtube so it can be part of your nightly relaxation routine.

    Finally, you are not alone in possessing this sort of fear. Many people have them, it could be fear of other things like animals or a bad experience has left emotional scars like passing the location of a previous car accident. Our minds need repair or a chance to overcome the barriers that stop us being relaxed within our own skin with other people or trauma.

    Well done in sharing your story and facing your challenges- you’ve completed the first step, many people never get that far.


    1 person found this helpful
  4. BradDad
    BradDad avatar
    10 posts
    21 December 2019 in reply to Hanna3

    Thanks Hanna. That makes so much sense. Deep down I think I knew it but needed to hear it for someone else! Really appreciate it.

  5. BradDad
    BradDad avatar
    10 posts
    21 December 2019 in reply to white knight
    Thank you Tony. I will check those out
  6. Dan_1000
    Dan_1000 avatar
    9 posts
    10 January 2020 in reply to BradDad

    Hi BradDad thank you so much for sharing your experience, I definitely resonate with your story (particularly as I am commencing a new job in consulting in a few months, and terrified about not being able to control it).

    The thought train is really the worst part for me, but that coupled with silence or direct eye contact just sends me over.

    Often the advice seems to be 'stop and breathe' or 'mentally talk down your negative thoughts' but it's really challenging to do this in a meeting, and even more challenging when you don't really understand why talking one-on-one to someone is causing the anxiety in the first place.

    One thing that works occasionally for me in these situations is to lighten the mood, or to smile. But now i create anxiety before the meeting by worrying about having anxiety in the meeting!

    Let me know if you have any progress/tips!

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