Welcome to the Healthy Families forums!

This is a space to ask questions, share experiences and support each other. Find a relevant thread or start your own!

Before you can post or reply in these forums, please join our online community and have a read of the community rules. Forum membership is open to anyone residing in Australia.

  • share on Facebook
  • share on Twitter
  • Print page

Topic: Social anxiety or something else?

10 posts, 0 answered
  1. gucia6
    gucia6 avatar
    59 posts
    9 July 2020

    Hi everyone,

    Generally I am craving for being among people, but lack social skills allowing me to get closer.

    Whenever I meet someone, I am terrified, my mind goes blank. And this moves to "what-should-I-say-now,what-should-I-say-now", "they probably think I am boring/cold/rude", "oh,this is so awkward", "what if they think I am not worthy talking to anymore?" etc. I need a moment to get used to them and realize that they are not going to eat me and I can actually talk to them (if they are still there of course).

    During parties I am the listener and observer, and I need someone safe (usually my husband) to be beside me to feel comfortable.

    I am also OK speaking in front of people, as long as I am prepared. But any change of agenda and if I have to answer sudden questions I get light-headed, dry throat, go bright red, my heart wants to beat itself out of my chest, and really just want to turn around and run away.

    But the real problem is this horrible fear of being left out, not fully accepted, never being invited to share time with those people I care about. In the past, I preferred just to leave thinking that I am not good enough for them to accept me. Once I was openly pushed away from a group, because I was the target of bullying, and they didn't want to have trouble because of me. Back then I already shut myself out and I didn't bother.

    I volunteer in the community, I thought I got somehow close to couple of people and even thou the progress is really slow, I was OK with it. But recently one person from 'my' group was moving so I offered my help, but was told they have enough helpers. After that this person started discussing plan of action for the moving day with two others from 'my' group. This completely kicked me off balance. I don't think it was intentional, as I can feel I am liked and respected. And well, I know it is slow and the necessary closeness has not bloom yet, but still it hurts as hell. Later at home I ended up in teary mess. I wanted to scream "What did I do wrong?", "Why am I being treated so different if we all started the volunteering at the same time?", "it's so unfair", etc.

    After calming down I started being angry at them. But this I can handle. I will not jump out at them, I know I suck big time when it comes to socializing. But I am learning how to improve.

    The thing I am in need now is rather how to cope with this overwhelming pain of rejection, disappointment and how to prevent pushing them away due to my upset condition.

  2. Aphador
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Aphador avatar
    71 posts
    9 July 2020 in reply to gucia6

    Hey Gucia! :)

    You sound like me! Well done for recognising that this is a part of your life that is impacting you, and taking the initiative to reach out.

    For most of my life, I was like this- always in my head, worrying about things and thinking about what I could say- but nothing would come to mind :(. I would assume people are judging me or would not want to hang out with me. Often when I was by myself (walking down the street or otherwise), I would feel immense discomfort- utterly different to when I was walking with a friend.

    Let me guess- when you talk about this stuff to others you are often told (or perhaps feels) that you overthink things? It may be the case, but it doesn't solve the problem!

    As for how I alleviated this- there was a number of things. Not to cause any alarm, but it did end up being the case that I had pretty bad social anxiety. Firstly, I would like to suggest speaking with a psychologist/counsellor (like I did). They can give you tactics to work on that will help. You can organise this with your GP.

    In the meantime, there are a few things you could look into. Firstly, mindfulness is a big one. In our situation, mindfulness gets us out of our head and into the present moment. This is extremely helpful when conversing! Mindfulness allows a sense of calm- not thinking about the past or future. There are some resources on mindfulness on the front page of Beyond Blue to get you started.

    Part of mindulness is slowing down. Breathing is a big part of it- slow down your breathing, your walking, your talking speed... this is all connected to how stressed we feel in the moment. Focus on the breath and these symptoms- light-headed, high bpm etc. will lighten.

    If you have any more questions, please ask! I have given you quite an abridged version of mindfulness. There are numberous self-help books and resources online that may help. I would, however, once again like to recommend a counsellor/psychologist- they are a fantastic and underutilised resource. I truly believe that everyone should have a one.

    Would love to hear your thoughts!
    Aphador :)

    1 person found this helpful
  3. gucia6
    gucia6 avatar
    59 posts
    9 July 2020 in reply to Aphador

    Hi Aphador,

    Thank you for your response.

    To be honest, I kind of instinctively know whom I could tell, and who would give me the 'overthinking' advice, so fortunately I have not heard it much. I also know that no-one in my community would give me that if they knew I am struggling. We lost a great person due to suicide not long time ago. There were many regrets and this horrible feeling of loss, and everyone is very supporting.

    Yes, you are right about the mindfulness. I tend to disconnect and just exist. Maybe it is not that I am inside my head, but rather I am not paying attention to the life around. I guess as some kind of self-defence I forced myself to forget painful periods of my past. I am not sure if this is possible but sometimes I have a feeling that my brain is using this as normal 'channel' now and I often end up with no memory of some events (even the happy times). It is a bit scary. Maybe practicing the mindfulness would improve it.

  4. Aphador
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Aphador avatar
    71 posts
    10 July 2020 in reply to gucia6

    Hey Gucia, thanks for the reply!

    I'm sorry for your loss :(. It seems like you have found a strong group of people, which is awesome :) In your first post you mentioned a fear of you pushing them away... I remember feeling this way. I used to think that people would think I was weird and not want to hang out with me. Now I realise that they will support me no matter what.

    Mindfulness can seem a bit weird at first, but the science is there to back it up. Whether you are in your head, or not in the outside world, the goal of mindfulness is to get you in the present. In your first post, you talked about wanting to avoid 'overwhelming pain of rejection.' Mindfulness gets you centred- there could be any number of non-nefarious reasons that you were rejected. Often people are not very good at communicating and do not consider the feelings of others- that is okay, and we can accept that in them. With mindfulness, we are able to manage our emotions of anger or sadness, realising that ultimately it does not matter what others think of us- only what we as individuals think of ourselves.

    Being present comes with an air of confidence- you can use tactics to converse, however often it ends up being a band-aid solution. You may have noticed that it seems that those who are good conversationalists don't seem to care what others think? It's partly true. When you are confident in yourself and present, things to say naturally flow into your mind, and people respond positively to it! Ironically, in a mindful state, whether people react to what you have said or not, does not really bother you. You are just confident within yourself.

    What you have described is definitely possible (about forgetting past events). I, however, am not qualified to comment on such a phenomenon. I believe you should talk to your GP about those kinds of things, and they can better decipher what is going on.

    I'm glad you replied and would love to continue talking (if you wish). Sorry that my posts have been a bit 'lecture-like' :(

    Aphador :)

  5. gucia6
    gucia6 avatar
    59 posts
    13 July 2020 in reply to Aphador

    Hi Aphador,

    life is a continuous learning journey and lectures here and there are necessary, so thank you for your words.

    To be honest I don't quite understand the concept yet, but I will definitely have a look into it.

    The recent situation also somehow pushed (motivated) me to force myself out from this sad and dark closed world, and talking to this handful of people I felt I can trust helped heaps, and I guess it was quite a big step anyway. At the moment I feel calm and positive, and I need to digest all that happened and take it slowly.

    But one thing that I was told, and it totally hit me. It is that people are amazing through who they are and not through what they achieved. I have never considered looking at own worth in this way.

  6. Aphador
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Aphador avatar
    71 posts
    15 July 2020 in reply to gucia6

    Hi Gucia,

    Good on you for being able to talk it through with your friends! That's so amazing.

    "People are amazing through who they are and not through what they achieved."

    This is a beautiful statement. It's something that only a small percentage of people realise, and it's definitely something that I myself am trying to get into my head. I don't think I've seen it written like this before and it hits a bit differently- thank you for sharing!

    Take your time, and keep me updated! (If you want to!)

    Aphador :)

  7. gucia6
    gucia6 avatar
    59 posts
    16 July 2020 in reply to Aphador

    Hi Aphador,

    thank you :)

    And as you say, the people around me are willing to help. It is a bit of a new experience to me, first that there are people I can go to and honestly say, that I have some sort of problem, and they are still there after telling it, second, I am willing to accept the help, that I don't have to deal with this all on my own. I mean, I need to work on the improvement on my own, but now it feels like I can slow down a bit and take smaller steps, without trying to be tough all the time, because this is what is expected (at least I always thought it was expected to be strong, self sufficient and deal with all the problems with head high).

    Yesterday I talked to a person that I work closely with. I thought she should know, that there is something going on. She said, she had no idea, that how I am acting doesn't give a slightest sign, there might be anything wrong with me. She agreed on taking the responsibility of welcoming and inducting new people from me. As much as normally I am able to handle this, with lots of awkwardness and wish to just run away, after this time crisis I feel physically sick when even thinking of it. I just need some time to regain my balance.

    I am also really glad for the support here. Even though it is just in writing, I started talking about things I was hiding inside for a very long time. I started noticing how bitter I was, how much hatred and anger, and helplessness was deep down there towards everything and everyone from the past that molded the 'me' now. As I look at it now, there might be an issue with PTSD. I am thinking of calling a counselor or going to GP next week to talk about it. I feel like the time has come to talk to someone about all of it, I need to understand and sort out all those negative emotions.

    So thank you so much Aphador and all the other amazing people here. Everything I heard and read over the last 2 weeks gave me lots of hope and strength to stand up and face it.

    1 person found this helpful
  8. Aphador
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Aphador avatar
    71 posts
    20 July 2020 in reply to gucia6

    You awesome gucia! It's great to see you feeling better.

    I'll be here if you ever need to talk again :)

    Aphador :)

  9. 44Max44
    44Max44 avatar
    147 posts
    21 July 2020 in reply to gucia6
    It's like you've described me perfectly... that entire first paragraph is literally describing me to a T.
    I'm an observer, I'd much rather sit back and listen to other people's conversations instead of having to join in myself. I'm usually very timid around new people and it takes me a good amount of time to get used to people and really be able to talk freely around them. There are very few people in my life I can talk freely to without a filter, one of them is my Mum, and the other two are my closest friends, and that's pretty much it.

    The problem is that I WANT to be social, I want to be people's friends, but I'm just so awkward and never really add anything to social interactions that I never get invited to do stuff. Even with my best friend it's hard to socialize with him a lot of the time because he's usually hanging out with some of his other friends too, and when I'm around them I can't really open myself up, so I just end up sitting there silently, maybe adding a thing or two to conversations, but in the most part, I'm just there (but not really). I always feel bad for my friend because I think I come off as some awkward weirdo, and I don't really want his other friends to think badly of him because he's friends with me.

    I don't really know what point I was trying to get at here, but I guess I just wanted to let you know that you're not alone in feeling the way you do.

    Good luck, and all the best.
    2 people found this helpful
  10. gucia6
    gucia6 avatar
    59 posts
    21 July 2020 in reply to 44Max44

    Hi 44Max44,

    thanks for your words :)

    Yes, I recently noticed that I am not alone with some issues. It gives this weird feeling of relief, that I am not the only one, but at the same time it is closely followed by a feeling of distaste, because how can I be 'glad' that other people struggle with not so funny matter.

    I am really happy for you that you can rely on your Mum and friends :)

    Unfortunately my mum was pretty much the cause of many problems I am struggling with now and I didn't really (wasn't able to) make any friends. I fear trusting people, and even though there are two or three that support me a lot currently and they say if I needed I could tell them anything, and I am very comfortable around them, and I would not mind talking to them about some of my doubts, but I am always afraid of the "what if they judge me, and don't want to know me anymore?". I mean, they know I am going through something and there are no signs that they would turn their back on me, but that fear is still present.

    But I think I have made some progress anyway. Other than the fact that I decided to reach out to them, I also started asking seemingly insignificant questions that let the conversation flow somehow. But there is still that small trembling bird in my heart asking "oh,oh,oh, is it really OK?, am I doing it right?, they are not looking weird at me, are they?" and so on. I actually learned a lot about them (and myself too).

    1 person found this helpful

Stay in touch with us

Sign up below for regular emails filled with information, advice and support for you or your loved ones.


Sign me up