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Topic: What’s it like to live a normal life?

14 posts, 0 answered
  1. Autumn.
    Autumn. avatar
    14 posts
    13 June 2020

    Hi Everyone,

    I’m having a down day and I was hoping to hear some positive stories to see there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

    I was diagnosed with major depression a few years ago and have been doing counselling since. Recently, I have realised I have social anxiety and how much of a profound affect on my life. I know it sounds crazy to only realise this as an adult, however, I feel like it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish between shyness and social anxiety.

    As a result of my anxiety, I find it difficult to socialise and make friends. I’ve been lonely for a very long time and crave intimate relationships. The few friends I do attract, seem to enjoy me because I’m a good listener. However, when I’m done (or even up) they seem to be nowhere to be found.

    I think this also translates to my romantic relationships. Men have been interested in me, however, they only seem to enjoy being cared for while not really giving much in return. As a result, I end up in relationships where I do everything (cooking, cleaning - being the sole income earner) for far too long.

    My therapist and I have talked about redirecting my caring nature to myself. I sometime think that would equate to leaving the relationships which are draining me. But it is very difficult to turn my back on the few social interactions I have.

    So, basically I wanted to put some feelers out there to get perspective on whether the types of relationship I’m experiencing are normal. Do you have friends that you feel actually care for you? Partners that do the same? Does anyone have social anxiety and went on to have successful relationships?

    Thanks a bunch. Have a good night :-)

  2. missep123
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    missep123 avatar
    314 posts
    13 June 2020 in reply to Autumn.

    Hi Autumn.!

    First of all it sounds like you are making amazing progress with your counsellor. From my own personal experience, the more we learn about ourselves the more we can grow.

    Being able to listen is an awesome quality.

    With social anxiety our brains can make us fearful of what can happen rather than what will actually happen. For example, I used to be afraid of disagreeing with someone's opinion in fear that they would not want to be friends with me. Eventually the more I tried, the more I realised that the negative outcomes I feared did not actually occur!

    This is a way to challenge our negative thoughts or expectations. It can be a form of exposure. With social anxiety and many anxieties, exposure is a great way to practice and become more comfortable.

    With your friends, when you are feeling down how do you tend to communicate that with them?

    I'm here for you! I'm really glad that you reached out.


  3. Autumn.
    Autumn. avatar
    14 posts
    14 June 2020 in reply to missep123

    Hi Missep,

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to me.

    I can relate to being scared to disagree with people, so thanks for your tip - I will try it out!

    With regard to how I approach my friends, there is a few issues I can identify. Firstly: I don’t have many friends. Secondly: the majority of my friends only seem to reach out when they’re feeling down. If I ever invite them to do something outside of those times, or tell them I’m feeling depressed, they don’t really seem responsive. I can go 4 months without seeing them until they’re feeling down.

    The third issue is I’m very specific who I reach out to. An underlying theme that has come out in counselling is that I’m scared of being a burden to people, so I struggle to put myself out there. I’m hoping to find some friends that help me break down this fear.

  4. missep123
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    missep123 avatar
    314 posts
    14 June 2020 in reply to Autumn.

    Hi Autumn.!

    I'm sorry to hear that your friends are not very responsive when you tell them you are feeling down :( Are there people in your life that you can count on when you are feeling like this, such as family members?

    I think that it's very insightful that you have come to realise that. From my own experience a lot of people can feel that way! In my own experience it can be a double-edged sword though, on the one hand you don't want to be a burden to people but on the other hand it can sometimes prevent you from getting close to them or being yourself.

    Here for you!

  5. 0antman
    0antman avatar
    5 posts
    15 June 2020 in reply to missep123
    Hi all. Sorry to hear about all that. I can sort of relate aswell. Friends not sticking around, and having a close relationship. But "normal" for me midjsnht be seen as different to someone else. But that's the beauty of life. There are so many unique personalities out there and also unique relationships/friendships. I just try and be me, because that's all who I can truly be. And the right person will come along and love you for you. Same as friends and colleagues. I used to try and fit into school groups and work groups and sometimes it was a challenge. But learning to be me, made it so much easier.

    I learnt to love myself and everything became easier for me. I always used to doubt myself and whether I was good enough for someone, and still do sometimes, at least subconsciously.

    :)
  6. MidnightOil
    MidnightOil avatar
    9 posts
    15 June 2020 in reply to Autumn.

    Hi Autumn.,

    Everyone is different but something that I was told recently which helped me personally with making friends and meeting people was "you can have different types of friends". It sounds really simple and at first I didn't really get it but I'm similar to you in being really selective about who I want to be good friends with. But I've learned that sometimes it's nice to have more 'surface-level' friends to have fun with every now and then without it feeling like such an emotional investment for you, in addition to your closer friends.

    Also, opening myself to the possibility of forming more of these 'casual' friendships has actually helped me to find some people who turned into really close friends after a while. I've found it really nice to have friends that I can have really different relationships with, rather than being stuck with one idea of a "good friendship" or "good relationship".

    All the best.

  7. Emmen
    Community Champion
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    Emmen avatar
    261 posts
    15 June 2020 in reply to MidnightOil

    Hello Autumn,

    I came here to talk about different kinds of friends and found that MidnightOil has already done that!

    I used to be bothered by friends who contacted me only when they were down, or those who didn't make time for me. But then I started forming more transient friendships with whoever I meet at that point - could be at work or during leisure activities. These transient friends are the ones I tended to have more fun with, largely because in those kinds of friendships, people don't really expect emotional connections as much. It's not going to replace a deep friendship, but some transient friends over the years did end up becoming closer over the years.

    If you have more social interactions through transient friends, it may make it easier for you to leave unhappy relationships as well. I can see that you're aware these are not good for you - a relationship should be mutual and equal and you certainly deserve that.

    Take care,
    M

  8. Autumn.
    Autumn. avatar
    14 posts
    17 June 2020 in reply to Emmen

    Hi M and MidnightOil,

    Thanks for your suggestions about making some more ‘surface level’ friends. I hadn’t thought of that approach before, so I will definitely try it once uni is back.

    In your experience, how were these friendships initiated? Did you just meet people while you did activities you enjoy? And would you suggest just making small talk?

    Sorry for all my questions, I’m really not great with social norms!

    A

  9. smallwolf
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
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    smallwolf avatar
    4287 posts
    17 June 2020 in reply to Autumn.

    Hi - I hope you don't mind my jumping into your thread. I have difficulties starting conversations with total strangers. If you at least know the persons name you can ask them to tell you something exciting they did in the last week? If they reply "nothing" then find out what they got up instead?!?

    if it is just small talk you are interested in, then try this for a google search...

    how to make smalltalk

    Some of the ideas will make sense, and others not so.

    And it is good to ask questions. Never stop asking them.

    Tim

    1 person found this helpful
  10. Autumn.
    Autumn. avatar
    14 posts
    17 June 2020 in reply to smallwolf
    Thanks Tim. I will give it a go. I guess like most things it’s just a case of practice makes perfect.
  11. missep123
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    missep123 avatar
    314 posts
    18 June 2020 in reply to Autumn.

    So many great responses in this thread! It's so nice to see!

    Autumn. in terms of your question about small talk, you can always try the following topics:

    - What do you like to do in your spare time/for fun?

    - What kind of music do you listen to?

    - What's your favourite movie?

    - Do you have any pets?

    I think that whatever your hobbies and interests are, you can try to tie them into the conversations!

  12. MidnightOil
    MidnightOil avatar
    9 posts
    18 June 2020 in reply to Autumn.

    Hey Autumn.,

    I definitely agree with these other replies. Once you get people talking the conversation will hopefully flow a bit more naturally but questions about pets and hobbies can be super interesting and are generally safe topics. I will add that in my personal experience (depending on the day) I usually go for one of two options:

    - try starting up a conversation with someone who looks/sounds fairly out-going. This way it's more likely that they can carry the conversation a bit more so the pressure is off you a little.

    - or sometimes I talk to someone who also looks a bit anxious because I know that they can relate and understand. Also they might appreciate someone else taking the first step.

    In general, most people are actually really friendly once you start a conversation. You might not be friends right away but a positive interaction with a stranger can also go a long way for your confidence. Also this doesn't work for everyone but I tell myself "fake it 'til you make it" all the time in social situations. Often when I'm convinced that I'm being very awkward, as long as I keep smiling and keeping up the conversation, no one else notices that I'm not sure what I'm doing.

    Everyone's different but I hope this helps!

  13. Autumn.
    Autumn. avatar
    14 posts
    18 June 2020 in reply to MidnightOil

    Hi Missep and Midnight,

    Thanks for the tips! I’m looking forward to trying them out once everything cools down with COVID.

    I think sometimes people can tell I’m anxious and this makes it less easy to be around me. It sucks but hopefully one day I can get to the point where I’m comfortable in social settings.

    Thanks again :-)

    1 person found this helpful
  14. blondguy
    Life Member
    • Awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    blondguy avatar
    10707 posts
    18 June 2020 in reply to Autumn.

    Hi Autumn

    Excuse I for the late post. So many supportive posts above from members that understand your situation

    I am very similar to yourself where the relationships and social anxiety is concerned....I used to fear being noticed as an anxious person too...I understand you there Autumn. I never had an issue starting a conversation yet with having 10 years of (untreated) anxiety attacks my relationships suffered as a result..My fault

    There is nothing crazy about realising we have social anxiety as an adult at all!

    Just an example...If I met someone tomorrow that 'seemed' to be super anxious...it wouldnt effect what I thought about them in anyway whatsoever

    Great to have you as part of the Beyond Blue forum family Autumn :-)

    my kind thoughts

    Paul

    1 person found this helpful

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