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Author Topic: Is this social anxiety?  (Read 440 times)

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Offline emmmmaaaa

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Is this social anxiety?
« on: August 23, 2014, 10:17:06 PM »
Hi! By no means is this an attempt to go out and say "Wow I get a bit anxious around people, I MUST have social anxiety, poor me"- I definitely don't want to try to diagnose myself with this if it's not the case, as it's kind of insensitive towards those who do suffer from it! I also apologize in advance if this is long, but it'd be amazing if someone read through it (or even skimmed through it! :))

I was just looking for some insight, as it's been pointed out to me recently that the way I feel around people isn't exactly normal. I guess I'll get straight to the point by giving a few examples. Around my parents, I don't feel anxious at all, and I can 100% be myself. (I'm 15 by the way, if that's relevant at all.) Around my two best friends, I'm pretty much myself, but I still often feel like I say things that are "dumb". Around my huge group of friends (about 20 girls) I feel like I'm not as good as them, almost like I don't belong, and I often refrain from saying things as I'm worried that they'll think it's stupid/dumb. Around my other friends, whom I don't feel as intimidated by, I'm super outgoing and I'm able to be myself, as for some reason, I just feel more able to be myself. Today, I went to a concert with my best friend and two other friends, and we got to hang out a bit with the band performing, as we've known them for pretty long and we get the opportunity to hang around with them pretty often. I always find myself telling myself that they don't like me, or that they think I'm ugly/stupid/weird, and as a result, my mind goes blank around them, I get anxious, and I feel like anything that I say is irrelevant/unneeded. I almost kind of feel like I don't think before I speak, and so I feel that everything I say makes absolutely so sense/is stupid. I get self-conscious, and I repeatedly tell myself that I don't know how toact around these guys, and that these guys like my friends a lot more, as they're pretty, funny, and outgoing. I kind of end up just staying pretty quiet, which is so unlike the real me. I get nervous when we take pictures with them, and I kind of tell myself that I'm embarrassing myself, as I'll look bad in the photos anyways. I always worry that I look weird/appear strange physically, so I always try my best to 100% be caught up with the latest fashion trends, and I always make sure to make my hair and makeup as "perfect" as possible (I know perfect isn't a real thing, but I try my best to at least look decent). After hanging out with them, I always find myself getting embarrassed/ashamed of the way I acted, and I continually tell myself that I seriously need to work on acting more normal next time if I want them to like me. For all I know, the guys could think im acting completely normal, and I may just be overanalyzing everything. Another example is when I'm hanging out with my friends in a large group, I often find myself thinking that I'm unwanted, and a bother to my friends. When it comes to the time where we all take pictures together, I kind of just wish I could disappear, because everyone's taking photos and asking one another to be in each other's photos, and I kind of feel too intimidated/shy to just hop in the photos, because I'm too afraid that they secretly don't like me and that I'd annoy them. (I'm kind of paranoid, as we have this one girl in our group of friends who we don't really like but we invite her places because we feel bad- so I get kind of nervous that it's the same case for me!) Lastly, I also get extremely anxious around boys, as in 6th grade, my ex "boyfriend" told me that all his guy friends hated me, and they thought I was ugly. Ever since then, I've had some trouble being anything but silent around those select guys and basically guys in general, apart from my guy friends.

I tried to summarize this as best as I could, so does anyone have some insight? Am I just lacking a little confidence, or do I have slight social anxiety? (I already have OCD, emetephobia, and hypochondria.)  Is there anything I can do to stop this? Thanks so much! :)
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OCD // Emetephobia // Hypochondria //

Offline Venomsoar

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Re: Is this social anxiety?
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2014, 12:05:02 AM »
It sounds like you are beginning to suffer slightly from social anxiety to me. The thoughts about saying something dumb and acting dumb is definitely an indicator. I have social anxiety too. And I wish I could offer you advice that works but I am honestly stuck myself. CBT is the best therapy choice for social anxiety. This involves understanding your problem and your thoughts - and then you have to reevaluate your thoughts and identify how they are distorted. And then you have to purposely put yourself in anxiety provoking situations for at least 3 times a week. You have to stay for a long time in that situation too - to get used to the feeling of anxiety. The more you do this, like anything, practise makes perfect. So anxiety provoking situations become easier to deal with.

But it starts with your thoughts. You need to ask yourself, "is there any factual evidence to support my beliefs?". And you need to make sure you are rational when answering these questions. It is easy for people with social anxiety to seek behaviour from others that would support their own beliefs rather than see the positive signs. For example, we may notice that people may have looked at us in a weird way or we may interpret certain facial expressions to support our beliefs that they don't like us, we are dumb, etc. while dismissing other signs that don't support our belief. And you also may need to get over the fact that you may say something dumb - so what if you say or act dumb? What is the worst that can happen do you think? If you told my therapist what you have told us here, she would tell you to say something dumb purposely to see what happens. This is in order to see "what really is it you are fearing". Because if they are your friends, and you say something dumb, they aren't going to belittle you or dislike you for it.

You can overcome this. And to me, it sounds like a mild case of social anxiety which is a good thing for you. As most people with social anxiety would struggle to even have a picture taken of themselves with friends. In fact, I struggle to go out with a larger group of more than 2 people. I struggle to take the rubbish out. When I walk anywhere, if there is a person walking towards me, I will start to get anxious while thinking, "shall I have a glimpse at them?"; "what if I do something weird like trip up?"; "what if they say something?" etc. wherever I go I think someone is watching over me constantly evaluating my behaviour. And this is when I am alone. With people, I think they are all evaluating what I say and what I do and what I look like etc.

But it is important to remember that it doesn't really matter. I personally don't care if a friend of mine said or did something dumb. In fact, we both would probably laugh it off. If one of your friends said something dumb, would you hate them for it? Would you belittle them for it? Of course you wouldn't. You would probably forget it and let it go instantly and move on. So for all you know, your friends may do the same. They may not care if you say something dumb or act stupid. They may have their own concerns and barely notice how you are acting and stuff.

Don't worry too much. I do think you have been overanalysing everything which is common for people with social anxiety. But it is important not to take your thoughts as facts. Seek professional help. Like I said, CBT is a popular choice because of the success rates. It really does work (although I struggle to do the exposure tasks myself). You can get self help books on overcoming social anxiety using CBT. There are also CBT groups that exist out there. So you practise everything within your group before you go out and practise the exercises in public places etc.

I wish you the best of luck. ;)
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Offline emmmmaaaa

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Re: Is this social anxiety?
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2014, 06:24:16 PM »
It sounds like you are beginning to suffer slightly from social anxiety to me. The thoughts about saying something dumb and acting dumb is definitely an indicator. I have social anxiety too. And I wish I could offer you advice that works but I am honestly stuck myself. CBT is the best therapy choice for social anxiety. This involves understanding your problem and your thoughts - and then you have to reevaluate your thoughts and identify how they are distorted. And then you have to purposely put yourself in anxiety provoking situations for at least 3 times a week. You have to stay for a long time in that situation too - to get used to the feeling of anxiety. The more you do this, like anything, practise makes perfect. So anxiety provoking situations become easier to deal with.

But it starts with your thoughts. You need to ask yourself, "is there any factual evidence to support my beliefs?". And you need to make sure you are rational when answering these questions. It is easy for people with social anxiety to seek behaviour from others that would support their own beliefs rather than see the positive signs. For example, we may notice that people may have looked at us in a weird way or we may interpret certain facial expressions to support our beliefs that they don't like us, we are dumb, etc. while dismissing other signs that don't support our belief. And you also may need to get over the fact that you may say something dumb - so what if you say or act dumb? What is the worst that can happen do you think? If you told my therapist what you have told us here, she would tell you to say something dumb purposely to see what happens. This is in order to see "what really is it you are fearing". Because if they are your friends, and you say something dumb, they aren't going to belittle you or dislike you for it.

You can overcome this. And to me, it sounds like a mild case of social anxiety which is a good thing for you. As most people with social anxiety would struggle to even have a picture taken of themselves with friends. In fact, I struggle to go out with a larger group of more than 2 people. I struggle to take the rubbish out. When I walk anywhere, if there is a person walking towards me, I will start to get anxious while thinking, "shall I have a glimpse at them?"; "what if I do something weird like trip up?"; "what if they say something?" etc. wherever I go I think someone is watching over me constantly evaluating my behaviour. And this is when I am alone. With people, I think they are all evaluating what I say and what I do and what I look like etc.

But it is important to remember that it doesn't really matter. I personally don't care if a friend of mine said or did something dumb. In fact, we both would probably laugh it off. If one of your friends said something dumb, would you hate them for it? Would you belittle them for it? Of course you wouldn't. You would probably forget it and let it go instantly and move on. So for all you know, your friends may do the same. They may not care if you say something dumb or act stupid. They may have their own concerns and barely notice how you are acting and stuff.

Don't worry too much. I do think you have been overanalysing everything which is common for people with social anxiety. But it is important not to take your thoughts as facts. Seek professional help. Like I said, CBT is a popular choice because of the success rates. It really does work (although I struggle to do the exposure tasks myself). You can get self help books on overcoming social anxiety using CBT. There are also CBT groups that exist out there. So you practise everything within your group before you go out and practise the exercises in public places etc.

I wish you the best of luck. ;)



Thank you SO much for your thoughtful response, I think I'm going to consult my current therapist about it!
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OCD // Emetephobia // Hypochondria //

Offline Bigmann01

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Re: Is this social anxiety?
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2014, 06:36:42 PM »
I can totally relate to this, I am 27 years old and I have bad anxiety since I was 21 and I always wondered if It was general or social anxiety. I too feel unconfortable around certain people, even the group of friends I grew up with. I feel like they think Im an idiot and I dont feel like part of the group anymore and if one of them says something to me I take it too seriously and analyse the comment for days which brings on severe anxiety. But this was not always the case but only after I had my first anxiety attack when I was 21. I too am completely confident around my family and couple of best friends.
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Offline philp5787

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Re: Is this social anxiety?
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2014, 09:04:22 AM »
Don't afraid of anything be social, think about that every single person is catering to the need of each other. You are thinking about one part or your friendship that they don't like, I suggest you should think with another way of friendship they are also enjoying with you. Every friend and relationship is important for everyone.
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