Social anxiety disorder

United States
April 24, 2012 7:54pm CST
I have social anxiety disorder. I'm good around people I know well. But if I'm around people I don't know I freeze up. I don't know how to interact with people I don't know or don't know very well. Here's an example. I went to my church's annual fish fry the other night. There was me, SIL, daughter, mil, fil, and a lady I didn't know. I knew everyone else at that table and I know a few people out if about 400 members. I don't ever talk to any of those people unless they talk to me first. I freeze up. I don't know how to carry on a normal conversation. I am socially inept. So are there lessons on how to be a social butterfly? Or at least to not look like a totally stupid person that can't even hold her own in a small crowd? Your thoughts? Hope there are no typos. I'm on the iPhone.
3 people like this
17 responses
@winterose (39922)
• Canada
25 Apr 12
first of all I think you are too quite to able labels to yourself. The fact that you go out means it is not a clinically condition, because people with social anxiety disorder or to afraid to even go out, I think your problem is first and foremost you are shy. being shy is not a disorder, since you have this condition of freezing up when you talk even to people you know when you are anxious it is not because you in a social situation with people you don't know as much as it is you know this sort of thing can happen to you and so you think about it too much and that further causes you to freeze up, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. depression with anxiety and general anxiety are better labels for you if you want to examine the labels further, but also remember your conversion disorder which is the key player in this whole picture.
2 people like this
• United States
25 Apr 12
I've been told by the psychiatrist that I went to but couldnt afford to keep going to told me I do have this disorder. I'm okay around people I know well. Not talking about the inability to talk. That comes with anxiety anyway. I have had social anxiety for many years. My dad had to go to all the parent teachers meetings when my daughter was growing up. I didn't have conversion then. I just could not function. I literally could not go out among people who I KNEW would be judging me and looking at me like I'm stupid. Those thoughts still go through my head and I avoid going out. I avoid any male companionship for much the same reasons. You know me a lot but you don't know everything about me. There us a lot about me that I don't talk about. I'm doing good to open up as much as I am now.
2 people like this
@winterose (39922)
• Canada
25 Apr 12
fine I answered given the information you provided, I won't answer these mylot questions anymore. Part of the story in my opinion does not help. Go with your psychiatrist of course, you have social anxiety
1 person likes this
@Hatley (164772)
• Garden Grove, California
25 Apr 12
winterrose and pointless but you are not stupid. look at how great you write and how fluidly you do it. Now maybe pretend you are writing down the thoughts you would like to say to these people you think are judging you as stupid.if YOu could just speak like you write you wou ld soon be over this anxiety. I have problems too but since neither my son nor my husband is here to talk for me I have found I can carry o n a decent conversation with s omeone if I do not have to this for too long a time.pointless you need ti learn some self esteem.
1 person likes this
@Pose123 (21667)
• Canada
25 Apr 12
Hi PointlessQuestions, You are certainly not alone in this and it's not easy to change, although some people have done it. This is who you are and that okay. If you really want to change, relax and let it happen gradually. Don't worry about what others might thing, just know that you're a great person. Blessings.
2 people like this
• United States
25 Apr 12
Thanks Pose. That's what I'm trying to do. I get out to a family reunion once a year and a few other functions snit so far I have been unable to just be open with people. I stick oretty much with my immediate family.
1 person likes this
@debrakcarey (19924)
• United States
26 Apr 12
I've been plagued with anxiety a lot in life. While I'm not affected by it in the same way you are, it is nonetheless debilitation when it occurs. I've been told it is a form of low self esteem. Have you talked to a counsellor? Or maybe, at frist, pick up a book on overcoming such problems and just read it? How did you function on your job, where as I understand, you were a nurse and meeting new people everyday? Medications are a last resort. I've been able to do without medication for about 10 years now. I've tried alternative measures and can truthfully say it has done me good. Whatever you do, do not just exist and live with it. Do your best to overcome it. I'm here if you need me. Are you on my friends list, if not send me a request so we can message. hugs
1 person likes this
• United States
26 Apr 12
Yes I was a nurse. It's been 30 years since I worked around 'new people every day'. It's been since 1996 since I last worked at all. That was in a nursing home so I saw the same people every day. I had some anxiety back then, but mostly with confrontations. I was also a nursing supervisor in those days so I had to trouble shoot and counsel the staff when there were problems. I'm not sure how long I've really had this problem. It seems like forever to some degree. When I was in college in 2005 I could function. I also could speak ib front of a hundred or more people. Now it's just easier to speak through my writing and to have friends online than to actually be around people. Maybe since I almost never get out I'm just so out of practice I feel that I will do or say something that will make me look stupid.
@debrakcarey (19924)
• United States
26 Apr 12
I've noticed I don't like being around a large group of people either. I just put it down to not wanting to deal with all the 'personalities' lol Can I make a suggestion? Go to a naturopath, I found out that mineral defficiencies can play a big role in how our mind works. After all, it is a organ and needs its vitamins and minerals. And many symptoms are just a low grade deficiency. I take calcium, magnesium and zinc. Along with a multi that has selenium. And as you've read here, there are many different things to try to push yourself. That is important. Don't give into it. You are a smart, articulate and wonderful person. Really believe that. Just don't mouth the words, let them sink into your heart.
@debrakcarey (19924)
• United States
26 Apr 12
I forgot to mention, I was on antidepressents for four years, on Xanax for four years, trazadone and many other sleep aids. I quit them all and because of my supplements I am doing fine. I wish there were more time for us to just sit down and go over all I've learned about this. YOU CAN do it! I'll try to return this afternoon when school is over.
1 person likes this
@AmbiePam (47874)
• United States
26 Apr 12
Have you ever been on an anti-anxiety medication? A lot of people start on those, see an improvement, and are then able to wean themselves off of them and still continue with the changed behavior. A lot of people suffer from this. I know I used to.
1 person likes this
• United States
26 Apr 12
I don't have a psychiatrist anymore. My family doc doesn't want to try and help me because she says I am fractured and need more help than she can give me. My finances are such that I cannot pay the high copay of a specialist. Heck I can't even find a psych in the network that is close enough for me to get to. One was the one I had and he dropped me as a patient because I had to cancel an appointment. He called me and went off on me. The other docs in that office won't accept me either. Even if they did I would have trouble paying. So I am not on any anti-anxiety meds. I am on gabypentin (neurontin) for neuropathy. It is also used sor depression and seizures. I want to try and work through my anxiety in social situations. I really don't like SIL telling me that he notices this or that about me. I wish I naturally knew how to be more social.
1 person likes this
@AmbiePam (47874)
• United States
26 Apr 12
I know it may be hard to find, but there are free clinics out there who offer free counseling. This wouldn't be a psychiatrist, and they wouldn't be allowed to prescribe meds so you wouldn't have to worry about that. I've been to counseling before and it helped me immensely. They really help you work through your issues. Maybe you could look it up on the internet, or call your local health department for a recommendation on what to do.
@GardenGerty (95694)
• Marion, Kansas
25 Apr 12
I FEEL socially inept, and in some circumstances, like the one you described, I would clam up. This really does not make sense because I can do product demonstrations and talk to total strangers and they never know I have a problem. It is like if I half way know people, like at church, I have a hard time, but total strangers do not bother me. My lessons: look in their eyes, and ask them a question, then listen. Give them a reason to keep talking and they will think they have had a wonderful conversation. Most people love to hear themselves talk.
• United States
25 Apr 12
I didn't used to be this bad as I am now. In fact, I even role played with my daughter when she was suffering so much from this.. she still does. Now I'm in that boat even more than I ever was. When in college I could give a speech to more than 100 people. I was the keynote speaker to the GED graduating class. I was in college and I was the spokesperson for adult education. I couldn't do that now.
• Philippines
25 Apr 12
just a thought though, have you even tried to have your self tested?
@GemmaR (8526)
25 Apr 12
I have a mild form of social anxiety disorder, so I know how hard it can be for you. Have you ever thought about having therapy for it? Because there is a lot of help that you can get for SAD from a doctor, and they would be able to refer you to counselling and help you to think about ways that you could start to socialise more effectively instead of always hiding away and worrying that you might do something wrong if you're put into a social situation. I am much better than I used to be, and I have managed to complete a university degree and make a lot of good friends along the way thanks to the techniques that I have been taught during the course of the past couple of years of my life.
1 person likes this
• United States
25 Apr 12
Im on Medicare and i cannot afford any extras or luxuries like mental health care. Im stretched to the max just to survive from month to month. Are you in Europe where there is free healthcare or something? I know in other countries healthcare is a right. It's not a right here so if my family doc won't give me the medication and direct me in certain ways, I cannot afford a $40 copay for a specialist vi cannot afford $100 for a counselor. I went to the mental health clinic in my community and it is supposed to be based on your income. They were charging $100 fir seeing a counselor. I couldn't do it.
1 person likes this
@leighz (457)
25 Apr 12
I face the same issue as well. I can easily get along with people who looks nice, I don't go and introduce myself to those that I feel like not really friendly based on their looks. Unless, that person talks to me and I'm able to assess what kind of personality they have. I'm more intimidated by people with big personalities, those who think highly of themselves. I don't even want to talk to them, I'd rather go with regular folks.
1 person likes this
• United States
25 Apr 12
I can tell when people are real and those who pretend. I've I've had lots of experiences when people pretend to show an interest in me but they don't wait to hear your answer before they are looking away and walking away from you. I freeze up as it is and have trouble communicating when I feel anxious or stressed.
• Philippines
25 Apr 12
I don't know if its disorder or what but what if that is only an effect of something? you maybe looking at the wrong side of it. i don't know if im making any sense here
1 person likes this
• United States
25 Apr 12
It's a mental disorder. People experience it in different ways. It's much more than shyness. It's more like a syndrome that has many contributing factors.
@kalav56 (11503)
• India
25 Apr 12
Do not worry.It is difficult to smile and make conversation when you do not know anyone in a big crowd.You just mingle with your own people; you can just smile and be normal without talking when their acquaintances talk to them.You would have still made your presence felt.How can anyone mingle freely with people they do not know at all? Watch for signals when you are there and I am sure you will find a few to your liking.But , people who are by nature not 'social butterflies' can and must never attempt to become so ; it would only make them look very odd and artificial and shallow.It is better to be slightly restrained in your approach.That is not being stupid.
1 person likes this
• United States
25 Apr 12
Thank you. You have helped me. See, it irritates my SIL that I don't mingle with oeople and get to know them. I told him I don't know how. He is annoyed that I only talk to my daughter at the table, but other people are talking amongst themselves. There was one lady at the table I had never met and wasn't introduced to. I want to change. I don't like how I am but I think I am going to have to play it all in my mind beforehand. I do smile here and there and try to fit in. But if anyone asks me a question that requires me to talk I can't. I start stuttering or I have no words in my head to talk.
@Suebee (2013)
• Canada
25 Apr 12
I agree. I wouldn't call it a disorder. Like many people, I have to feel comfortable with a person before I can really talk to them. Some people make me feel comfortable right off the bat, others it takes a while before I start to feel comfortable around them and then there are others that I never feel comfortable with. I too envy people who can make friends easily and quickly, who can carry on conversations with people they've just met. I guess I'm just not very good at small talk.
1 person likes this
• United States
25 Apr 12
If I met you I wouldn't remember your name. If I saw you again and again I wouldn't remember you. I would orobably never feel comfortable around you. I might can fake it to a point, but that's me. My life is online but I have no life offline. I hope to change that. I wish there were lessons on how to feel comfortable. My friends increase life are friends from over a decade ago. I have no friends in my real life in the last 8 or 9 years. None. That's not normal. I know it but I don't know how to change it. The only thing I know to do is to let people know that if I seem unfriendly, I'm not. I can't relate to people in my real life. I'm fine online but not in real life.
@peavey (16116)
• United States
25 Apr 12
In other words, you're shy. There's nothing wrong with being shy. More people than you think are shy. They overcome it little by little and some never do. I wouldn't worry about it. When I am in a crowd of people, I just stay quiet unless someone speaks directly to me, then I speak with that person. I don't think it's a disorder. I think "they" want us to think it's a disorder so they can treat us for it. Like pregnancy and menopause are now medical problems. Phooey. They're natural. So is shyness.
1 person likes this
• United States
25 Apr 12
No this is more than shy. I will avoid what causes me severe anxiety. I force myself to go to some church functions. I know hardly any if the people there. I can't even pretend to appear normal in these situations. I'm always terrified of looking stupid.
@laken02 (3067)
• United States
25 Apr 12
that is a great question.. i use to be the same way, but my hubby's family is totaly opposite and i had to learn how to interact with them and now its no big deal i just be nice and if i want to fit in anywhere else in life i will look at the situation and whom im around and i will say something nice to someone and see if they talk back .. for instance at my work you have to be able to talk to strangers every day as im the one in charge.. and people like it if you talk to them in a nice manner and im always the one who goes first .. i say good morning to start off the conversation and then its easy from there.. and last sunday i did well and came home with 16.00 in tips.. yea for me.. most people are alike and just want people to be nice.. and that is how you make new friends be nice everywhere you go, and people respond back by being nice as well.. you dont have to talk to everyone in the group to fit in just have fun thats waht counnts people like to be around people who are having fun..
1 person likes this
• United States
25 Apr 12
My son in law notices my problem. He says pretty much the same thing, but I can't even talk. I start stammering or just can't talk at all.. like i have forgotten how. My anxiety is that much anymore! When I go back to my doc I want to insist that she put me on an antidepressant. She wants me to go to a shrink because I have a fractured personality. It's a coping mechanism to stress. I can't afford $40 copay for a shrink.. and can't get one near me to take me with Medicare... the one I had fired me as a patient because I didn't have the money to keep an appointment and that was over a year ago. She feels she can't help me that I need more than she can give me. I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place.
@yahnee (1250)
• Philippines
25 Apr 12
I don't think that is a disorder since the greater majority is always wary of strangers. i am not good at socializing and I am uneasy in the company of people who are not familiar. When no one starts a conversation, I just stay in a corner so I am not really fond of social gatherings. I am only conversant and lively in the company of friends and family. I believe this is the same with most individuals. I envy those who can create a good conversation even with people they do not know. They seem good at interacting. However, this does not mean we are suffering from a social anxiety disorder, we are just being ordinary.
1 person likes this
• United States
25 Apr 12
Yes, it is a disorder. I'm not saying you have it. But I totally freeze in social situations. Even going to church being around people who are members of my church that i have NEVER gotten to know... I cannot even speak around them. My anxiety converts to an inability to speak. I either cannot find the words to speak, or I forget how to speak, or I stutter so bad that I can't talk. that is how bad my social anxiety disorder is. This is not normal.
@lynboobsy11 (11346)
• Philippines
26 Apr 12
I almost like that in my high schools days and even in college, even I'm a school dancer, I know how to entertain people through my style but in communicating people I failed. I always walked when head down and talk in low mode. Until my father taught me how to teach a couple in ballroom dancing. I was afraid at the first time, my father told me to have a little smile in my face while teaching and I might scared the couple. At first It was very hard for me to learn and to become sociable but I have to because it is my kind of work. I can't attract client if they will saw me unsociable. I'm glad that I'm already in the business for almost 20 years and thanks to my career I been a greater person.
• United States
26 Apr 12
That is wonderful that your dad helped you in that way. I'm happy for you that your business is a success. I'm also happy that you have more confidence.
• India
5 Oct 12
You must analyze the reasons for your fear. Just know what is causing social phobia can help you overcome it. Sometimes you may feel as though there is no rhyme or reason to your phobia, but try to find the root of you fears. Realize that not everyone is judging you. Use self motivation. Find a teams or clubs that relates your interest.
• China
25 Apr 12
I have the problem you say.In the situation where there have crowd,i feel embarrased.For a instance,when i am in a long train alone,i always read a book or play my phone without talking with someone who also acts like me.But soon after,i feel bored and want a conversation,you know,All people are restrained in a narrow space.And i guess others have the same experience.Im so shy that i have no courage to break silence first.As the result,i will keep silent during the trip.The similar situation occurs in the club. I admire the people who is always the centre of people whoever around.They can talk with strangers well.I am wonder how they start the discussion naturelly.I cant disern who are their friends and who are strangers they just met.I think they have charisma appealing to others.
@vandana7 (61247)
• India
25 Apr 12
I too have that disorder may be. I talk too much because I dont want the other person to be aware that I am uncomfortable with them around for no fault of theirs. :) Jesus..I actually confessed my actual feelings here..