Social Phobia

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My Experience with Group Therapy

Almost a decade back, I went through a long period of chronic low-intensity depression. The trigger was a job loss.

I had been working as a TV journalist covering health and one day what I had been fearing, came to pass.

I had not been doing well at work- I knew that I could be fired anytime. But, I was just paralyzed and could do no better than wait for the proverbial axe to fall.

But when it did, I became mentally dysfunctional. I lost confidence in myself, i had nil energy and was full of an extreme sense of hopelessness and helplessness.

Perhaps, the most bizarre thing is that I couldn’t identify these symptoms as depression, even though I reported on health.

But, why am I talking about this today? Because, I feel that even though I did recover eventually, I never reclaimed my whole self as a professional and a woman.

Taking stock of my life I realized that un-resourceful behaviours and thinking patterns have held me back in forming healthy relationships as well as setting goals and following through.

I saw the harm these were doing to me and wanted to cut back on the crap.

Better Late than Never

I reached out to a mental health organization where I was told that I could seek a face-to-face session with a psychiatrist or participate in their group therapy session.

I opted for the second. Guess, I was only willing to take small steps and meeting a psychiatrist was still too extreme a step for me.

What is Group Therapy

Group therapy is usually prescribed to people who may be suffering from a gamut of mental health issues like anxiety, depression, panic attacks, social phobia etc.

It involves at least one mental health professional and two or more people in therapy. The group dynamic steers people to feeling better as they feel supported and this helps them achieve their goals.

Mental Wellbeing is a Valid Self-Help Goal

Mental wellbeing has been on my bucket list for a long time. My other goals are improving my physical health . What I feel is that if you are not 100% right in your mental and emotional bodies, you will not experience complete health. The body will rebel as it’s already under a lot of trauma.

Self-help for women, I feel, should and must include checking in on whether they are feeling happy and joyful. And if they are not, they should do something about it. A sense of feeling empty is a definite red flag.

My First Day in Group Therapy

On the day of my first group therapy session, I met two psychologists and three people.

The psychologists were present during the entire session and they were trying slot the issues each one of us was facing.

One of the participants was dealing with depression and had been prescribed group therapy by her psychiatrist. The other two were trying to make sense of their anhedonia and sense of disconnect from normal life. I was seeking support for my social anxiety and self-limiting thoughts and behaviour.

Prodded by the psychologists, we started talking about our issues. I was surprised that I was able to share the traumas that I have never spoken about to even the people closest to me, so easily. Perhaps what helped me was that no one was judging me here and that I felt safe and supported.

I have a major problem of being judged in social situations. A participant helped me deal with this by sharing how she deals with her anxiety. She said she dialogues with her anxiety, instead of ignoring it. She actually says this to her anxiety- “I can hear you. But, please give me 10 minutes as I am doing this important task and then I shall be ready to give you my full attention after that.”

I also tend to tune out while listening. I either get judgemental or lose interest. But I was so invested here. I was looking bang into the eyes of the speakers and feeling so connected.

Sharing my experience of being in group therapy, I remember saying that never had I met such self-aware individuals in my life and that I had opened up about some of my worst wounds and was feeling healed.

This was my first session and there is literally a long way to go… But, I do feel proud that I have been able to break out of my shell, face my demons and am willing to slay them finally.

Therapy, I feel, is an investment in myself and deciding to begin therapy is a big step forward.

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I think I have social phobia and I'm very shy. I'm 25 and have higher education. But I have never worked (or volunteered) because of my phobia (It is also difficult to find a job in our country). My childhood was bad enough and have traumas (I have been diagnosed with depression and ocd). Now I want to be free and want to live, not just survive every day or I don't want to stick to my past. But I'm afraid to step out of my comfort zone, and I'm also afraid that my childhood memories will be triggered. I don't understand why I still can't overcome my phobia at this age and I feel so terrible, I want to die violently.

Now I read book of "Ikigai for teens" by doing the its exercises. Then I will read the book of "Feeling good" by doing its exercises.

I'm trying not to be hopeless, but I feel like as if I'm floundering in a quagmire hopelessly. I feel despondent.

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Social Anxiety symptoms

#SocialAnxiety

All of us experience uncomfortable emotions to some degree on a daily basis. This can include:

-Unease

-Apprehension

-Worry

-Nervousness

With periodic stressors, the body only has episodic reaction to the stressors. It’s not on-going. For instance, after your big presentation at work, you no longer feel stressed or uneasy. The uncomfortable feelings end when the periodic stressor stops. When anxiety symptoms develop into ongoing states of distress, it can lead to a diagnosis. With social anxiety disorder, you might feel these uncomfortable emotions just thinking about social situations. The on-going stress and anxiety can disrupt your life.

Signs and symptoms of social phobia include emotional, physical, and avoidance symptoms.

Emotional symptoms

Emotional symptoms include:

-Fear of social situations (fear of being judged)

-Anxiety about embarrassing yourself

-Fear of talking (or interacting) with strangers

-Replaying social interactions over and over in your head

-Feeling anxiety in anticipation of social interactions

-Fearing future events

Physical symptoms

Physical symptoms of social anxiety include:

-Blushing

-Flushed face or neck

-Intense sweating

-Shaky voice when speaking

-Upset stomach

-Rapid heartbeat

-Dizziness

Avoidance symptoms

Social phobia can impact the quality of your life, especially if you avoid activities or events that trigger anxiety. Avoidance symptoms include:

-Avoiding activities that require interaction with others (such as going to the grocery store, speaking to a waitress, etc.)

-Cancelling events with friends or family

-Avoiding any situation in which you might be the center of attention (public speaking, giving a speech, etc.)

You can refer to this:

resiliens.com/resilify/program/dealing-with-social-anxiety

4 reactions
Post
See full photo

Social anxiety symptoms

#SocialAnxiety

All of us experience uncomfortable emotions to some degree on a daily basis. This can include:

-Unease

-Apprehension

-Worry

-Nervousness

With periodic stressors, the body only has episodic reaction to the stressors. It’s not on-going. For instance, after your big presentation at work, you no longer feel stressed or uneasy. The uncomfortable feelings end when the periodic stressor stops. When anxiety symptoms develop into ongoing states of distress, it can lead to a diagnosis. With social anxiety disorder, you might feel these uncomfortable emotions just thinking about social situations. The on-going stress and anxiety can disrupt your life.

Signs and symptoms of social phobia include emotional, physical, and avoidance symptoms.

Emotional symptoms

Emotional symptoms include:

-Fear of social situations (fear of being judged)

-Anxiety about embarrassing yourself

-Fear of talking (or interacting) with strangers

-Replaying social interactions over and over in your head

-Feeling anxiety in anticipation of social interactions

-Fearing future events

Physical symptoms

Physical symptoms of social anxiety include:

-Blushing

-Flushed face or neck

-Intense sweating

-Shaky voice when speaking

-Upset stomach

-Rapid heartbeat

-Dizziness

Avoidance symptoms

Social phobia can impact the quality of your life, especially if you avoid activities or events that trigger anxiety. Avoidance symptoms include:

-Avoiding activities that require interaction with others (such as going to the grocery store, speaking to a waitress, etc.)

-Cancelling events with friends or family

-Avoiding any situation in which you might be the center of attention (public speaking, giving a speech, etc.)

You can refer to this:

resiliens.com/resilify/program/dealing-with-social-anxiety

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I'm probably completely wrong

Two of my coworkers, whom I thought were friends and cared apparently don't...my boss called me in early to her office, and the company nurse was there too; asking me if my "chronic health issue" was keeping me from doing my job.? The chronic health issues they were referring to are my 5 diagnosis of mental Illness. I talk about them yes, cause I studied them so I can recognize them.. my coworkers thoughts and feelings are "why is it our problem?" "We don't really care, we're here to work get paid and go home." The irony of this is that we work with developmentally disabled adults, some of them have some of the same issues I have, especially anxiety.. they still don't care.. I feel like an idiot because I thought I was helping..I was way wrong..im probably blowing this out of proportion. I feel like I shouldn't even post this cause it's stupid, and I'm complaining.. #Anxiety #BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #SocialPhobia #biopolardisorder #PanicDisorder

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all of my mental health struggles

I've struggled with my mental health for the longest. I'm currently 18 and probably have dealt with it since the age of 10. Most of it started off as anxiety but it grew as I got older. As a child, I definitely had a bit anxiety but a lot of kids do, especially since I was attached to my parents and hated going to school. I consider myself a complex case. I'm sure some of my relatives think the same. I struggle with generalized anxiety and panic disorder, OCD, phobias (which I will delve more into), persistent depressive disorder, PMDD, and ADHD. I've been diagnosed by a professional, so this isn't just a list I made up.

With my anxiety, I have many triggers. Some are open spaces, some are areas with tall ceilings, some are crowded places, sometimes it's just the public scene, etc.. Anxiety can be complex because sometimes I'll experience anxiety for no reason or it'll be triggered by a sensation. My symptoms vary, too. Sometimes I'll experience a stomach upset, clamminess, fidgetiness, pins and needle feelings, hot flashes, derealization, dry mouth, burping, crying spells, overwhelmed (usually sensory overload), throat feels like it'll close up (the sensations that i hate), and so much more. It can be hard to build the courage to push out of my comfort zone because these symptoms are scary. Sometimes my heart will race or other times, I may feel some lightheadedness or just an impending doom of dread. It's scary and hard to deal with.

With my OCD, I have a variety of subtypes. There's the Harm OCD, Sexual OCD, Somatic OCD, Existential OCD, Memory OCD, and more. I'm often embarassed by some aspects of my OCD because the obsessive thoughts are hard, espeically when they're intrusive. My harm OCD has intrusive thoughts, my sexual OCD has intrusive thoughts, my somatic OCD focuses on my body sensations/feelings, my existential OCD focuses on my fear of time passing and going through identity crisises and questioning my own self and if i'm being me. Then, my memory OCD focuses on my fear of losing memories and wanting to remember every little thing. I also do have health anxiety lol.

My phobias are also very complex. I have agoraphobia, altocelarophobia (ties in my agoraphobia), batophobia (sort of ties into agoraphobia), emetophobia, and social phobia. Agoraphobia is basically a fear of no exit and being outside of your comfort zone and some triggers (which mine are) crowded areas, public spaces, open areas, and more. Altocelarophobia is a fear of high ceilings, which can really tie into agoraphobia. Batophobia is a fear of tall buildings because I feel so small compared to the building and of course,, I'm standing next to something that makes me feel off and strange. I like to feel comfort and safe, I do not like to feel like I'm exposed or ungrounded or unsafe. Emetophobia is a fear of vomiting, so yknow that. My social phobia isn't severe but it ties into my anxiety and oepning up to talk to people

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How can you improve when you don’t even feel like getting out of bed?

I’m at one of the lowest points in my life. I feel like totally giving up. Just about everybody in my life has let me down massively. Nobody understands me nor do they care to. I can’t keep friends due to my #Aspergers and my situation in life. Apparently you need money to have friends and I have none. As soon as they find out how bad my situation is and how socially awkward I am they start running to find the chicken exit. Nobody cares really. They all just pretend to be my friend because to not be apparently friendly on the surface would look bad and then it would be too obvious just how much they really can’t stand me. I’m a black hole with no end in sight. I just confuse people, make them feel uncomfortable, and cost them money. I’m surprised there’s not any shooting range targets made up of me yet. I seriously feel hated, not disliked, hated by almost everyone I have ever met. Not only do I feel hopeless but I also feel worthless. I have a fear of interacting with people. I believe it’s called Social Phobia and it literally paralyzes me. I hate myself and who I’ve become. If I had the guts I would kill myself but trust me. I don’t.

25 reactions 7 comments
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Social phobia

I’m scared of people, I fear that they are out to get me.
I have isolated myself from all my family and all but two of my friends. I have a job but it’s hard to stay calm when others are around.
I feel like I have to put on a mask, to play normal. When I tell them my true feelings they laugh or look at me as if I’m from another planet. #alien

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#inner Dialogue

My thought is how important inner self talk is in the recovery process of anxiety, panic attacks, social phobia, etc. It takes some practice, some time, but not as much time as it takes to get to where our illness has immobilized us in some way. It involves paying close attention to what anxiety is negatively trying to have you BELIEVE as TRUE,. And at that Moment your positive inner coach is going to say things like " that statement is NOT TRUE, or " I will be fine" or " These feelings WILL NOT hurt me" etc. Etc.. be stern when you say these positive affirmations to yourself. You can make up your own affirmations that you feel are easy to say, as long as you are consistent every day. You are not fighting against your negative thoughts, you are just becoming the " Pilot" of your thought plane and not just a passenger. Your becoming the " Conductor" of your symphony of thoughts and not just a good listener any longer. YOUR taking back CONTROL of your train of thoughts, NOT with agression, but by re- directing them. It works! You have nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain. 🙂

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My Story

I've never had the luxury to just be able to drop my guard down and relax. My life has been a huge perpetual battle,. Starting out as a child in 1976 I didn't realize how much inner strength I would NEED to accumulate over the decades for what was to come. At this time my father was a narcissistic alcoholic who physically and verbally abused me and my brothers because of his anger regarding his own life disappointments. They were very depressing years, filled with isolation and a daily fear that waxed and wained depending on his mood. In the blizzard of 1978 I was nine years old, my brother eleven,. I'll never forget that my father had sent us to the store for a pack of Lucky Strikes cigarettes while his snow covered car sat safely in front of the house. This is a small example of who my father was,. I believe a sociopath. Fast-forward into my teenage years,.introverted, fearful, Ptsd, and social phobic. My social phobia grew into agoraphobia and home confinement. I grew suicidal and desperate for a cure,. I had NO CHOICE but to teach myself how to overcome the intense fear, anxiety and deep depression if I was to continue living,. Period. With tons of reading self-help books ( no smart phones yet) and newspaper articles, tears and pure mental anguish I eventually overcame my agoraphobia and depression. Fast - forward to 2017 I had been married for 17 years to a narcissistic wife who tried extremely hard to degrade me and punish me ( she didn't realize the pure Hell I had to endure prior to her) I filed for divorce. Ended up losing EVERYTHING and EVERYONE due to a huge family dispute,. I remarried to my soulmate, we became homeless to escape her narcissistic brother and here we are in 2022!! After getting off the street, renting a room in a basement and always on foot., Still Struggling just for the basics at 52 years old. John 15:18 Jesus says, " Just remember, when the unbelieving world hates you, they hated me first." I have a theory that Most of us are handed a "metaphorical" but unjust Life- Sentence without a reason as to WHY, in our prison we call LIFE and it's a huge struggle to survive this prison to the end of our sentence,. Our everlasting Peace we could not find here can only be found when we leave this place. I hope that someone can draw inspiration to go on from My Story.

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