100 Posts

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I just realised that my previous post was the 100th I’ve made on this site. I’m amazed at how quickly I rattled off 1000 words without really thinking about it, I guess loneliness and depression is one subject I know a lot about. 

This site began with some blog posts I made on the now defunct social anxiety friends website, a place where I met some people who I still talk to online regularly and have met a few of in real life. I’m glad that I found them, they’re pretty much the closest thing I have to real friends and were probably more instrumental in improving my life situation than anyone else. I wouldn’t say that I’ve made huge strides since then, but I’ve done quite a few things I’d thought I’d never have the courage to do. 

I really appreciate the people who read my website and post comments, thank you – you keep me (relatively..) sane and have genuinely helped me. It’s kind of liberating to talk about my problems with such lucidity on here, something that I can’t do in real life, though I sometimes wonder why I bother to announce these things to the world. It’s something I’ve been considering over the last couple of days and I guess that what I really want is an answer. I know in all likelihood there is no solution, I find it hard to believe that enough people have gone through the same experiences as me (I seem to be an aberration even on social anxiety sites) to make it likely that any will run across this site and give me any words of wisdom.

I suppose the fact that I’m still here must mean there is a small part of me that still has hope. Every day is still a struggle to find reasons to carry on though, I genuinely wonder (please tell me) if my life is really hard enough to warrant feeling this suicidal? Can people read my previous couple of posts and think that is a decent way to live? Once again, I do realise I could be a blind leper with cancer, and I do realise how lucky I am to have a roof over my head etc. Maybe I’m being naive but I imagine some people would be shocked at how badly (admittedly mostly due to my own faults) I live. 

I just read this quote on a forum for people with social anxiety:

I’m a sexual being and I also want a lover. I’m not willing to compromise on that. Well for short periods of time, during illness and that – yeah, fair enough. But not in the longer-term.

This isn’t something I can even comprehend, that a person could make such demands of life. This may be pathetic, but that kind of thing is to me, in the same realms of possibility as winning the lottery, that’s genuinely how I feel about it.

Maybe it’s what blogging is all about, but I feel compelled to apologise for attention-seeking. I’m just so desperately lonely and deprived of human contact (I barely even feel human myself now) that I want someone to hug me and tell me I’m going to be ok, even if I know it’s not true. I wish I could feel alive even for a little while 😦

Note: I’m not criticising the person who I quoted. You’d better believe I’d feel similarly, were I in a position to do so.

Problems

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I’ve been extremely lucky in a lot of ways, I’ve never had to deal with the kinds of problems that most people experience. I’ve never broken up with anyone, fallen out with friends, had to deal with ex’s. Never had to worry about anyone else apart from myself really (of course I do worry about my family). Of course all this came at the cost of always having been alone and deprived of human contact but I’ve rambled enough about that already.

As I sit here hungry again because I’m too scared to go into the kitchen and face making dinner with people around (this time I’m worried that they will ask what I’m having and think I’m weird because all I ever seem to eat is pasta, namely because it’s quick and easy to make.) I wonder what my life would be like if I wasn’t paralysed by fear of mundane and quite frankly, ludicrous things. I don’t think I could cope with being a real person. I don’t deserve to call myself a man, I’m just an overgrown child. If I ever managed to become normal, form relationships with people, have friends who want to spend time with me, go out, actually let someone know the real me (whoever the fuck that is, I don’t know any more) I don’t think I could cope with all the extra responsibilities and burdens. I just don’t think I’m cut out for life, not even this easy one I was lucky enough to be born into.

Getting “help”

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I’ve all but given up on making this blog useful, apologies if you came here expecting something helpful.

I had another psychiatrist appointment last week. I faced the dilemma that many people with mental illness have to deal with; whether to say the right things, jump through their metaphorical hoops and and take the easy way out, or whether to face up to the hard task of telling it how it is and facing the consequences of that. Last time I took the first approach, she seemed quite pleased with the progress I was making. In the days leading up to my latest appointment though, I’ve been feeling extremely hopeless and suicidal again. It often seems to disappear as soon as I get the chance to talk to someone about it and I feel like I’m being overly dramatic by bringing it up but this time I was determined to speak the truth about it.

I haven’t been feeling the desperation that I did before, I don’t feel the need to go out there this minute and do it, it’s more of a realisation what my life is going to be like. The horrible truth hangs over me every day, reinforced more and more with every failed social interaction, every rejection, every person staring and laughing. I feel crushing jealousy as I see people with friends, even glancing at groups studying together brings out a great sadness in me. I am totally alone here, and everywhere except in my home. I can no longer see how I’m going to get past the fact that I am hopelessly socially retarded, my appearance scares people and I am incredibly boring. There’s too much to overcome before anyone would even be remotely interested in knowing me, never mind the fact that I’ve already established myself as the weirdo loner here. It could be worse, at least I know a couple of people’s names, but I never dare interrupt their groups to talk to them, even if I could think of something to say.

I managed to tell the psychiatrist that I have been having the thoughts again and then of course I had to talk to the terrifying consultant. He’s incredibly intense, always staring and picks apart everything you say. I already over analyse the way I say every single thing to make sure it’s no misinterpreted but he sends me into overdrive. It can take me 30 seconds to answer a simple question, I get scared he’s going to get angry at what I say, especially after he smashed his fist on the table after I deigned to ask about anti-anxiety medication. The end result of it all was that he didn’t seem to think I was serious about it and just upped my venlafaxine to 225mg and said I’d benefit from one to one psychotherapy. I was referred a couple of months ago but still haven’t heard anything.

I don’t know what to do with myself now. I wish it was possible to transfer a confident person into my situation (of course no normal person would be in this position in the first place) and see what they’d do. I simply have no idea. I could carry on going to lectures, sitting alone and speaking to no-one for practically the entire week. I’m scared of the people my flatmates bring around here, I’ve missed several meals because I’ve been too afraid to leave my room and go into the loud, social atmosphere of the kitchen.

I’m so screwed up, laughter scares me now. If I here a group of people (especially men) laughing it just triggers a fear response inside me. I suppose it’s some kind of Pavlovian response after all the years of mocking and torment but I wish I didn’t feel like it. I don’t have a clue how I’m ever going to be normal*.

* Now I know the usual response to this is that “nobody is normal” or normal people aren’t interesting, but that’s not what I mean. I think most people would agree it is pretty normal to have at least one friend. It’s reasonably normal to be capable of going out somewhere without being crippled by fear of being laughed at and humiliated. I’d love to have someone to talk to, who I didn’t feel like I had to put on a show just to seem like less of a freak to.

I was asked some difficult questions by the consultant; “Have you ever had any close friends?” Not since I was a young child. He asked about when I was about 15; “Lads have mates who they go out and do ‘lad’ things with” he said. Not me. I had people I hung around with in school because I was too scared to leave them (they bullied me as much or worse than the other people) but I never had the slightest desire to spend any more time than absolutely necessary with them. I never saw them outside of school. I’ve been a loner for the vast majority of my life, but that isn’t how I want to be. I’d say the problem is probably made worse by two enormous problems. First, I am not the kind of person people like. I’m no fun to be around, I’m far too quiet and I don’t like drunkenness and parties, I look hideous, I’m probably too arrogant and élitist in my own introverted way. Second, I lack the basic skills that seem to come naturally to other people, probably through trial and error when they were younger and social faux-pas weren’t as heavily punished. I find it incredibly hard to explain just how little I know about how to interact with people, a lot of people think they are “shy” or whatever, but I’ve not come across many as socially maladjusted as me. I know nothing about what people do, I know they don’t spend every waking hour reading or on the computer like me but all I have for reference is what I see on TV and in movies (which I do realise aren’t realistic, by the way). I feel completely out of place as a human adult.

Anxiety Resurgence

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It’s been a long time since I was around a lot of people on a regular basis, so I haven’t experience huge amounts of social anxiety for quite a while. There have been odd days here and there but not prolonged periods like when I was at school or work, avoidance has been doing it’s trick. Now I am at university, however, I am starting to get those feelings again more often. I’ve already missed a few meals because I’ve been too afraid to go into the kitchen because I can hear voices of other people in there who I don’t know. I’ve even got to the point where I came out of my room to get a drink, walked to the door and heard people laughing and shouting and just walked back to my room to hide until they had gone.

One thing I’ve been told several times is that university societies and clubs are good places to meet people, and wanting to try and make some friends I decided that I would challenge myself and go along to some. I really wanted to join the Cine society but unfortunately that wasn’t running 😦 I ended up asking the president of the psychology society if it was ok if I joined now, since I didn’t sign up at the fresher’s fayre and she said yes. Last night they had a film night so after much worrying and arguing with my mum over MSN about going, I eventually plucked up enough courage to go there. Now, one technique you see in a lot of literature about tackling SA involves making predictions about social events or occasions and then going along anyway, then comparing what happened to your prediction and hopefully then realising that you were wrong and things turned out better than you expected. Unfortunately for me, last night was another occasion where what I predicted turned out to be exactly right; the other people there were all friends and knew each other and I ended up on my own looking like a loser. There were only 7 people there and the other 6 were all talking about people they knew and things they had done on previous nights out and stuff, hardly topics I could join in on even if I could bring myself to butt in on others conversations. So that turned out to be useless just like the other times I have been out, other people just don’t go to things alone looking to make friends. Despite what my mum says, it is highly unusual for someone to be my age and have zero friends, everyone else has people to go places with.

I don’t know what to do now really, I’d been told that everyone at uni would be in the same situation; that they wouldn’t know anyone either so they’d all want to make new friends, but that isn’t how it’s turned out for me. Everyone already knew tons of people from college, school or their jobs, on the first afternoon here when I went into the kitchen to say hello to my flatmates, there were already a bunch of their friends in there and I didn’t know who was living here and who wasn’t at first. I didn’t arrive with a prepared social group, I’m alone.

Outsider

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I’ve found myself in a familiar place here, on the outside. Since I started high school I’ve never really belonged to any particular group. I never fit into any of the “cliques” or whatever the name for them is these days. I wasn’t a goth, skater, popular or any other easily defined type of person. I didn’t even fit in with the nerds. Back in those days I used to tell myself that I was happier and better off alone, after all they were just acting that way to fit in with each other, the phonies. In a way I was happier, avoidance let my escape the anxiety which I dreaded so much but it left me without any proper friends or connections.

Here, it hasn’t taken long for me to become the odd one out. I don’t go out to clubs etc so I don’t fit in here either. I suppose it doesn’t help that I am incredibly quiet and also older than my other flatmates but I did initially make the effort to try and get to know them, however that has not gone well. I can talk to them in passing and I’ve even had short conversations with them when I’ve seen them alone but I can’t participate in group discussions so I’m effectively frozen out. I’d like to be friends with them, but we don’t really have anything at all in common.

So out of practice am I, that I doubt that I will make any friends here at all. I’ve already embarrassed myself by trying to speak to someone in my class who also looked to be by themselves and the only other person whose name I know and have spoken too reminded me too much of my old “friends” from school. I don’t want to be in that situation again where I am made to feel stupid for actually wanting to work, and having my notes copied and all that. I desperately want to try my hardest to do well in this degree and I don’t want it being spoiled by another person who thinks they’re “too cool for school” and mocks people for working hard. I mean, what’s the point? Why pay all that money if you aren’t going to concentrate?

I apologise for this incoherent ramble, I was woke up by water leaking into my room from the flat above so I’m not in the greatest of moods.

Feeling Better

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I’ve started my lectures properly now which is good because it means less time sitting around with nothing to do. I didn’t really put that much thought into the course itself compared to the social side of things when I was considering whether I could cope at university. Not to brag, but I’ve always been good at computing, it’s the only thing I’ve wanted to do as a career for as long as I can remember. I’ve spent countless hours reading about and messing about with computers and software. Since I’ve been unemployed for so long, I kind of lost my passion for it but now I am back in an environment where I can learn and make use of my skills again it has re-ignited my interest. I really can’t wait to get into the coursework and learn more.

I’m not sure whether it’s being in a new environment or the new medication, but I’m feeling a lot better than I was before I left for uni. I just hope it can continue.

Second Week at Uni

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I’ve been here a couple of weeks now and I think things are going reasonably well. It was a big change for me, moving out and living with 5 other people whom I hadn’t met before. I’ve kind of settled in a bit more now, something I was worried would never happen. I don’t know if it’s the medication or not but I seem to be a little less anxious. I’ve managed to find my way around alright which is good since I have a terrible fear of getting lost and looking stupid.

The only thing I am disappointed with myself about so far is that I haven’t managed to make any friends yet. I tried talking to a girl in my class (the first time I can remember myself actually starting a conversation with a stranger) and she seemed really nice but since then I get the feeling she doesn’t want me to be around. I made a fool of myself the other day so I’m reluctant to talk to her again. Everyone else seems to already have formed groups and once again I’m on the outside but hopefully I will get to talk to people in my classes a bit more when we have workshops, rather than just lectures.

I’d like to say thanks to everyone who wished me well with my university stuff, I couldn’t have done it without the encouragement from my friend SM and also the lovely people who helped me when I was feeling at my lowest a few weeks ago. Not much interesting stuff has happened this week really so I apologise for the lack of posts.