People Confess How They Overcame Social Anxiety And It’s Fascinating

Social Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems, and these personal accounts might help you figure out how to overcome yours. Stay strong, and always remember: “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

1

“Quit writing off old people”

Sympathies and good wishes, it sounds like you are trying like hell to connect and it’s just not clicking enough.
 
I’m going to suggest you be a ‘joiner’ for a while. Because you don’t like being the focus of attention, get in medium to large groups where everybody’s doing the same thing and nobody’s staring at you, they’re facing forward at the choir director or rowing down a creek. Like try out for a choir. Join the sierra club and just show up for camping and canoeing trips. Don’t just go to music festivals, find your favorite one and offer to be a volunteer at it all weekend.
 
I know you’re still nervous, but join whatever thing seems to be the least intimidating, and make yourself go, and just smile serenely at people and get them talking about themselves, and do whatever the activity is. Show up just as it’s getting started if you dread the small-talk beforehand. Later on you can start going early or staying late. And search for someone just as uncomfortable as you and say ‘i hate the crowd scene, don’t you?’ etc.
 
And with some of these people, it is not going to click, and you’re a grownup so you already know that. But some of it will. If the first thing doesn’t work, try another group.
 
And quit writing off old people, there’s probably some old coots in the neighborhood who could show you a few things about poker!

skimmer

2

Improv Classes

I’ve lurked for a while, but this post convinced me to register. I too suffer from social anxiety.
 
I was also a complete recluse for all of the reasons you mention. That is, until I took an Improv class. It was terrifying, because Improv is pretty much all of the things that freak me the fuck out about social situations.
 
You’re forced to be spontaneous, be the center of attention, be judged by your peers, and interact in the most uncomfortable and contrived situations imaginable. Sounds terrifying, right? I could barely breath I was so anxious going into my first class.
 
But, once I got there I realized it was basically boot camp for people like me. If you’re in a good class then your very first exercise is intentionally fucking up an interaction, and then learning not to beat yourself up about it. In fact, you’ll likely be in a small group of people who find are all struggling with the same issues.
 
It’s hard. It’s hard for everyone. It’s so hard that during your first Improv class everyone around you will be laughing and literally exclaiming, “Man, this is really difficult!”. The difference between you and other people right now is practice. That’s it.

If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area sign up for a class with Rebecca Stockley. She taught my Improv class, and it was an amazing perspective shattering experience. According to her website she’s also the Improv and Acting coach at Electronic Arts and Pixar Animation Studios. She’s fucking awesome.
 
If Improv sounds too intense, try joining a group for people with social anxiety. My health care provider (Kaizer Permanente) runs these. Maybe yours will, too. All you need to do is practice being in a social situation, and learn to forgive (and even enjoy) the mistakes you make. Find a way to do that in any context where you feel safe.
 
And hell, if you’re in the Bay Area I’ll buy you a beer or two. Friendship +1.

Gourmont

3

A Slow Process

Hey! B.S. in CS here as well.
 
I had pretty severe social anxiety coupled with depression in high school and a fair bit of college. I experienced most/all of things you mention. I wouldn’t go anywhere for weeks for fear of people seeing me. I was terrified if I went outside to get the mail that a neighbor would see me and judge me. I’d only go grocery shopping at bizarre hours and only use the self check out because of fear of what the cashier would think of me and my purchases. Going to any social event caused panic attacks (sweating, trembling, trouble breathing, chest pain, dizziness). I lived a solitary life and would go months without social interaction. Going so long without having so much as a conversation made me really awkward in any social interaction that I did have. I be real quiet and keep to myself. Afterwards I’d over analyze everything that happened, even for days or weeks.
 
So how did I climb out…? Very slowly.

I been on and off antidepressants (SSRIs) since I was 15, never on for longer than 3 months, then I would hop back on when I started to feel real down. I think they helped with the depression, but not so much the social anxiety. I been on and off therapy as well…and couldn’t really commit to that either. It’s hard to go tell someone your most intimate feelings and thoughts, when you’re afraid of how they’re judging you. However I think it does help some people…

I made one friend towards the end of high school. I had no idea why he wanted to be my friend, but I was so desperate for a friend I just went with it. I found it much easier to just hang with 1 person than a large group that I didn’t know. Then I made one really good friend my first year of college. She much more actively took action to become my friend, than me becoming hers. We became basically inseparable, and she was my only friend for a while but that was okay because all my social needs were met through her. I transferred schools and she got a boyfriend and our very codependent relationship kinda fell apart. I felt lost for a while, but that is when I realized that I shouldn’t be that dependent on someone else. I made a friend at my new school. I moved on campus and started interacting more with my roommates.

I became involved with clubs. I started by just attending talks and meetings, then eventually went onto become an officer. A lot of classes were team projects, so I befriended some teammates. I took a teaching assistant position, and met people that way. As my circle of friends grew, I met more friends through them. I threw some parties. I went to parties. I learned that sometimes you have to be assertive when making friends. I faked confidence and asked people to hang out, chatted them up online, said hi and talked to them when I saw them. Eventually it starts to feel less forced and more natural. By the time I graduated I had a great group of friends ranging from very close to not so close.

I made one friend towards the end of high school. I had no idea why he wanted to be my friend, but I was so desperate for a friend I just went with it. I found it much easier to just hang with 1 person than a large group that I didn’t know. Then I made one really good friend my first year of college. She much more actively took action to become my friend, than me becoming hers. We became basically inseparable, and she was my only friend for a while but that was okay because all my social needs were met through her. I transferred schools and she got a boyfriend and our very codependent relationship kinda fell apart. I felt lost for a while, but that is when I realized that I shouldn’t be that dependent on someone else. I made a friend at my new school. I moved on campus and started interacting more with my roommates.

I became involved with clubs. I started by just attending talks and meetings, then eventually went onto become an officer. A lot of classes were team projects, so I befriended some teammates. I took a teaching assistant position, and met people that way. As my circle of friends grew, I met more friends through them. I threw some parties. I went to parties. I learned that sometimes you have to be assertive when making friends. I faked confidence and asked people to hang out, chatted them up online, said hi and talked to them when I saw them. Eventually it starts to feel less forced and more natural. By the time I graduated I had a great group of friends ranging from very close to not so close.

It wasn’t smooth sailing always. I had a really hard time during my internship. I didn’t fit in with the other interns at all. It was like they just looked at me and labeled me as a loser. I felt very socially awkward since most my friends were also very nerdy/geeky and the interns were a different breed. I did try, but I failed and it was a hard summer for me. I spent most my weekends alone while the others were out doing what interns should do when spending the summer in a beautiful new city.
 
About 6 months ago I moved to a new city, and it’s been tough making friends and adjusting. I feel the insecurities and low self esteem creeping in on me. I hated constantly meeting new people and small talk. I’m so paranoid that people will see through my confident veneer and find me to be just a giant loser. I miss the easiness with my friends. I tried organizing events with some people at work, but those fell through. Sucks being in a new city with so much to do, but no one to do with it. In the back of my mind I still fear that if I go do things alone people will see me think of me as a friendless loser.

As you can see it’s still a struggle sometimes, but I know I’ve come a long way. I don’t think I’ll ever be the life of the party or 100% not socially awkward. I still have fears and insecurities, but I think the best way to get over them is to just face them. Sometimes you’ll fail real hard, but you’ll learn and get better. I know it’ll be a while before I build a social network like the one I had in college. I’m gonna try taking a fun class after work, meetup.com, and finding a place to volunteer. I’m planning on facing my fear of doing things alone…and I’m gonna go out there and do things alone and hopefully make friends along the way.
 
Okay…sorry for that really long response and life story. In summary…face your fears over and over, be confident or at least fake it (this is exhausting but do it anyway), take the initiative and be assertive, do things that involve spending time with other people (ie. clubs or sports), and get some professional help (it might help with that extra push). Everything isn’t gonna change overnight. It’s a slow process. Goodluck! And if by chance we are in the same city, let’s hang out?

lifeisaboat

4

Find A Group

I volunteer at a psychiatric hospital and happen to be working on a study for people with social anxiety, and I would strongly suggest looking for a group meant specifically for people with social anxiety. I’m involved in organizing one through meetup.com, and I know that many cities have similar groups. Meetup is a great place to start (try searching “shyness” or “social anxiety”) because if you don’t find what you’re looking for, you can sign up to be notified by email when a group is begun in your area. What’s awesome about social phobia groups is that everyone is in the same boat. Nervous to introduce yourself? Not a problem, everyone is – and you’ll be able to say as much or as little as you like, knowing that no one will judge how you choose to contribute. Other group members will be able to provide advice, support, and a low pressure space to practice interacting with people. You’ll be able to set goals together, and knowing that they understand how tough it is to attend events will give you more impetus to be there.

A quick note on avoidance: You mention that you dread upcoming events and look for excuses to get out of them. Believe me, I hear you on that one (I have a specific social phobia of public speaking), but avoidance is your enemy. Every time you find a way to get out of going to an event, the relief of not having to go functions as a reward that reinforces the avoidance, which just perpetuates your problem. I’ve been there, and it’s shitty. The best advice I can give is- small steps. Give yourself “homework assignments” (calling an acquaintance, making a comment to a stranger, going to a party, whatever), and take it from there. It will get easier.
 
Best of luck finding a group near you, and feel free to PM me for more info.

smallpie

5

Are You An Introvert?

It took me a LONG time for me to convince myself that people weren’t judging me when they looked at me. Every time someone gave me a dirty look, I believed they were literally at that moment thinking I was an idiot. You should be keenly aware that when you have finished a conversation and are still analyzing everything that you said, the other person has forgotten about it, and moved on with their life. You should remind yourself of that every time you start over-analyzing. You are important as a person, but you are not THAT important to them.
 
My social anxiety problems were compounded by the fact that I am an introvert. From the sound of it, you are too. If you can get a handle on your introversion, it might help with your social anxiety. For example, introverts tend to get overstimulated at large gatherings. Our brains are physiologically different from extroverts, and we simply can’t stay social for as long as extroverts do. The bottom line is, you need to A) Understand that it is OK that you are uncomfortable around large groups. Many of us are, and B) When you are no longer enjoying whatever social gathering you’re in, you need to feel comfortable leaving.

I could mention more, but I have to get back to work. If any of this sounds like it makes sense to you, let me know. I’ve read a book on introversion, and that may be useful. I can’t think of the name right now, but if you’d like, I can get back to you on that.

Edit:
Ok, work’s done. I fixed a couple of errors and I have more thoughts.

First off, I would definitely seek professional help. The fact that you are drinking so much every night is a serious problem, and I’m pretty sure it qualifies as alcoholism. Even if you were drinking this much with other people, I’d say it’s unhealthy, but the fact that you are doing it alone makes it especially serious.
 
I also want to follow up on what I said about introversion. Not enjoying small talk and your enjoyment of alone time are both tell tale signs of introversion. The book I read is called The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney, and I strongly recommend you read it. Introverts are in the minority, and it is very hard being an introvert in an extrovert dominated world. Many introverts grow up feeling like something is wrong with them. As if that’s not bad enough, you and I have had to deal with social anxiety which makes our insecurities that much worse.

The absolute best thing for you to do right now is find someone to talk to about this. There was nothing more helpful for me than to meet with my psychologist every week and review the previous week’s anxiety inducing situations. He had also dealt with social anxiety when he was younger so our sessions doubled as somewhat of a group session since he’d share his experiences with it. Knowing that I was not the only one dealing with this was extremely empowering. Week by week I could feel the anxiety wash away as we tackled each issue separately and he showed me case by case why my fear of being judged was unwarranted. I still deal with it, and I’m pretty sure I always will, but I can manage it now, and over time I’m quite confident you will be able to do the same.

The recommendations on the website you included are all very good. I’d follow exactly what it says. Find a specialist and get to work on this. My sessions a few years ago were nothing short of life changing, and I have no reason to believe the same can’t be true for you if you take this seriously.
 
I wish you well, and please feel free to PM me, or respond with any questions you have. I know how much this sucks for you and I’d really like to help any way I can.
 
Last edit:
I eschew all medication unless they are absolutely necessary. If you can deal with this through therapy sessions alone, leave it at that. If your doctor recommends taking medication, think long and hard before you agree to it. From what I’ve seen meds for mental disorders typically have some pretty powerful side effects. Eg: I believe suicidal thoughts are one potential side effect of anti-depressants. I mean c’mon….Just be careful about what meds you take, if any.
Ultimateamp

6

Daily Automatic Thought Log

What you have to realize, and what you must already realize deep down because you are an intelligent person, is that your view of yourself in social situations is grossly distorted. Other people have all kinds of reasons for talking to you, not talking to you, smiling, grimacing, feeling awkward etc. etc. Also, chances are, there are a lot of people that you encounter on a day to day basis that are feeling the exact same fears and anxieties you feel. Modern psychotherapy is moving more and more toward cognitive behavioral therapy. In a nutshell, CBT says that 99.999% of the painful feelings you have start out as thoughts. So it follows that if you can change your thoughts, you can change your feelings.
 
There’s only one way that I’ve found that will truly stop this: It’s called a daily automatic thought log. It may sound a bit corny, and yes, this comes straight from a “self help” book called Feeling Good by David Burns MD, but believe me, this WORKS. Your a programmer right? Think of this as a bug report/FAQ for your brain:

Start by making a word document (or better yet, keep a notebook) with three columns. In the first column write: Automatic Thoughts, in the second write Cognitive Distortion, in the third write Rational Response.
 
The idea is to write down any thoughts you have throughout the day that are negative or cause a painful response. So let’s say for example, you were walking to work and you smiled at a pretty girl, she turned away and you say to yourself “I’m NEVER going to get a girlfriend. I’m too shy” Write it down. DON’T write down how this made you feel. Just write down the thought. Now this one is pretty obviously logically flawed; you have no way of knowing if the love of your life is around the corner. So, reading that, you may say, “Yeah but my problems are MUCH more complicated than that, I…”write it down. Get the idea?
 
OK, now comes the fun part: Tearing down your distorted, irrational thoughts and providing a rational, productive, counter argument.

There are a few types of distortions that you should know and write down in this column if they fit. I’m paraphrasing a bit here, but they are mostly common sense. (yes, even for you)
 

  1. Catastrophizing – You are making a mountain out of a molehill. (remember, focus on the thought not the feelings it dredges up.) e.g. “The cashier at the bank didn’t smile back, she must HATE me.”
  2. Fortune Telling/Mind Reading – Your depressed/anxious mind thinks it’s really, really good at telling the future and reading other people’s minds…guess what? It’s not. It fucking sucks at it. e.g. “I’ll never get a girlfriend. “That guy looked at me funny because he doesn’t like my hair”
  3. Labeling – You think you ARE a certain way and will not change.
  4. Emotional reasoning – You think that just because you feela certain way, that this must be the reality of the situation. e.g. You’re with a girl and you feel anxious so you assume she is having a terrible time. I know what you’re thinking, “well she probably IS having a terrible time” write it down
  5. Disqualifying the positive – You think your successes are merely a fluke or were the result of some kind of mistake. e.g. “She only smiled at me because she feels sorry for me”

 
Now, write down your thoughts in the first column, the distortion(s) in the second column, and in the third you need to come up with a truthful logical, counterargument. I’m sure you do this in your head already, but writing it down helps tremendously. It also helps you be more aware of your distortions, and as a result, the counterargument you’ve worked on. Eventually, the counterargument, being more logically sound will win.
 
TLDR; Take a quick lesson in CBT; your feelings are controlled by your thoughts, not vice versa. If you can control your thoughts (you can) you can control your feelings. Here’s an easy exercise from a best selling book that will get you feeling better fast.
electric_sandwich

7

Be Yourself

 I suffered during my early years out of high school. I had a friend or two, but couldn’t figure out how to make more. I felt extremely self-conscious going anywhere that people went with one another. I went for years without seeing a movie or eating out, because I was too ashamed to go alone.
 
My advice is to not be afraid of being embarrassed. Everybody experiences it, and nobody thinks the worse of you when you get goofy and have some fun (within reason). What’s the worst thing that could happen if you said “hi” to someone you’re attracted to? You might get rebuffed, but you’ll get over it. Again and again, and you get used to it, and you become less afraid of rejection, plus you don’t always get rejected.

One thing NOT to do is try and “be” something or other. Just be yourself, and don’t try for some formula or clever line. If you’re attracted to someone, just say “hi”, and say you saw them and were interested. Be candid and open. And ask open ended questions, to get them talking. Listen for indications of common interests.
 
It’s unfortunate that when people look desperate to find a friend, others are often driven away from them. And it’s also unfortunate that some of the worst people are the easiest ones to befriend. So don’t be too desperate to find just anybody. It’s equally important to know who NOT to be friends with.
 
One last thing: I’m a lot more confident now that I’m an old fart. My anxiety pretty much was gone by age 30. I hear that from a lot of people; that you’re more confident as you get older. So don’t worry, you’ll be OK.

SoLonely

8

Strike Up A Conversation

A friend of mine took me to a club and told me to run around and tell 10 random people that they were awesome, then he forced me to walk up to 10 women I’ve never met before, spin them around and introduce myself and then dance with them for a bit. I did not know how to dance.
 
I was never scared to talk to anyone and I was able to strike up good conversation with strangers about almost anything after that.
 
It was the most pressure I’ve ever felt in my life – I was on the verge of tears but I pulled through and came out a social butterfly, or numb. 

MaYAL_terEgo

9

Follow These Steps

The most-helpful Cognitive behavioral therapy method I’ve come across was not one I ever would have believed would have been helpful. I can’t recommend this enough:
 
Do this every day for at least a few days:

  1. Buy a standard hand counter (aka: Hand Tally).
  2. Carry it around with you during the day.
  3. Each time you have a thought where you are critical of yourself, hit the counter.

 
Each self-critical thought you have is like an electric shock to the brain. You may be amazed by how many times a day you are essentially shocking yourself with these thoughts.
 
Clicking the counter, you become aware of that behavior and through the awareness, you can find ways to stop having the self-critical thoughts.
 
I hope this helps someone!! peace, friends!

slashdotter

10

Find A Counselor

I 100% recommend seeing some sort of social anxiety counselor or therapist. I had similar issues with feeling self conscious in public even in mundane scenarios (although not as severe as what you’re describing) and having somebody to talk to can help put things in perspective for you. The biggest thing I had to realize is that on some level, everyone experiences the same anxiety you do, and there is a certain amount of not-giving-a-fuck that you need to have.

SteelKangaroo

11

A Good Doctor

I am 28 have managed to pull myself out of a pit of anxiety problems that sound very similar to your experiences. The first thing I learned is how many different techniques are available. I only really started to get better when I combined them all.
 
Find a good doctor. Only a good Dr. can guide you through the medicinal gauntlet. There are a lot of medications, lots of different affects at different dosages. A doctor you trust will be invaluable finding a combination that works for you. Make sure your doctor listens to what you have to say, and medication can be amazingly helpful.
 
Ideally, try to find a psychiatrist who has experience with CBT.
 
Read about the different medications. Your doctor might mention Cymbalta, Lexapro, Wellbutrin, Paxil, and Prozac. These are all either SSRI’s or SSNRI’s. There is also Xanax and Klonopin, which are benzodiazepines. Ask your doctor why they suggest a particular medication. Learn about the different drugs so you can discuss them with your doctor.

Try Propranalol it’s a beta blocker which limits the effects of adrenalin – sweating, trembling, difficulty speaking. You mentioned a lot of these symptoms in your post. Take the drug about an hour before a social situation. It’s not the same type of drug as Xanax or Klonopin. It only works on the physical effects of adrenalin. But without the worry of a shaky voice or sweating palms, you will find it easier to relax.
 
Neurofeedback has really worked well for me. I highly suggest looking into this, though I’ve learned most people have never heard of it.
 
Or try Hypnosis. You can be trained to relax by performing a certain trigger action – say, a suggestion that you will relax when you say flexing your left hand, or touch your left pinky and thumb together. Believe it or not, hypnotherapy actually works fairly well.

Work out before you go to a party. There’s a lot of evidence that working out increases the release of endorphins, which calm the mind. Try working out a couple of hours before you go to a party. This has helped me a great deal.
 
Learn to meditate, and do it regularly. Or find a sport that teaches you to focus your mind with moving meditation, like Tai Chi or Qigong.
 
Or learn a martial art – Kung fu, Boxing, Karate, etc. They all require you to focus your mind and quiet your thoughts. As you learn to do it for the sport, you will learn to apply it at will.
 
Finally, think about the steps you take to combat anxiety as your training regimen. You are training your brain to behave differently in the same way you train a muscle. Work at it always. Try any technique you can think of. Be creative. Every little improvement in your life is a step toward your goal. Don’t forget to celebrate your victories. Good luck.

mkultra123

12

Try Different Approaches

Serious answer: Cut your teeth on a group of folks that you don’t care about. Find a church or a bowling league and work out all of your twitches there. Worst case, you just disappear. Get a second line on your phone plan for $10/$5 per month and then disconnect it so no one can find you.
 
Within this group, try different things and different approaches to situations. Once you got over your basic issues, move on to your alpha group.

Go2Church

13

Cut Your Drinking

Hey socialphobia. I’ve also had to deal with social anxiety. A big thing that really sets it off for me is drinking; well, more accurately, the hangover. Many people drink to feel loose and to get out of their own heads, but with alcohol, there is no free lunch, so to speak. Any extroversion that you gain from drinking, can be met with ADDED introversion the next day.
 
As a way to experiment with this, try to cut your drinking down to 3 times a week. Pay attention to how you feel the day after you drink and compare it to how you feel the days after you don’t drink. Also, this is pretty standard advice, but try to do some good cardio on your hang-over days and you can really see how your circulation and outlook will improve on your non-hangover days. The world may tend to look “brighter” and this may be a good way to begin to change things for good. GL.

Bludwine2309

14

Medication?

You will see a lot of comments on here deligitimizing the potential possible effects of medication. For me, medication was the answer and it has literally changed my life for the better.
 
Starting around freshman year of high school, I became very nervous around others–dry mouth, sweating, inability to look someone in the eye, etc. I was also very hesitant to attend social events and hated being in large groups of people. I sort of wrote it off as unavoidable, and just dealt with it. Once I got to college though, I decided to do something about it, with the support of my parents, and ended up being prescribed the SSRI antidepressant Lexapro. I have been on it for 5 years now, and can say with the utmost confidence that without it, I would not be where I am today. Contrary to what some might say, the medicine does not change you or alter your sense of being, etc. Rather, I always knew that there was something wrong with me having trouble talking to people. I was always an inherently sociable person, but my anxiety would always take control of me and prevent me from living my life. The medication enabled me to shake these uncomfortable feelings, and to bring out my true personality.
 
Although it might not be first line of defense for this type of problem, medication is certainly something that you might want to consider.

WE

15

A Very Smart Advice

I had miserable social problems for most of my life, and only gradually have I learned how to relax and display a degree of charisma. These are the things I have learned.
 
-If social events feel too far out of your control to handle, stop forcing yourself to go to them until you have gained more confidence. (Or if you are at a social event, stop treating it as an obligation.) Rather, try to work up a relaxed banter with those you already interact with, probably at work. If you’re afraid to put your neck out with jokes, just say something kind and friendly, or discuss something interesting to you. Ask questions if you need help with something. More than 90% of people respond favorably to friendliness (and the other 10% are assholes you don’t want to know anyway) and will probably forgive you of any shyness. People like to feel as though they are being helpful, so don’t think of your questions or thoughts as some kind of imposition; you’re actually making their day better if they feel like they’re “doing good.”

 -In conversation, try NOT to think of interactions as attacks waiting to happen, because the vast majority of people use conversation to become comfortable with one another; before you’ve even spoken to a person (assuming the setting is socially acceptable, and you’re not ambushing someone on a bus or whatever) their first intention will be to make friends with you in some way. People WANT to relate to one another, and it doesn’t take much. An observation about a shared experience, a comment on prices or working conditions, etc will usually earn you a smile and a laugh, so long as you say it in a friendly and relaxed manner. And if it doesn’t, they probably aren’t rejecting you; it could be they didn’t hear you very well the first time, or are distracted. Take it gracefully, and try again later. It WILL work eventually.

-Try to focus on the aspects of your identity which you feel confident about. Don’t worry about what anyone else might think, or about the things you are unhappy with. Consider them irrelevant. Carry this feeling of confidence with you, try to think of it as a force field. Nothing can get past this unless you allow it.
 
-When entering into a social situation with more than one person, observe for a little while before forcing yourself to interact. Try to gain a degree of confidence in your understanding of the people and situation around you, and once you feel more confident, take the opportunities you see to add your own thoughts. If the opening has passed by for more than a few seconds, let it go. There will be others. It may help for you to have a short “queue” of remarks in your mind, maybe one or two, which you can use when the opportunity presents itself. It’s best if they’re simple thoughts, not convoluted sentences which you might stumble over. This “queue” can be refreshed with new thoughts, or left alone for whatever length of time you feel is comfortable or appropriate. This is only for your convenience, so don’t force yourself if it feels unnatural to you.

-If it breaks your concentration to maintain eye contact and talk at the same time, don’t bother. So long as your eyes are not “nervous,” and you gaze off into space rather than glancing around, it can help your concentration a lot without bothering the person you’re talking with. If you can manage it, however, try to resume eye contact while it’s their turn to talk. This shows that you are interested and still listening.
 
-Stop drinking, it’ll only make your problems worse. YOU DO NOT NEED IT.
 
-Try experimenting with social behavior online. When conversing with someone in written form, try to see what does and doesn’t work, and try to carry these lessons into the real world. (Note: memes, trolling and behaving like a jackass don’t count.) This doesn’t work for everyone, but it helped me.

-Always remember that many people are just as afraid of rejection as you are, and those few people who treat you badly are probably doing so for that reason; some people develop nasty coping strategies for the same fears that plague everyone. (For instance, acting preemptively sarcastic, negative, or critical.) Try not to take it personally, because it truly isn’t about you. When forced to be around such people, you can cope by maintaining a wall of politeness, by continuing to offer your friendship (but only if you feel that they have redeeming qualities, and if you have the energy for it) or by avoiding/ignoring them entirely.
 
To wrap this up, I agree with other Redditors that you should talk to a therapist if you can. I have never tried drugs for my problems, so I couldn’t make any recommendations to you. Different people can have wildly different (and sometimes undesirable) reactions to the same drugs, so try to discuss it with a doctor of some kind before trying anything. Best of luck with your anxiety.

pyxlated

16

Learn From Your Anxiety

Try these things: -get yourself a therapist, i use cbt and its helping with my social anxiety -get active: exercise beats/equals drugs for improvements in depressive episodes -join an adult education class or enroll in adult tennis lessons: low pressure groups with a common interest are gold for our types -eat a balanced diet -check out some of the many self help books – Gillian Butler is good
 
I’ve found that a lot of my anxiety is simply a learnt reaction to previous experiences. It’ll take time, years, to unlearn them, but I’m making progress all the time. The therapist is the best thing you can do if you can afford it. There are also some websites but I cant remember them now, they’re interactive short courses in cbt for depression. I’m sure you can find them!

sparkie_t

17

Get Involved In Activities

My advise: get involved in activities. Meeting people when you have some sort of commonality makes things MUCH easier. I recently started rock climbing, and I think this would be great for someone like you. Its something you have to do in groups, so you have an excuse to ask other people to hang out – like people in your beginning rock climbing class (only $40 bucks a class about, 1.5 hours). The cool part is, you cycle through who is climbing and who is waiting belaying below, so you never have to carry on a conversation for more than a few minutes at a time. Better still, there is a huge talking point just feet above your head. Talk about what routes they should take, yell some support, ask advise. Anyway, i hope this helps. And if youre in portland for some reason, youre more than welcome to join me.

DrTom

18

See A Professional

Much like my my life. I fought it for years, thought I could “just get over it”. Although it had a profound affect on my life I felt I just needed to “man up” and get over it. Cost me lots of money thorough lost job opportunities, and stunted my social life. So really by accident, I was seeing a MD for something else and sort of mentioned it and she asked if I’d like to speak with a Physiologist they had there. I jumped at the offer and met with this guy who was very easy to talk to.
 
He spoke with the MD and I started taking a few meds. Nothing made me a new man, but after trying a few antidepressants like Paxil and Seroquol (which made me gain weight) I started taking Clonazepam twice a day, now sometimes skipping it when I’m not going out, and alprazolam (generic for Xanax) also twice a day, but actually now I usualy only take it when I feel a panic attack coming on. They have really worked for me, been taking them for over a year. I still very often feel a mini panic attack, but they only last a minute, rather than ruining a whole day, and I calmly recognize them for what they are. See a professional and try to find something that works for you. Don’t let it go on and on for years like I did.

walrus99

19

Utilize Your Interests

Blerg. That’s an awful position to be in. I just moved to a new city, and I’m feeling what you’re saying (although, I can’t imagine what 2 years has been like).
 
My recommendation is this: Look at the list of interests you gave, and utilize the internet/flyers/etc to locate some clubs and organizations you could get involved with. If you live near a big city, there should be a lot available.
 
For example, I’m interested in both writing and cycling. In the new city I moved to, I joined a writing group at a bookstore a few blocks away, and found a cycling group on Craiglist that rides once a week. I’ve met a couple times with each, and although I haven’t made a ton of friends, I’ve slowly worked myself into the community and feel more like I belong.
 
Not saying that works for everyone, but it’s worth giving it a shot. Something important to remember is you really are not alone. Most people want to get to know other human beings and souls because it’s our nature.
 
I don’t know what city you live by, but I just recently moved to New York, and I’d be down to grab a beer or something with you. Just PM me. I’m 23/m.

ericsundy

20

A Therapist’s Help

I suffer from anxiety. It spreads over a lot of aspects of my life, and for a long time it affected me socially. I still have social issues, but the anxiety is mostly gone except in situations I’m not used to.
 
I don’t know that what I went through could possibly be any help, but here’s how my therapist helped me get over my anxiety:
 
She asked me if there was anything I really wanted to do, but my social anxiety was preventing me. I finally decided that I really missed playing D&D (my ex boyfriend had DM’d and I’d been comfortable enough with that group thanks to him – the anxiety had gotten worse since then as well).
 
She encouraged me to go out to wherever players might gather, and ask if there was a group that would take a new player. The thought absolutely terrified me, but over time the loneliness and self-loathing was motivation enough to try. After all, she kept reminding me, the worst thing that can happen is they say no.

I must have walked into the Comic Book & Gaming shop on campus over a dozen times before I got up the nerve to talk to someone. There were people playing games there sometimes, so I knew it was a good place to start, but I was terrified.
 
Finally, one day, I got up the courage to ask a guy who was talking with others about the game he was running. He said that his game was full, but someone else at the table said that they were thinking of starting one and maybe they’d have room.
 
Long story short, I got together with a bunch of complete strangers to play D&D and though it was absolutely terrifying, after a few months my social anxiety had lessened enormously. I had made somewhat-friends with strangers and I was enjoying myself.
 
I’m still nervous talking to strangers, but things get easier every time I talk to someone new.

neshel