Tag Archives: Social anxiety disorder

The idea of being sociable seems so foreign to me

November 26, 2010

I’ve never been big on making friends. It’s not that I don’t want to, I’m just really inept at it. When I’m in a social situation it is quite normal for me to sit quietly in a corner somewhere as everything else revolves around me. Occasionally I will pluck up the courage to talk, but quite often I will peer into my phone and pretend I’m doing something important. This implies that I’m not available and you don’t have to worry about me. Yet I’d love you to worry about me.

This situation mostly happens when I’m around people I don’t know very well, or if there are a couple of big personalities and I can’t find my voice in the group. I assume I seem disinterested or bored. People often ask me if I’m OK, and I am. I’m just not sure what to say or what I can add to the conversation. I often feel like they are talking about things I don’t understand or I’ve never felt apart of. Life general everyday things.

I’m much better with smaller groups of people. If I am left with another person I don’t know I will attempt small talk. If it is a group of three, often I can just sit back and nod in the appropriate places. I’m very much introverted and this has become more pronounced over the last few years.

Yet part of me yearns to be sociable. Part of me wants to hang with people who get me and take me as I am. I want to do things like go to karaoke, or go out for dinner or drinks or trivia, or just sit around a campfire/bonfire/hot coals and talk about life with a few drinks. Part of me wants to feel comfortable around people and not feel like I should censor what I say in case I offend someone. Not because I’m generally offensive; I just figure something I like or do will be considered incorrect or not be liked by others. Maybe that is why I hide away and don’t speak.

When I do speak up my mind, I sometimes scare away people. I grew up with a few close friends and since moving to Brisbane have had a few other close friends. Even today I feel like I don’t have many people that are my friends. They are often people I have met through Natalie, and even though I consider them my friends, it’s different, you know?

People have suggested I do hobbies or find groups to join but I’m either too scared to do so or can’t find the types of things to do. It would require a bit step out of my comfort zone and the times I have tried I have only felt pain when it backfires.

Even these days my close mates have drifted away. There are greater differences between us and we all have our own lives going on. But then I think about my father and his inability to make friendships and wonder if it’s like father like son?

I should probably come to terms with the fact that I will never be part of the ‘in’ crowd. I don’t even know if I want to be. I guess I want to be part of a group of people that I can hang out with once or twice a month and have fun times with.But lets not dwell on that.

I guess for now I just have to accept that I’m me and this is how I am. I can’t force it. I just have to accept me and go from there…

Mental Illness – it can’t go on being hidden

November 1, 2010

A blog is a personal space but it can be very hard to allow the deepest parts of yourself to be on show. I talk a lot about fat acceptance issues on this blog because it is something that is important to me and that affects me daily. There are other things that affect me daily that I never talk about on this blog, since they feel too raw to share with the world in general. One of those issues will be getting an airing today.

Mental illness is a disease that affects me, people around me and many millions of people right around the world. It is often not seen as a real illness since there is no physical manifestation of the disease; you can’t see a cast over the part of the brain that is broken and needs fixing or do an x-ray and see the exact spot that is causing the problem. It is a real issue that needs to be taken more seriously by governments, businesses and the community as a whole.

I suffer from depression and social anxiety and I have done so for many years. My social anxiety leads me to be an introvert until I get to know people better, at which point I come out of my shell. Workmates who have known me for years presume that I’m an extrovert, but that is only because of the report and the sense of comfort that I have built with them. I do force myself out there for work or when I really have no choice, but on the whole I’m happy just by myself.

Depression is a different beast entirely. It can sweep over me at any time and there is no amount of force that is going to push it away again until it is ready to leave. The best analogy I have heard is that depression is like the weather. Often it is sunny, but when the rain sets in no amount of wishing or hoping will make it go away until it is ready to leave. You learn to work with the depressive periods of your life and work through them the best you can.

My depression has been getting the best of me lately. I’m feeling sluggish and lethargic, I’m breaking out into tears without warning and I feel like I’m not achieving nearly as much as I could be or should be. It has a major impact on my work life and my personal life. Yet people don’t seem to take it seriously. People seem to think you can just work through it or just push it to one side and forget about it.

Depression (and other mental illnesses) are with people always. It doesn’t matter how ‘normal’ they look or are acting or how good they seem to be going, it will always be in the back of their mind. It isn’t like a broken arm or leg, which heals over time and can be forgotten about. It is something that I work on all of the time and I know I’ll have to do so for the rest of my life.

Employers need to be mindful of this when they place pressure on their employees. Friends and family members need to be mindful that they can’t always help and that the best they can do is be there and support their loved one. I myself don’t expect any special treatment. I do expect to be respected regardless and that people understand where I am coming from and where I have come from.

I realise that this is a very difficult issue to talk about. Even writing this blog post has been very difficult for me. It is important that within the community we discuss these issues more and more. I figure if I can give a glimmer of what it is like to deal with my mental illness it might help someone else who is going through a rough time. Sometimes all you need is someone to go “Yup, I get you. I’ve been there” and it can make all the difference.

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