I think I have social anxiety. I'm currently job-seeking and today I had planned to ring up someone about
a job but I'm terrified of picking up the phone and doing it.
I just thought I would tell you the background to my problem and why I think I have it:
Basically anything social terrifies me. I barely have any friends because going out and drinking and doing normal things like that feels like such a drain...the music's always too loud which panics me, there are always too many people and I fear that everyone's looking at me. I miss out on loads of opportunities because I can't face confrontation. It's not just in crowded situations though, in any circumstance where there are people I fear I will say or do something stupid and that I will end up being ridiculed.
I think this mainly stems for experiences at school. In a particular science class I was forced to sit near a gang of boys who preyed upon the fact I was very shy and blushed easily. They would say things to me with the sole intention of making me blush and would then point it out to the rest of the class and laugh at my humiliation. I used to dread that class and I believe I sank further back into my shell because of it.
When I look back upon my childhood, I've always been extremely shy. As a toddler, I wasn't normal in the sense that I hated contact with other children and became distressed over it. My mother would leave me with a playgroup for a couple of hours a week and I never played with the other children, I would wander around feeling scared and isolated. When I got a bit older and started school I would always be the one standing watching the other children play because I just didn't know how to join in, something in my brain always held me back. I remember once going to a party at the age of about 5 and was shaking and crying on my mother's lap beforehand because I was so terrified about going.
We moved from Scotland to England when I was about 8 years old and I did come out of my shell a bit, but this is when I started getting bullied so it didn't last long. I was a chubby child and the other kids would make comments, I was also quite a bit more academically advanced than the English kids (had gone further in the Scottish education system) and they seemed to resent that.
I met one girl at school and we became best friends. I've kept contact with her until recently, but it's only in the last few weeks that I've realised how much worse she made my mental state and have refused to talk to her. I lost other friends because of her, she was possessive and would manipulate situations to make them not want to talk to me. I was too shy to object, I felt lucky that I even had one friend. At the age of about 15/16 she started making cruel remarks about my appearance: it could be anything from my acne to the size of my breasts, if there was something she felt I was probably insecure about then she would pick up on it and make nasty comments. When my mother died at the age of 15, I felt like I was the one supporting her! My mum suffered from a painful cancer and had been in a hospice for 4 weeks, throughout this time I had struggled to keep up with school work but had managed it by visiting my mum at the hospice in the evenings, coming back at about 9-10pm and then staying up until the early hours to get coursework or revision done. While this was going on, my 'best friend' had been going behind my back saying how I didn't deserve good grades because I never did any work. Also, at the funeral she was so self-absorbed that she rushed past me crying and didn't say a word to me until her grandparents told her she should go speak to me.
After school I went to 6th form and was shocked at how there was no bullying whatsoever. This should have been a turning point for me, but I was still too terrified to ever speak out in class and I didn't make new friends because I was still hanging out with this girl. In my French class we would often have to give presentations and although there were only 5 other people in my group it terrified me. I would blush violently to the point I would feel sick, I couldn't breathe, my mouth would get dry, my heart would beat furiously and I started to need to urinate. This would always happen and I dreaded it.
I somehow got through the 2 years I spent at this place and did ok in exams. Throughout this time I had a part-time job where I worked as a shop-assistant and that was difficult. I dreaded having to serve customers and would pray that they could miraculously disappear so I wouldn't have to speak to anyone. There were often difficult customers and I got tongue-tied around them, I just couldn't cope. Towards the end of my time working at this place there was one woman who was particularly rude to me and was giving me abuse for no apparent reason. She got me so upset that I nearly started crying in front of everyone and went red and shaking. I couldn't believe I had let her get to me, I felt so humiliated because everyone was watching. I think that day was the day I felt I really had a problem, now I'm convinced that I should avoid social situations completely because someone like that is always out to get me.
At university I really struggled. I dropped out after 2 months and came back home about a month ago. Everything about it was based upon clubbing and drinking and socialising constantly, which I just couldn't handle. I became convinced that I was social inadequate and that no-one wanted to know me, even though I did meet some great people who I could call friends. It was on a night out that I realised I couldn't stick it out anymore. We were out at a bar and everyone else wanted to dance. I didn't fancy it, but I joined in anyway. A group of boys I didn't even know then mocked me and made a really big deal out of the fact that I wasn't moving much, they made such a scene and made me the centre of attention. Everyone else was looking on horrified because they felt sorry for me. I was just thinking, "Why me?"
Now i'm home I'm job-seeking and it's incredibly difficult because I'm convinced I will always be rejected, that I won't ever be good enough and that I will somehow mess it up or things will go wrong as they always seem to. I struggle to go out in public and have trouble breathing whenever I have to. I'm seeing the doctor on the 14th to finally get help after all these years, but I'm scared because I fear this will be something that will always plague me throughout my whole life and that I will never be confident or self-assured. I'm just fed up.