No longer suffering alone



Hello all,

I hope this site catches on and look forward to reading other people's profiles in due course, here's mine in case anyone can relate.

I am 33 and have been very shy as long as I can remember, and have had Social Anxiety for many years without realising such a condition exists. My mother had SA depression and neither had any friends (except pen-friends) nor would allow my father's friends to visit the house, and when I visited relatives I always felt very awkward. For a couple of years, when I was 13-15, I hung around with a bunch of neighbourhood kids but my role seemed only to be the butt of their jokes, and I didn't maintain contact when I left school. I managed to make it through four years of university without making a single friend, never mind relationship, and only occasionally going out as part of a group with the people who shared my dormitory kitchen. I would always arrive at the last minute for lectures and leave sharpish to avoid social situations, so much that someone in my 4th year kitchen refused to believe I had been at the (small) university at all! Graduation day, with my family there and only a couple of acquaintances to take pictures with, was excruciatingly embarrassing.

After a couple of years of working I started going out for the occasional drink with three of my workmates, and we went to a few concerts and clubs too, but I never chatted with the girls there. As two got married and I lost contact with the third my social life dwindled to nothing. After living with my parents until their death in 2001 I often felt totally alone, as though I could die and who would notice or care, and this eventually took its toll on my health. During a prolonged time off work due to stress I found the web site Social Anxiety UK and started spending time in the chat rooms there and buying books from Amazon (would be too embarrassed to buy SA books in a bookshop!) on the subject. Ones by Gillian Butler and Jonathan Berent I found particularly helpful. I have even made it along to a couple of meets and made a friend locally through the site. I am still very anxious about meeting new people, but have found it easier with others sharing the same problem. I am not taking anything for granted, but can at least believe I will make some progress and eventually have some good friends and maybe a relationship too, things which seemed impossible even 12 months ago. I hope I'll get to know some of the people on this site too through participating in the forums.

There are many variations of SA and situations some people find impossible other can cope OK with, and vice versa. I have been able to hold down a job most of the time, I managed to hang on and get my degree, I am able to travel, which I know some people have struggled with. Some people with SA have been housebound, but then I read about their understanding spouse and marvel that they were able to create the sort of special relationship which eludes me. I have realised that comparing myself to people either better or worse off is not the point, I can learn from other people's stories but can only compare with where I have been and appreciate each small win. I have such a long way to go but reaching out to others with SA has helped me feel less alone. I would encourage those reading this to do the same, participate in SocialPhobiaWorld as much as you are able and hopefully we will be able to help each other cope a little better with our challenges.

AuroraSky, October 2003