I think I have social phobia, avoidant personality disorder... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 11-27-2007, 03:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Crazy raving at the beggining of the post, if you don't want to read my babble, just skip to the end to the bold

If you read wikipedia's article on avoidant personality disorder it describes my life to a T: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avoidan...ality_disorder
Well, except for the substance abuse part and I actually don't have low self-esteem, I just think I have low (other people)-esteem. Does that make sense?

Anyway, I just about cried when I read this article last night. I don't want to have a personality disorder. I feel so ashamed, and I know this sounds silly because mental health issues are supposed to be out of one's control, but I feel like I'm guilty, that I caused this, this is all my fault, and I feel the need to apologise. To no one in particular. I don't even think that makes sense.

My relationships have all suffered. The only people I regularly talk to are my husband and my mother, and a local friend whom I email and occationally get together with. I haven't called anyone else (with the exception of my friend on her birthday a few weeks ago) for a long long time. I put off calling everyone because I'm too afraid that I'll be bothering them to the point that people call me because we haven't talked in so long. My grandma sent me a mean letter because I never call her. : I feel so ashamed. My SIL miscarried this summer and it took all the guts I had to pick up the phone and call, but even then, I felt too scared to talk to her (because I figured she wouldn't want to talk to me and because there was nothing I could say that could possibly make her feel better), so I talked to my BIL instead for about five minutes. I haven't talked to my one brother since last Christmas, and I've spoken to the other one maybe ten minutes total in the last year. I haven't spoken to my dad since he came to visit in September. My IL's probably think I hate them because I never call (we live 1000's of miles away from any family). I simply can't call anybody. I'm trying to write our family xmas letter but I can't get past the fact that it feels like I'm talking about our family too much. WTF? Isn't that the point of a xmas letter? My husband makes so many social faux pas that I feel like I'm apologising for him to people we socialize with (which are few and far between). I'm just hypersensitive to it.

I don't have many happy memories of my wedding. On my wedding day, I remember that I was happy, but ever since all I can think about is how people probably thought our wedding was crappy and how my makeup made me look like a prostitute and how people must not have had any fun. (I'm kind of aware that these things are probably just untrue perceptions on my part, but that still how I feel.)

But I dont' want to go to the doctor. That is the last thing I want to do, to admit to another person's face that "hey I think I have a problem here." Because I think I will be dismissed as just being stupid or lazy or something like that. Once maybe three or so years ago it took all my courage to tell my GP during my yearly exam that I thought I was depressed. Without further questioning she told me I just needed to exercise more. Which is probably true, I don't exercise, but I felt like she didn't believe me. I was freaking cutting myself! (But I didn't tell her that, only one other person on this earth knows about that; well, now you too. I was too ashamed to tell her that.)

I don't think going to the doctor would really be benificial anyway. Then my husband would know that I have this, and I won't take any meds anyway (I'm BFing and I don't like taking drugs on principle), and I highly doubt my crappy insurance would cover therapy. So, I could go and get a diagnosis, and that's it? More trouble than it's worth.

I still feel like maybe I can help myself. Maybe I could just get over this. Have any of you dealt with this? What helps you?

Taking the big step, actually hitting "submit new thread"...

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#2 of 19 Old 11-27-2007, 03:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I forgot to add, the reason I was even looking for help or an explanation via wikipedia articles about social anxiety was that I realized yesterday that I am starting to get anxiety about leaving my home. I'm a SAHM and my dd attracts people like a magnet (like most babies, I'm sure) and it's beginning to be a lot for me to handle.

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#3 of 19 Old 11-27-2007, 03:55 PM
 
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I also have social anxiety. I have gotten over getting panic attacks when shopping if someone else is with me. I think I have APD, but not extreme. It is actually getting a little better as I get older, thankfully.

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#4 of 19 Old 11-27-2007, 03:55 PM
 
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big huggs mama.
fisrt off- everything and anything found on wikpedia Itake with a a grain of salt. Perhaps it was written by a pharma-company trying to promote a new drug to combat this disorder (lol- just kidding)
Seriously, I am like that. Some might call it sheltered, introverted, shy. I hate calling anyone on the phone, I like company, but hate the phone and I can't give you a logical reason for it. I avoid many situations that could harm me emotionally as well. Seems like I don't have thick skin and can't take criticism well. I don't think its a disorder- just a personality trait, like the opposite- boisterous outgoing type who is a social diva and can handle anything that comes her way.
I have accepted my personality as uniquely me and anyone who can't handle it needs to work it out themselves.
I am sure that you have many endearing qualities that those around you love and despite your avoidance of social situations, you are a loving kind and gentle person.
I have found those who behave this way are more careful with the things they do and say, and are generally more compassionate persons.
What do you think?

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#5 of 19 Old 11-27-2007, 04:01 PM
 
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Subbing. Me, too. My oldest runs up and asks people their names while I watch.

mom of 3 , homeschooling the oldest with google and the internet
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#6 of 19 Old 11-27-2007, 04:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amyjeans View Post
big huggs mama.
fisrt off- everything and anything found on wikpedia Itake with a a grain of salt. Perhaps it was written by a pharma-company trying to promote a new drug to combat this disorder (lol- just kidding)
Seriously, I am like that. Some might call it sheltered, introverted, shy. I hate calling anyone on the phone, I like company, but hate the phone and I can't give you a logical reason for it. I avoid many situations that could harm me emotionally as well. Seems like I don't have thick skin and can't take criticism well. I don't think its a disorder- just a personality trait, like the opposite- boisterous outgoing type who is a social diva and can handle anything that comes her way.
I have accepted my personality as uniquely me and anyone who can't handle it needs to work it out themselves.
I am sure that you have many endearing qualities that those around you love and despite your avoidance of social situations, you are a loving kind and gentle person.
I have found those who behave this way are more careful with the things they do and say, and are generally more compassionate persons.
What do you think?
nak

honestly? i would have taken your whole post to mean that im an idiot for thinking i believed something i read online. that it's no big deal, i should have just kept to myself. : that ur just trying to be nice though.

im sorry.

eta: I know that you are being honest and that you probably don't think negatively of me, but it's just a great example of how my mind works, that I read everything as though it's a cover for dislike of me or my ideas. Thank you for being honest, and for your kind words. I will try hard to believe them for the truth

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#7 of 19 Old 11-27-2007, 04:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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nak
its not that i'm just shy, sometimes im not shy. but everyone is always thinking bad things about me but just being nice on the outside.

once I truely get to know people (like my hubby) then I know that they really don't think bad things about me but very few people get into that inner circle.

This fear of being thought bad of and the need to be liked is a bad combo and it has caused me to only make one friend since I moved here in july 2006. It is very very hard for me to go to social gatherings (esp by myself, ie without hubby) to the point that I have stopped going, even though I want to go and have fun. I just get too embarrassed about *nothing* when I talk to people that I don't want to face it.

WHen i read the article, it wasn't "oh this kind of applies to me" it was more along the lines of I AM READING THE STORY OF MY LIFE. I was shocked. I'm only saying that to explain that I'm not trying to find something to label myself with. But this I could not ignore. It explains absolutely everything. I kind of feel relieved, that it's not my fault per se, but other people have gone through the same kind of unexplained self-imposed isolation.

The whole point of creating a thread for this was because I realized that it is why my social life has fallen apart to the point that I feel as though even my close familial relationships are in jeopardy, and I want someone to tell me how to make it better, from someone who has gone through this. I don't want my dd to learn this social pattern from me.

I promise I'll stop editing now.

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#8 of 19 Old 11-27-2007, 05:19 PM
 
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I appologize if you took my post like that. I meant no disrespect or to belittle how you feel.

Mama to 5 babies. UCer, too!
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#9 of 19 Old 11-27-2007, 06:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm sorry for responding so...weirdly. I know that you meant well. And I appreciate that you took the time to respond to my post and everything. I feel silly for responding like that.

Wife to dh and mommy to dd1 (3/07), ds (1/10), and dd2 (any day now)!

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#10 of 19 Old 11-28-2007, 01:45 AM
 
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Gosh, I am so sorry. I can relate to the social anxiety part a lot - especially not keeping in touch with people because it's hard to call.

I think you should force yourself to get help - if you make an appt w./ a psychiatrist, you can just hand him what you wrote in your opening post. He/she will take it from there. Just try to convince yourself that you have a physical illness that you are going to explain to a doctor.

seriously, it could make such a huge difference in the quality of your life and your kids life if you can just be brave and take that step. (you were already brave posting here!)

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#11 of 19 Old 11-28-2007, 01:53 AM
 
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I am so sorry. I also suffer from a sometimes severe and debilitating social anxiety. It is so difficult to break out of and even when I do I still end up rehearsing and rehashing endlessly. I have been taking a mindfulness based stress reduction meditation class and it has really been helping even things out. I don't know if that is something that could be of use to you. Of course it means taking a class...which almost made me freak out (the whole first class I could barely breath)...but I found that it got easier the longer I went as it is a safe place and everyone there is there because they are suffering for one reason or another.
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#12 of 19 Old 11-28-2007, 02:08 AM
 
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Can I ask you - is it easier to talk online? Do you feel anxious posting with people on here?

I ask because I have an inkling how you feel. I don't consider it strong enough in myself to be a disorder, but I definitely have a leaning ini that direction. Like you say, the desire to be liked combined with the suspicion that everyone secretly thinks ill of you is hard to take. I'll go to a social gathering, have a good time, then go home and think, "OMG, I talked too much, why did I say X to Y, I can't believe what a complete ass I was, I was laughing SO LOUD!" etc. I used to never answer the phone. NEVER. I couldn't deal with not knowing who would be on the other end. I answer the phone now but I rarely call people, except a few. I have a problem steeling myself for routine calls like "who's doing playgroup this week," etc. It's weird.

I think for myself, it's a strange combination of narcissism and self-loathing. Loathing is way too strong a word, but in some ways it fits. Like, when I feel hypercritical of myself and thinking people have all kinds of negative perceptions of me, it's kind of putting myself at the center of their thoughts. Because I am being scrutinized by them, all these little slip-ups and faux pas become grotesquely exaggerated. I try to remember that most people are really just not that observant, lol. All sorts of things that you will beat yourself up for days over, go unnoticed by whoever you are worrying about having looked like an a$$ in front of. I have apologized for things that the person I was apologizing to genuinely did not remember happening.

Anyway - not to make this all about me (there's that narcissism again) but just to let you know I get what you are talking about, to some degree at least.
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#13 of 19 Old 11-28-2007, 03:25 AM
 
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I really get where you're coming from. I feel like that all the time too. I *want* to get out and be social but I don't and I freak out. I don't even post here as much I'd like because I always think I will sound dumb and everyone will think "who's this loser?" I also worry that even though I want to be home with my kids because I feel strongly that it is what is best for them I often wonder if I'm hiding behind them as a way to avoid being in social situations. I haven't always been like this. I used to bartend and have a pretty large circle of friends and we got together frequently but in the last year it has just escalated to the point that I don't even answer my phone when people call me because i just can't deal with it.

So sorry for talking about *me* just wanted to say you're not alone in your feelings.
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#14 of 19 Old 11-28-2007, 02:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I just wanna say thank you to everybody! I feel a lot better knowing that there are (apparently a lot) of other people that feel the same way. And in a lot of ways it feels good to realize there is a defined "problem" with the way I socialize (or more accurately don't socialize) and that maybe I can find a solution. I can tell myself that it's just the "problem" telling me these things and that I shouldn't worry about it. If that actually works I'll let you know, haha!

famousmockingbird-I do feel much better posting online. It's way easier. But to be honest I really wanted to pm a mod and beg them to delete the thread last night because I felt absolutely stupid for posting. Like every time I posted I sounded dumber and dumber and made myself sound crazy. And from this point forward whenever I post anything on MDC everyone is going to look at my post and go THERE"S THE CRAZY IDIOT FROM THAT ONE THREAD!

Anyway, I do the same thing as you, I try to act "perfectly" when in the company of others, then when I get home later I beat myself up for everything I said because I'm convinced I've offended, looked stupid, and just been an idiot the whole night and didn't even realize it. When in reality that's not true, kwim?

The weird part is that I love myself. (Not to sound narcissistic.) I don't have low self-esteem. I just think nobody else holds me in high esteem, that everyone else doesn't like me. I know that I'm weird, have different ideas, and I accept myself for my quirks. But in socializing (talking, conversing, body language) I'm horribly aloof and bad at it, kwim? I don't know if I make any sense.

Sarah-I feel like I'm hiding behind my daughter too sometimes. But in a way it's making everything worse, having such a convienent "excuse". And half of the time I'll write out big posts and then erase them because I think I sound stupid. And I'm always killing threads, too.

cholla-is that kind of like yoga?

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#15 of 19 Old 11-28-2007, 05:46 PM
 
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I'd like to put in a plug for acceptance commitment therapy (ACT) - if you google it there's an organization that lists providers (I can link it later - gotta hurry - I'm 1/2 way out the door to pick up DS!)

It worked AMAZINGLY well for me as a person with social phobias, OCD, etc, etc. I think part of the problem with things like CBT is that as perfectionists, we don't want our thinking to be "wrong" or "dysfunctional." And the goal of CBT or REBT is to change our thought patterns.

With ACT, you learn to accept (dur) your thoughts for what they are, your brain for what it is and for how it works. It really was an "aha" type of thing for me. I'm so much more comfortable in my own skin now, and so less focused on how others perceive me. It's so freeing.

This therapy also encompasses a lot of mindfulness and awareness, and has a sort of Eastern flair. Gotta run - but check it out if you have the time - there is an amazing website all about it!
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#16 of 19 Old 11-29-2007, 02:02 PM
 
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Fujiko,

It can be a movement meditation like yoga or Qigong and even walking, and it can be sitting or lying meditation. Check out Jon Kabat-Zinn at the Center for Mindfulness at UMASS.

http://www.umassmed.edu/content.aspx?id=41252

There are courses all around the country. Good luck.
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#17 of 19 Old 11-29-2007, 02:11 PM
 
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I'm just throwing this out there, but have you researched or talked to anyone about Asperger's Syndrome? The social difficulty we have can mimic social phobias.

I am very socially avoidant, I feel physically attacked if I even have to stand near someone. I have severe touch sensitivities too so I can't stand being hugged or having other friendly physical contact.

Having conversations with people is all but intolerable-- each times leaves me exhausted. I've been accused so many times of being rude, a snob, I'm sure people have even thought I'm racist-- but the truth is I just can't talk to people.

Anyway, I've accepted this as being the way I am, it's how my brain is wired. I do try to work around it but I'm not going to succeed in changing who I am, fundamentally, so I'm not going to torture myself trying to (though I did try for many years).

Self acceptance can go a long way.
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#18 of 19 Old 11-29-2007, 09:40 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by perl View Post
I'd like to put in a plug for acceptance commitment therapy (ACT) - if you google it there's an organization that lists providers (I can link it later
hey perl, if you get a chance can you link the website that lists providers? I looked but couldn't find it and it sounds interesting and like just what I may need...
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#19 of 19 Old 11-30-2007, 10:40 AM
 
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Fujiko - I don't know that seeing a medical practioner (family doctor or psychiatrist) would be the best place for you to start. A therapist or social worker might ge able to offer you more appropriate and supportive help. If while they are working with you they believe that some medication might help you, they can refer you to a psychiatrist or doctor - but often medical types are happy to prescribe some medication for you and leave it at that (not always, but it happens far too often) - they aren't as likely to refer you to someone who is trained to help with the non-medication part of what you need.
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