What more could I do to stop going crazy?
March 8, 2007 8:55 PM   Subscribe

What more could I do to stop going crazy?

I feel like this, even though it might not all be true:

I'm never going to have anyone who cares about me in the entire world. The only reason people ever start talking to me is because of pity, and then when they realize there is a reason I'm so pathetic they're stuck being nice to me because they're nice people. My family is obviously obligated to me, but they don't like me as a person; they all just want me to change so they don't have to feel guilty about hating a relative anymore. Everyone else ignores me because they realize how crazy and annoying I am. I am just like a crack addict living on the street except even normal, not really-that-nice people feel bad for those guys.

I don't hang out with people, I'm not invited anywhere except when I hint that I would like to go and nice people feel bad for me. I have never NOT been a tag-along, "following people around" as they do whatever. I have no idea how to act or if someone is saying what they mean or using it to disguise what they really want to say, but always end up assuming the latter. I try so hard not to talk about myself and to be submissive and have good manners so that I seem as nice as possible to other people, but I still get whispers and dirty looks out of nowhere.

Even the people who I *think* realize something is wrong with me talk about me behind my back like I'm doing things on purpose just to annoy them. I can't help my reaction to the horrible fear I feel whenever I have to say a single sentence, or even ask a clerk at a store for something. I have to cringe and hide my eyes and look sad and speak under my voice, which makes me feel better and like I am being less of a nuisance, imposing less of my inherent disagreeability on a person. I haven't made eye contact with someone for more than a few seconds since at least fourth grade.

Even though I live in a dorm with my friend/roommate, I always feel like a huge burden and that my very presence bothers people. It has been that way forever. I wish I could just be alone 24/7 and stop bugging everyone around me. It is the worst feeling. I just want everyone else to be peaceful.

Not an hour ago I accidentally walked into another girl's room across the hall, and when I realized what I did I locked the door in panic. She came back and saw me there, and got extremely angry at me. She didn't understand why I locked the door. Now I'm going to get in trouble, but I'm not really that worried about it. I feel so horrible that I did that.

Another thing I do is stop while walking down the street or in a store, and hide my head in fear. I have to, or else the agitation is just too painful.

So what more could I possibly do?

I've been going to an awesome therapist for an hour a week for about three months, and I started Zoloft last month for the extreme social anxiety (I haven't been able to afford refilling my prescription for about three weeks, but I should be able to tomorrow). But everything seems like it's just gotten way, way worse since then. I thought it might be because I drank pretty much every day in high school, and that relieved me a little bit, but I don't do it now. I'm way into meditation, healthy eating, etc. instead. I just have no idea what more I could do.
posted by hypervenom to Health & Fitness (41 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
I started Zoloft last month for the extreme social anxiety (I haven't been able to afford refilling my prescription for about three weeks, but I should be able to tomorrow). But everything seems like it's just gotten way, way worse since then.

Sometimes SSRIs make things worse before they get better. It's also probably not a good idea to be taking it inconsistently. Although I don't know what to tell you about paying for it -- I'm a college student too and my mom's insurance has always covered any medicine (including psychiatric) that I have needed. Are you at least on a generic? If Zoloft doesn't come in a generic ask for an SSRI that does so it will be cheaper. (I'm on fluoxetine.)

About the rest of what you said: I think it's pretty clear that you are clinically depressed. There isn't much I advice I can give you except to try to separate yourself from your depression as much as you can -- tell yourself that you are having these negative feelings because of chemical imbalance, and not because no one likes you (which I am sure is not the case). It's probably going to take more than that to feel better, but I've always found it some consolation. Other than that, keep with the therapist, keep up with the antidepressants, and try to stay active and busy as much as possible.

Feel free to email me if you want. I had very similar feelings of desperation my freshman year, and two years later I am doing much better. Hang in there.
posted by puffin at 9:14 PM on March 8, 2007

Come to our IRC channel: irc.ieattapes.com.

We'd love to talk!
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 9:17 PM on March 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks puffin. I am a sophomore ... I will try to keep track of Zoloft from now on. It hasn't changed anything since I started it, though. This mostly started getting worse in about December. But another reason I was prescribed the medication was because I have very low energy and motivation.

Therapists agreed with me that I wasn't really depressed, since my moods are fine when I'm not terrified out of my skull, and I don't feel worthless (I can live without others' approval, etc) or that I want to die.
posted by hypervenom at 9:17 PM on March 8, 2007

I can guarantee I'm a nastier, meaner person that you, with more annoying habits. I can be a complete bastard at times. I can be loud and obnoxious, selfish, apathetic towards others. But I've got friends and a family.

My point (probably put really rudely) is that all these people don't actually dislike you, find you annoying, talk about you behind your back, give you dirty looks. You just think they do. It looks like you realise this, and have sought help. But just try to keep that fact in mind; you don't sound like an unlikable person, you sound like a person who thinks they're unlikable.

Also, most people spend most of their time tagging along. That's life.

But, if you want proof that everyone in the world doesn't actually dislike you, that you are actually a likable person, follow Steve_at_Linnwood's suggestion. There's a whole bunch of us who'll say g'day.
posted by Jimbob at 9:19 PM on March 8, 2007

It sounds like you have some flavor of an anxiety disorder, perhaps social. I agree that getting stablilized on some meds will probably help a lot. Of course, the hard part is finding what meds will work for you, but I'm glad to hear you have a therapist you trust.
posted by hollisimo at 9:21 PM on March 8, 2007

Oh dear. I really feel for you. At times in my life I could've written almost the exact same thing. I still feel like I struggle with that "dark side" of myself, but on average I'm in an okay place. It just gets shattered when I deal with rejection or similar problems -- I take it very personally.

I think you should print out what you wrote here and hand it to your therapist and your prescribing physician. They need to know this. It's only been a month on the Zoloft and they will tell you it will be 6-8 weeks before you can say whether or not it works for you, but you absolutely should have noticed some positive effects by now. The fact that you haven't, and in fact feel worse, says to me that you should put in a non-emergency-but-somewhat-urgent call to both doctors. There are so many drugs of this type and there is bound to be one that works with your physiology better. Be up-front about what you're experiencing.

Good luck to you.
posted by loiseau at 9:22 PM on March 8, 2007

I was relieved to read in the last paragraph that you are seeking help from a therapist and taking some medication. I went through a period of deep depression about two years ago and medication helped me greatly. I noted that you were taking the medication and then stopped because you couldn't afford to get the refills. Once you start taking a medication like Zoloft, it takes a few weeks to reach full effect, so you may need to give it time. Also, your body acclimates to the medication, so if you stop taking it suddenly you may end up feeling worse than before you started.

I know you feel that no one cares for you and that you are a burden to everyone. It is nearly impossible to shake feelings like that when you are depressed and anxious. But let me assure you, your friends and family genuinely care. You might not be able to believe it, but you will have to take that on faith until you can "feel" it again. The people around you genuinely WANT to help you. Believe it or not, many, many people have gone through dark periods of their lives, and the memories of those dark times make them want to reach out and help people who are currently suffering. Far from being a burden, it gives us a feeling of purpose to be able to help others.

Even though you feel like it would be best for you to be alone, you really need some interaction with people. I would suggest confiding in some friends and family members and asking them to "check in" on you from time to time and just come and spend time with you, even if you don't feel like it. Even if you can't muster a smile and are abjectly depressed, they will understand.

I remember vividly the months of depression that I slogged through, and I feel for you. Hang in there. People do care - don't push them away, but rather open yourself up to their help.
posted by sherlockt at 9:22 PM on March 8, 2007

Social anxiety messes with your perception. It truly does.

You have to focus on your therapy and medication. You have to heal. Ultimately, it's going to take a lot of work on your part, but when you do have your epiphany, you'll realize that most of how you feel the world sees you, and how you feel you have to behave, is fiction. You don't have to be submissive. You don't have to be a good girl. You just have to be yourself. I struggled with that kind of skewed perfectionism too.

I'm speaking from a place of experience here. When I read your description of your friends, family, and your feelings, I saw the me of several years ago. I thought people were constantly judging me, and when giving me compliments, that they were out of some sort of obligation or "just to be nice". Compounding my problem was being overweight. I'd sometimes get rude comments about that, which only made me feel more judged. I wished I were invisible numerous times.

In terms of things you can do, finding another outlet, particularly one that can assist with stress relief is a good thing. Why not try taking up yoga or meditation at home? Eventually, as you progress with your therapy, you might be able to move your practices to a class or a gym/the Y.

You will have to put yourself back into the world eventually. It helps me a bit to know that everyone has their own insecurities they're dealing with.

Coping.org is a good site to refer to. Maybe something there will help you.

Are you an involved member of any online communities? Those might be good places to build social relationships at your own pace.

Whatever path you take, best of luck. And as much as the world is a scary place, it's also very much worth it to heal from this. You probably can't imagine it now. I sure couldn't.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:26 PM on March 8, 2007

You have just as much to contribute to society and social life as anyone else. Seriously, there are lots of dumbasses taking up space and oxygen and making a lot of ruckuss. I suspect you are smart and have interesting things to talk about. You have the right to make eye contact, take up space, make noise and even dominate a conversation now and then.

We are all not wired to be socially fluid people, but it sounds like you are having some trouble that is hindering your overall well-being. You probably have passions, interests, abilities and talents. Focus on developing those and the friendships and relationships will follow.

I think you need to be working with a competant therapist right now. I wish you the best of luck. Please know that you are not alone.
posted by pluckysparrow at 9:29 PM on March 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks cmgonzales, I used to get hassled and beat up about my clothes in middle school and now I get rude comments but I don't care. Either I don't care about my looks or I have good self-esteem in that regard, but I still don't feel like anyone would genuinely compliment me, either. I feel completely judged by strangers all the time, though! Which is weird.

And yeah, I meditate by myself a lot, I really love it. I'm not active anywhere online. I used to be, like five years ago, but I never know what to say and it's just as awkward as real life. Plus people are a lot quicker to be attack you.
posted by hypervenom at 9:31 PM on March 8, 2007

Others have said similarly, but there is some truth to the whole "you have to love yourself first" thing. I mean, the description you write about yourself does not make me want to get to know you at all. Saying that you are annoying and that no one will ever care about you just manifests itself into you actually being annoying.

Keep going to the therapist. Have you told her exactly what you've said here? Keeping working on the anxiety issues with her/him.

Start writing down all of the good things about yourself. And yes, there are some. Start small if you have to. I can tell you now that you are leagues ahead of some people in that you can obviously write a coherent sentence. You think your therapist is awesome, so you are capable of having nice thoughts about others. Build from there. Refer to it often.

Literally force yourself to think cheerfully - even if you have to refer to your things of GREAT THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF! Don't hide yourself and be submissive. People know when others are putting on an act and respond poorly and you are putting on an act, even involuntarily, when you assume the persona of always being the burden.

Embrace the good parts of yourself (which you have written down). Do you have a hobby? Throw yourself into it and find the joy it in - guess what? There are probably others who share that joy. Maybe try to find a campus or community group that focuses on healthy eating - a food co-op or something? I am positive that you can find others that share your interests and will find you interesting. A dorm is a tough place to live, no matter who you are - get out of there as often as possible.

You are definitely not everything bad you think about yourself. Good luck!
posted by stefnet at 9:33 PM on March 8, 2007

This is just a virtual hug. I've been there and felt that (through most of high school and a big chunk of university). I didn't go through therapy (but I think you should be discussing these feelings with your therapist) and it sort of faded away when I got out of school and became fairly successful at my job. I feel like I'm very lucky in that regard and it could have been much worse. I hope your therapist is helping you, and if they're not doing anything other than prescribing drugs, you may need to see if you can find someone else to work if.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:36 PM on March 8, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks jacquilynne. My therapist just referred me to the psychiatrist who prescribed Zoloft. She is really great. The only complaint I have about my therapist is that we sometimes talk about my family instead of my anxiety, but I am going to find some way to tell her my anxiety needs more attention.
posted by hypervenom at 9:41 PM on March 8, 2007

cmgonzalez has got it exactly. What you feel may very well not be what others perceive.

I'm guessing - you think that your an asshole or somesuch unwanted and undesireable person.

It's possible that that's the case.

The odds are that you're overthinking things.

I think that I used to be in your position (and sometimes I still feel that way) but ... what - really - is the cost of taking risks (and learning, by experience, the consequences of social interation)?

"Be yourself" (as long as you understand the rules of society - but if you don't already do; how else can you learn other than to try? It's going to hurt, especially if you have a bono fide neurological problem).

Roomates (ie - 1 room, 2 people of same sex = sucktitutude) are a crapshoot. You're a freshman at some post-secondary school? Anyway, I strongly feel that enforced 2 persons to 1 room thing is hugely potential traumatizing factor. Several people in one unit, but with separate rooms - much better.

I can only speak from experience but - er... I got really trashed from a party that was mostly frat perpetrated but... er, I ended up passing out in the hamper in "my" closet and upon waking pissed in my roomate's closet (and shoes and hamper) when I was dreaming/sleepwalking that I was aiming at a red mat that exists in the floor's urinals.

Advice - join clubs. I hesitate to point out "fantasy" or "role playing games" or "chess" or "wicca" or whatever (try the Scuba club or the swimming club) but there exist people who are open minded and may be able to adjust your societal ruts.

You're going to run intoi "clubs" and "organizations" that you fell are 'stupid' - if you're at an Uni, you've got lots of peers; and some of these are in worse shape than you are but are nevertheless in social groups - who are willing and eager to join you into their fold.
posted by porpoise at 9:51 PM on March 8, 2007

Generic Prozac is $4 at Target. There is a generic Zoloft, though I can't speak to whether Target (or Walmart, or Costco) stock it.

I learned about The Feeling Good Handbook and CBT in general here, and it has helped me quite a bit.
posted by padraigin at 9:53 PM on March 8, 2007

Oh, sweetie. I actually checked your profile because while I don't think I would have written this, my very best friend might have. And you know what, she is awkward, and she doesn't always know what's appropriate, and she apologizes profusely for things she didn't do and things that weren't wrong, and I love her like a sister. I'd probably love you too, just the way you are.

And I think if I found myself accidentally in someone else's room, I'd probably panic and do the first irrational thing that came into my head, too. These things happen.
posted by crinklebat at 10:00 PM on March 8, 2007

Response by poster: Well, my Zoloft is generic brand (Sertraline) and prescription only, I am pretty sure. I'll be able to get it regularly from now on, though.
posted by hypervenom at 10:01 PM on March 8, 2007

Find an area of interest that has nothing to do with analyzing your self-image and join a group or club to develop skills in that area. In the real world, not online-- art, photography, music, dance, theatre.

Volunteer some time to do something benevolent for those less fortunate. (It may surprise you how many people are less fortunate than you). A charity, soup kitchen, thrift store, etc.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:09 PM on March 8, 2007

Response by poster: WGP! I do volunteering every chance I get when it doesn't seem too intimidating. I have ridiculously huge amounts of interest and two main areas of interest. Studying art history is my major. I don't even go online that much. It doesn't surprise me at all how many people are less fortunate than me, that's why I feel like a horrible person for ever daring to complain about one little thing or mention myself. I came here to ask what I should do since I have no idea how to handle this problem that is ruining my life, and it's a good place to ask questions.
posted by hypervenom at 10:12 PM on March 8, 2007

"I'm never going to have anyone who cares about me in the entire world."

Oh bull. Check out my user profile: even I have people who care about me. Even non-relatives who've known me for years.

Somebody really did something mean to your mind, hyper. Whoever it is just made me as an enemy.
posted by davy at 11:31 PM on March 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Social anxiety is a weird thing because it makes you think people are judgmental towards you, which is actually being judgmental towards them.
posted by lullabyofbirdland at 11:56 PM on March 8, 2007

Response by poster: Davy, I knooow it's bull. And I know the mean things middle-schoolers tried to push on me were just kids being cruel, and I wasn't really stupid for wearing weird clothes or doing whatever it is that middle school cliques pick on kids for, and that it was years ago and I should let it go because if someone acted like that toward me now, they would be the stupid one. It's so dumb to still be affected by things like that.
posted by hypervenom at 12:36 AM on March 9, 2007

See it this way: How many people do you actually judge and find annoying? That's as many people as find you annoying. So if you can accept everyone for what they are, they will accept you. Exude peace and you will receive peace. Just don't care about what other think, love them even though they may hate you. Do things for them without wanting anything back.

It's the Jesus message, and though you may not be religous, it's still a good way to live your life, particularly in bad times.
posted by markesh at 12:52 AM on March 9, 2007

It's not dumb to be affected by what happened in middle school. You've got scars and chronic problems caused by them. It's MORE likely, rather than less likely, for psychological problems to be caused from things in one's past. There is no moral negative for continuing to be affected by them. In fact, your actions (seeking therapy) are a net moral positive.

You are way, WAY ahead of the curve by seeking therapy and by demonstrating the facility to talk about how you feel, while understanding your observations may not be accurate. You seem to be making progress in therapy from that perspective. You'll intellectually grasp things before you emotionally grasp them.
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:13 AM on March 9, 2007

1. Accept who you are. So what if you never change? Even if everyone hates you, you can still go to the movies and have popcorn. Maybe hell is other people. You never know. Maybe crazy is just feeling bad about being crazy.

2. Psychoactive medications aren't a solution, just a band-aid. Therapists can't fix you or save you. Any success or fun you are going to have is up to you. Compared to many people on this planet (I know it may be a shock to hear this) you are already wildly successful. In school? Not an addict? Haven't killed anyone lately? You are so on top, and you don't even know it.

3. Play to your strengths. Nobody likes me either. Occasionally I am able to trick some people. My wife said to me once, "think about how lonely you would be if you weren't funny". Make a list of what you are good at, get better at it.
posted by ewkpates at 3:10 AM on March 9, 2007 [2 favorites]

Ewkpates, psychoactive medications are more like a crutch than a band-aid. They let you go out and do stuff that you wouldn't otherwise be able to do. That builds character in itself, and is protective in the long term.

For instance, if an SSRI helps someone distance themselves sufficiently from their social anxiety to actually connect with another person, then they will realise that they are a person who can connect with other people. That's a good lesson to learn. Some things you can only learn by doing.

A therapist can't fix or save anyone. They are usually pretty explicit about that and repeat the message often. But a good therapist will coach you on helping yourself and encourage you to think in ways you aren't used to.
posted by kika at 4:32 AM on March 9, 2007

I could have written this when I was in college.

It's a self-fullfilling prophecy-you think people don't like you , you act accordingly, people pick up on that and then oblige you. Stinks, I know.

I am assuming since you are in therapy that you have been screened for Asperger's. Assuming you don't have that, why not see if there is group therapy available? It did wonders for me back then-even tho my own disorder did not get fully diagnosed until decades later. (I'm bipolar type two but it doesn't sound like you are that, so don't freak.)

The more you can force yourself to be around people and OBSERVE how they act and behave, and then do likewise, the better. Also zoloft was great for lessening my own anxiety, so after you are on it a few weeks you should see some improvement.

Finally, draw on your acting skills-act as IF people like you. Ask them nonthreatening questions about themselves, and try to not care whether or not they like you. I promise you that once you get past that hump things will improve!
posted by konolia at 5:10 AM on March 9, 2007

I'm so sorry this has you tied up in knots. Another virtual hug.

This advice from my mom was exasperating when I was your age, but now I understand what she meant and wish I'd listened sooner:

"Nobody's looking at you anyway."

Which is to say, everyone else is so wrapped up in their own heads - their to-do lists, their anxieties and self-absorptions - that what they "see" rarely registers because they're too busy thinking about themselves. I find that great comfort now as I work my way through life with other people.

Can you move out of the dorm next year? I hated dorm life and was much happier in a rental-house setting with chosen friends and fewer people around.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:28 AM on March 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Gosh, these things are tough. I feel for you.

Go back to what loiseau said. It's important to be completely honest with your therapist, and make sure she knows and understands all the things you're going through. Whatever you do (and I don't know if you do this, but some people in treatment do) please don't worry about what your therapist thinks about you. This person's job is to help you help yourself. Letting her have this printout, or at least your initial question, is a great summary of your concerns and how you feel about them now.

About Zoloft: Yes, please give it time to work. If, after awhile, you are not satisfied with the results, talk with your therapist. A few years back I switched from Celexa to Paxil; the change had a big help with my sense of social anxiety.

Having said that, I ran out of Paxil recently and -- in the midst of moving and finding a new doctor -- had to wait to get a new Rx this week. I could feel the effect of stopping medication within a day or two: More difficulty handling stress, more anxiety, sleeplessness, etc. It makes a difference.

Hang in there.
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:04 AM on March 9, 2007

It's really critical that you mention to your great therapist, about you missing 3 weeks of your medication

Your therapist will help you find a way to stay on your meds - a smaller dose, a different drug. The stuff you're on isn't aspirin. You can't take some of it. It needs to be taken regularly.
posted by filmgeek at 6:14 AM on March 9, 2007

Hyper, here is my perspective. Beyond the reasonable comments above about social disorders, realize that to a large extent, society invents what is proper behavior using arbitrary rules. As long as your antisocial attitudes aren't being translated into antisocial behavior (joining a group of skinheads and beating up the weak), don't worry about it.

Don't take being an outsider as some moral judgment against you. 90% of the benefits of being an insider are phony, a self-perpetuating glad-handing.

There are a lot of niches out there. Just because you haven't found your niche yet doesn't mean a lot in the long run. Find what you are interested in. (This is a long term process, could be years.) You will probably find others interested in the same things, people who are also outsiders and have a good tolerance for one another.

Thelonius Monk once said he became the epitome of cool, when in fact he just isolated himself in a room and practiced his music for endless hours.

Life is a long game. Don't measure success by fleeting standards.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:26 AM on March 9, 2007

I feel like I'm reading an extreme version of what I felt all throughout high-school and most of college. I very rarely felt quite as upset and frightened as you seem to, but I did always feel as if I should stay in my room, in my apartment, and not bother people because I didn't want to impose myself into the worlds of people who didn't want me and/or were annoyed by my attempts to open lines of communication.

Since we are talking about a situation a number of degrees harsher than what I lived in, I don't know how useful my advice will be, but: try activities that -force- you to be social, in a non-threatening way. For me, that meant, among other things, taking an intro to acting course my senior year. I know it sounds cliche, but your typical "acting course for non-majors" is so wonderful because it's pretty low-pressure, but it forces you to act like a complete idiot in the company of other people who're also being forced to act like complete idiots. Thus, everybody is acting like complete idiots, and nobody's being judgemental. Did wonders for my confidence -- I worked out that everybody else was just as "wtf?" as I was, and it was easier to start conversations after class, etc.
posted by Alterscape at 7:11 AM on March 9, 2007

I really have to reiterate that with almost all antidepressants, it will take at least 6 weeks for noticeable effects, and even longer for you to stablize on them. It can be downright dangerous to take them irregularly. If you can't afford a brand-name prescription, talk to your doctor about switching to an antidepressant that has generics available. No medication is going to help you if you don't take it.

I do have to offer you my sympathies though - it does sound like you are dealing with extreme social anxiety. The thoughts you have about being an unlikeable person and how everyone hates you are irrational. I hope you can at least acknowledge that these thoughts are irrational. For me, medication helped me overcome my social anxiety greatly, but I honestly didn't realize a difference until a few months later when I realized I wasn't panicking or kicking myself about situations where in the past I would have been second-guessing everything I said and making wild assumptions about what people thought of me.

I also recommend picking up this book: The Social Anxiety & Shyness workbook. It has some great exercises in it that helped me to start really understanding the irrationality of my thoughts.

Also, I have to say that this part of your post was interesting to me:

"Not an hour ago I accidentally walked into another girl's room across the hall, and when I realized what I did I locked the door in panic. She came back and saw me there, and got extremely angry at me. She didn't understand why I locked the door. Now I'm going to get in trouble, but I'm not really that worried about it. I feel so horrible that I did that."

You mean you locked yourself in another girl's room? I just find that reaction interesting. Do you recall what your thought process was here? This is something I would talk to your therapist about ... you clearly are hurting and I don't want to see you getting into trouble over something like this. Was it that you panicked and weren't thinking straight?
posted by tastybrains at 7:53 AM on March 9, 2007

I agree with what everyone has said so far, but I wanted to add one thing about the Zoloft: Like many drugs, SSRIs need to be gradually stepped down, even if you are on a low dose. Cutting them off completely (as I have done in the past, prior to taking a pharm class) will cause withdrawl symptoms that are not fun. If you decide to get off the medication at any time, make sure you at least do it gradually (so, if you're on 50 mg, break the pill in half and take that for a few days, then if you have anything smaller, take that for a few days) and it will save you a lot of annoyance.
posted by nursegracer at 9:15 AM on March 9, 2007

Response by poster: Such neat answers! It gives me a lot to think about. I do realize (in my mind) that people don't actually care about another random person walking down the street, and that everyone else has doubts in social situations.

Tastybrains - I locked it because I had just closed the door and put down my jacket, then I looked up and realized what I did. Then I heard someone coming so I locked the door; I was afraid she would open it and start beating me up or something. Then I stood there while she tried to open it and started asking people what she should do, panicking, and then I decided I might as well come out. Now everyone who saw that probably thinks I was stealing or snooping. :/
posted by hypervenom at 9:20 AM on March 9, 2007

Ok, that really makes me want to give you a hug! I can totally see that being embarrassing even to someone who doesn't have social anxiety issues!

But don't feel too bad about it - I have done this myself (almost) a couple of times. My apartment building has 3 staircases, and when I first moved in, and had to come up the one opposite the one I usually go up, I got kind of mixed up and started trying to jam my key in someone else's door. And they were home! Gah. And then I did it again.

It's just important to try & remember that everyone does goofy things sometimes. Everyone does embarrassing things. One thing the book I recommended helped me with was when I started thinking "OMG OMG OMG I CANT BELIEVE I DID THAT!?" to really ask myself "SO WHAT?!"

It's true that some people will not like us in our lifetimes, and some people may get bad impressions. That's normal. Everyone, no matter how cool and together they are is disliked by SOMEONE. It's ok. It takes a lot of time and self-awareness to start listening to your thoughts and realizing when you are telling yourself something irrational (e.g. reading someone's mind and assuming they hate you or are only talking to you because they feel bad for you) or when you are making a big deal out of something that is small potatoes in the grand scheme of things.

You sound like a smart & sensitive person. I really can't imagine that people truly don't like you. Hang in there, and keep trying, and you will find a way to get through this bad time in your life.
posted by tastybrains at 10:12 AM on March 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Seconding everyone who has said that you need to stay consistent with the medication...I had to learn that one the hard way, and more than once. Not fun. Also: perhaps your prescribing doctor would consider giving you a mild anti-anxiety drug like Ativan? Not for constant use, just to have in case you run into a particularly stressful situation.

(My personal example of this: flying. My doctor, bless her, gave me anti-anxiety meds to use while flying, and suggested I combine it with some other relaxation method--deep breathing, smelling lavender oil, or even some kind of "I am calm" mantra. That way your body starts associating the calm feeling of the meds with whatever calming thing you're doing. The ultimate goal, of course, is being able to control the anxiety without meds.)

Anyway, you are most certainly not alone. Hang in there!
posted by Vervain at 11:14 AM on March 9, 2007

I had to skip all the comments that are already posted because I need to just get my thoughts all out before they're gone.

It sounds to me like you have a pretty severe case of Social Anxiety. I'm glad to hear that you're seeking help. It's really not a life to suffer from this affliction. I know that well enough because I too have it.

Mostly, I want you to know that you're not alone. I'm sure everyone has addressed that medication needs to be consistent and it takes a while before SSRIs take effect. BUT I would like to point out that I took Zoloft for a couple of years and it did absolutely NOTHING for my SA. I don't mean to scare you or discourage you. I'm telling you this because I'm under the impression from my own experience, as well as others, that Zoloft and SSRIs, in general, are often times not effective against SA.

I think in SA a focus on behavioral therapy is very important. And it doesn't even have to be through an actual therapist. I've made great strides on my own. Forcing myself to confront situations I'd rather avoid. But it's not always easy so if you run into times when you simply can't do it, that's okay. Step by step is the way to take it. As I say, there are good days and bad days. Continue your medication and if it's not effective, be honest with your doctor. You can try the whole range of medications and hopefully you will find one that relieves your symptoms.

Now that I've gone back to read the comments.. some of them.. irritate me, but I'm gonna let it all slide mostly. The one thing I want to address is the fact that SA does not equal clinical depression. For years I've had to contend with people who impose their opinion on me that I'm depressed. The agony of SA does lead a person to feel awful, but it's not the same as being depressed due to chemical imbalance. Not in my opinion. Also, I think those who suffer from SA are highly aware that their feelings are completely irrational, but it's immensely difficult to change your mind. It's also not just a matter of being excruciatingly uncomfortable in social situations, it's also a matter of not knowing HOW to interact with others. At least for me it is. I never know what to say. And I think that I often say things that are inappropriate.

hypervenom, you're welcome to contact me by e-mail if you'd like.
posted by VegaValmont at 2:43 PM on March 9, 2007

I was in your position just a few years ago. I constantly worried about what people thought about me, imagining how they might find me annoying or harbour other negative thoughts towards me, and simply putting up with me because they had no other choice. This is embarrassing to say, but I used to frequently ask my PI if he was disappointed in me and my work, and I felt nervous about every little thing I did.

Having said that, I think there are two issues to address here. One is that you were not able to take your meds for three weeks (!), presumably without any gradual weaning process. Not too long ago, oddly enough, I was having problems with my insurance, and could not afford my prescription. I stopped taking them, thinking that I could probably hold out until the insurance issue was sorted out -- but boy, was I wrong. For details, you can e-mail me (e-mail in profile). So, please do not ever discontinue your medication abruptly.

The other issue is that you are lacking a lot of self-confidence. When I was young, I used to wish for a magical pill that would magically grant me self-confidence. What I find now, though, self-confidence is not something that you can get from the outside -- when you force yourself to appreciate aspects of yourself, things just somehow work out better. People like confident people.

It's easier said than done, I know. Right now, you probably find it easier to list your negative qualities than your positive ones. Maybe you feel that you don't even have any positive qualities -- I know I did, for a time. If that's the case, ask a friend of yours to compliment you on your strengths! And don't do the modest thing and reject the compliments, either -- just listen, and accept them as they are. My boyfriend, before we began dating, knew that I frequently suffered from anxiety and had little confidence in myself -- so he began complimenting me for the explicit purpose of making me feel better about myself. At first, they felt shallow and I hated them, mostly because I felt that they weren't true. Over time, though, I got used to hearing them, and eventually, I began to feel that some of them were maybe true.

Maybe the above paragraph sounded really dumb, but please just keep what I said in the back of your mind, and think about it every now and then. Eventually, you will get used to the idea.

Just remember: interacting with other people can and will get better, though, and you won't find yourself second-guessing yourself anymore.
posted by tickingclock at 2:45 PM on March 9, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks a lot everyone! Man, a lot of people can relate. I agree VegaValmont - I really don't feel depressed, and strangely enough I don't feel bad about myself. I know that something is wrong with my attitude and that I learned to be afraid of people, but I don't have any problem with thinking positive things about myself. Just, I fear the consequences of acting confident, and hate to be seen as self-centered (I'm really not)! I guess.
Anyway, I got the prescription back and I will make sure to keep track of it. I suppose even though it was only four weeks, it might have had negative effects.
posted by hypervenom at 5:08 PM on March 9, 2007

Hit up the eMule P2P network and download

Overcoming Social Anxiety, Social Phobia - Step By Step.rar
posted by choragus at 9:37 PM on March 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

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