Describing a very severe social anxiety disorder Social anxiety can be easily described as a condition in which individuals are fearful of usually large social situations such as public speaking and parties this is usually down to a fear of being judged or being humiliated or embarrassed in public. This is a horrible feeling but can usually be treated with intense talking therapy and possibly anti-anxiety medications to help reduce the symptoms. Social Anxiety Disorder is a more severe form. I am going to try and briefly explain what it is like to have this disorder, this is my own case. Bearing in mind it is so difficult that after three years even a consultant psychiatric cannot understand and treat it. Even after three years of intense treatment the condition not only hasn't improved at all but appeared to have worsened. I originally seeked help from my GP because for years I was socially anxious among people. From what I experience today, the symptoms were mild. I felt a bit awkward among people and was a bit anxious at night from knowing that in the morning I would have to go to the bus stop where there would be a group of people my own age and be nervous around them. I was anxious of mainly people my own age; teenagers. From looking back I was scared of what they may think of me and if they would be nasty to me or bully me because I was different. I didn't like sport and I got on better with girls. I was scared people would bully me because of this and now and again people did but not severely, just little snide comments here and there as people knew how to wind me up. Over the years people realised I was easy to wind up and would be continually throwing a strop in the classroom because someone had wound me up. The more people the more scared I got and the symptoms did meet that of social anxiety I was scared of being humiliated/embarrassed or worse of all, noticed. I would be scared of coughing or sneezing in assembly in front of these 300 people and them all turning around and staring at me. I realised this was abnormal so I went to my GP who referred me to the local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. I underwent psychotherapy and counselling instantly and while I enjoyed finding someone I could talk to I realised after a couple of months it wasn't changing anything. The psychotherapist asked me If I would see the consultant psychiatrist who is running the team so I agreed and during this time the social anxiety was worsening, making me develop a depression. I could not go anywhere outside of school as much as I would of loved too. I was prescribed Fluoxetine, in hope that my anxieties and depression would be reduced a little bit. Sadly after a few months there were no effects only the social anxiety worsening. After nearly a year my psychotherapist retired and I was referred to a CPN for Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy I was excited at starting a treatment that may actually work and she explained it all to me ad I thought it sounded alright. Unfortunately, when it came to the social situations my anxieties were overpowering to a state where I couldnâ€™t do anything with my mind, it was disabling. My anxiety worsened to a state where I refused to go to school and I was put on complimentary education where I was home tutored. This was so much less anxious for me only dealing with one tutor but brought on deeper depression as I became more lonely and in the long run only made it harder for me to be around people. I started training and a work placement which I found extremely difficult doing but knew I had to or I would be homeless (more reason to be socially anxious about what people think of me). I was put on the medication Citalopram sadly this also didn't work and during the whole time spent what must be hundreds of pounds on books and even a DVD to try and help with the socially anxious thoughts these were self help so I tried my best to try and change my mind and what I was thinking but I couldn't. The social anxiety worsened yet again and I was wondering if it was the tablets which worsened it so after a year on different medications I went off them, subsequently this made the social anxiety even more worse. I was recently put on Sertraline and the depression and social anxiety still remains the same. Anyway this is not a life story but a more descriptive account of my symptoms so this is what the next section is, it will be describing MY social anxiety disorder as a whole, and whether or not you relate to it, this is the hell of what I am experiencing. Scared of Life
Strangers and society as a whole Even among just one other stranger in a room alone I am severely anxious I get heart palpations, sweating, loss of breath and very panicky. I am scared of the pure fact they are
looking at me. On times this is down to body dysphoric disorder feeling that I am ashamed for people to look at me because i'm unattractive. But the main symptom being experienced is that because each individual looks different I am just scared of being noticed and what people will think of my face and body, and the fact they may remember my face and I get paranoid throughout the night thinking someone is probably talking about me right now and as they are talking about me they are picturing me. (I understand this is extremely odd thinking). My thoughts when with someone is what will they think of my face, how are they describing me, what are they thinking of me, do they like me, do they realise I am different from other boys/men, do they think I am attractive or ugly, do they think I am fat, do they know I am weird and have all these mental problems, can they read my very CRAZY mind?, and the thoughts go on and on but the thoughts have now been experienced for so long that when I see a person I automatically feel socially anxious without even thinking anything. I don't necessary have any of the thoughts I am just anxious in an indescribable way. It is automatic the thoughts come on and and once around a person my brain is locked and it cannot be changed, thoughts can't change and I can't think any more positive because my brain is simply locked in anxiety and won't unlock again until I am away from a person/people. Sadly I experience this among everyone even people I know and my family. This is why since self-help in my case is impossible and medications (chemicals) will not work on my brain I feel like my hell will never improve. People I know/friends Among people I know and friends I am also very anxious. Not as anxious as strangers I can speak to them but I am till scared of what they think and the same thoughts as above. When I first see a friend or someone I know for the first time I get really nervous and can't look straight at them because then they look at me they are recognising me which is what I fear most and will they think something has changed about me and this makes me even more paranoid. I am simply afraid of being seen and remembered. Even among my psychiatrist who I have known for over two years I am so socially anxious I usually leave the appointment with bloody hands because I’ve peeled/bitten so much skin off around my fingers it is bleeding I don't realise this when I’m in my anxious locked mind. Family This is what I categorize as severe social anxiety – when you are anxious around your own family who have brought you up since you were born. I am anxious of what my father who I live with I am scared of and very anxious when he talks to me and looks at me. E hasn't done anything wrong this is just the hell of what I suffer from, and it's constant. Clashes with other mental health symptoms The saddest thing possible about my experience is that some people with social anxiety can accept it as a way of life and don't really enjoy the company of others anyway. I am so different, I would love nothing more than to be among people who would keep me company and the only time I am not depressed is when I am with someone comfortably as I possible can and talk and socialise as I know it's a lot healthier for me. So I want to be with people as much as anyone else but then I can't because of this hell I experience. Most people will say just go out and do it, just really using motivation ignore it all but i'm afraid it's not possible it is like I say a locked state of mind it cannot change. Because the social anxiety stops me from being with people sometimes I will go a whole day without seeing anyone the longer this lasts the more the onset of psychosis sets in I start to talk to
myself more and by the end of the day will develop into a full on conversation with myself where my lips will move. Sound often doesn't come out but the whole conversation is there in my head. My case is so severe I want to get better but I can't even be hospitalized because I would be continually worrying that the people around me are watching me and there would be so many people patients, doctors, nurses, cleaners etc. it would be really unnatural for me, and would just be an endless case of anxiety attacks until my heart just gives up and I have a heart attack. With my social anxiety disorder my head is my only friend, and my only friend is my worst enemy.
Published on Jan 3, 2012