Strange things happen in social situations …

I have a bit of a social phobia – social anxiety is probably a better term.

It has it’s ups and downs, and generally I can imitate “reasonable” functioning when I need to.

When I am going through a particular difficult anxiety/panic or depressive exercise, then socialising is very difficult for me.  I tend to want to avoid it and duck for cover.

Of course I handle alcohol like someone who shouldn’t be allowed to drink.  At all.

When I am in a socially-making-me-nervous situation I tend to drink more.  The more I drink, the more comfortable I feel.  But the reality is I do not feel more comfortable.  If anything it makes me more anxious as the more I drink then the more I worry I am about to do something socially inappropriate.

And the more I drink increases the chances of me saying something inappropriate – and often something I do not really feel, but it is what is running in my head.  Drinking = stop valve in head not working = emotional puking on the table.

There are always a stream of socially inappropriate things running through my head.  All the time.

It is a bit like having this gnawing feeling to say something, but knowing that you shouldn’t.  The more you are under pressure (because you are in a social setting) the louder the gnawing becomes and the more you just want to say something.

When I am at my less than ideal stages, I opt to go to the bathroom and then I talk to myself in the mirror.  I blurt to myself in the mirror as then I hope by blurting I can join a social situation and nod-and-smile like everyone else. Strange much?

I know it sounds grade-3-and-Sally-just-cannot-keep-a-darn-secret, but there we go.

The interesting thing was that few weekends ago I was at a birthday party.  I knew some people, was comfortable in the location, as I knew it.  But I still felt a bit out of synch.  I was quite stressed when I arrived, and I tried to calm down a bit, but I remained anxious.  It is a kids party, so really what do I have to be anxious about.  Nothing.  But that does not stop me being anxious.  Over nothing.

It was an early day thing, so I would not have my wine crutch.  Though I knew a few people, I was still nervous/anxious/stressed- and when I am nervous, I try to find a quiet place away from the crowd.  I really struggle with multiple conversations, people and trying to tune in to everyone’s social ques and it is like my brain is trying to play pick-up-sticks (remember that game) in the dark.

The day went along and it was all quite nice as parties are, it was lovely and sunny and I could sit on the grass.  I find that I am less socially awkward if I can give myself a task to do – move furniture around, do the dishes, take photographs … you know that sort of thing, so I am distracted from myself.

We stayed after the party for lunch – and again it was very nice, I decided not to drink more than one glass of wine as I was already feeling “heady” – I was just wired from the day and being in company and feeling socially awkward.

I got home in the afternoon, and I felt like I had been drinking all day – I was drained and I felt my head was woozy, and I was wrecked.

The thing with social phobia – for me – is that what is meant to be a relaxing situation becomes fraught with anxiety and tension over nothing, and by the time it is over I feel like my adrenaline has been pumping two gallons to the dozen (I have no idea if that is a term … just thought of it) and by the time I get out of a social situation, I am lie on the bed exhausted.

Years ago I did a really interesting Myers-Briggs personality test, and one of the issue was whether you are introvert or extrovert.

The focus was not whether you like people or socialising, the issue was “where do you take your energy from” – and for me anything social is totally energy sapping.  Some people move into a room full of people, and the longer they are there the more energised they feel, whilst other people (me) start edging towards the bar, away from people, then trying to find a place to lie down and go to sleep.

Again, this falls into my stuff that I do, even though I don’t always want to, I try to socialise more than I probably feel I want to.  There is value in appearing normal in main stream society, for one your kids get more invitations to play dates.

Social phobia = social pariah = alone at home = not so great after the first 3 months!

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9 Comments

  1. I have social anxiety. I was always somewhat shy, but I had a traumatic experiences when I was a kid, the teacher forced me to do a speech in front of the classroom. She said if I didn’t do the speech, she’d automatically would fail me. I was very scared and I didn’t speak clearly and started crying. When I was done, the teacher asked the students to rate my speech. They said that I didn’t talk loud enough, I didn’t speak clearly, my posture was bad and after that they started making fun of me and harassing me. The teacher spoke to me after class, she was threatening to failing me because I did a lousy speech – and yes, she said it like that, which she did fail me in the end. I had other teachers who would take my drawings and throw them in the garbage in front of the class. I had teachers who would yell at the top of their lungs at me in front of the class. They hated that I was drawing, and they expressed it with great anger. The students laughed at me as I was singled out, as I was being yelled at, as I was crying alone in the corner. Nobody liked me because I was quiet and shy. I didn’t have any friends. I’ll never forget teachers who created my social anxiety problem, Mrs.Eckerd, Mrs.Goldberg and Diane Rice. That happened in Middle School, that was over 10 years ago, I still have social anxiety in social occasions, mostly around young people who are around my age, sometimes it’s so bad I have to leave immediately or avoid it entirely. I’m trying to get over it, but it’s not easy. It’s preventing me of doing things regular peope do. I feel ashamed and embarrassed of having social anxiety…

    Reply
  2. Linda

     /  June 14, 2013

    Thanks for the honesty of your post. I find myself today sitting by my computer worried about being a mum with social anxiety,wanting to be the best me for my kids and my husband and feeling like fall short of this. Social anxiety is such a personal struggle, thank you again for sharing yours with us,it’s nice to know Im not along 🙂

    Reply
  3. Well, thank you – you have given me perspective and insight into myself. I am very much an introvert. ‘Social phobia’ may explain why I am in my element or had a ‘good’ day when I was on my feet busy with everything else except actually socialising (talking to people). I hardly ever drink so I have no alcohol to relax with. Should I overdo any alcohol (like in my very early adulthood) I would also find the best place to sleep and withdraw to. I often sat by myself in clubs or stayed on the dance floor – me and socialising definitely aren’t friends. I can talk easily enough when I need to – but it’s always those 1st steps to getting there and getting to know people.

    It’s weird, I always say I love hosting people at my house – but all I do is stay in the kitchen most of the time – busy with food and dishes (I don’t even do the dishes when I don’t have people around!)

    I have also been avoiding people for a long time now – so much so that I became a recluse for a while – I didn’t even want to see my parents anymore. No one! It’s getting a little better now again – but I still struggle with finding and enjoying social situations. Reading and commenting on blogs and twitter is about the extent of my social life! Sad really!

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  March 5, 2012

      It’s weird, I always say I love hosting people at my house – but all I do is stay in the kitchen most of the time – busy with food and dishes …

      *snap*

      Reply
  4. hardingswing

     /  March 2, 2012

    Totally can relate. You are so not alone in these feelings!

    Reply
  5. Princessie

     /  March 2, 2012

    Wow, this describes how I feel exactly.

    Reply
  6. Gosh, it’s as if you’re writing about me!

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  March 2, 2012

      It’s not funny ha-ha, but when I write this then I feel like I am the only one who experiences this sort of thing ..

      Reply
  7. But let’s not forget that some people are just plain boring and proper eejits. So maybe you’re drinking more wine to make them more interesting?

    I know what you mean though, about inching towards the door or bar…

    Reply

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