Severy anxiety about self-image and social situations (long post)
Hi everyone :), new to this forum. I'm 22, male, and depressed about my anxiety and just feel like I have to share some of my thoughts. English is not my first language, so bare with me.
I have pretty bad social anxiety, mostly occurs with strangers but I suffer from it with friends too. I think the root of the problem is that I consider myself ugly looking and to top it off I have scoliosis which makes me self-conscious about my body and the way I sit for example. Frustrating as hell.
This leads to problems such as:
- Eye contact tends to be hard for me, especially with people that I don't know well.
- I often feel very self-conscious and find it hard to relax because i am constantly 'monitoring' what other people might think of me or rather what they might think of my looks.
- I get fidgety and my body tenses up.
- I stop talking. I mean I honestly enjoy conversation with others and a handful of people have complimented me on being a funny guy, but when I get really nervous and socially anxious my train of thought just clogs up and I find it hard to say anything, so I get really quiet.
I've been trying to battle these problems because I feel like they almost cripple me mentally and I often feel very down. I've been going to a gym 2 times a week and been to a chiropractor to help with my body issues. I am also fortunate to have a couple of good friends who are social and have a large group of friends, so I try to push myself as often as I can to go to hang out at my friends apartments and meet new people, so I can learn to socialize more naturally. Sometimes though I just stay at home because it is so much comfortable that way.
When in a group situation with strangers I always try my best to relax and tell myself there is no need for anxiety. However I often find myself still occupied with SA thoughts and generally being tense and looking worried, and people tend to pick up on that. It only makes my feelings worse. There are times when I feel like people are uncomfortable around me and can't wait to leave. It's a horrible feeling and it sets me back mentally, I end up feeling completely worthless.
For example, today I was with a good friend and three guys I don't know very well came to his place to chill for a while. I got anxious, but tried to stir up some conversation and open myself up. They were likeable people, I had actually met one of them and talked to him briefly a few times before. Cool dude, we shared some intrests in common, and he plays music just like me so there was definitely some common ground.
At first everything was okay, but I slowly got quieter and quieter and eventually the anxiety got the better of me, partly because I was worried what they might think about me being silent. A really unhealthy circle of thoughts. I started to avoid eye contact and I was occupied by my own hazardous thoughts. It seemed like my behaviour was altering the mood of the room or atleast people seemed to notice my oddness.
Eventually two of them kind of looked at me funny and I am not 100% sure but I think I heard the other of them say "awkward dude". Needless to say it crushed me, I got me even more quiet and blushed. They left soon after. (I atleast found courage to go to say bye to them and chat a little when they were leaving.)
Events like the one that occured today are pretty common and leave me feeling hopeless. I am angry and disappointed, because I actually liked these people and could have gotten to know them better but I feel like it's extremely difficult to get out of my shell. I also feel hurt and worried that I left a really creepy / odd impression on them.
Generally speaking I am beyond frustrated by all of this:
I get out of the house more seldom than I used to. I feel anxious and paranoid during the day more than I used to. I very rarely feel totally comfortable in conversation with someone, even friends. (but I still sometimes manage to have great discussions with people, when I for a second forget my surroundings and my own looks.) I sometimes feel like I dont know myself anymore. I notice it is harder to talk to girls aswell, I broke up with my ex over a year ago and I feel its harder to connect with anyone now. I feel like my life is going downhill, I used to be a lot happier two years ago and these problems weren't near as bad.
Sorry for the length, there's a cluster of thoughts in my head and I have never really written all of this down. I am glad if someone managed to read it all the way through! I would really appreciate advice, tips or help of ANY kind.
Glad you found MH and took the time to get your thoughts and feelings out.
Writing is a great way to release frustration. And clarify feelings.
You know what your problem is from what I read....extreme self consciousness or a distorted image of yourself which lowers your self esteem.
You are dealing with body issues as you said. Congratulations. Are there people you know at your gym? It is a good exercise for shy guys to keep going to gyms where there are lots of opportunities for casual conversations.
Next time you feel yourself getting tense and going silent, try leaving the room for a bit. Restroom break. Get a drink..whatever...anything to break the tension of a prolonged conversation.
Lots of what you describe is not all that weird to me. I have had lots of interesting friends...many artists in the lot...who were not mainstream people and cared less what others thought of what they did or didnt say/do.
So...maybe it is your feelings about this stuff that needs addressing. If you overhear a comment that you don't like..pfft! Blow it off. No one is going to understand you 100 percent of the time. You have friends. They accept you as you are.
Finally...what is wrong with being quiet? Frankly when I am out...notice most people overtalk...they have so much to say, no one gets a chance to respond to them.
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