I believe that I have social anxiety, but I am not completely sure because my symptoms are not exactly like those described in most of the research I have been doing.
I am 23 and I enjoy going out for a night on the town. I recently moved to a new city and have made a some friends that I have hung out with only a handful of times. When they call to go out, or meet up with some people that I have not yet met, I am excited to go. I enjoy the time that I spend while I am there and generally I get along really well with people and most people seem to like me. I get invited to more parties and introduced to more friends. I never feel anxious while I'm chatting up new people, in fact, I feel rather in my element. I am, though, usually having some form of alcohol while these encounters are happening which could be contributing to the calm. When I am sober, I tend to nervously talk, try to anticipate what the person would like to hear and follow through, and many times I think I over do it or unintentionally say the wrong thing. And yet, I hardly ever receive a strong or lasting negative reaction from people.
So you're thinking, "and this girl thinks she has social anxiety?" I know, I know. But the trouble comes the next day.
I obsess the next day over the events from the night before. I can not, no matter what I do, stop thinking about them. I pick every single thing I did wrong. Everything I said that was just wrong (and usually from me trying to say the right thing) makes me cringe in horror and self hatred. This "self hatred" is really what sums my whole day and feeling up to, I just think whyyyyyy did you do that? Whyyyy do you always do this? You looked so so stupid, and everyone knew it. I over think what every person at the party was thinking about me. This especially happens if I had one too many beers and legitimately said or did something rather stupid or embarrassing. I know that that happens to everyone at some point, but I amplify it, obsess over it, and just can't stop hating myself for it. And its never anything that horrible! I become a perfectionist and because I was not the most perfect person at the party, I failed. And even if I don't know the people, or Ill never have to see them again, I care what they are thinking about me!
All of these thoughts spiral into a panic attack that lasts all day. I have read that for some people a night of drinking (a depressant) can leave the body overstimulated the next day which can lead some to have "anxiety-overs". My symptoms are mostly a racing heart, feeling of being out of control and out of my body, on edge, self loathing, and chest pressure. Since many times I feel this way the day after I drink, I am thinking that the actual alcohol could be causing the attacks. If it is the alcohol, obviously the wisest thing to do would be to quit drinking all together. But I'm 23! The thought of giving up a night out with friends, socializing (which in the moment, I love, enjoy, and am good at doing), and the inevitable cocktail that accompanies it makes me really sad! And I'm not sure I have the strength of character or maturity to become my wisest self right now...
But even if it isnt the alcohol directly, I want to know what I can do about these obsessive thoughts about what others are thinking about me and self loathing that I experience after any social outing, sober or not. I have told myself and heard from others, "just be yourself" and "stop caring what others think of you", but the sad truth is, i really really can't. And it's ruining my life. I am incredibly indecisive, and want to begin on a career so badly, but I don't even know what I truly want to do or who I want to be.
Sorry about the long post, but I am just wondering if anyone can tell me if I have a form of social anxiety, and what I can do about these panic attacks. Thanks so much for reading!