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In need of help & counseling

* This might be too long of a question and description, if so please let me know and I will try to shorten it down.

Hello there

I’m here asking for your help and guidance, hoping that your replies will give me the courage to seek out a professional therapist or maybe a priest for a bit of counsel. Thank you so much.
I’m reading that a good therapist is someone who helps you navigate choices on your own, and learn you processes to do that, making you confident and have trust in yourself. So, I’m hoping this could be a sort of beginning towards that. This is my first time trying to really reach out for therapy - I’ve been thinking about therapy for many years but always ended up trying to manage things on my own. This post might be too long with unnecessary details, so I welcome you to point that out, hopefully making it more precise for future use. I also welcome you to point out thoughts of incoherence and outright dangerous and self-destructive thought patterns, please don’t hold back.

I’m suffering from a bit of loneliness and to some degree perhaps some social anxiety, I never got a diagnosis. Before I continue, I would like to say that I’m in the most stable condition I think I’ve ever been, being able to attend classes and continue forward with a somewhat clear mind. I used to be good at spiraling myself into a hole of depression if I began thinking about my loneliness and life in general - now I’m more in a situation of acceptance, but with a deep longing for meaningful friendships. My perspective has changed over the years, and I know these emotions are a part of life and with people in far worse situations than me. That being said, I could defiantly use a bit of a direction and tips from someone with some life experience.

The loneliness comes from my anxiety I think and very inward behavior, I’m very introverted. That has a lot to do I think with my teenage years of barricading myself in my room, playing videogames - that was my escape at the time and I never really evolved my social skills. That means I’m having a very hard time engaging socially with the people around me, especially on the education I’m attending (since August 2018). But also, my family and friends, as I’m aging (27) I prefer more and more to be alone which at the same time causes my loneliness. So, I’m kind of my own worst enemy here, in need of help becoming more aware of my own personal expectations, and advice as to how I can have a social life while respecting my own needs to be alone.
I’m studying Social Pedagogy and Diakonia, that prepares me for a future where I can work at kindergartens, with people who are in a vulnerable state, alcohol or drug abuse, or people with different handicaps. And I’m very happy about this direction, it’s the most meaningful thing I can think of with the abilities I have. And yet I’m struggling with the social aspects of life, that triggers a little doubt on some days, while at the same time being hopeful that things can and will change.

I live at the college where other students of my education is also living with many possibilities for social activities. Yet I’m declining invitations for those activities, watching movies together and playing board games, especially in the beginning where I was very exhausted and felt the need to be alone. Which is not that great at a crucial time of getting to know each other, and now I have sort of isolated myself from further invitations as I’ve sent some questionable signals out to my fellow students. So, I need to figure out a way to reestablish those bonds and that’s when the anxiety really kicks in, and I don’t really have the energy or encouragement to reflect on “solutions”. Another thing I’ve noticed is that some of these people are not really the kind of people I would like to befriend. There’s an age difference, they are around 22 and I’m 27. As I’m sensing there’s a lot of malicious talk that I just don’t want to be a part of, there’s drama, parties, just a whole way of socializing that I find it hard to compromise on my own values and beliefs.

Yet other people that I seem to share some of the same values as are perfectly able to engage these people. I’m not sure if it’s the age difference, or me that got this expectation problem, I’m worried that there’s some narcissistic traits in me that still has its grip on me, and I also seem to judge others to the same. Judgement is defiantly something that I need to take care of, and by my judgement on others I get it ten times back crippling me into a shadow of myself. I need some softening I think, that I don’t really know how to get. I’m hoping that engagement with others as much as I can, further reflection and life experience with help on that.

A bit of a backstory of where I come from and who I am. I’m a Christian which is the most valuable thing in my life and is the reason I’m sure that I can manage the things that are going on. I moved away from my childhood town where all my friends live, my life was a mess heading in a dangerous direction that caused a lot of guilt and was very self-destructive. That involved heavy drinking, later experimentation with drugs, cannabis over a couple years and the later the use of psychedelics. That was self-medicating, and it was my hope that the psychedelics could cure my anxiety giving me the courage to live without the fear of judgement from others. Which of course was a foolish idea, but I was desperate. So, I was pretty far out with my life with no direction, no meaning a value in the things I was doing. I’ve made a commitment to Jesus to trust in him, as I can’t seem to trust myself and my own doings. That helps me forward, giving me the energy to type something like this and try to get healthy.

Books and my personal faith gave me the strength to move far away to this new place. I guess it’s only natural that I’m a bit shaken, new place, new people, new education, trying to replace old behavior with a new lifestyle of exercise and no alcohol (I’m still unsure of social drinking, with soft drinks like beer) and drugs.

My father has suffered from depression in much of my lifetime. My parents talked about divorce for the first time when I was 5. As in other families I remember many fights and talk about divorce through the years. My mum was seeking my counsel a few years ago, which always hurt when I got home to visit and was dragged into that, and I simply hardened as time went by, accepting the fact and told her to keep me out from it. They seem to stay together because of religious reasons – today I feel the need to counsel my mother, to encourage her into making her own decision, make her understand that I’m on her side no matter what. There has also been some drinking abuse, but that has gotten better I sense over the past few months.

There are some childhood traumas that I still need to work through - Viktor Frankl especially has been a great teacher with new perspectives such as optimism and narrative thinking, releasing much of the sorrow that was attached to these events. And time perhaps is also a great cure on many things. Jordan Peterson has also been a great help with personal and socially responsibility, truth and meaning. The Bible and other Christian literature, especially C .S. Lewis has been helpful in my own imagination and various subjects that has been really helpful on this journey. This education also consists of much literature in psychology and human development that has given me better insights and understanding.

But I can’t just read, I also need to engage and break this cycle of shying into myself.
If you have any book recommendations, any analysis on what I said, or some insight or tools I can take with me the next time I’m in a social situation I would be very grateful, thank you.

I might also be able to give a better description on what exactly goes on in my head when I’m withdrawing, please let me know.

Sincerely, M
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Avatar universal
I want to say this in a way that doesn't bother anyone.  Religion is a perilous subject.  I don't want in any way to say change your beliefs -- it's your life.  But it does sound as if you are using Christianity in the same way you used video games and drugs, as a way of shutting other people out.  It doesn't have to be that way.  All religions are pretty much the same as far as moral teachings go -- it's the rituals and the tribal parts of them that get us in conflict.  Atheists have pretty much the same exact moral beliefs as believers.  I only say this because in your case, you've been using everything you've done to isolate yourself rather than using it to expand yourself.  Psychadelics are not a great idea for anxiety sufferers in general, but they have been used forever under guidance to help people deal with learning about themselves by broadening their horizons.  Without guidance and a framework, they can not only be extremely terrifying but also not usually what you think you're taking.  They are used in psychiatry still today.  But some people get high in whatever way that suits them in order to have fun and others use them in ways to shut themselves away.  My advice would be to get into that therapy and give it a try.  You have nothing to lose.  As for those other people, that's what I mean about using your religious beliefs to shut yourself away from others.  You can't judge others by a belief system they don't share.  There is no truth out there -- there are billions of people on Earth and more than that have been alive for our entire history.  Almost all of them had a religious belief system, but they created a whole lot of these systems.  Given that we're all born with the same mental equipment, those who disagree with your lifestyle are as intelligent as you are and therefore you aren't right about anything and neither are they, you're all just trying to get through the day.  Life is hard.  I would suggest ignoring most of religious institutionalism and focus more on the core teaching -- I have no idea if Jesus existed or not but looking at what he is purported to have said will reveal a lot of contradictions but also a focus on loving others even as you judge them.  In other words, you don't give up your beliefs, but you don't blame others for theirs.  You try and reach accommodation.  It's fun. Sharing can be enlightening.  I always say, having had a ton of education in my life, that you learn more from your fellow students than from your teachers.  The differences between you are what makes it so enlightening.  I'd also suggest looking at Buddhist teachers -- not so you become a Buddhist but because they really get into the concept of not judging others, of acceptance of yourself and of life.  Thich Niht Hahn (probably mispelled) is a great person to read for this.  I was personally raised Jewish (which I share with Jesus, thankyou very much) but I have had all of my romantic relationships since adulthood with Christians and Buddhists.  I'm married to a Christian.  We really can all get along.  We really can learn a lot from each other, even if it's more how not to be than how to be.  So give those classmates a chance -- age is just a number.  And go get that therapy.  If you want to change, you will.
Helpful - 0
Thank you so much for your comment, a lot of what you said resonate with me and I can relate. It sure involves a lot of dying and rebirth at the core of the soul and it's feels like wrestling a lion at times.
I get what you say about religion, but I just can't live as a relativist either. I believe in absolute truths about reality, but I will agree that I should try and reach some kind of accommodation. It just seems hard when you're in two different mind sets about so many aspects of life, but that I shouldn't blame them as you say - I will reflect on some of these things that you've said. I probably have to read your comment a couple times to connect the dots. I'm a little afraid of the therapy thing, it seems very foggy where to begin, what to say, will it actually be helpful and all that - but I will take your word and try to make some contact.
Thank you once again
973741 tn?1342342773
Welcome to the forum!  First, I must commend you for reaching out. That's a first step in life.  And when things get to the point that you are feeling you want to really do that?  Then, it's time.  :>)

Your faith is very important to you and I admire that.  It's hard for people who don't share it to relate to but I do understand.  I have a religious background but probably not as strong as yours.  But I get it.

I have done counseling in the past.  One just a regular PhD psychologist and the other was actually a counselor that my church recommended. You can ask your church for that type of recommendation.  What was different really wasn't much other than we prayed a bit during the Christian Counseling and had scripture intertwined.  It was comforting for me as I was grieving a very difficult death at that time. But both were very helpful at exploring my feelings.  Respectful of who I am as a person.  And felt a bit like my private cheerleader there to help me and spur me on to emotional healing and growth.

I know when I'm going through a tough time, I can tend to isolate as well.  Now, I'm not a person that has a strong desire to always be around other people in general though. I recharge my batteries with alone time or down time with my key peeps (like my kids). Others are different and need people around to feel energized. When I a really tough time, I put people in groups so to speak.  Only the top people get in.  That's my list of safe people that is very small.  Kids, husband and my sister.  Maybe one best friend.  Everyone else is at a distance.  

Do you relate at all to that?
Helpful - 0
Hello and thank you so much for your reply and encouragement. I can relate, especially the part of alone time. Perhaps it's sort of an expectation thing I need to really understand. And respect my own integrity and not feel all that guilty.
Based on your own experience with counseling and the comfort and respect that was a part in that - It helps making the decision. Thank you once again. Discussing it a little in a place like this feels comforting , and hopefully will be the first steps towards something organized.
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