Avatar universal

Social Anxiety

I'm a 50yo male married who avoids social situations whenever possible.  I've battled addiction and depression over the years, both of which I believe have arisen from my social anxiety. I would consider myself somewhat quiet and somewhat introverted. I don't feel comfortable at parties, bars, or social events, especially if I don't know any of the people also attending.  At party or other social functions, I tend to watch from the sidelines instead of engage in discussions with others. Oh sure, I give the occasional greeting...."How you doing"...."What's new"..bla bla bla.  But that's about the extent of it.  I really dont' care for small talk of no substance.  My wife on the other hand, will talk about anything and everything.  She's more extroverted than I.  I prefer to stay at home on weekends, enjoy a good book or movie and do things with my family and kids.  When it comes to going out with her to a bar, restaurant, social event, it normally triggers my depression and I feel miserable inside.  I try to fake that I"m fine and fake some smiles and laughs when at a social event, but inside, I"m counting the minutes when I can leave. In fact, I find that most times I have to attend any social function, I count the minutes until I can leave the party.  I  can usually fake it for about 2 hours.  But then, it's like I hit a wall and the desire and need to leave increase greatly with each minute.  In fact, the minutes start to feel like hours.  Inside I feel myself getting angry, edgy, and moody.  At the same time, my wife has usually had a couple of drinks by then and is wound up and having a good time.  It's hard to see her laughing and smiling and having a good time just talking about nothing while inside I"m dying a slow death.  She knows I hate parties and social gatherings yet she wont' compromise on how long we have to attend.  She gets angry when my body language says I"m ready to leave.  I feel 2 to 3 hours is plenty of time to make an appearance and socialize.  She says it shouldnt' have a time limit.  I know that if she had my social anxiety or whatever my problem is, I would leave with her once she reached her limit.  But my wife won't do it.  And it ticks me off.  Then I get angrier inside, and I withdraw even more.  Many times, I take 2 or 3 trips to the bathroom just to get 5 minutes to myself for some peace and quiet. By the end of the night, I'm exhausted, mentally and physically.  She doesn't understand how emotionally draining it is to socialize.  And so, I do whatever I can to avoid having to go to parties.  And normally, she doesn't go if I dont' go.  So when the weekend roles around, I feel the pressure to have to take her out so she gets time to socialize.  While I could care less about socializing.  I used to have alot of friends when I was single.  I used to be more outgoing.  But now, because of my stressful job and the stresses of raising 3 kids, marriage, and all the other challenges of life, I'm exhausted by Friday evening and all I want to do is relax, read a book and/or watch TV.  Anything but having to go out.  I"m a morning person and I get up at 4:00am every morning so that I can have some coffee, watch some TV, go to the gym and then to work.  So even though I'm in decent shape, I'm exhausted by Friday. And so I dread Fridays. I dread them because it's the only time people at work are all happy and talkative.  On Mondays, these same people are nasty, moody and cold.  On Fridays, the get all giddy, and I'll see them talking alot more, laughing, etc.  In the same sense, it gets under my skin because I think why aren't they like that all week.  Then they say things to me that I look too serious. Or they'll ask if I'm in a bad mood.  When actually, all I want is to be left alone.   By  everyone.  I"m home alone now and loving it.  Yet when my wife walks thru the door, my peace and quiet is gone and I tighten up inside.  More and more each day I find I want to withdraw more and more.  I want to just be left alone.  I won't even answer the phone at home unless it's my wife calling.  And even then, I don't want to pick up the phone.  I feel like everytime I talk to someone, another demand is placed on me.  And i'm tired of it.  I"m so tired.  I feel myself withrdrawing more and more each day, and I know that's not a good thing.  But I don't know what else to do.  If' I'm happier alone, then why would I want anyone around me.  I can breathe when I"m alone.  I don't feel I can breathe when I"m not alone.  My social anxiety is why I became addicted to prescription pain killers.  When I took the pain killers, they made me feel euphoric.  I was more sociable.  I didnt mind being with other people.  I felt like I could do anything and be with anyone and enjoy it.  But when I stopped the pain killers, depression set in bigtime.  I dont' feel my brain can create the chemicals the normal brains do, that elevate your moods such as endorphins and seratonin.  So I'm on a low dosage of antidepressant and I take 5Htp.  I am doing everything I can to beat this depression,  I read alot of self improvement books, listen to self help podcasts, exercise, meditate, and I have reconnected with my faith.  But I sometimes feel like I"m fighting a losing battle.  I can't find happiness inside me. I just can't seem to create it inside me.  And so I just exist.  And I try to breathe.  And I fake it well.  I fake it and it drains me to fake it.  I"m so tired.  
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Avatar universal
Thank you caring to respond and for taking the time to do so.  It's obvious from your reply that you truly understand my dilemma.  And I agree 100% that there has to be a balance in life.  I'm just not sure how to go about doing that.  And most importantly, it's hard to do that when what needs to be done (socializing) is as painful to me as it is.  The sad part is not being able to feel the joy and happiness that others feel.  On occasion I feel it, but it's too far and few between. My wife and I have been to couples therapy many times in the past for other issues.  I wasn't quite so unsociable back then because I was using the pain pills to give me the euphoric feeling (false joy or happiness) that enabled me to be more approachable, social and "normal", whatever normal is.  I have discussed this with my wife many times.  I"m sure she sacrifices to some degree also.  Maybe she'd be out ever weekend if I was the type.  But I'm not.  I'm not into the bars anymore, dance clubs, etc.  Not at 52.  So my challenge is to find things we both enjoy doing.  Unfortunately, living where I do doesn't provide many outlets for fun outside of bars, clubs etc.  I"m so done with that scene.  Anyways, thanks again for your heartfelt reply.  You are a good person.  Best of luck to you also.
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480448 tn?1426948538

That was one powerful post.  

For being a person without a lot to say at social gatherings...look at all you had to say here.  You've obviously been bottling this up for quite a while.

Some people just AREN'T fans of being sociable.  That, along with your wife's desire TO BE social, is creating a lot of resentment on both sides.  Thing is...I can understand your anger.  You are "sucking it up" so to speak, to make her happy and go to these events that you dread, yet she doesn't want to compromise for your sake.

I honestly think that you need to print out your post...make an appt for couples therapy (and therapy for just you) and hash this out, taking the copy along.  Of course it stinks to go through life getting NO enjoyment out of others.  There are a lot of interesting people out there.  I can also understand your need to have some "down time".  There has to be a balance...and you definitely need to work thru these issues with a professional...to get you to a place that these events won't be so torturous.

I can feel your pain in your post.....and I can see how caring and selfless you are...you are a "pleaser" when it comes to your wife.  Someone without anxiety cannot possibly understand how hard it is for us to expose ourselves on purpose to situations that make us uncomfortable.

That's where I think your wife reading this post in the company of a professional who can help you both talk thru some of this may be a real eye opener to her.  I just don't think she gets as bad as it is for you...especially since you admittedly are a good "faker" when you need to be.  Plus.....people with anxiety often get labelled as "lazy" or "selfish" when we avoid anxiety provoking events.  People just sadly do not understand. When I struggle with going places (anywhere but work)...everyone around me thinks I'm just blowing them off b/c I'm lazy, or don't care.  Meanwhile, it kills me inside that I just CAN'T do some of this stuff.  How I wish I could just hop in the car and go go go whenever the urge strikes.  Anxiety holds me back from doing that.

Please do let us know how things are going for you.  I hope you get to the point where your wife and you can compromise while you work thru your anxiety.  Best of luck to you.
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