I'm glad you are ready to get some help with this -you will be richly rewarded. The way to get to a shrink is to see your primary care phsyician and ask for a referral. Play out "the story" to the doc so he/she has some idea of who would be a good "fit" for you. This is probably better than blindly going through the YP.
For now, and for "practice," interact with me and others here on this site. Its not face-to-face, so that aspect won't bug you. An interesting feature about "cyber" connections is that they tend to become intimate and trusting very quickly because of the complete lack of visual, person-to-person cues. Or they can break down into a battle royale because there need be no fear of a personal confrontation. While this is very good in terms of leading people quickly to the "important stuff," it is also very UNLIKE what happens when we are with people physically. There, social conventions, small talk, etc., rule the day until each person tosses out hints of their comfort level by flirting, or a lot of head nodding, tossing in some dirty words to suggest a desire to be closer (odd, that) and all the usual crappola that bores the jeepers out of me and may well have given you that "I'd rather NOT" kind of feeling.
So, see the doc, get the referral -and hang out here.
One more thing: intelligence and high functioning is obviously NOT a problem with you, so scan the posts for issues, concerns and problems to which you can speak -and then, jump right in with your take on things and whatever support you may have to offer.
You might find it odd that among my best friends I count those who do not make friends easily. The reason is that if they DO have a high trust level with me, it can only be because I have met whatever tests of trust they may have -conscious or not- and so I value their friendship very highly.
I tend to agree with JS on this one. For me, I went to my primary care physician to get a referral to a therapist. Be honest with your doctor to what is going on and tell him/her the whole story.
As far as finding the right therapist, I tend to say the best ones are the ones that fit YOU. If you are comfortable with him/her, then it is probably a great match. This forum is also a great place to meet people who are going through and experiencing the same things as you. Keep us posted, and I applaud you for confronting this issue!
yes, i can relate. i also when through a phase when i would freakout just seeing other people. i was outgoing in high school and though i was loosing my mind when i had social anxiety. anyway, it`s a great idea to go see a physician first and then maybe a therapist. now i relize though ther is no reason to be scared of people and everyone has flaws. to this day i still have panic attacks occasionally when going to the store or in a large crowd of people but i try my best to control them. be careful of what drugs you get put on though and steer away from paxil. good luck. you too can overcome this.
Good advice, thanks. I made an appointment with my doctor for this week. I don't know why I waited so long to do something about this but I look forward to making some progress.
If you are looking forward to it -you obvioulsy are very ready to make the changes -Congrats!