Imprisoned

I have reached the grand old age of 50..without ever really loosing my terrible fear of social situations. I am a single mum, been on my own for 13yrs because obviously as I don't meet others I cant find a partner. My whole life is around my twin sister and my daughter...I just dont seem able to bring myself to put myself through the misery and challenge of trying to face new people and new situations. Life seems pretty stuck. On the brighter side my daughter is everything I would love to be, simply because I didn't want her growing up with the misery of this...so from an early age she did groups, clubs etc and seems very able. Maybe my childhood...not being pushed or made to do theese things didn't help..what do others think?

mahuggs mahuggs
46-50
1 Response Feb 11, 2009

I don't know if you have read my story, but I used to have really bad social anxiety disorder and now I defeated it. I overcame it. I'm not sure if people on EP believe me when I say this. Maybe it's because nobody believes it is possible, but it is. <br />
<br />
I know what it's like to feel like a failure or to feel stupid for not being able to just say hi to someone you want to be friends with. I know that feeling like when you see a friend walking in the hallway and you want to smile and say hi, but you're just too scared. And then you beat yourself up after saying "why can't you just be normal like everyone else? why is this so hard? Why can't I just make friends?" I understand because I used to hate myself for feeling so afraid. <br />
<br />
So I got a therapist in college. Now she told me that it wouldn't be easy and it isn't. I had to do what is called exposures in order to defeat social anxiety. The way to do this is not to just go straight into a huge scary social setting and expecting yourself to talk to someone or everyone. It's just way to scary, don't you think? So what you do is start off really small and work your way up to the most scary social situations. <br />
<br />
So let's say, the social situation that causes you the least anxiety is smiling and saying hi to people. Or just smiling and giving eye contact. You can try this with just someone at the super market or someone you walk by. Even though it scares the crap out of you, do it. It's like a science experiment to see if you anything bad will really happen. You're going to have to be brave and do this many, many times until you realize "hey, this doesn't make me nervous anymore. People like it when I'm friendly and smile." <br />
<br />
The most important thing to do is to ALWAYS REWARD YOURSELF. Don't beat yourself up. You did something that was so hard. It's like someone who's afraid of snakes just pet a snake. Or someone who's afraid of airplanes just walked into an airplane. It is Extremely scary. But it's possible. You can do it. I did it. It's hard. But possible. You're 50, but you still have a chance to have a beautiful life. I know you can do it. But do you know you can do it?