One ongoing (or off-and-ongoing) is my fear of group activities. I am fine one-on-one with practically anyone. But more than one and I feel like I morph into someone who is stupid, introverted, shy, uncomfortable, etc., and the familiar feelings of worthlessness and dividedness(is that a word?) and even despair wash over me. Like a kind of depression that only eases as my distance from people increases. Maybe a mix of anxiety and depression. This is one of my most vexing problems. I finally make a friend or two, and soon they ask me to go on a church trip to some local gardens. Or they ask me to come to tea with them and their mother and some elderly relatives at someone's home. At first, I usually pause and then say, "Let me look at my calendar and I'll get back with you. But yes, it sounds nice." And I almost always end up telling them no, that I just can't go. If they ask why, I make up something. A few times of doing this, and they get the picture that I am not interested in going anywhere with them. And it definitely isn't that. I WANT to go, I just can't make myself. I know aversion therapy is supposed to work but I can't face it. Does anyone have a clue as to how I can overcome this?
Actually, I am much better than I used to be -- I taught little kids for 2 hrs a day the last 4 months, because little kids don't make me afraid. But their mothers do. So when the mothers came after the kids, I would hide in a back room with my hands over my ears so I couldn't even hear their voices. I do go to Sunday School and church, but most of it is listening, not engaging in talking or activities that require much face-to-face interaction. And sometimes I do volunteer work with a group of 3-5 other women in a very small room...and although it is rewarding to "do for others" it does do something terrible to me. High social anxiety. I don't want to depend on meds to get me through this.
You've provided an interesting and helpful perspective here. I'm sure many people will relate to what you've said. I've also used your question as the basis of my Sharepost, using your title: what about social isolation?
wanted you to know that I totally understand this. I have written about it:
How to Win Friends and Influence People When You are a Depressed Introvert.
Hello I'm an Introvert!
Seriously...I feel your pain...I am the same way. Social stuff...takes all my energy and then some.
One thing you can do is to find people who...are introverts too and have social anxiety...and will therefore understand you and your need to take things slowly. I do have more information in my posts...and more about my personal experience.
Too bad we all can't have a cup of coffee together...I guess we can virtually. Although I don't like coffee and prefer tea.
Hope you are doing better today Donna.
Thank you for the reference to two of your previous posts about introverts. They were very helpful and I enjoyed reading all the comments. In your post "Hi I'm an Introvert" you list things people said about you/to you about your being quiet. One was, "You think too much." I remember having such a really extremely hard time opening up to my long-time therapist. Finally one day, I expressed my theory on why I continued to focus on a certain subject. She sat there with her fingers steepled, and when I finished, she sighed and said, "You always over-analyze everything." I wanted to scream, "ISN'T THAT WHAT THERAPY IS ABOUT? ISNT' THAT WHY IT WAS CALLED 'PSYCHOANALYSIS' AT FIRST?" My first time really talking openly to her and it turned out that all she really wanted to hear was the sound of her own voice. But it had kind of soured on me and I quit seeing her shortly thereafter. Therapy should not be a one-way relationship.
Hi, Donna. I like your picture, by the way! I think I have the same problem you do - I'm fine one-on-one, but in a group, I feel stupid, awkward and all of that. I've made myself join therapy groups, felt like I was going to have a heart attack every time I went, for a long time, until I could believe that I wasn't being judged for whatever I said. I realized that everyone else is nervous about talking, as well. That still hasn't gotten rid of it, though. I joined a choir this year and I feel like the odd one, partly because most of the people have been there for a number of years. I've never gone out socially after practice, but after our big concert in two weeks, there's a party afterward and then another one for our last meeting until August. I am so torn. I'm pretty sure I'll go because everyone is really nice and they do have a good time, but it's like I'd rather blend into the woodwork. I've heard it has something to do with the dynamics in my family, which I can see, but still, at 61, I would have thought I'd be over all that. Guess not!
So, I don't have any answers for you, just the message that you're not alone in this!