I hope that by sharing my story I can help others who are struggling just like me see that they are not alone.
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This seems like a good forum to talk about my illness. I feel kind of uncomfortable doing it so publicly, but I’ve also always wanted to share about it with other people who have experienced similar things.
I’m 34 years old, and was recently enrolled in a PhD program in English, but my social anxiety combined with schizoaffective disorder made it too hard. My friend thinks that it was the program itself, and the lack of faculty support, that led to my dropping out, but I think it was really my illness. Although my schizoaffective disorder has at times made me psychotic, and led to two episodes when I was really sick - I had a bad case of ideas of reference, and had a lot of religious delusions and hallucinations - my social anxiety has been with me longer, and I feel it has affected my life in worse ways than the schizoaffective. I take anti-psychotic medication for the schizoaffective, which kind of controls the weirder thoughts, the feelings of ideas of reference and things like that, but I’ve never found a medication that could help very much with the social anxiety. At times, because of the social anxiety, it has felt like my life is growing more narrow. I know that I’m in this transitional phase where I’m not in school and unemployed, but I’m finding it harder doing regular things, like leaving my apartment or talking to other people or going grocery shopping. Even going to movies, which I usually like, has been hard when the theater is full. Sometimes just going outside my apartment for a cigarette is like a victory, but other times it feels so sad. I’ve also always been uncomfortable around strangers, but lately I’ve even felt uncomfortable around my family. So I’m worried that this social anxiety is affecting my life so strongly, and it makes me sad and angry and worried.
I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist who wants me to try cognitive-behavioral therapy, but I’m skeptical and haven’t been doing the twenty-minute meditations twice a day that she recommended. Maybe I’m just lazy. I don’t see how focusing on my breath is going to help with something I’ve had since the late 90’s. But who knows.
I hope talking about my social anxiety will help other people who struggle with it to feel less alone. In some ways it’s such a terrible illness, because people interpret it as shyness or introversion or aloofness, when really it’s just this terrifying fear of other people. I know it’s completely irrational, but I don’t feel like I have very much control over it. I’m worried that finding a job will be hard because of it, but I’m working with an organization that helps people with disabilities find jobs, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to find something. If I do, maybe I will post here again to let you know.
Thanks for listening/reading.
Submitted by - Anonymous