There's a girl I used to know.
While she was shy for the most part, she was friendly and would talk to people. In fact, she could even, at times, approach people and strike up a conversation.
Nowadays, she's nothing like the girl she once was.
In fact, the girl I know now is withdrawn, abrasive and trapped in a spiral of abusive thoughts towards herself.
I wish I could tell you how it all started, but the truth is, if my mother hadn't shared her concern with a psychiatrist, I probably would have continued the way I've been.
It turns out that she noticed that there was something wrong with me long before I did (It’s usually always the case, isn’t it?).
Being treated for depression is one thing, but having to deal with having a social anxiety disorder on top of that? It's harder than what people think it is.
For one, shyness isn't ordinary shyness here. For some people, it's easy to approach a shop assistant and ask for help, but for me, this is incredibly hard.
It's hard because I've become so chronically awkward around others that even approaching someone (anyone at all) is both a mental and physical challenge for me.
And it's especially hard because this is the task that the psychologist I’ve been seeing, has set out for me this week.
I don't know when I became so scared of people or why. I just know that I'm not sure if I can do this task he's set out for me.
He wants me to walk up to an assistant, strike up a brief conversation, move on and do this a couple of times until I feel comfortable. Even worse (or better, depending on which way you look at it); he wants me to do this when I'm feeling uncomfortable.
And he wants me to not only do this once this week, but twice.
I don't know if I can do it. I don't know if I can open my mouth without thinking that I sound like an idiot when I talk to people and I don't know if I can make eye contact with people without having this pre-conceived notion that I am unworthy to speak to them or look at them.
I hate feeling less than I used to and I hate feeling so displaced. What happened to me that I am filled with such self-loathing?
My colleagues don't realise this, but even amongst them, I still don't feel like I belong. And I love them to death. I really do. I'm just not convinced that I'm worthy of being amongst them, even though they've never, ever given me any indication that they feel this way.
I'm not sure if I'm convinced that I'm worthy enough of being amongst most people. I never go out and when people invite me out somewhere, I say yes, but end up backing out at the last minute.
Not out of being rude, but because I’m too afraid to be in the company of people where the risk of making a fool out of myself is much higher than when I am alone.
My psychologist likes to label this as avoidance behaviour.
This brings me to ask the following questions:
How do I become comfortable amongst people again? And how do I learn to talk to them without my toxic thoughts convincing me that they must think I'm less-than-nothing, even though, in reality, this may actually not be the case?
It seems as if the only good place that I feel at home in, is between the pages of a book. All I need to do is just open a book and all those choking thoughts melt away.
When I step away from the sanctuary of my books and am forced to make contact and talk to other people, every bad thing I think about myself prevents me from being confident enough to have a normal conversation with someone.
I know my psychologist means well (he’s actually very nice and he’s funny), but I'm scared.
Scared of freezing up and scared of being tongue-tied. Scared of everything and everyone. Most of all, I'm scared of being a complete and utter social failure - something which I already suspect that I am.
I don't want to feel this way anymore, but I don't know how to stop it.
Help me someone?
In my next post, I’ll tell you how my trip to the mall went. That’s if I can muster up the courage to go. I hope I can.
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