Psych Central

Go Back   Forums at Psych Central > > >



advertisement
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 12-06-2018, 01:06 PM   #1
BirdDancer
Poohbah
 
BirdDancer's Avatar
BirdDancer has no updates.
 
Member Since: Aug 2011
Location: The Garden State
Posts: 1,495
My Mood: Well, a sort of "type" of social anxiety

5 yr Member
1,177 hugs
given
PC PoohBah!
Default Well, a sort of "type" of social anxiety

I hope no one here minds that I post this here. I was going to post it with a different subject title on the bipolar disorder group (I have bipolar type 1), but sort of chickened out. My psychiatrist has never diagnosed me with a social anxiety, but a long-time therapist/psychologist has to a degree. A certain type of social anxiety. I have also had a two-year period in the past (ending maybe 4 years ago), when I was agoraphobic to varying degrees. Anyway, here is my story. I'm wondering if anyone can relate. PLEASE please, I hope the ladies of this group will not judge me in any harsh way. I think women are wonderful and I love being a woman.

As a young kid, I was one of the most popular girls in my school and had oodles of friends. As a young teen, after moving states, I had few or even no friends in the public school I went to, but a number at ballet, which I attended five days per week. Ballet was my life back then. The lack of friends at school unfortunately had to do with rejecting peer pressure. The least popular girl at school was my neighbor and I befriended her for that reason. When I started at the school the kids asked me if I liked her. I could have said "No" and rejected her, but I didn't. The obvious happened. Rejection of me and being bullied. And not only that, that unpopular friend even rejected me after a few years.

After I quit ballet, I lost my two to three good ballet friends because of "out of sight out of mind", sort of. That happens when you leave "a life" like ballet or similar. Plus, my first major bipolar symptoms started then, around 15/16 years old. Depression isolates. Mania or mixed episodes do, too, or even scares people.

Something kind of horrible happened to me at the public school that was a bit traumatizing. It had to do with my bipolar symptoms and social isolation. My parents then transferred me to a private school for my last two years of high school. There I had a few friends, but they were male friends. I also had a few boyfriends. The girls were not mean to me in any way there (and I wasn't mean to them), but they were not my friends.

I knew at 18 years old that I had developed an issue with relationships with females (other than my mother and sister). For that reason, I took a leap and accepted the spot at a large university's female college. I wanted to try to make female friends! There I made maybe five female friends (not all at the same time), and some superficial female friendships, but I know that I was distant in some ways. And just not a great friend at times. My bipolar disorder hypomanic/manic behavior also caused riffs and ruined friendships. When it came to guys, I had no problems, but they were all boyfriend type relationships. Not regular friends.

After university graduation, up until my early 30s, I usually had only one real female friend at any time, and maybe a few friendly female acquaintances. Again, I had a number of boyfriends, but they were less friends and more "boyfriends" and at 25, I met the man who would be my husband. Though I did socialize with some females, my husband described my relationships with them as friendly, but guarded. Or me having a "glass wall between them and me". Again, some women seemed to not like me at all, and could even be downright viscous towards me. Over the years, I developed a somewhat thick skin towards such women. I also continued to eventually give too little to the women that were my friends, and so the relationships would eventually dissolve. Truly, mostly my fault and/or the fault of my bipolar behavior, which I generally found justified through some lack of insight.

During the last 19 years, I only had one female friend. She seemed to be a good friend, though I was not her best friend, and I confess I never gave enough of myself to really earn such a place. Then the worst of my bipolar disorder struck, and the friendship dissolved. People sometimes also can't handle such a challenge as having a severely mentally ill friend like me, especially if they have young children.

For the last 5 years, I have had zero friends. I am extremely friendly with many men in my area, but I wouldn't call them true friends and I wouldn't pursue romantic relationships with any, since I'm happily married. I've been on disability for 8+ years, and my isolation has at times been extreme. During the period since my initial bipolar diagnosis about 14 years ago, I have gone through several female therapists. My illness was a factor for the relationships failing, but also my issues/anxiety around women. When I had male therapists, there was sometimes an unhealthy sexual tension involved. My male psychiatrist eventually told me to only get female therapists from that point on. I have found two in the last 6.5 years that I made progress with, but the first took a long time. The second of the two I adored from the beginning, but perhaps because she reminded me of my mother. Now with my latest therapist, I again have that glass wall between us.

I am able to talk to women. It's not like I always have immediate anxiety attacks around them. Actually, often my reactions are too far in the opposite directions. I'm too expansive too soon. Or I appear grandiose around them. And other negative presentations that ultimately keep a distance or turn them off from me. My behavior is clearly a protective shield. When the relationships fail, I generally don't grieve, but brush the failures off like a Teflon pan.

I'm in my late 40s now. I have no idea if I'm ever going to have a good female friend again in my life. I have finally grown to grieve that fact, feel slightly embarrassed by it, and feel that having zero friends is a deterrent to making any friends. What woman would want to be friends with a woman who has zero friends?

I feel that the worst of my illness has made me into a more compassionate and supportive person. I have developed some nice online friendships with women, but unfortunately online friendships are not the same as in-person friends, generally. People eventually move on or drop out of sight. They only see a portion of you. They don't see your facial expressions, body language, and other communication. They see dialogue that can be more well thought out and even deleted and reworded before read. Online relationships basically have the protective "glass wall" built in. They don't see or hear anxiety, or fear of rejection. The ability or need to trust is not as much of an issue.
__________________
I have Bipolar type 1

Tegretol XR generic (1200 mg)
Lamictal generic (100 mg)
Seroquel XR generic (600 mg)
Klonopin generic (0.5 mg)
Ativan generic (0.25 mg and hopefully soon just prn)

Others: Propranolol (40 mg), Synthroid (150 mcg), multi-vitamin/iron supplement
BirdDancer is offline   Reply With Quote

advertisement
Old 12-06-2018, 02:25 PM   #2
S.J.
Junior Member
 
S.J.'s Avatar
S.J. has no updates.
 
Member Since: May 2016
Location: Jacksonville
Posts: 11
My Mood: Well, a sort of "type" of social anxiety

2 yr Member
Default Re: Well, a sort of "type" of social anxiety

Friendships with women are definitely different than with men. [[For reference I'm female, 30, married, moved around a lot as a kid and about to move again lol and have had similar issues]].

Women tend to be more empathetic and are guided by their feelings moreso than guided by reward like men. Which could maybe help explain why boyfriends were so much easier to form relationships with as they were based off of gain (fron the guys perspective) and not connection (from a woman's perspective)?

[[I'm so sorry if I come off as rude! Not my intention at all, and I'm not judging. I'm sleep deprived rn so all my thoughts are coming out at once so please excuse any awkward ramblings LOL.]]

It definitely seems like you're guarded off the bat because of past experiences, and I'm sure most women pick up on this. So if you yourself don't seem care that much, and they feel that wall, it's not surprising you're having so much difficulty. Quite honestly the older we get, the less effort we put into other people and less energy breaking down non-family relationship walls.

One thing I've learned about anxiety, is that the symptoms aren't always like an anxiety attack but more like an automatic behavior. Like a destructive and irrational habit that one can't seem to break. It's not something you want to do and it's harmful, but yet your brain literally doesn't know what else to do or how to do it.

I think mindfulness and CBT would really help you with this issue. To be able to recognize, correct, and deflect how to interact in the moment. Basically help you relearn how to have relationships with females without your past experiences popping up sabatagoing you.

No reason to feel embarrassed, ashamed, or any other negative feeling btw! I personally totally get it, and don't believe it's as uncommon as you think.

I also don't think you're doomed to never have any irl friendship! This is definitely an issue that you can take control of with the help of your therapist. Could be a really awesome way connect with your female therapist also, and get the most of of therapy.

FWIW, I'm from a military family and we moved around a lot. Out of my family my mom and I (who both have anxiety and ADHD) were affected the most in the friendship department. I've noticed making friends gets more and more difficult as I get older, and my own mom gave up hope years ago. I'm very happy to say, at age 50, she has a female best friend for the first time in over 10 years!

Don't give up hope, it will take a lot of effort to overcome this, but it's definitely possible.
S.J. is offline   Reply With Quote
"Thanks for this!" says:
Hugs from:
Old 12-06-2018, 03:25 PM   #3
MickeyCheeky
Elder
 
MickeyCheeky's Avatar
MickeyCheeky My echo is the only voice coming back
 
Member Since: Jun 2016
Location: Italy
Posts: 7,290 (SuperPoster!)
My Mood: Well, a sort of "type" of social anxiety

2 yr Member
15.2k hugs
given
PC PoohBah!
Default Re: Well, a sort of "type" of social anxiety

I'm so sorry you're struggling, BirdDancer Making friendships, of any kind, is never easy. Has therapy helped you a little bit? I hope you'll find the right fit if your current therapist isn't working. Also, the fact that you were able to socialize with women online means that you actually can do it, in my opinion - you just need to translate that to real life somoehow. Don't give up! You can do it!
MickeyCheeky is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-06-2018, 03:33 PM   #4
BirdDancer
Poohbah
 
BirdDancer's Avatar
BirdDancer has no updates.
 
Member Since: Aug 2011
Location: The Garden State
Posts: 1,495
My Mood: Well, a sort of "type" of social anxiety

5 yr Member
1,177 hugs
given
PC PoohBah!
Default Re: Well, a sort of "type" of social anxiety

Quote:
Originally Posted by S.J. View Post
One thing I've learned about anxiety, is that the symptoms aren't always like an anxiety attack but more like an automatic behavior. Like a destructive and irrational habit that one can't seem to break. It's not something you want to do and it's harmful, but yet your brain literally doesn't know what else to do or how to do it.
Thank you so much for your response, S.J. I didn't find anything rude in your response and hooe you get sone recuperative sleep.

I appreciate your advice about CBT, and your words that I should remain hopeful about positive changes.

Your quote above definitely seems right on, in my case. My "wall" is not one I really want to put up, but it is indeed hard to eliminate. I would love the chance to make some good female friends (or at least one) in the future. Though I've tried "not to care" about lost friends or lack of, of course I do, or I wouldn't revisit this issue. I feel this hole in my life. Not just me having a female friend, but me being able to give to someone more fully.
__________________
I have Bipolar type 1

Tegretol XR generic (1200 mg)
Lamictal generic (100 mg)
Seroquel XR generic (600 mg)
Klonopin generic (0.5 mg)
Ativan generic (0.25 mg and hopefully soon just prn)

Others: Propranolol (40 mg), Synthroid (150 mcg), multi-vitamin/iron supplement
BirdDancer is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:56 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® — Copyright © 2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.



advertisement

 

The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice,
diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.
Always consult your doctor or mental health professional before trying anything you read here.

 

HomeAbout UsContact UsPrivacy PolicyTerms of UseDisclaimer
Forums HomeCommunity GuidelinesHelp


 
Helplines and Lifelines