I am very sorry to hear about the anxiety you are experiencing. As you said, it can be quite limiting.
In therapy, one could look at several things. One is to see if there are any explanations for your anxiety, such as emotions you experienced about past unpleasant (or traumatic) events that have not been resolved yet and which you may not even be aware of. Another angle is to work with the present. If I am critical of myself, for example, for reasons that may also be linked with past events, I am likely to project this into other people and will find myself surrounded by people who are critical of me, even if they aren’t. So I become hypervigilant to even the tiniest signs of criticism and feel anxious in many or all social situations. You mentioned that you felt others might think you are an ‘idiot’. An important first step is to know and believe yourself that you are not an idiot, and I am absolutely certain that you aren’t. Quite the opposite. (Your English is phenomenal by the way.) I am sure you will go far in life.
Another helpful question is to ask what I actually want and need from other people and what they really expect from me. For example, if you are giving a presentation, people who attend it do not need you to entertain them or be perfect in any way, they are just there for some information. If you focus only on the task at hand, i.e. giving them the information you have, you are already reducing anxiety. You do not have to entertain others, or even make them like you, or be perfect. You just need to present information.
Working with an experienced therapist can lead to the quickest results, but if that is not an option, I have seen many people do successful work on their anxiety with the help of good books on the topic, self-help videos, and, most importantly, the support of people you trust.
All the very best,
Disclaimer: English is not my first language. I live in the Philippines. Please excuse my basic English XD
Ever since I turned 15, I developed some sort of social anxiety. Whenever teachers raise their voices during class, I would literally jump in my seat. I get startled easily and it was kind of embarrassing, to be honest. I wasn’t able to focus during class discussions and gained 0 academic awards because of that.
I thought it would be just a phase. I thought it would go away after a year. I thought maybe I was just experiencing some sort of teenage angst or something.
By the time I was 16, it has only gotten worse. I am unable to stand still during flag ceremonies. All I’m thinking about is how stupid I might’ve looked. I keep on fidgeting, moving my hair, scratching my neck even though it doesn’t itch. I literally forget how to breathe. I was stuttering during a group presentation in my class. I was shaking like a leaf. I felt really stupid. We also had debates on two subjects and I had to beg a groupmate of mine to take my position because I know what would happen if I was the one to debate in our group.
I can’t eat during lunch because I also flinch when I take a bite or put a spoon in my mouth. I feel like I’m doing things wrong. I feel like people are always judging me. I refused to eat with my friends during lunch and just sat there watching them eat. Every time they plan on eating outside I would reason out that I have something important to do when I’m just scared that they’d see how much of a weirdo I am. I was very skinny at that time.
I also can’t go to church anymore. Standing still during a mass just makes me want to throw up. Even when sitting down or kneeling. Spacious places make me feel overwhelmed.
I can’t do normal things anymore without my anxiety just completely taking over. I was very sociable when I was 14 with many friends; I was even the class president. Maybe it was because I spent that one summer just inside the house. Or when my sister whom I shared a room for years had to move out for college. Or maybe it’s just because of my personal problems with my family (my mother left us to live with another man but still keeps in touch. I was upset that I did not experience having a complete family during special events in my life).
And I recently discovered that alcohol numbs me. We had to attend graduation practice last May. I bought a tumbler with alcohol in it to numb me. I felt normal. I didn’t even flinch when the teacher’s voice on the speaker comes up without a warning. It seemed like alcohol made me normal. Like I’m high or something.
There is a birthday party that I need to attend this coming Saturday. We have to attend a mass. Many people will be there and I’m sure that we would also eat. I’m planning to buy alcohol again and drink it in a tumbler discreetly.
I’m much more comfortable doing things alone.
Therapy is really expensive, especially in our country so I can’t get any professional help. I’m 18 and too anxious to even apply for a job. I’m an incoming college student. I thought it would be over by now. But I think I’m just getting worse.
What should I do?