Diary of a teenage Social Phobic

{October 17, 2012}   New blog

For a variety of reasons, I will no longer be using this blog, and have decided to start afresh with a new blog, which can be found here. Goodbye, old blog!


{April 15, 2011}   Realisations of a lifetime

I’ve been thinking a lot lately, and a lot of things have been playing on my mind. I don’t know if it’s because I had a good couple of days recently, enabling me to think about things from a different perspective, but I’ve began to realise a lot of things about my life lately. And so I will write them all down here, rather randomly and incoherently:

1. I don’t know who I am. SA and depression have been such a big part of my life for so long now that I’ve almost completely forgotten who I am without them. If I was to ask anyone else about my personality, all they’d be able to talk about is how “shy” and quiet I am. All the school reports I’ve ever had have said the same thing: “Gemma is a shy, quiet girl who works well on her own”. I know that if that’s the only part of myself that I show them, then that’s how they’ll assume I really am, but it still saddens me that the shyness is usually all they see to me. I will admit that even I am guilty of using it to describe myself, or as an excuse to mask the truth, and now I can’t remember who I am. The sad fact is, without the “shyness”, I am nothing. I wouldn’t know how to describe myself without it. I’d like to think that I’m strong and kind, but I really don’t know anymore. I try to think back to me youngest days, my earliest memories, in an attempt to remember who I am, but each time comes the disheartening realisation that the SA has always been there, draining away any positive personality traits I could’ve had without it. I want to find who I really am, but I don’t think that will ever happen until I overcome my social anxiety and depression and refuse to let them define me any longer.

2. There is so much I don’t understand about my past. I always feel that there is some deep, hidden secret in my past that will explain why I have such severe social anxiety. I often spend ages scouring my memory for something that will account for this, but I never find anything. I think some aspects of it will always remain a mystery to me, just like anything else, which is something that I will just have to learn to accept, I suppose. Perhaps it was something I was just born with (severe shyness does run in my family), but the reason it’s far worse for me is because of negative social experiences such as being treated the way I have been by my dad, being bullied for so long, being friendless and isolated for so long, not fitting in, etc.
On the subject of my dad, another thing I don’t understand is why he chose me to be his victim. Was I really such a terrible daughter to him that I deserved to be beaten up, verbally abused and sworn at on a regular basis? ‘Cause I really don’t think I was. I was no worse behaved than any other child, in fact, I’d say that I was better behaved than any of my siblings when we were younger. I was always the quiet, anxious child who would for the most part obey what my parents wanted me to do, even when they were ridiculously overprotective. But maybe that’s the problem; maybe I was TOO obedient, and he has always known that I’m a pushover. I remember being bullied in primary school when I was about seven years old (although it wasn’t as bad as at high school), and I remember my dad telling me over and over again to stand up for myself. Although he’d always hit me (often hard enough to leave marks), it didn’t get that bad until I was about thirteen, and my fear of him was taken to a whole new level. I don’t really know why things suddenly moved up a level at this particular point, but I do have a few theories. First of all, this was about the age I first remember hearing my parents argue at night, so perhaps he needed to take about his anger and stress about not getting on with my mum on someone, and saw me as the easy target, just as the bullies did. Maybe it was because when I heard him shout and my mum and make her cry, I grew to hate him, and this showed in my behaviour. I spent so many nights crying myself to sleep after hearing them argue – I’ve never told anyone. I was always the only one to hear the arguments (I’ve always found it difficult to get to sleep at a decent time), except on one occasion when they started fighting in the evening, and my “middle” sister heard. I’ve always tried to protect my younger siblings from hearing them argue, but I couldn’t that time.
Around that age, I remember becoming more and more miserable and spending more and more time in my room playing videogames alone, something which annoyed my dad, because I was becoming increasingly less involved with the rest of my family. He used to ask me: “What do you actually contribute to this family?” I was miserable, but I withdrew to my room to so as not to give this away to any of them. I will always remember the comments like: “No wonder you don’t have any friends” and “No wonder you’re so fat”. I still believe everything he told me to this day, and I still believe that it’s my own fault he treated me and continues to treat me that way. I don’t want to, but I don’t know what to believe these days.
I think work has always fuelled a lot of his anger, and I do feel very sorry for him. It must be pretty awful to work somewhere you hate for twenty years, with people you hate, and I genuinely wish I could help him, but I don’t know how. I want to repair our relationship; I want him to like me and be proud of me. I wish I knew why he has so much anger, and why he is had so much bitterness and hatred towards the world. I wish I could just have an honest, heart-to-heart conversation with him, but I doubt that will ever happen, something which saddens me so much.

3. “Friends” Why have I had so much bad luck when it comes to friends? Pretty much all the friends I’ve ever had have bossed me about, tried to control me in some way, or have been nasty, but I do feel that I am the one who is mostly to blame. I just feel that I don’t have a clue how to make or keep friends. I try my hardest to make them happy and to get on with them, but it always backfires. So I gave up in the end, ’cause if I don’t make any more friends, then I can’t lose any more. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to have a real friend. I can’t trust people any more.

4. I have an extremely negative (hopefully inaccurate) view of my future. Up until now, I’ve always assumed that only decades of misery and loneliness lay ahead of me. I’d always imagined never having any friends, or a boyfriend, living somewhere all on my own, with minimal contact from my family, having an awful job, and having a life with no hope and nothing to look forward to but death itself. I do finally realise now that a lot of this is probably inaccurate. Things can and will change. What scares me a bit is that I’ve actually presumed that this is exactly what my future will look like for so long. I got used to thinking that only darkness lay ahead of me. I see now that I don’t know what the future will bring. No one has any way of knowing these things. I don’t even have any way of knowing what will happen in five minutes time. I can make an intelligent guess, b ut I have no way of knowing for sure. I think from now on I’m going to tell myself that I can and will change, and make my future much brighter than the situation I am in now.

5. I presume that people are going to hurt me. Up until now, I’ve always believed that anyone I talk to and let get to know me is only going to hurt or reject me in the end, because it’s happened so many times before. I’ve had so many negative experiences with people that I presume everyone is out to hurt me. I realise now that this may be inaccurate; that maybe there ARE some genuinely nice, kind, understanding, accepting people in the world; I just have to find them. Maybe the majority of people aren’t as mean or as ignorant of certain things as I’d originally thought. I think the people at my school have certainly matured A LOT in the last couple of years and are now more welcoming and accepting of the differences in others. I will admit that I did develop a hatred for people my own age, because I had to put up with their immaturity and low tolerance of people who appeared different for so long. I think I’ve always been at least a couple of years ahead of most of my peers in terms of maturity, despite the fact that I am “socially immature”, so their ignorant comments would always leave me in awe at how anyone could have so little understanding of the world. Thankfully, now they seem to have grown up, and that’s changed. Now it’s me that’s left feeling immature in terms of socialising. I no longer hate people my age so much, and I want so much to socialise with them . I want to know them as individuals and, perhaps, let them get to know me.

6. I’ve blamed myself for so much. I’ve blamed myself for almost everything that’s went wrong in the past, including my parent’a divorce and the breakdown of friendships. I’ve even blamed myself for things which in hindsight could not have possibly been my fault, like the time my gran broke her leg. I realise now that this was inaccurate and unhealthy. I think it’s the reason why I have so much (possibly undeserved) guilt today. I need to stop blaming myself so much and move on.

7. I’ve waited for so long for others to help me. When I first realised I had a problem with my mood and anxiety about three years ago, I tried to help myself. It was going really well, I’d almost reached the level where I really would be regarded as “just shy”, and I could talk to almost anyone with only a little anxiety and awkwardness. But then along came my first panic attack and fucked up months of effort in almost an instant. It scared the hell out of me, and I started to think that something really was very wrong with me, and after the panic attacks continued, knocking back all my progress each time, I kind of gave up. I first went to CAMHS two years ago expecting them to help me change me life, but two years later, all they’ve done for me is put me on AD’s which only messed me up even more. I see now that the only person who can change things is myself. I could spend a lifetime sitting around waiting for someone else to help, but it would probably never happen. I alone must change my life, just as I alone braved all those times when I seriously considered killing myself, and went hope seemed completely non-existent. I know I can do it. I have faith in myself now even if no one else does.

8.I’ve wasted so much time. I’ve spend so much time going over all the mistakes I made in the past, wishing I could fix them, or thinking that if only I had done or hadn’t done certain things, I would never have been in this mess, and I would be “normal”. I realise now that this excessive analysis of my past is unhealthy and will ultimately get me nowhere. No matter how much I want to, and no matter how much it pains me, I can’t change the past. But I can change the future. I could spend a lifetime living in my regrets, and staying just as miserable and alone for the rest of my life, never again making the effort to change; OR I could realise that that that living in the past is pointless, has wasted so much time that I could have used in my recovery, and in the end will get me nowhere. My past has made me who I am today, and while there are a couple of things that I like, there is still so much that I would change. I need to accept my past, but ultimately move on from it and change the future in order to change myself. I would rather face my fears head on and die trying than die a miserable old woman who spend her whole life living in the past. I can and will change my life for the better, forever, starting right now. Because deep down, I know now that I have the strength and courage to do it.

Anyway, sorry about such a long, rambling post. But I think getting all that off my chest helped a lot, and now I am completely determined to change my life for the better, once and for all. It will not be easy, but I have the belief in myself now, and I know I CAN do it.

{April 11, 2011}   Music

I think I’ve began to realise lately just how much music can help when it comes to SA. It can be used to calm you when you’re feeling overwhelmingly anxious, or can give you the adrenalin and “fight” instinct needed to face a difficult situation regarding SA. Listening to music is something I do more and more of these days, and it does definitely help, provided you “use” it in the right way. It’s certainly one way to help change your mood if you’re feeling down or nervous. I’ve noticed that I feel a lot less anxious going out if I have my ipod to listen to, and I can see the potential of using this as a coping method for difficult, anxiety provoking situations to begin with, then slowly “weaning” myself off this. While it does kind of put you in your own world to begin with (which is not really what you want if you want to overcome SA and interact with others), it does (for me) make me feel more confident in public, and generally just makes being around other people a more pleasant experience. I think overall, music is my latest weapon in the epic battle against depression and social anxiety. 🙂

{April 8, 2011}   Autism? I don’t think so…

A lot has been going on lately with my psychiatrist and CAMHS. I was (completely against my will) tested for autism a few weeks ago, and from the results, they have concluded that I do indeed have autism. Now there are many problems with this, not least the fact that many of the symptoms of high functioning autism and social anxiety overlap, but also the fact that the test was invalid in so many ways. First of all, I’d just like to say that it was only in the social side of things that they found some “abnormalities” tending to autism. We all agree that I have none of the habits or non-social behaviour of an autistic person. Secondly, the so called “expert” who was in charge of the whole thing is, to be blunt, a complete arse. He was the person who literally forced me to go on antidepressants in the first place (he now claims he did no such thing, and we simply heard him wrong or took him out of context – really, all three of us?) He has gotten so many things wrong in the past that both myself and my parents are left questioning his professionalism, and he is the most patronising man I have ever had the misfortune to meet. He will give you his bullshit for hours (which I highly suspect is simply designed to cover up his mistakes and to change the subject) without anyone else being able to get a word in edgeways. My parents have had to literally shout at him on many occasions just to let either my opinions or theirs be heard above his. It’s people like him that make me seriously question the state of mental health services for people my age.

And then we get on to the actual test, which was a complete joke. The “ADOS” as it was called was designed for children about the age of 5. They asked me to read from a children’s book, gave me ‘Doctor Who’ toys to play with (and seemed to expect me to actually play with them) and talked to me in the most patronising manner imaginable. The whole thing was filmed. Words cannot describe how angry and freaked out I am by the nature of that test. To give a 17-year-old girl a test clearly designed for a 5 year old….the whole thing just weirded me out so much. The psych guy later claimed that it was very appropriate to my age level. What. The. Fuck? Where do they find these people? I think most of them are a lot more messed up in the head than any of the patients they see, and this guy is clearly no exception. Apparently they were concerned about my lack of questions during the test. Is it any wonder? I swear, it was about the weirdest thing that I’ve ever experienced. If I was to ask a question….where the hell would I even begin? Why are you treating me like I’m an infant? Is this for real? Why are you being so bloody patronising? Why is this being filmed? Why the fuck do I even need to sit this test if I already know that I don’t have autism? But no, I sit there with the anger and outrage slowly welling up inside of me, because I am too afraid to question anyone. I’m too afraid of offending them.

They were also very concerned about my poor eye contact. No shit, Sherlock. Why do I find it so difficult to look someone in the eyes? Because it’s terrifying, that’s why. Just looking into someone else’s eyes for me is about the equivalent of a normal person being screamed at and verbally threatened by an extremely furious or dangerous person. That’s what it feels like every time I meet another person’s eyes for me. I know it’s stupid, pathetic even. I know I shouldn’t feel that way, but I do. So I prefer to make minimal eye contact, because it makes me feel threatened and in danger. The difference between me and an autistic person is that they often don’t know how to pick up on various social signals, or how basic social skills, such as making eye contact work. I know all of this. I know how to tell if someone is angry with me, or if I’m boring them. I’m aware that I’m very avoidant when it comes to eye contact, and I know that it should be at about 50% in most western cultures, whereas I give about 5-10%. We asked the psych about the difference between autism and social anxiety and how this would show up on the test, but he could give us no coherent answer to this (something which he tried to cover up by yet more of his wish-washy crap). All this has left me feeling awful. I know that if it does turn out that I have autism, it’s just something that makes me a bit different to most people, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of, but I am completely adamant that I don’t have it. I know it sounds weird but I just know that I don’t, I just feel it from the way I am with others. I pick up on their social cues no problem, it’s just that I feel so tense the whole time, that’s why I often end up making a mess of things. I don’t know what to do – we’ll be getting a second opinion anyway, and it certainly won’t be from anyone involved in CAMHS. I think I should just stop going there all together, to be honest. They’ve done nothing to help me in the entire two years I’ve been a patient there but put me on drugs which have just made me about 10 times worse than before.

To sum it up, they consistently choose either not to listen to me, or to get involved in a very negative way when they finally do listen. I wish I could be referred somewhere where people will actually do something to help, and not just treat me like a toddler. I can’t speak to them truthfully anymore in case they breach basic doctor-patient confidentiality and tell my parents again – my psychiatrist has already threatened to tell my mum about the self harm if it gets any worse. After my most recent appointment on Tuesday, I came to the realisation that my psychiatrist cannot and will not do anything more to help me. For as long I as keep going there, all they will continue to do is push the drugs down my throat, so to speak, and waste my time. So I made a decision – I will overcome this thing once and for all, or die trying. I want to prove to them that I was right all along, but most of all, I want to prove to myself that I do have the strength and the bravery to do it, that I am as good and as worthwhile a person as anyone else. It will not be easy, with panic attacks and depressive episodes catching me offguard all the time, but I can and WILL do this. Time to get my life back. 🙂

{December 23, 2010}   That time of year again

Well the last few weeks have been an exercise in ups and downs, but I’m looking forward to Christmas and being off school now. I lowered my doseage of prozac back down to 40mg and I will cut it down to 20 in a few week’s time. My psychiatrist wants to start me on Sertraline, another antidepressant, in the new year, but I’m not so sure about the whole thing, to be honest. I have been down a lot over the past month and I’m also a lot more angry now. In the past, I held all of my anger inside and directed it at myself, but now some of it is being released more outwardly.

I feel very regretful about school lately, and that I have spent six years there without getting to know anyone or letting them see the real me. I regret all the opportunities I wasted and I really do hate myself for that. I will be glad to leave school in May, as it has been a throughly negative experience for me, but it makes me so sad to think I wasted all that time and never got involved in anything.

Anyway, all that aside, I’m looking forward to Christmas and spending time with my family. I think the time off school will do me good, even though I’ll have a lot of studying to do over the holidays. Going for walks on my own seems to help with my anxiety, so I will be doing more of that.

{November 20, 2010}   Quick update

Well the last few months haven’t been too great for me, to be honest. The depression, self harm and suicidal thoughts are most certainly back. My doseage of Prozac has been put up twice, but I’m still seeing very little change in either my mood or my anxiety. I’ve thought about coming off them a few times, especially because they’re making me feel more irritable than I’ve ever felt before, but I think I will wait a few more weeks before making a final descision. I am also self harming now more often and more seriously than I have ever done before. I don’t know if it’s the pills or it’s just the way I’ve been lately. I’m trying to sort myself out, as I have been for years, but it’s proving difficult. However, I did manage to get somewhere today in talking to my mum about my depression. She (just like everyone else) still knows nothing about the self harm or the suicidal thoughts though, and when it comes to talking to my dad, I might as well be talking to a brick wall. He only ever seems to care about himself and his own problems.

I will definitely be updating more often from now on. I like getting things off my chest here, even if no one evers reads any of this.

Positives of the last few months:
– Got my exam results back. Did fairly well.
– Finished my personal statement for Uni/college

An article I came across the other day there:


While I do spend an inordinate amount of time on the internet, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I’m addicted to it. I don’t miss it at all when we go on holiday, and it doesn’t bother me too much if someone else is on the computer when I want to use it. However, I do think that people such as myself who are depressed and have social anxiety are far more likely to develop an addiction to the internet. It provides an environment where you can interact with others in a way which produces little or no anxiety, and in which you can create your own persona. It means that people cannot see you and that you are under less pressure/ have more time to think about what you want to say. You can chat to strangers anxiety-free, and even make friends online.

While I think the internet is mostly a good thing, and that it can certainly be a life-line for the socially phobic, it’s important that we do not overuse it or get carried away, as this could easily lead to addiction.

{June 4, 2010}   Exams are finished! =)

My last exam was yesterday, so I can finally relax and get some free time for a few days. Overall, I think (or at least I’m hoping) that I did quite well in my exams. I had mild panic attacks before sitting each one, but I arrived half an hour early, so I had plenty of time to calm myself down. The thing I like about exams is that for once I’m not the only one who is a nervous wreck. I probably always look very strange standing on my own about 5 metres away from everyone, chatting to their friends, but I suppose they are probably too preocupied with the stress of the exam to notice me too much. Although, after the first 10 or 15 minutes of the exam, I become less anxious and manage just to focus on the exam paper and be in my own little world. Just have to wait ’til August for my results (crossing my fingers).

Now that I have more freetime, I’ll try to update more often, and liven my blog up a bit so it’s not just all text.

{May 19, 2010}   Good riddance, depression

I have been free of depression since late November, and my mood has greatly improved. I’ve had the occasional day when I feel quite low (but not suicidal), but overall I feel a lot happier. I feel full of life and like my old self again.

My dad is going to be moving out in the next month or two, after he has finished decorating his flat. It’s going to be tough, and being the oldest, I’m going to have to help my mum out with looking after my sisters and brother, but my dad is still going to visit us frequently.

Speaking of my dad, the episode with me telling my psychiatrist about how my dad use to physically and verbally abuse me (SAUK members who read my posts about this will know what I’m talking about) has been sorted out. The social worker did not have to speak to me as my dad is going to be moving out soon anyway, but my psychiatrist has asked me to tell her if anything like that happens again.

I’m currently in the middle of studying for my fifth year exams, which I’m finding quite stressful but not too bad. Like I’ve said before, it’s more the prospect of having to sit in a hall with a hundred other people that stresses me out, not so much the exam itself.

I’ve felt great for the past week or so, and I’m extremely grateful for every single second of happiness that I experience. Thinking positively and the support of others has helped a lot. I want to stay this way for as long as possible. It’s times like this that I’m so grateful I didn’t kill myself in the past when that seemed like my only option. I know now that life can be pretty good.

I haven’t posted on here in a while due to the fact that I had been spending most of my time revising for prelims, bust they are finished now, so I should be able to relax for a week or so before beginning revision for my final exams. I do tend to find exams particularly stressful, but my anxiety is usually due to the fact that I will have to sit in a hall with about a hundred others, and is not so much to do with the exams themselves.

I celebrated my sixteenth birthday a fortnight ago. Everyone says that you’re supposed to do something special for it and have a big party with lots of friends, but as I have no friends, this isn’t possible for me to do, however I did still manage to enjoy my birthday. I ate at my favourite chinese restaurant with most members of my dad’s side of the family (it’s a long story, but we don’t really get on with my mum’s side of the family any more), and went to see Avatar in 3D with my siblings and our parents. Some people might consider it sad, but I have to say that it was probably the most eventful birthday I’ve had since I was about eight years old.

My head is finally starting to get round the fact that my parents are splitting up. I’m still rather upset about the whole thing, but I’m not showing it. My dad had recently been looking at a flat just under a mile away from our house, but had been complaining about how the place stank of smoke and the fact that the walls looked damp, so I don’t think he’ll be moving in there anytime soon. I had previously felt quite distant from my dad, but I’ve been bonding with him a lot in the last couple of months. I actually learned something quite significant about my social anxiety from him yesterday. I found out that when he was about my age, he had a panic attack because he felt that people on a bus were staring at him as he walked past. From what I have heard from my aunt and uncle, quite a few people on my dad’s side of the family have been through a phase of social anxiety in their teenage years, although proabably not to the severity that I experience now. As my aunt also suffered from bouts of depression in the past, I’m beginning to realise that my mental health problems are most likely partly due to genetics. However, I do think that I have the worst case of social anxiety in the family, due to being bullied for so long and being overprotected as a child. I may be able to unravel more about the mystery of SA from talking to my dad’s side of the family.

I’ll try to post more often, and I’ll make another blog about overcoming social anxiety/ news on social anxiety and depression at some point in the future, as this blog is becoming more of a social anxiety diary, as the title suggests. I don’t know why, but just writing how I feel down here makes me feel a lot better, even if no one ever reads it.

et cetera