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Social anxiety and ending lockdown

(21 Posts)
Hwyrynos Fri 08-May-20 13:14:31

Sorry the MH board seems really quiet so posting here for traffic.

I have not been diagnosed with social anxiety, but I think it is something I suffer from, specifically at work.
I am not anxious about meeting friends socially at all, but interactions in the office have me awake all night convincing myself that I looked like a fool or was insensitive or boring- etc.

I’m new in my role, so I always do my best, but just worry that what I think is good is actually mediocre or obvious, or that I miss important things out but nobody tells me. It’s a smallish team and we chat a lot, so I think they’s why the social side is getting blurred with the work side and I’m overthinking those conversations as well.

In normal times, I have the chance to go to work again the next day and the issue goes away or I can make an extra effort to make up for my self-perceived shortcomings. I eventually realise nobody hates me after all (or that they hide it well, ready for my next round of paranoia).

Anyway, over lockdown this has just been growing and growing. Every phone call, every email, every zoom... I am analysing it and berating myself and have convinced myself that everyone thinks I’m an utter tool because of things I’ve said or not said, or the way I’ve said then or not said them. I think it’s quite telling that I end up editing every single one of my messages on Microsoft teams to alter the punctuation, or change a word, add or delete an emoji... etc.

Because contact is so limited I can never ‘move on’ from this, and even though a part of me knows it’s probably all in my head, there have been a few times now where I’ve apologised when perhaps I needn’t have, or been down on myself in some way, or not said much in a zoom call and now that’s the latest thing I worry about - that my colleagues notice this (not to mention the wditing in Teams) and find me irritating for being this way.

They’ve been nothing but lovely to me, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t judging me. It’s such a vicious circle and I am now absolutely dreading the end of lockdown and going back to work.

I don’t know what to do about this, I’m not sure what sort of help I’m after, but I suppose I’d like to hear if anyone is struggling the same, or has had similar difficulties in the past and any advice?

OP’s posts: |
asdnamechange Fri 08-May-20 13:20:20

I’m sorry I wish I could give you some advice OP, but I just wanted to say yadnbu! I could have written something very similar, you’re not alone flowers

I’ve had cbt on and off for SA in the past with limited efficacy. I’m now at a place where I can cope when with strangers (i.e., ordering at bar) but I still find work extremely hard. I’m so paranoid my team hate me for being so odd

Hwyrynos Fri 08-May-20 13:33:29

Thanks @asdnamechange flowers sorry you’ve experienced similar, it sucks doesn’t it? Xx

OP’s posts: |
StripeyLurcher Fri 08-May-20 13:37:58

I have read that this kind of anxiety is linked to having a very high rigid standard for yourself, with inner rules such as everyone MUST like me or it will be AWFUL. When you think about it rationally you would say that it would be nice if most people liked you but it's not really that bad if some work colleague doesn't have a high opinion of you and that could be more their issue than anything you have done.

mrsbyers Fri 08-May-20 13:48:28

I have the same , I take sertraline which helps a lot

StripeyLurcher Fri 08-May-20 14:16:46

Oops posted too soon there. So the trick is to spot where you are doing this kind of catastrophising the consequences of people's opinion of you (or anything you are overthinking) and work on being more realistic about things. Some kind of journaling might help with that. Also you could make a mind map or flow chart you could use before a zoom call with potential problems and solutions, both things you could do in the call if you feel you are being too quiet and then what your sensible responses could be after the call if you felt it went badly. Eg I'm not that great on zoom calls but many other people find them uncomfortable and it won't be held against me once we are back to work, or even if it was (unlikely) I could find a new job that suited me better.

It's not that you should be overly positive, but recognise you can deal with most situations and cope well. It wouldn't really be AWFUL!!! THE END OF THE WORLD!!! - it might be annoying or difficult but you can cope with that.

I've read anxiety is a helpful emotion turned up too high. Like an alarm set to continuous volume max fire alarm, when it should be a quick ping to remind you to do something. So what you need to do is reduce the volume. It's sensible to want to make a good impression and helps you do well at work, but it's not a matter of life or death. So just work on getting your responses to match up with what you really think of the situation if you are not caught up in it emotionally. What would you say to a friend with the same problem?

Auridon4life Fri 08-May-20 14:49:43

I'm on setraline for this as well. I would ring your GP and be completely honest with her. Unfortunately alcohol doesn't help it makes things a million times worse.

Auridon4life Fri 08-May-20 14:50:18

First day taking setraline hopefully it will help! Wish me luck

Hwyrynos Fri 08-May-20 14:53:09

Thank you @stripeylurcher for all the advice, I will definitely try what you suggest, especially the mind-mapping.
I think you’re right with the rigiid standards, I’ve been told several times in the past that I’m hard on myself. I just find it hard to see it the same way because I see myself as falling short all the time. Often it’s not even about anything in particular, just a general wave of embarrassment that I’m me. But definitely worse since spending so much time in my own company.

OP’s posts: |
Hwyrynos Fri 08-May-20 14:54:35

What’s the differrnce between sertraline and citalopram? I took citalopram a few years ago but it made no difference so I stopped taking it.
Do you think st johns wort would help??

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Hwyrynos Fri 08-May-20 14:55:11

Good luck @Auridon4life flowersstardaffodil

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Lazingonasunnyafternoon20 Fri 08-May-20 15:09:45

Anyone else changed successfully from citrilopram to sertraline and noticed a difference?

Elletine Fri 08-May-20 15:16:38

@StripeyLurcher what insightful posts, thank you. I found them really useful both to understand my own feelings and empathise with people around me with anxiety. Thank you!

trailfindersunite Fri 08-May-20 15:28:16

Not sure if this will be helpful to you or not. I have social anxiety and luckily? I'm in a job now where I don't have to go into an office everyday. What would have helped me in your circumstances would have been either 1) if possible, to be one of the first people into the office on the first day back. Then you won't have to deal with seeing all your newish colleagues at once but can get 'resocialised' with a couple of people first, which might be less overwhelming. or 2) to try and arrange to meet a friendly colleague on the first day back, either by organising it, or by hanging around the car park or similar until you see someone familiar, again so that I had someone to break the ice with before going into the office.

In my case the situation that I had built up in my head was always worse than the reality of the situation. I can imagine how difficult things must be for you at the moment. Try not to be too hard on yourself flowers

Hwyrynos Fri 08-May-20 18:19:56

Thank you @trailfindersunite for the ideas and empathy x

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StripeyLurcher Fri 08-May-20 18:46:06

Glad you both found my suggestions helpful. I definitely think writing things down may be good for you, OP as you seem to express yourself well in writing. I like to write and find it helps me to get a better perspective.

Another point is that stress is cumulative so if you are already a bit anxious about lockdown and so on that might make you less able to deal with things you normally manage. So it's good to work on general stress reduction techniques, like relaxation, exercise and that kind of thing.

I'm not against getting proper help if these self help things aren't enough, so don't be afraid to talk to your GP if you need to, or if you can afford it a good therapist.

Stantons Fri 08-May-20 19:02:11

Yes it's horrid big hugs op. You're not alone

Onefishtw Fri 08-May-20 20:01:14

I had honestly, if not rationally thought that it was just me that felt like this. Just a squirmy cringe feeling when speaking to anyone I don’t know really well and constant comparisons where I always fall short. It’s so tiring. I’ve found that if I meditate and try to think rationally then I can turn it down to a background hum but it’s always there.

I’m sorry to hear that you feel the same way but you’re not alone and if guess it’s really not as bad as you imagine it to be.

LonginesPrime Fri 08-May-20 20:05:53

OP, I would speak to your GP about accessing CBT (which covers the kind of stuff Stripeylurcher mentioned) and/or anti-anxiety meds.

My teen DD suffers from social anxiety and it inevitably gets worse after long breaks like the summer hols, as repeated exposure obviously makes handling the anxiety-inducing situations more manageable. Her psychologist has suggested doing more stuff over Skype (which she's hates) while we're still in lockdown to keep her social interaction up so that it's not quite so much of a shock to the system when we're all let out again.

Also, there's an app called Simple Habit which is meditation but also has mini coaching courses and CBT. My DD has found this really helpful. Mindfulness can help to quieten some of your worrying too.

Is there any way you could call colleagues sometimes instead of emailing them? It's so easy to assume that the tone of a neutral email is negative when you're feeling anxious, whereas a quick chat on the phone might help you to see that they're actually fine with you. They might be glad of the human interaction too!

Member Fri 08-May-20 20:46:38

My 15 yr old dd has just finished online CBT via CAHMS for SA.

They’ll judge it as being successful as the average of her self-rated mood has increased from when she started. The CBT may have helped but I think not being in school has had the biggest effect. As most of the sessions took place in lockdown, she hasn’t had the chance to practice exposure or techniques to confront her inner bully.

Not any help, sorry but big time empathy

ella689 Thu 14-May-20 01:14:25

Reading these messages makes me feel like I'm not alone - and it brings me some comfort. We'll all try and be brave together, but it's a long shot because anxiety doesn't seem to want to give me a break 😨 whatever the situation - lockdown or not!!!
Group hug!! ❣️

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