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I'm socially inept and unable to make friends. (REPOST)

(22 Posts)
MarbleFox Wed 13-Apr-16 20:00:02

Hi all, sorry about the report. I originally posted this in relationships but realised it might be more suited to the mental health thread.

I've just turned 21, I'll be attending university in September. Moving roughly two hours away from home, my family and the very few friends I have. I'm so worried I won't make friends when I go to university and end up lonely/depressed.

I've had ongoing mental health issues since I was 13 and was eventually diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder when I was 18. At the moment I'd say this is under control and I'm doing well. I'm on medication, seeing a therapist, eating well, exercising etc.
However, despite my recovery I still find it excruciatingly difficult to make friends. I don't know how to greet people or introduce myself and I find it difficult to maintain eye contact or a conversation. I'm constantly wonder what to say and where to look, I normally end up shrinking into a corner and not saying anything sad I just can't build relationships or maintain them! It all seems so difficult and foreign to me. I think people misjudge my lack of social skills for rudeness too.

I'm just at such a loss as to what to do, how can I overcome this?

Marchate Wed 13-Apr-16 20:42:12

A few suggestions to think about

Make sure to register with the University health centre straight away. Make an appointment and tell the GP about your MH. That means if by chance you need to see them when you are feeling bad, you won't have to go through the basics of explaining yourself

On your phone, save numbers of the health centre, your home GP, the nearest hospital, any helpline numbers you have used/might use, local pharmacy etc

If you struggle to make friends, park that problem for now. Make acquaintances instead. Much easier. One or two might become friends, or maybe not. What happens happens

Ask the Students' Association about volunteering they organise. Some work with homeless people for example. If you can offer a couple of hours each week it gives you an objective, and you are helping people

Attend classes religiously. It's tempting to skip lectures. Be that student who never misses a class. Keep a structure to your week

Above all, be kind to yourself. And if you need help don't try to cope alone

Best wishes

FurryBallLover Fri 15-Apr-16 10:29:03

Maybe you're autistic.

MarbleFox Fri 15-Apr-16 12:24:31

Furry, I'm not autistic. If I was in sure it would have been picked up on by now and really don't think you should be diagnosing people via an online forum confused

FurryBallLover Fri 15-Apr-16 12:26:50

Nope not always picked up. I'm not diagnosing anyone. Enjoy university.

MarbleFox Fri 15-Apr-16 12:29:34

If you knew the extensive array of tests and what not that I've been through then you'd know it would have probably been picked up on by now. Either way, apart from being socially awkward I don't and never have exhibited any other symptoms.

I just don't think saying that is at all helpful. You seem like you're being goady.

FurryBallLover Fri 15-Apr-16 12:34:27

very few friends
worried I won't make friends
ongoing mental health issues since I was 13
diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder
still find it excruciatingly difficult to make friends
don't know how to greet people or introduce myself
find it difficult to maintain eye contact or a conversation
constantly wonder what to say and where to look
shrinking into a corner and not saying anything
can't build relationships or maintain them
seems so difficult and foreign to me
people misjudge my lack of social skills for rudeness

I'm not saying you're autistic, but all those things describe me perfectly. Diagnosed autistic last year, aged 29. Some of the same things that help me might help you.

FurryBallLover Fri 15-Apr-16 12:35:22

Not being goady at all. I went through all the same tests and assessments. 15 years in mental health services. Nobody noticed.

Tribblewithoutacause Fri 15-Apr-16 12:38:21

Hi Marble where abouts are you off to uni? Maybe you can make contact with a couple of clubs, societies in the area and see what they offer.

Also, if you find yourself lonely as you go on. Maybe try a church coffee morning or some volunteering? Something that you can do weekly and get to know people outside of the uni.

Is that helpful?

FurryBallLover Fri 15-Apr-16 12:42:08

Believe it or not I have massive sympathy for you. Autistic or not we have a lot in common. I'm planning to start university in 2017. Terrified. But am getting extra support in college and will get extra support at university with all those issues you've mentioned because I'm diagnosed autistic.

Had no speech delay
Had no obvious echolalia
Didn't bang my head
Didn't smear my shit
Don't have a monotone voice
Look just like a normal person
Have had a million tests and assessments
Have been admitted to hospital four times
Have seen dozens of psychiatrists
Have had many courses of therapy

MarbleFox Fri 15-Apr-16 12:42:30

You're not saying I'm autistic but you are suggesting I am. I just don't see how commenting, "Maybe you're autistic", is helpful or productive confused You're quite literally planting a seed in my mind that's now going to worry me even though I know I'm not autistic.

Again, I'm sure you have symptoms other than just being socially awkward.

MarbleFox Fri 15-Apr-16 12:43:39

Apologies, I didn't see you had already posted when I posted my above comments.

FurryBallLover Fri 15-Apr-16 12:44:58

Not saying you're definitely autistic. It's not an insult. But yes, a suggestion.

It was helpful and productive for me to think "maybe I'm autistic" because it turns out I am.

FurryBallLover Fri 15-Apr-16 12:45:32

No apologies needed! I know some of the things that have helped me might help you.

FurryBallLover Fri 15-Apr-16 12:46:05

Also I apologise for coming across goady because that's not my intention. My social skills suck grin

FurryBallLover Fri 15-Apr-16 12:55:00

Things that help me:
Having a safe quiet place to escape to.
Telling people I struggle to understand people and might seem unfriendly but I don't mean to.
Having structured opportunities to be around people.
Accepting people aren't my forte but noticing the things I am good at.
Getting help/therapy/medication for my conirbid mental health problems (you're already doing that).
Informing disability services at college about my problems do I can get extra support.
Asking for extra accommodations (separate room for exams, permission to leave class without asking when I get overwhelmed, weekly learning support sessions, weekly meetings with my personal tutor to check in okay) - I was offered all these before my autism diagnosis, I just had to ask.
Not forcing myself to be around people when I know I couldn't cope with it.
Not going to certain suicidal events I know I'd struggle with.
Being happy to leave when I've had enough and not committing to long social events.
Having hobbies I can immerse myself in.
Making timetables I can stick to for work.
Attending every lesson.

FurryBallLover Fri 15-Apr-16 12:55:52

Social events! Social events! Not suicidal events! <argh>

MarbleFox Fri 15-Apr-16 12:57:23

I'm sorry if it seemed like I was suggesting autism is an insult, it definitely isn't and I really do hope you're doing better now that you've received the correct diagnosis flowers

I'm no medical professional but I really don't think I'm autistic. I've only posted a very small and biased snapshot of me as an individual and my symptoms. When I was really ill and at my worst I exhibited every symptom of BPD including psychotic episodes. I remember reading the criteria and thinking, "That's me". I know my social awkwardness stems from paranoia, fear of rejection and from isolating myself for so long because I was depressed. I'm actually often told I'm nowhere near as socially awkward as I think I am. Apparently, I come across as shy at first but later come out of my shell, IYKWIM?

It's good to hear you're accessing help via college and university, I'll be doing the same smile

MarbleFox Fri 15-Apr-16 12:58:20

That's a great list! Thank you flowers
Suicidal events is an unfortunate but very apt typo grinblush

FurryBallLover Fri 15-Apr-16 13:01:14

No didn't seem like you were suggesting it's an insult at all. Making sure you didn't think I was insulting you.

I also:
Experienced psychosis
Isolated myself (for a decade)
Get paranoid
Fear rejection (maybe because I've been rejected a lot)

If BPD fits you and helps you understand yourself, great. If some of the things that help autistic people might also help you, even greater. Glad you'll be asking for support from the university.

FurryBallLover Fri 15-Apr-16 13:23:34

Marchate and Tribble's suggestions are excellent.

Lanark2 Fri 15-Apr-16 13:29:28

When you go to uni, you have no history, and no-one gives a shit, so act like someone who is friendly and just start conversations with 'where are you from? Etc. Everyone is similarly nervous so will blabber away. Yours is a natural fear that everyone has, the trick is to call it 'excitement'.

Also get on social media now and find or start a group called 'people going to x uni in 2016' and get chatting, some will be dull as, and some will be funny etc, you can I think it's good to not keep too much contact with home for a bit, as this ties you to the you you are now iyswim. Forget that and get in with the new you!

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