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Newbie Alert(Very very long post; 1000 words)

I

IMust

Member
Joined
May 20, 2020
Messages
11
Location
Lagos, Nigeria.
Hello,

I’m here because I have been making a big mess of living thanks to SAD. I've never been professionally diagnosed but I’m sure the shoe fits. I also have serious self-esteem issues and maybe some depression, considering I 've been battling a sense of hopelessness for some time now, but I feel like I have the SAD to thank for those other two.

I once reached a point where I was sure I couldn’t make it as even a parking booth attendant. This is not a joke. At some point in the past couple of years I lost so much confidence in myself that I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to fit into any role in the society, no matter how low the skill required might be. I was sure I would be unable to create, much less maintain, the human connection necessary to function anywhere. It was a difficult thought to process, but it has kind of helped me. It certainly was not the first time I had taught myself to lower my estimation of myself. But the thought of not having the chops to be even a street cleaner was so ridiculous that I knew it simply couldn’t be true, and that fact got me to think more systematically about the other issues I had been facing. That was when I found out about SAD and I realized I couldn’t just let myself continue to slide down into the gutters.

It has not been easy at all. Sometimes I'm just filled with a lot of self pity for myself when I think about how much differently I could have turned out from the boy that I was. I was such a gregarious and precocious kid and I used to have a lot friends who were older than me. My one insecurity in my mid teenage years was that I wasn’t very good looking. I’m sure that feeling contributed a bit to the present situation because at that point in my life I became less sure of myself around people I considered better looking, but it honestly blows my mind that I went from being that guy to who I am now. Even if I was ugly, people still liked me a lot and I have seen people who are less attractive than me having a great time at life.

Now I don’t know how to connect to people because I worry about saying the right things. Even when I manage to start something with another human being, most of the times I'm in pain throughout the every single interaction because I have this massive pressure on myself to not be boring, to keep the conversation alive, to make sure my voice doesn’t crack from the anxiety etc. At my worst, I can get anxious just sitting on a bus with a stranger or chewing food in a restaurant because I'm worried I’m doing it wrong. I’m someone who tries to hide every single thing about himself because he worries he'd be judged to the point where he is left wondering what’s left of his personality. And I fear I'll alienate everyone I care about if I can't manage to turn things around.

I tell myself it’s all in my head but I grow disheartened from time to time and feel like giving up or the wracking nerves overwhelm me and I have to dial it back. I have tried to take positions of responsibilities but from time to time I get so scared that I run away from my duties and then I start to worry everyone will think I’m incompetent. Things have been kind of worse in the past few months because it feels like I’m overly aware of my own existence all of the time. In the past I used to get breaks from the anxiety with some chosen people but now it has invaded every aspect of my life and it’s always in the background through 90% of my waking moment. The only thing that keeps me going is the conscious decision to recognize that my fears are irrational and just wade through these tough times till I get better.

On the bright side, I have a girlfriend for the first time ever (I’m in my early 20’s). She’s smart, pretty and confident and I find myself wondering how she doesn’t see how messed up I am. I try not to question why she’s attracted to me because I realize there’s actually a smart and funny person at the heart of the mess I have become and part of becoming that person again is to change my perception of myself. t’s weird but one of the things that I have had to hold onto in the last year’s or so is the surprising number of girls who have been interested in me(3, excluding my gf), especially since I'm insecure about the way I look as I said already. In the past I used to feign ignorance or lie about fancying some other girl because I was afraid I wasn’t good enough for those girls and because I also wasn’t interested in them romantically. But this new girl is exactly the type of girl I like. I have been trying to prepare myself mentally in case things don’t work out so I don’t spiral too much after her. Maybe that’s unhealthy but it seems a bit unnecessary. It would be a shame though because I couldn’t have come up with a more compatible person for myself in my wildest dreams, but I'm sure there'll be others like her if I fix myself, so that should always be the primary goal.

Sorry about the epistle everyone. It’s just I have been keeping everything to myself, forever and it’s great to just tell it all to strangers at no risk to myself. It’s great to be here. Not great as in I like that I need to be here but great as in I’m grateful this place exists since I need a place like it.
 
calypso

calypso

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:welcome: to the forum. It was a long post but I have read longer so don't worry on that front. Its so hard at times to control such anxiety and you will find plenty of people on here who understand. I think that you have a girlfriend and she likes and chose you. She obviously sees in you someone who is worth trying to make a relationship with. Hold on to that. You aren't as much of a lost cause as you might think.

Where did you learn this behaviour? Usually there is something in a person's past which drives such anxiety. I don't know what it is like in Lagos but are there therapists there who you could go to for better help to overcome your fears? I think if there are that might be a starting point.

There is a phrase, "fake it till you make it" which can sound a little trite but there is a nugget of truth in it. Sometimes just pretending that you are confident to everyone can in time turn into something that works out for you. Its about getting your mind out of one rut of thinking and into another way of thinking about yourself. I would also mention that assertiveness training (look it up) might help you too. Keep posting and see what happens on here.
 
I

IMust

Member
Joined
May 20, 2020
Messages
11
Location
Lagos, Nigeria.
Thanks for reading and commenting.

About faking it till you make it, that's what I have been practicing for some time now but even then I had a bar in my mind after which I thought I would look ridiculous if I tried to go any higher and no one would believe I was capable of that. And there was a low point when I let myself go, but I have been learning that people don't notice these things as much as I think they do, and even if they did, the way I carry myself can change how they think of me. I know from experience that there are people I respect a little more simply from seeing how highly they thought of themselves, so I'm going to use that. Now I want my mind to believe the sky is the limit.

About what happened to make me this way, that's something that baffles even me tbh. As I said, I was liked a lot as a kid and my parents were never abusive. Teachers and peers thought highly of me in school before uni. Only thing I can figure is 1. My looks brought down my confidence a little; 2. I started living a more sheltered life from age 15 where I was exposed to less and less social interaction; 3. I made the mistake of choosing to run when I first started having issues with public speaking and things like that. I remember one oratory competition where I walked out with total confidence and zero fear and it's one of my favorite memories now because it shows me what I can get back to. I should have confronted those fears back then instead of cowering.

As for therapy, that's not really a thing that's readily available where I'm from. Probably the most viable option is to go to the university guidance counselor but I'm unsure what she's(not sure why I always think of the counselor as a woman) equipped to deal with. And I'm also super paranoid and I worry(probably irrationally) that the counselor would know someone from my class and they'll discuss me at home and my secret will be out there. Basically, I'm worried people will be able to tell it's me just by looking at my profile and seeing where I come from.

If I seem especially pitiful, it's because writing about this stirs up self pity in me. I usually have a better handle on my feelings. And yes, my gf's awesome. Thanks
 
calypso

calypso

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YOu don't seem full of self pity but rather you have a valid problem and its eating away at you. I can understand that. You haven't been like this always so its possible to get back your confidence again. I do understand more than you know. There was a time when I was super confident and stood in front of people and talked and gave lessons (I was a nurse). Nowadays I can't imagine doing that any more!

I did read a book which helped me though called "Emotional Hijacking" by Marlene Schneider Potter which is written very simply and with larger letters as she knows that people in the midst of anxiety find reading a wall of text difficult. You can order it from Amazon I think but its not very cheap, (about £11 British pounds).

You are worth a lot and you can get there. As you say you have a great memory to latch back onto. Let your girlfriend help you with this. As for talking to the counsellor, it should be strictly confidential and that is something you can ask first before you open up about anything. But I understand your concern there.
 
I

IMust

Member
Joined
May 20, 2020
Messages
11
Location
Lagos, Nigeria.
I'm a bit flexible morally when it comes to book piracy so I'll see if I can get the book.

What do you think happened to you that you can no longer give those lessons? I'm disheartened to learn you've lost a bit of confidence too. You'd think evidence of past experience would be enough to stop your mind betraying you but apparently not.

I look forward to that magical day when I'm carefree again hanging out with friends and I don't let fear stop me from doing things. About the counselor, I suppose on some level i'm ashamed to look another human being in the eye and admit to all of these, but it would help if the therapist was totally unconnected from my daily life and I simply do not trust this counselor (because the entire uni system isn't very reliable).

Thanks very much for engaging me and for your encouraging comments. Your words have helped.
 
calypso

calypso

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I retired from practise and lost all my confidence with it. I felt hounded out of my last post by new management. But I have worked on myself and I am trying to engage more in life.

I understand not trusting the counsellor. I think that is sad though that they can't be trusted. Is there nothing else out there which could help you? I hope that you find a way through this. I am sure that there is a better path for you. Remember those positive times in your life and boost your confidence with them. I wish you all the best.
 
I

IMust

Member
Joined
May 20, 2020
Messages
11
Location
Lagos, Nigeria.
In my experience, it helps to find something at which you're very good. I have also been thinking about volunteering to show myself that I can get things done and simultaneously help people. You seem a very kind person so your retirement must have been quite a loss for your community.

Only thing I worry about is that a counselor could maybe have given a timeline of when you can expect to get better and give you tools to progressively help yourself. I'm groping in the dark here, using trial and error. I feel like it's working though. I read on what professionals have to say from time to time. And I have this forum to share.

I do remember those positive times and I'm sure I'll get them back someday. Just need to get my mind on the same page.
 
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