How to deal with near-crippling introversion?

  • Rhi_Bran

    Posts: 904

    Dec 14, 2014 1:19 AM GMT
    I know the title sounds like really corny hyperbole. I've always been an introvert and most people who know me know it. But recently it's getting to the point where I can't spend more than an hour or two in a group of people until I start to retreat inwards, grow exhausted, my concentration goes down the shitter, and my emotions gradually destabilize for no adequately explainable reason. By the end of a friend's holiday gathering the other day I was nearly in tears because I had absolutely no idea how to handle being around that many people. And it makes me feel shitty because these are all people I'm at least acquainted with and I know they're nice people. It wasn't even that large of a group - maybe 15, just playing tabletop games. But after maybe two hours I felt like I would pass out or be sick if I had to stay there any longer.

    What sucks is that I still get lonely, and oftentimes I trick myself into thinking that simply being around people will make that go away. It doesn't, not one bit.

    It isn't like I don't try. I've gone to several gatherings like this and I've tried joining several social groups in my area.

    Does anyone else here have similar problems? If so, how do you remedy them? I have to add that this doesn't happen every time I'm around people, but just within the last year or two it's been happening more frequently. I don't know if I need psychiatric evaluation or what. It's not like I'm becoming a bitter antisocial - I just feel less comfortable around people for reasons I can't explain.
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    Dec 14, 2014 1:33 AM GMT
    The problem with untreated social phobias is they can turn into Agoraphobia, which is a fear of leaving your home. This is why getting proper treatment is so important. And the sooner you get treatment the better. You've probable seen documentaries about people that are unable to leave their home for any reason. This is how it begins....avoiding situations that make you uncomfortable until your world gets smaller and smaller. The good news is this is fixable. The first step is to locate a qualified therapist. After talking to them for a couple of weeks, they may recommend medication to get you through your rough spot. The medication should be used as a bridge to get you where you want to be in social situations. Once you've done the necessary work and feel comfortable socially, you can start tapering off the medicine. So don't stress about it. There's help out there.
  • Rhi_Bran

    Posts: 904

    Dec 14, 2014 1:45 AM GMT
    You make it sound like a mental illness icon_sad.gif

    I don't think it's social phobia so much as it is social anxiety. Are those the same thing? I dunno. As far as "agoraphobia" goes - I joined an aikido dojo out of my own will last year and I've had good results with the people there. They are all very mild-mannered and patient, and I have had more satisfying social interactions with them than I've had with anyone else for a long time. I've made some friends there. But sometimes I still feel that anxiety when I'm around them - it comes on with little warning and I cannot get out of that funk when I'm in it, no matter what I do.

    There doesn't seem to be much pattern to it, aside from that it only happens when in groups of more than a few people. I thrive on one-on-one or small group interactions, but in a world that never seems to stop talking or moving, engendering such interactions is difficult.
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    Dec 14, 2014 2:06 AM GMT
    You make mental illness sound like a stain on your life. Untreated mental illness can get worse until you're no longer able to participate in life. Mental illness is not something you're guilty off, it's like the measles or a cold.

    Go to a therapist and talk things through with him. Maybe you can get over your social anxiety with excercises or such. If you've exhausted your own resources trying to fight it, get help from a pro.

    It is very grown up to say: "I need help" and then go get some!

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    Dec 14, 2014 2:25 AM GMT
    I'm an introvert also, and I can relate but perhaps not to that extreme. No, it's not a mental illness. icon_rolleyes.gif

    For an introvert, a group of 15 is still pretty overwhelming for me. I'm much better with a group of 4-5 people at a time. If you have a group of close friends who understand your needs and you get to spend quality time with them, that can be very fulfilling socially.
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    Dec 14, 2014 4:32 AM GMT
    bhp91126 saidYou make mental illness sound like a stain on your life. Untreated mental illness can get worse until you're no longer able to participate in life. Mental illness is not something you're guilty off, it's like the measles or a cold.

    Go to a therapist and talk things through with him. Maybe you can get over your social anxiety with excercises or such. If you've exhausted your own resources trying to fight it, get help from a pro.

    It is very grown up to say: "I need help" and then go get some!




    I was going to respond to the OP but this is exactly what I was going to say.
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    Dec 14, 2014 4:39 AM GMT
    First of all, it is not a mental illness.

    My bf is the same way, It used to bother me but now I come to respect that it's the way he is. Though not an encouragement to drink all the time, alcohol helps him to break down and be more sociable, a drink or two may help. A lot of big parties/ groups may offer interactive games/ activities that help break the ice, if and when those do happen, participate, a commonality or the fact that you're all playing this game may help break down your shyness.
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    Dec 14, 2014 4:46 AM GMT
    From one introvert to another I think you're fine. In a predominately extrovert society, there's always going to be pressure to be more extroverted so many people are not going to understand. Embrace your introverted nature. Sometimes you'll be in situations where you'll be forced to deal with huge group gatherings but don't force yourself to do them if you really have no interest in doing so. Enjoy your 1 on 1 and small akido group and slowly but surely the social anxiety will go away.
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    Dec 14, 2014 4:54 AM GMT
    I saw this post on my friend's facebook. It resonated with me.

  • Webster666

    Posts: 9217

    Dec 14, 2014 7:36 AM GMT
    My doctor prescribed Clonazepam.
    Otherwise, I couldn't even leave the house.
    Check it out.
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    Dec 14, 2014 9:05 AM GMT
    Rhi_Bran saidYou make it sound like a mental illness icon_sad.gif


    you made your original post sound like it is a pathological disorder tho.

    unless you were exaggerating.

    You need to start hanging out w. extroverted folks more.

    also surround yourself with people you feel you can share a laugh with.

    and also doing some yoga will help!

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    Dec 14, 2014 2:30 PM GMT
    Btw. I consider going to parties to be very hard work and I also limit my exposure. After 1 hour to 90 min I'm so ready to leave and usually do, and the next day I'm a vegetable.

    My favorite get-togethers are 1on1s or with another couple.
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    Dec 14, 2014 3:11 PM GMT
    - I just feel less comfortable around people for reasons I can't explain.[/quote]

    Get a dog. It will get better and you will start out with baby steps. Throwing yourself out there won't do much good.
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    Dec 14, 2014 3:12 PM GMT
    englishdude saidPersonally i have so many internal issues to do with social aspects i am always surprised that when people chat to me the common theme is always along the line of aside from coming across shy "Your always smiling and a very happy person"


    Well your English so I imagine cultural reasons play a big part in that too.
  • davfit

    Posts: 309

    Dec 14, 2014 3:34 PM GMT
    That Sucks.. I know I have bouts with that also..other than the comments on here for you..try an experiment.. listen closely with what your thoughts are during these times..even write them down when you get home.. There are Great books on this subject.. Dr wayne Dyer ..louise Hay.. on how to look at these internal thoughts and to alter them. You can interupt these thoughts with the dialogue you want..
    what you from suffer from is very.. common.. saying its mental illness is a bit much..
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    Dec 14, 2014 4:25 PM GMT
    davfit saidThat Sucks.. I know I have bouts with that also..other than the comments on here for you..try an experiment.. listen closely with what your thoughts are during these times..even write them down when you get home.. There are Great books on this subject.. Dr wayne Dyer ..louise Hay.. on how to look at these internal thoughts and to alter them. You can interupt these thoughts with the dialogue you want..
    what you from suffer from is very.. common.. saying its mental illness is a bit much..


    This. Being introverted is fine since it's a personality type a lot of people fall on the scale for but if you're worried there's something else inhibiting your social abilities or you feel like you're getting emotional in a large group of people you might want to do some self prescribed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or practicing Mindfulness since what you describe sounds more like stress or anxiety.

    This site also is very helpful since it's geared toward improving social skills: http://www.succeedsocially.com/articlecategories

    But if you think it's crippling your life it may be a good idea to work through it with a professional.
  • metta

    Posts: 39127

    Dec 14, 2014 5:56 PM GMT
    To the OP, how well do you do on a one-on-one basis and in small groups (2-5 people)? Are you comfortable or do you find that difficult as well?

    When you felt uncomfortable in large groups, were you among strangers or friends? And do you think that makes a difference for you?
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    Dec 14, 2014 6:21 PM GMT
    INFJ here.

    From your description what sounds could be crippling is not the introversion itself but anxiety from being uncomfortable with your own thoughts and feelings (not unlike a guy being uncomfortable about his sexual orientation or race) so a good therapist could likely help you with that.

    Even when I'm the guy throwing the party, I go off on my own to rejuvenate and then I come back and continue socializing. My friends get it. Not a problem. They don't take my absence as any reflection of how I feel towards them.

    Introverts are big inside, so we need more space.
  • FredMG

    Posts: 988

    Dec 14, 2014 7:08 PM GMT
    If you're ok with being around a few people, for a while then you're probably OK, just introverted.

    It's also OK to be an introvert, just find a few friends that get you, and don't obsess about not doing well in large groups - I hate that myself, company "parties" were the worst, I always felt like the odd fish.

    Don't let extroverts get you down - they may not be able to empathize outside of their bubble.
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    Dec 14, 2014 8:28 PM GMT
    polfsky saidI saw this post on my friend's facebook. It resonated with me.



    I'm reading her book "Quiet" right now ... it's excellent. OP you might get a new perspective on your introversion from this book.
  • BIG_N_TALL

    Posts: 2190

    Dec 14, 2014 8:32 PM GMT
    I totally know what you are talking about. I used to live with someone who I once described as being 'crippled' by introversion. Instead of talking to me/someone, they'd leave post-it notes everywhere over issues they did not like or wanted changed. They'd likewise avoid conversations at any cost. Being an introvert myself, I kind of get their feelings/disposition. I am not a particularly big fan of crowds, especially full of people I don't know (or do not like).

    I have had to grow increasingly more assertive over the years, due to a number of reasons, but I am still at heart an introvert. My best suggestion to you would be to train yourself not to get over-whelmed (as stupid as it sounds). Keep in mind, every social encounter will come to an end at some point or another; after which, you can decompress. Do not be afraid to make a graceful departure, or otherwise be the first to leave.

    Another good idea would be to find someone, preferably a friend/bf, who can be your anchor, for lack of a better word. I think you may feel better if you go places with someone who 'gets' you. I don't mean to imply you be a 'satellite' and orbit this person everywhere at the social function, but I think having someone with you that understands you at social functions could help alleviate some of your uncomfortable feelings. I have managed to 'go-it-alone' but I think this 'anchor in a storm' concept might be a good idea for you (?).

    One last thought... try to get into a conversation that you find interesting or otherwise can relate to. I always seem to feel that a lot of (non-familial) social functions I go to are boring, pointless, or otherwise devoid of meaning (at least to me). Gossip and niceties are something I've had to learn to get good at for the sake of my job. If I can find something I personally find interesting in a conversation, I am more likely to talk than if we are talking about Kim Kardashian or some other nonsensical crap.
  • Apparition

    Posts: 3525

    Dec 14, 2014 8:36 PM GMT
    why would you ever want to be around other people for more than an hour? people are boring.


    ---

    have you tried telepresence?
    th?id=HN.608012132207037100&pid=15.1&P=0
    ----

    Try making your escape impossible. HOST the next party, you can focus on one or two at a time and you will be too busy to worry about the group as a whole.

    Or go camping and be trapped for a whole week with others and you are forced to be together for survival (serious camping on foot and canoe, not beer camping with rv's.)
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    Dec 14, 2014 8:49 PM GMT
    The problem may not necessarily be you at all. A growing problem for all of us is the lack of socialization and the ability to relate to one another. With the internet,pornography, movies, television, video games, lack of religion,community orientation,lack of physical activity people are not around people as much. We have to learn to cope with the people around us and make the best of our circumstances.

    I myself find that there are too many distinctions and differences with the people today. People are not as willing to learn to tolerate and understand one another. I am not as stimulated or interested in as many people. I am a bright person who likes to think about things and question. It is hard to trust, believe or have faith in the people around me when it is about personal gain, benefit and self indulgence for some at the expense of other people.

    People need to understand how the real world works not how people would like us to believe it to be, accept and buy into. The reality going forward for most of us is not as pretty as some would like to think.
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    Dec 14, 2014 8:49 PM GMT
    davfit saidThat Sucks.. I know I have bouts with that also..other than the comments on here for you..try an experiment.. listen closely with what your thoughts are during these times..even write them down when you get home.. There are Great books on this subject.. Dr wayne Dyer ..louise Hay.. on how to look at these internal thoughts and to alter them. You can interupt these thoughts with the dialogue you want..
    what you from suffer from is very.. common.. saying its mental illness is a bit much..


    apparently in social situations really shy people or introverts tend to focus their thoughts on themselves. so one thing that helps is focusing on external things and not on yourself. it could be objects even.

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    Dec 15, 2014 12:35 AM GMT
    Sometimes introversion can be the result of a deeper psychological problem, other times (more often then not) it can probably be something totally natural ( like ones own personality). I am in no way a licensed counselor of any sort, so I cannot diagnose such cases. However, I feel (my opinion) that if your situation is causing you an overwhelming amount of grief and distress, you should look into finding a professional who might be able to help.

    I can be used as a prime example. For a long time I was trying to cope with a certain issue by myself. I would distract myself with work, friends, family etc. After trying to self-remedy the problem, it did't get any better. As a matter of fact, it got worse. Finally I decided that I had enough. I went to go see a psychologist, and after some time, we identified my issue and I got put on the path to better health. And Honestly, Today I feel great.

    Ultimately, the decision is yours and each persons situation is different. Like many people on this thread have stated, you could be a natural Introvert and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. Introverts are awesome people. They are smart, reflective, intuitive, and sensitive. They are also often at times MORE sensitive (overstimulated if you will) to their environment though, even if its with friends, family, etc. Here are some tips that could be helpful:

    -Identify your Stressors (is there a maximum amount of people you're comfortable with? is it the type of people you're around (friends v family)? is it the setting?)

    -Write down how you feel at the moment of stress and revisit at a later time to reflect on those feelings

    - Don't Judge yourself to harshly. Your feelings are your own, so own up to them ( as long as the thoughts and feelings are not harmful to yourself or others). Don't completely invalidate what you felt. If you felt sad, then realize it was an emotion expressed because of your uncomfortable situation.

    -Set boundaries. Personal space is personal space is personal space.... lol.

    -Remove yourself from said negative space. Each persons "Threshold" is different.

    Regarding your loneliness, although quite trite to say, everyone feels that way from time to time. When I do, I talk to a friend or family member about it. If that loneliness becomes all consuming, then def. seek help. I hope that in some way I might have been useful, and Remember, what I wrote is just advise and not a professional opinion. I wish you nothing but the best regarding this matter. Take care icon_biggrin.gif