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  #1  
Old 2nd December 2021, 20:29
Spuggy Spuggy is offline
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Default This dark shadow of SA

Hi All

Although a lurker for some time. I've not really contributed here as I've not felt ive had much to add to what has been said before but right feeling that I've got to share a miniscule example of how this condition or disorder is nailing me to the floor.

A simple but everyday occurrence but one that affects my relationship with my children.

I was asked to drive some children incl my youngest to a site for some scouts activity. I can handle that drop off / pickup scenario. Harmless. But then I foundout that I would have to hang around for 2+ hours as a helper with other parents and with the potential to lead other children or simply to be there incase.

its here that the alarm bells started to ring. My own self doubt and confidence has always been through the floor and the thought of having to 'perform', that is do a simple job infront of others wasnt half bothering me. Having to hang around with other adults awkwardly making small talk whilst squirming with anxiety screaming to be back in the car on my way home filled me with dread.

As it happens on the night, they had too many drivers, although originally nominated I kept my mouth shut when a recount of who could drive the kids was carried out. This despite my youngest telling me how much she'd love for me to go with her and drive her friends. I even grabbed her arm when she tried to indicate to the person counting that I could drive too. But that was it, I kept quiet and 'got away with it'. My daughter not so happy with this but happy enough to jump into another car with her friends.

I smugly jumped in my car on my home believing that id won. 'Phew, dodged a bullet there!' Until that is, upon arriving home my wife whom immediately disappointed by my arrival, bluntly pointed out how my daughter had been so looking forward to being taken out by her dad and had i not 'noticed the bouncy happy little girl excited to be with her dad!?' ....It was this that it all came crashing down. When I realised that SA had once again stitched me up and won its little internal battle......again......

I feel pretty guilty that this internal voice can switch my behaviour and mindset to such a degree that I dont notice or care for the needs of others as long as 'it' wins.

Ive had too many of these. My behaviour over the years has been pretty odd when social situations come up. Theyre definitely irrational. I heard the parent who took my daughter, who happens to be a good friend of mine also say 'Oh, is your dad not coming tonight?' as I climbed into the car. That question kind of echoed in my mind as I drive off as its a question that has followed me for as long as I can remember.

In rare moments I can fight it off but mostly it directs me towards the dark, lonely places. In times like now, I feel quite sad because I know my children have witnessed my strangeness many times but now they're at an age when they process it and are able to wonder why dad always disappears in certain situations.

Its a strange old beast. I've a lot more to say but i'll leave it there.

Sorry for my rather indulgent post everyone. (I think its my first thread, I think)

Ste
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  #2  
Old 3rd December 2021, 11:23
Spuggy Spuggy is offline
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Default Re: This dark shadow of SA

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nanuq
Hi Ste,
Your post isn't indulgent at all, you're highlighting some really difficult emotions surrounding social anxiety. It's an incredibly difficult disorder to live with, because it can affect every part of a person's life and, as you say, it can really affect the roles and responsibilities we have.
I can relate to your post so well, that tussle between not being able to cope with (what is usually in any child centred situation) a very social situation and the emotions of love and care as a parent. Usually for me, the anxiety also "won". Though having said that, in hindsight, I was also constantly pushing myself to interact more than was comfortable because of my children, as even those 10 minutes of chat on a school run, the cheery 'hellos' and 'goodbyes' at parties can all be a strain.
Does your wife know how much you struggle? Because I don't think making someone with an anxiety disorder feel guilty when they're already in an anxious state, with conflicting emotions is helpful.
Also, your bowing out of helping was for very real reasons, illness can't be helped or ignored. If you were physically unable to do the same task you probably would be kinder to yourself about it. Don't forget there are thousands of parents who, in the same situation, would bow out because of work commitments/their own social commitments or just because not many people actually enjoy those kinds of things.
I know parents who wouldn't even bother taking their children to something like scouts, because it's too much hassle.
Of all the parents I've known, either in my own family or through my children, I only know two or three that would actually put themselves forward as volunteers at a scouts event, and I don't know anyone else with social anxiety, it's just that no one wants to do these things. My own husband has never done anything like that, he doesn't have social anxiety but in the past if I have ever said in passing "oh cubs were looking for people who could help with xyz..." he would just laugh and say, "I'm not going to work all week so I can spend my weekend doing xyz..". Which is fair enough.

My children are past the stage of cubs/scouts/children's parties etc. I actually miss it all a bit, it was a bit of interaction for me. But they came to no harm by me not getting more involved, they did benefit from going to these things whether I was there or not.

Have you ever had help with your social anxiety or low self esteem?
Maybe it's worth looking into?
In the meantime though, try not to give yourself a hard time, it sounds like you're doing your best, which sounds like a good dad to me.
Thankyou for your warmth and lovely reply.

Yes, having children really does ramp up the social anxiety levels. There is no escape from having to 'front up' every now and again, which I guess isnt a bad thing. No harm in pushing the anxiety levels from time to time. :D Despite my reticent as a child to go to such clubs I appreciate that these out of school activities are great for children so without over-doing it ive encouraged them to do these things AND I think my inner self would like them to avoid the social problems I have had so believe the social exposure is good them. I avoided them as a youngster, possibly early signs of SA as I think back, or as I was a child, I guess acute shyness it was called back then. I do regret not joining in however.

I live in a small village and often get asked to join the local parish council or help out yearly with local festivals or other local events. But im always the one who will show his face but briefly. People know me but wont get to see me all that often. Its an odd one, because Im told that im the person that makes others laugh and the person who can talk to anyone at gatherings. Its so jarring because what they dont know is that its either because I've had a few beers (mostly) or its because im kicking away like mad beneath the surface trying to get out of there and each conversation leads to me closer to the exit.

My wife is aware of my struggles but I believe not to depths that I experience them. After the mini episode last night I actually felt compelled to have a chat with her to further explain where my behaviour stems from and why. Although she listened and understood to a degree. My wife is one of them rare people who suffers zero 'downers' and is very pragmatic about everything. Like her mum, she is a very 'Oh pull your socks up and get on with it' kind of person. Deep negative emotions do not seep into her being so trying to get her to truly understand is difficult. However I love that about her. Nothing negative sits for very long with my wife and she's often been my rock lifting me back towards the light where she spends most of her time. I do envy this. Yes, like most people there are social situations that she doesnt wish to be present but those reasons come from a very different place than my own. Her reasons are what I class as 'normal' :p

I did have an extended course of CBT therapy over 2 years ago which was a great help but it became apparent soon after it finished that further therapy would be a benefit. Although I will say that nearly 40 sessions did and has left me with more positive feelings overall. Its almost created a wall between me and my deepest and darkest thoughts and feelings and would recommend CBT to anyone. Thankfully I did have a great therapist too.

Before I turn this into a longer story. I'll sign off. :P

Thankyou again for your kind reply. Its so wonderful that this platform exists.

Make that smile a big one! X

Ste
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  #3  
Old 3rd December 2021, 11:40
Tonkin Tonkin is offline
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Default Re: This dark shadow of SA

I can relate to bailing on things due to SA and then people feeling bad because I didn't show up.

Like you my partner is very positive and happy go lucky so she finds it hard to relate to anyone who has a different outlook, although she has become more understanding of my foibles as time has gone on.

Great reply from nanuq, though, which really hits the nail on the head.

Lots of people don't go to these types of events for various reasons. But as SA makes you feel bad about yourself, it's easy to beat yourself up that your reason for not participating isn't valid, while someone else's, such as working, is.

I guess just keep trying, and you'll either get better at it/go to more things, or at least you can look back and say you tried.
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  #4  
Old 3rd December 2021, 13:52
AireleeBray AireleeBray is offline
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Default Re: This dark shadow of SA

You've had great replies already, just to say your totally not alone.
Hope you don't mind me putting this on your thread, but last week I walked my 6yr old to school, I had small talk with another mum whose boy is in the same class as we walked, as we got close to the gate her boy saw another 2 mums (parents who have boys in the same class) they both gave her boy huge hugs and smiles & said lovely things to him & his mum.

My boy holding my hand looked up at me & smiled but said nothing else as we awkwardly just walked past.

I went home & cried, my boy is popular, lots of friends call out to him & wave. He's missing out because I'm not able to make friendships with other parents.

My 11 year old has never had a sleepover or been invited to many parties, my son has never had a friend round or been invited to a friends house. I know it's my fault.

Outside of that I know I do what I can to give them the best possible life, It sounds to me like you do too.
Mum/dad guilt is real but so is sa & we have limits and that's ok, try not too be too hard on yourself.
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Old 3rd December 2021, 14:31
Dougella Dougella is offline
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Default Re: This dark shadow of SA

^ Just to say, I'm not a parent so take this with a huge pinch of salt, but as far as I know it's pretty normal not to have been invited to sleepovers by the age of eleven. I've also heard of parents who don't let their children go to sleepovers due to safety concerns.
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Old 4th December 2021, 07:29
AireleeBray AireleeBray is offline
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Default Re: This dark shadow of SA

^ thankyou for your reply, I know some parents wouldn't allow it, my daughter did tell me about other friends getting invited to these things.
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Old 15th December 2021, 15:17
Spuggy Spuggy is offline
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Default Re: This dark shadow of SA

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tonkin
I can relate to bailing on things due to SA and then people feeling bad because I didn't show up.

Like you my partner is very positive and happy go lucky so she finds it hard to relate to anyone who has a different outlook, although she has become more understanding of my foibles as time has gone on.

Great reply from nanuq, though, which really hits the nail on the head.

Lots of people don't go to these types of events for various reasons. But as SA makes you feel bad about yourself, it's easy to beat yourself up that your reason for not participating isn't valid, while someone else's, such as working, is.

I guess just keep trying, and you'll either get better at it/go to more things, or at least you can look back and say you tried.
Thankyou for your advice and apologies its taken me this long to reply

Its the kind of thing that comes over me in waves. Sometimes I can surf (or paddle!) over the top of the wave and at other times I can be taken down to great depths under the waves leaving me scrabbling (or panicking) for breath or space.

Its such an odd 'thing'.

Your right to suggest keep putting oneself outhere. it does help because it has to help and I think what hasnt helped in my own situation is pretty much working alone for most of my working day. I used to work in an onsite support team where Id meet and get to know many of the 400 staff at work. SA was much less of an issue 10+yrs ago. It was there but never had a chance to surface like it does these days.

Since then Ive moved with my family, started an online business and work 100% from home and for the first 9 years I've worked by myself. It was during this period that I began to notice that the once calm but ever present SA really start to escape out of it s cage and take a firm grip of my wellbeing.

So to me, your advice of keep putting yourself outhere really IS the key. Its damn hard but its the not doing that feeds the SA beast.




X
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  #8  
Old 15th December 2021, 15:31
Spuggy Spuggy is offline
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Default Re: This dark shadow of SA

Quote:
Originally Posted by AireleeBray
You've had great replies already, just to say your totally not alone.
Hope you don't mind me putting this on your thread, but last week I walked my 6yr old to school, I had small talk with another mum whose boy is in the same class as we walked, as we got close to the gate her boy saw another 2 mums (parents who have boys in the same class) they both gave her boy huge hugs and smiles & said lovely things to him & his mum.

My boy holding my hand looked up at me & smiled but said nothing else as we awkwardly just walked past.

I went home & cried, my boy is popular, lots of friends call out to him & wave. He's missing out because I'm not able to make friendships with other parents.

My 11 year old has never had a sleepover or been invited to many parties, my son has never had a friend round or been invited to a friends house. I know it's my fault.

Outside of that I know I do what I can to give them the best possible life, It sounds to me like you do too.
Mum/dad guilt is real but so is sa & we have limits and that's ok, try not too be too hard on yourself.
Oh man. Thats so heart breaking because I know, in fact I can feel exactly what you are feeling right there.

With what SA allows, just keep doing what it is you know makes your boy content and happy. it does sounds like he is afterall. I really do get this but know that your boy loves you dearly and will continue to he has you and his friends and thats all he needs.

Is it possible for him to initiate a sleepover at yours with 1 friend?

I find with my own children that parents seem much less social these days as it happens. Preferring instead to drop their child off with barely a 'Hello, pleased to meet you' greeting.

How about keeping it text message based with another parent? Again, despite SA, I find it odd that some parents I've never met are willing to converse via a message app to arrange sleepovers and things. Again with hardly showing their faces at our door. Of course this suits me but I still find it odd behaviour by the majority. Social media really has affected our actual social behaviour and for the worst! IMO.

Anyway, take care and thankyou for your thoughts

X
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  #9  
Old 16th December 2021, 11:39
Tonkin Tonkin is offline
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Default Re: This dark shadow of SA

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spuggy
Since then Ive moved with my family, started an online business and work 100% from home and for the first 9 years I've worked by myself. It was during this period that I began to notice that the once calm but ever present SA really start to escape out of it s cage and take a firm grip of my wellbeing.

So to me, your advice of keep putting yourself outhere really IS the key. Its damn hard but its the not doing that feeds the SA beast.
Yes, I'm in a slightly similar position re moving and working from home.

I feel anxious free in my (small) comfort zone. But I'm not sure how good that is?

Is it better to avoid everything and never feel anxious?

Or do lots of stuff and feel anxious loads?
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  #10  
Old 22nd December 2021, 00:09
Spuggy Spuggy is offline
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Default Re: This dark shadow of SA

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tonkin
Yes, I'm in a slightly similar position re moving and working from home.

I feel anxious free in my (small) comfort zone. But I'm not sure how good that is?

Is it better to avoid everything and never feel anxious?

Or do lots of stuff and feel anxious loads?
If im completely honest, my own personal experience tells me to meet and see people regularly.

When I worked each day with large groups of people my SA (as I know it today) was always present but did not have the voice it does today. Almost like those frequent daily social encounters managed to keep it under control. Kind of like SA doesnt like social behaviour. Hit it with enough social activity it goes quiet, it sits ans stews in its cave. Your own personal focus is also on the friendships and regular interactions youre having rather than than the focus being on your own social state.

Once you dial down the social interactions SA starts to beg you for more time on your own and begins to make you feel uncomfortable with others and unsteady in social situations.

Its a hard animal to control.

I mostly cant.

I know what you mean too. I have this weird fantasy about leaving my wife ans kids ans living in a quiet town where Id get some easy to deal with low paid job just so I can completely avoid as much social interaction as I can so as to not feel anxious again. Im not sure it would work in the longterm as Id prob go mad!

Its got me by the balls. It really has!
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