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Why do I do this to myself.

I'm planning on going to an event this summer, seeing and talking to my friends for the first time in a long time, even though I still have agoraphobia and severe social phobia. And, since it is very hot where I live, I want to wear a shirt with short sleeves for the first time in years- I've been wearing long sleeved shirts, even hoodies year round for such a long time and it is awful, especially because sweating a lot is one of the symptoms of anxiety that I experience most of the time. On top of all of this overwhelmingly anxiety inducing stuff I'm putting myself through, I am worried about wearing a short sleeved shirt because I have really bad body acne and life ruining dermatillomania. And many many self harm scars. My arms are covered in purple, red and white scars and ew scabs and bumps and wounds and just eugh yuck it makes me feel so disgusting words cannot describe how revolted I am by my body. My dermatillomania gets worse when I'm going to leave my house or if I'm especially anxious, which I know I will be. I've tried covering it up with concealers and foundation but it somehow made it more noticeable Smiley Sad

 

I really want some honest opinions on this- Will the people around me be disgusted by me so much that I should really decide against the short sleeved shirt or just not go? I'm thinking I should probably definitely not go. But, I promised my friend I would, last year before I stopped talking to everyone. I don't know how else to force myself to talk to my friends again, other than with my excuse that somebody invited me somewhere a year ago, haha. I'm so messed up (/_ ; )

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Re: Why do I do this to myself.

Hi @neko

 

I recently watched a television short documentary and one of the people were experiencing agoraphobia and social anxiety. It lookied like it could be really difficult at times, well done for committing to going to an event!

 

Im quite a social person, and love going out to bars, music festivals and travelling. The one thing that I have come to notice personally is that  your self-confidence and overall vibe is more powerful than physical appearence. Unfortunately if we dont feel physically comfortable with ourself however, this can effect our confidence and reinforce that idea.

 

A strategy that helps me heaps in social situations that might work for you too is a mindfullness practise.

 

Mindfulness put simply is attention and awareness of the present moment.

 

As Russ Harris puts it we can have thoughts about the future or past but we can only pay attention to the present.

 

A lot of anxiety comes from projected future feelings, such as "what will these people think about me".  Over years, constant anxiety can build mental habits of worry and self-evaluations.

 

 

Put simply:  A mindfulness practise gets your brain and mind into the habit of not thinking about and thus evaluating yourself (a big part of social anxiety) and with practise you can learn to reduce feeling self-conscious. Think of brain areas like a muscle. The more you train a certain area, the stronger it gets.

 

Some Science behind it: When our attention is focused on present awareness of our current experience (what we can see, feel, touch, taste, hear) this activates the lateral areas of the prefrontal cortex in your brain, and activity in the medial prefrontal cortex decreases. WHY is this significant? Because the medial prefrontal cortex in the area of the brain associated with 'self-referntial processing' or put simply thinking about yourself, evaluating yourself etc.

 

I usually leave the 'science' part out so peoples heads dont explode, so let me know if it was helpful or too much Smiley Tongue 

 

I will leave you with some wise words Smiley Tongue on 'presence'

 

mindfulcat.png

 

 

Re: Why do I do this to myself.

I've done the same things to myself @neko, and regretted not speaking up esp to someone I considered some of my closest friends.

 

I enjoyed your positive reply below @Troy - I wish I had heard your words last year, and was able to confide in a year ago and earlier this year. Smiley Happy

 

I would say stress about how I came across and what he would think of what my mum and sisters had done to me, affected my own self esteem and self confidence at the time. I am a much more confident person now with a different life perspective.

 

Good luck neko, I am sure everything will work out the best way for your journey.

 

Be well all!


@Troy wrote:

The one thing that I have come to notice personally is that  your self-confidence and overall vibe is more powerful than physical appearence. Unfortunately if we dont feel physically comfortable with ourself however, this can effect our confidence and reinforce that idea.

 

A lot of anxiety comes from projected future feelings, such as "what will these people think about me".  Over years, constant anxiety can build mental habits of worry and self-evaluations.

 

 

Re: Why do I do this to myself.

@fudgepup Thanks for your encouraging response! Smiley Happy It is always nice to hear what parts people find valuable

 

 

Re: Why do I do this to myself.

Hey @neko, I just wanted to start by saying that you've shown a lot of courage by being so open about your conditions in your post. That's not an easy thing to do for some people.

 

Reconnecting with friends you haven't spoken to for a while can definitely be tough and nerve wracking too. Do you think that if you spoke to them/hung with them before the festival it might ease the stress of attending a little? That way you're not also worrying about seeing them for the first time the day of the festival.

 

I can't say whether you should attend the festival or not, because that's a decision only you should make. But I will ask you this, does attending the festival and seeing your friends again outweigh your feelings and concerns about going?

 

Please keep us updated on what you end up deciding and how you go with seeing your friends again. Smiley Happy

Re: Why do I do this to myself.

Hi, there @neko.

I can relate majorly to the presence of self harm scars. I have many that I've acquired over the last ten years. At first I wore a lot of long sleeves and jeans or tights as I had a lot of scars on my legs. Even around friends that knew and were generally supportive of the whole self harm thing. But one day I realised that hiding those scars only perpetuates the problem and the confidence issues around your body and in social situations. What have you got to lose really? Sure, some scars can be pretty out there, self inflicted or not but you'll never learn to feel comfortable in your own skin (no matter what it looks like) if you don't take a bold step into the unknown. I know that's a scary step to take but I think you can do it and I suspect there is s part of you that wants to if you're considering going to this event with old friends and just making this post on the forum in general.

We aren't defined by our appearance. As socially anxiety provoking as it is, the less we worry about what others think, the more we have to gain.

Maybe it would be worthwhile explaining to your friends about your scars and how it makes you feel before you see them. I bet you'll find they're more accepting than you expected.

The last thing I can say is that those scars and lumps and bumps, whatever are only apart of you. Not the whole you. And they also represent the journey you've been on. These days I see my scars as just history, they're still apart of me but they don't define who I am. Nothing singular does because we are all made up of so many different bits and pieces that make us valuable and I have a hunch that your friends will see that too.

Ultimately the choice is up to you whether you go or not, no one can make that decision for you but think about the implications of going and not going. What if just maybe the experience is liberating? What if you gain some self confidence by going? What if you discover you are more than your anxiety and scars? Take all that into consideration.

Let us know what you decide 💜

Re: Why do I do this to myself.

Whoa, so many replies @neko

How're you feeling about all that information? What fits well with how you're feeling right now? What else can we do to help you through this?

 

We're here for you Smiley Happy