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Tue Feb 21, 2012, 02:22 AM

Hello. Going through a rough period of my life.

So I've posted on DU off an on for several years but have never introduced myself here despite posting numerous times about my emotional problems. I'll try to keep this as short as possible without cutting out anything important but if I start to ramble feel free to stop reading, lol

So anyway, where to start? I'm 29 years old. I suffer from a combination of serious Social Anxiety, Perfectionism, and Depression (with an extremely low sense of self esteem). To a lesser extent I suffer from GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and an "enmeshed" emotional personality with my father. I've always been a shy kid, since early childhood and clung desperately to my parents at all times. School was a nightmare for me from K-12, and university for different reasons. I can still remember being left to cry at the gates of a preschool in Taiwan as I watched my parents drive off (I lived in China, Taiwan and Malaysia for 4 years as a young child). This reached a head in grade 10 when my anxiety peaked and I dropped out for the first time. I managed to go back and finish high school a year latter.

In university I was much freer and bullying and ostracization by other kids weren't the issues they were in HS. But years of social anxiety and self ostracization meant that I had none of the social skills necessary to build the kind of emotional support network, friends, needed to thrive in a post secondary environment. I've never dated, or come close to doing so, am a virgin etc.. This combined with my perfectionism and lack of good study habits born of years surviving solely on my intelligence would prove to be a nasty mix, I had a 4.0 GPA coming out of HS and did well in most courses at University even without studying. The following years I would drop out of university and start again 4 or 5 times or more. Eventually I'd had enough of it and looked to get a job while I worked things out, or so I told myself. My mother was an assistant manager at 7-11 and she helped me secure a position there.

The next 4 years I worked happily at 7-11 working my way up to assistant manager and eventually acting manager for a short time. At the end of this period though my anxieties reared their head again and I quit and started drinking heavily. Somehow I managed to stop drinking after several months and managed to secure a job at NCIX, a computer hardware retailer, where I worked for another year fairly successfully. Again though my anxieties returned and I quit that job too. This time I said I'd return to school, but one class in I realized I couldn't do it and dropped those courses. I went back to NCIX for a short period, 2 months before quitting that job for good. So here I am now looking at getting a job at a supermarket as a clerk. The only real positive of all this work experience is I've managed to salt away about $70k in savings over the years, but that's mostly due to living at home with my parents rent free. Being in Canada with universal heal care certainly helps too. I'm only so-so with savings as I've spent a good 10k or more on my electronics and computer hobbies, Thankfully my parents are extremely supportive.

In the longer term I've signed up for going back to BCIT to get a post secondary degree, already been accepted. But I need to make much headway on my emotional problems between now and the start of the semester in Sept. Or else I'm simply going to repeat history yet again. The supermarket positions that I'm looking at getting will be temporary jobs between now and the start of school again in Sept and I'm trying to tell myself that this isn't quite the setback it feels like and I CAN'T quit this time. I MUST stop running at some point.

As far a therapy and medication goes. I was on Paxil for several years in the past and it helped me a lot. I credit some of my success at 7-11 to Paxil. However about 2 years ago it started to loose its effectiveness despite a doubling of dosage. I weaned myself off that and have been on several different SSRIs since then. Currently I'm on a combination of Cymbalta and a low dose of Abilify as a booster. They seem to help a little but, not much. I've been seeing a psychiatrist now for about a month and 1/2 but I don't really get along with him all that well and don't feel all that comfortable opening up to him. He HAS however given me a referral to a different psychiatric group which does group therapy and CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), so I will be changing psychiatrists some time in the next few months.

I'm just not sure what to feel at this point. I'm about to turn 30 and here I am where most people are at 18. Doing grocery store jobs and just starting a post secondary education again. And I have so much experience with running away from my problems that I fear that I will do so again at any moment. I'm quite anxious EVEN over getting this new clerk/teller position, though why I should be is beyond me really. I'm tired of running but terrified of the alternative as well.

UPDATE (AUGUST 21): I never did do the grocery store job and spent the last 6 months or so at home. However the worst of my anxieties has subsided leaving me with medium to high level constant depression. As bad as that sounds its a marked improvement. Still not confident about school in the Fall. Oh well we'll see what happens.

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Response to Locut0s (Original post)

Tue Feb 21, 2012, 02:38 AM

1. Hi. In spite of your issues,

sounds to me as if you're well positioned to succeed.
First, having saved that much is truly admirable.
Second, working with psychiatrists/groups is definitely heading in the right direction.
I expect others will post tomorrow/later. Best of luck.

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Response to elleng (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 21, 2012, 02:39 AM

2. Thanks. nt

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Response to Locut0s (Original post)

Tue Feb 21, 2012, 02:54 AM

3. Thirty is so young. Everyone is still a kid at thirty unless they have kids. Take the long view.

Since you'll live to be 90, thirty is still young. Many, many people are still trying to figure out what to do with their lives at that age. Another thing you can do is think 'what do I really love to do that doesn't involve drugs or alcohol?'. What is your passion? Now go and volunteer with a company that does that very thing. Write them a letter, offering to work for free one day a week. And you go there and try it on for size. If it doesn't fit - you can cross that off your list and pursue another passion. Or join a club or group that involves said passion. Chances are you'll run into people who share your love and ability in this area. And you have just expanded your life and may make a friend or two. I was so shy I couldn't talk on the phone in my early 20s. SSRIs helped and I snapped out of it by going through life and realizing I'd been selling myself short for such a long time and that I was good at many things, I was a very nice person, I did have people in my life who loved me. Once I tried more and more things (like more jobs/friendships) I built up my amour and was stronger. I stopped running those insecure tapes through my head. Grieving a loss is a muscle. With practice you get more and more confidence that you can handle loss or rejection. So go out there and practice. Use that 'take a chance, I can handle loss' muscle. And one day you'll wake up and say to yourself - you know I am still shy but people wouldn't know it and it doesn't stop me from trying new things. Good luck. You sound like you are on top of all your issues and can articulate them very well. I don't see any insecurity in your writing. Working on your personality does pan out doesn't it!!!

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Response to Locut0s (Original post)

Tue Feb 21, 2012, 07:41 AM

4. $70k!

 

Damn!
I will never be able to put two pennies together!

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Response to Locut0s (Original post)

Tue Feb 21, 2012, 01:44 PM

5. Hey there! Glad you came to join us!

As I told you in my PM to you,
you will find this corner of DU to be the most loving
and supporting group on DU.

I'm glad to see you here!
BHN

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Response to Locut0s (Original post)

Tue Feb 21, 2012, 03:22 PM

6. Although the specifics are a little different, your story reminds me so much of me

at about the same age. Maybe the best thing I did for myself was interview a number of therapists before finding one that I was very comfortable with (as comfortable as I got with stangers, any way). She did years worth of boundary work with me and it helped me so much. Just working on that, steadily and patiently, changed everything.

My parent didn't know how to support the development of my boundaries and alternately abandoned me or was rigidly controlling. It amounts to the same thing: you never learn to sort yourself out from everything else. Of course, that leads to debilitating anxiety or, did for me, in any case. Leads to a lot of false starts, to fragmented relationships, to substance use or abuse, to all kinds of things a person does to cope with feeling out of place or directionless or anxious because the center isn't "set", it's barely there, in a way.

Does any of this ring a bell?

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Response to EFerrari (Reply #6)

Tue Feb 21, 2012, 06:50 PM

7. It does indeed ring a bell! Thanks very much for that! I will...

bring up the possibility of boundary issues with the new psychiatrist when I see them.

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Response to Locut0s (Original post)

Wed Feb 22, 2012, 01:59 AM

8. we all move at our own speed

and the common result of comparing ourselves to others is to feel badly about ourselves. we are our own harshest critics.

i was shy when i was younger and have always imposed expectations of perfection upon myself. then i turned 30 last year and realized i don't give a shit what most anyone thinks of me. i'm still battling my own self-esteem issues, but i have made more headway in the last couple years than the entirety of my life up to that point.

it seems like you're facing the situation head-on and that you are already aware of what you're facing, which is a positive place to start. getting a new psych also seems to be a good idea, a doctor does us no good if we're not comfortable with them. the group sessions may help you a bit with socialization/social anxiety, but have you thought about joining a hobby group or something? i understand social anxiety and am perfectly happy staying home, but 'rescue' meds can help with the anxiety, ativan has been a godssend for me. the med roulette can be a nightmare, i know.

i've been looking at the last sentence of your post for sometime and, if i may ask, what are you afraid of?

good luck to you and keep us posted.

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Response to fizzgig (Reply #8)

Wed Feb 22, 2012, 02:23 AM

9. Ativan- me too Fizzgig. Couldn't leave the house for years.

I was totally paralyzed with fear after a series of traumatic events, including my
beautiful daughter's melt down.

Ativan has allowed me to face the world again.

I am no help to my daughter and her healing process if I am frozen in fear and GAD.

BHN

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Response to BeHereNow (Reply #9)

Wed Feb 22, 2012, 02:58 AM

10. i've only recently begun using it for more than fighting the full-blown panic attacks

i was so resistant to using it as anything other than an absolute last resort, i kept telling myself i didn't need it to do the day to day. i wish i'd gotten over that a lot sooner.

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Response to fizzgig (Reply #8)

Wed Feb 22, 2012, 04:02 AM

11. Thank you very much for the kind reply...

In truth I believe I'm running from my own negative self image of myself. I know factually that I'm a good person with positive qualities and some successes but deep down there's a part of me that hates myself to some large degree. I'm not sure why this is but I believe it to be true and among several of the core reasons behind my problems.

As you said I have spent a large part of my life measuring myself against the success of others. And the yard stick I use is that of perfectionism. This is an old and hard habit to break.

As for medications I was prescribed Xanax for the short term amelioration of the worst of my anxieties at my last job before I quit. Xanax is in the class of benzodiazepines like Ativian and it too seems to work wonders on anxiety. But benzodiazepines are only meant for short term treatment of anxiety and not for long term chronic usage. They bring with them the risk of addiction and dependence.

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Response to Locut0s (Reply #11)

Wed Feb 22, 2012, 04:50 AM

12. the mirror is a dirty liar

be it the one in the bathroom or the one in the head. what it shows us is the fear, the anger, the negativity we feel about ourselves, not who we actually are or how others see us. fighting my own warped self-perception/esteem is a battle that's been raging for years and it's only been recently that i've started gaining ground because i told the mirror to piss off.

the perfectionism will kill you. we are all just people bumping along on this blue marble and we're going to fuck up. sometimes a lot, sometimes a little, but we will fuck up. but fucking up, as long as it's not intentional and out of malice, doesn't mean we're bad people, just that we haven't learned a particular lesson yet. the key is to remember that, to tell yourself that when you catch yourself beating yourself up for some small perceived failure or shortcoming. more often than not, you are the only one who is even going to notice the fuck up. i talk to myself all day long to keep that perspective. and when you do fuck up, it hurts, but there are always going to be people who will help you up, dust you off and help you get back on your way. one of the hardest things to learn is to love ourselves and accept we'll screw up from time to time.

i understand the risks of benzos, but i've been on ativan for ten years now with no issue. i use it as sparingly as i can and can stretch a one month script out for months, though some times are harder than others and i back off for a bit if i have been taking them more than normal. i've found that just having them with me often has the same effect as taking one, i feel safe knowing that they're there if i need them. but medications don't have to be forever, sometimes they're needed more just to get us to where we need to be to be able to deal with the underlying issues.

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Response to Locut0s (Original post)

Thu Feb 23, 2012, 05:49 PM

13. Your story reminds me so much of mine.

I'll be 31 next month and I'm still living at home with my mom. I have several medical disorders -- neurofibromatosis(which caused me to have seizures in my teens and can also cause tumors to form on my body), severe depression with psychotic features, agoraphobia, anxiety, ADD, learning disability and a slight speech impairment. I've never dated either, and I can count the number of close friends I've had on one hand. I've been working at Wal-mart for the past 7 years as a cashier and I enjoy my job most of the time(except when my anxiety kicks in and I start having a panic attack). I'm currently on Zoloft(for the depression), Risperdal(for psychosis) and Busfpar(for anxiety) and most of the time it works really well, I do have my good days and bad days though.

Good luck with going back to school. I hope it works out for you. I've tried going to college but due to my learning disability it's very hard for me.

Just wanted to let you know -- you are not alone.

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Response to Terra Alta (Reply #13)

Sat Feb 25, 2012, 04:59 AM

14. Thank you very much! I can't help but feel though that...

my problems aren't nearly as serious as yours. It's great to hear that you're managing relatively ok though! I just picked up a part time job and I'm hoping things will work out down the road better. I'm going to be talking with my psychiatrist about changing a few things in my medication.

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