Shack1212

What I think I've learned about emotional health and what still puzzles me

2 posts in this topic

I found Teal earlier this year and I found she is one of the closest to matching my viewpoints on emotional health. I feel she has a philosophical viewpoint that is one of the most promising for making great progress in emotional health. I wanted to share this with Teal just for the possibility it helps her journey discovering emotional health truths in any way.

I have dealt with emotional health problems my whole life. Looking back to even when i was a kid I don’t think I was developing normally.

My primary problem is anxiety. I am lucky that depression has missed me. If I had as much of a depression problem as I do anxiety I may not be alive right now.

In my teen years my biggest focus was that I was not socializing properly. It is difficult to be the kid who can’t have conversations in school or at parties. My parents were pro-social so they emphasized what a problem it was that I wasn’t talking much. Like many teens with social anxiety I didn’t have a deep analysis of my issues at first. I thought I “just didn’t know how to talk to people”. Other people would be able to come up with things to say and my mind would be blank. 

Many years later I realized what is really going on with people with social anxiety. It is a symptom of the problem rather than the illness in itself. What’s really going on is issues like trust issues, emotional walls, emotional disconnect, etc. This emotional disconnect from others and the inability to feel safe around them leads to the loss of otherwise natural communication instincts that others have. Unfortunately not enough people with social anxiety know this, that their struggles are a symptom of lack of emotional disconnect around people. They just think “I have this thing called social anxiety”. To the point where I kind of wish the term just didn’t exist.

I believe people have biological ability in them to communicate with people that they are connected with. This likely has an evolutionary history to keep the species alive. Even for non social anxiety people, communicating more with people you are connected to is a thing. Just think about the difference between a bad date and a good date. A bad date has people who aren’t connected to each other and thus struggle to communicate. A good date is supposed to be people who can’t stop connecting to each other. Best friends and relatives who are connected to each other talk to each other more easily than strangers. Of this I am pretty much certain of: Communication is positively correlated with emotional connection. People with social anxiety are less connected to others and does communicate more difficult like. What cinches this for me is that I have been lucky enough to fall in love with someone and I know that once I was emotionally connected to her I was able to communicate as if I didn’t have social anxiety.

However it’s not easy to just become connected to someone. Because there is a reason people with social anxiety are not connected. It’s because they don’t feel safe. That’s how connecting works: you feel safe, then you let your walls down.

In my early to mid 20s I began to realize that I had wrongly diagnosed myself as just having social anxiety when in fact I have general anxiety. I don’t know how I missed it when nowadays it is so obvious in things like how I was always afraid of dogs when I walked past them, bridges when I crossed them and just of things going wrong in my life. Afraid of screwing up at my job and getting fired or of cutting myself when washing dishes, and on and on. Of course afraid of other people hurting me for reasons that go beyond when I’m just talking to them. Afraid of my parents negativity.

My anxiety is not the type to be going along with my normal day and have an attack of anxiety. Anxiety is the default state. The majority of days is 100% of the day. I’ve been lucky enough to have at least experienced what “non-anxiety” feels like, most of it was years ago in the before mentioned period falling in love.

Why do I feel so unsafe all the time? If I am alone in my room doing literally nothing, I have anxiety. There is no person or animal to attack me in the room. Maybe it’s being afraid of the future. There may not be people with me, but tomorrow there will be people. 

I believe I was emotionally abused by my parents. I guess some people had it worse but nevertheless. It included verbal abuse mostly by my mother that I won’t get into (It’s not like it happened every day, but 5 or 6 horrible things over the course of two decade and a half life is too many, it’s not just like hitting your kid 5 times is OK. 1 is too many), but the thing that hurt me most I figure is that my dad didn’t love his kids. I never saw us cause him joy once and it was impossible to impress him. It was like he was in competition with us and saying we did anything good would make him worse in the competition with him. My brother has a normal life on the surface that is much more approved of by my parents but I don’t think he is a healthy person at all and he spends half his life in self programs so he is self aware. It’s like his whole life is built around never being good enough and always trying to impress his father. He has to try so hard in his next big project all the time. I figure I must have caught some of what he has, that feeling of never being good enough. The other thing that I think affected me a lot is gas lighting. Growing up I was criticized about everything by my mother and it had a negative affect on me. Anytime I tried to ask to ease up the response was the normal gaslighting response of getting out of it by denying everything I said, that wasn’t criticism, it’s just your perception that we did something wrong, it was perfectly normal behaviour everyone’s parents does and we know better cause we’re older, it’s all in your head, you’re too sensitive, etc. If my dad was asked to consult he did the same but worse. When the conversation started like that there was nowhere to go. It’s just talking to a brick wall. Not to mention the topic quickly moves to me being a bad son for accusing them like that. 

To me I feel like I doubt myself a lot. The latest thing in my life is that I used to be a huge fan of movies, tv and sports as escapism and now I’m starting to feel like I’m losing them because I can’t trust myself to enjoy them anymore. I went through a period earlier this year where when I saw people talking it’s like their lips was moving out of order with their words. It’s like I disconnected from the normal way of watching people talk where our instincts take over and it feels normal. I know what is happening. I am psyching myself out. I am convincing myself that I am not good enough for this previously natural things to be natural anymore. To me this inability to trust myself and to doubt “Did I like this? Should I have liked this? Will I continue liking this?” etc could be connected to a past of being gaslit. Because of this I find it imperative that I make progress on what is going wrong in me. 

I have tried many many mental techniques over the years on my problems. An issue is it is hard to remove the placebo effect. Something I think a technique is working great but it was just momentary confidence that made things feel good for a while. When I lose confidence it stops working. A problem is that it is trying to solve a subconscience problem with a conscience approach. You just end up going around and round in your conscience mind without tapping into the subconscience. I need an emotional oil drill to get in under the surface. But perhaps conscience acts like some of the ones Teal talks about can be this oil drill.

As an aside I want to address what I think about depression. While it hasn't got to me yet, I am interested in the subject and the woman I love has depression as her main problem so it is relevant to my life. It would appear to me depression is the shut down of emotions in order to feel more safe. Teal has talked about how people with depression learned to associate positive emotions like joy with negative consequences or eventual pain. I also think people grow up with the topic of happiness especially in families where its scarce such as with depressed parents and naturally self doubting people feel "I have happiness, but what if I run out of it?" "Do I deserve this happiness?" etc Ultimately people with depression run into the same problem of trying to solve sub conscience issues with running around in circles consciencely. Except their sub conscience is perhaps buried much farther in them.

 

Edited by Shack1212
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7 hours ago, Shack1212 said:

However it’s not easy to just become connected to someone. Because there is a reason people with social anxiety are not connected. It’s because they don’t feel safe. That’s how connecting works: you feel safe, then you let your walls down.

 

You just enlightened my day with your message. I was craving to be understood. I went through the same things. Even the falling in love with someone I feel comfortable enough to communicate part.

I took a deeper look into my social anxiety with your post. I always knew, deep down, that feeling unsafe with people was the root cause. But I was never really able to put it into words. 

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