John blogs about living with social phobia and the steps he’s taking to recover.
Hi, I’ve lived with social phobia all my life and I’ve always struggled to make friends. I've spent years as a hermit, hardly able to go out of my own front door. When I do get out, I never meet anyone, apart from the occasional doctor.
Nice to meet you!
My mental health journey has been long and painful, but it has taught me a lot. As a kid, I left school due to bullying after being picked on by a group of girls. I was privately tutored for a year, then went to stay in a residential mental health unit for adolescents.
When I walked through the door and was amongst other people, I couldn't even open my eyes.
I improved a little, enough to go back to another school and then even to university, but I still was a complete loner. I worked in Japan for some time, got married and had a child, but we split up within 3 years. You see, because of my illness, I just couldn’t hold down a job. Wife left, took my son, and I haven't seen him now for 10 years…10 years of lonely suffering for me.
This is my life to date. But I sense that there is a turnaround in the works.
I am in recovery. That is a big thing for me to write.
I have learnt a lot about what it takes to recover, and I'm putting those techniques into practice.
Firstly, I am working almost every day, either on my blog or studying about social anxiety and mental health and so on. A daily work routine has been created, which I’ve found has really helped.
Next, my diet is being revolutionised. I admit that it wasn't the greatest in the past. Too much processed food, too much chocolate and too many foods high in sugar or refined wheat, like bread and pasta. We now know that, for some people, making changes to our diets can really help our wellbeing. I've now reduced my consumption of these so-called 'bad' foods and am eating many more vegetables and fruits, notably by having a green smoothie daily.
As for going out, I am gradually starting to go into places again. The hermit coming out from his cave... I go to the odd restaurant or pub, visit supermarkets or whatever. The process has begun, and it's gaining momentum. It’s still extremely challenging, and I still have bad days, but it's getting easier. And the more I do it, the more comfortable I feel.
As for friends, I have made several online acquaintances, but this is a life-changing thing, and it's not going to happen overnight. Meeting people in person is extremely difficult for me. It takes confidence to make and keep friends, and I’ve just never had any.
There have been times when I’ve thought most people were unkind, and I wondered why anyone would want to be friends with me anyway. I thought I was a terrible person, with many faults. All these doubts combined to make me a loner for forty years.
But things are moving in the right direction, and I've learnt to appreciate the truth about myself and others, and that I do deserve friendship as much as anyone else.
I believe my life is being transformed, and I am blogging about my journey, informing people about the many techniques I've learnt.
I love helping others in a similar position. I have gained considerable amounts of knowledge, and am trying to share it.
You can find me at: www.ibeatmysocialanxiety.com or @socialphobik on Twitter.
Take care everyone!