Feeling, perplexed.

SlainbylichSlainbylich Registered User regular
edited December 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
Hey, H/A, I've got something picking at the back of my brain that seems to stick with me no matter what direction I move, maybe someone here will be able to help or just point me in the right direction.

Short background info: I've been dealing with depression for the past two years, I've sought help at my university's counseling center and continue to do so, and I've been using prescribed medication to stave off the worst of it.

The main issue to me is that I just don't feel connected with people, at all. It sounds weird to me now that I'm putting it down into text, but I feel like I'm trapped in a bubble. A bubble that lets me go about my normal activities, but won't let me actually connect with people. I'm involved in social things, in a way; I practice martial arts 2x a week, there is a club that meets on campus occasionally, and I usually spend time with friends when they make themselves available to me.

Though, at times I feel that I'm surrounded by false-friends and the like. (Which isn't true, I know this.)

Anyway, on the social front I feel stunted. Deformed even. (which I find strange, as there have been times when I've hit a level of "social zen" that made things feel so very easy and right; comfortable.) There are times when I wonder what exactly I have wrong with me that keeps me from being comfortable in situations that for all intensive purposes should be comfortable. (Hanging out with friends and watching anime, yet, why am I nervous?)

Approaching new people to make friends or acquaintances with is difficult, and most of the time has happened by pure chance. Even in locations/events that are made for this I feel that there is this phalanx of sorts in place to keep me out. I feel like I'm intruding.

Needless to say, this whole thing has made finding a lady-friend damn near impossible. I'm 25 and am a relationship virgin in every sense, a fact that annoys me (What exactly, is so damn unappealing about me) and fills with me with dread. Every year that passes makes it seem more and more unlikely that such a thing will ever happen. I've tried the online thing, which has had some... events, though nothing that's actually precipitated into a relationship. I joke sometimes that if I haven't made progress in that direction by the time I hit 30, I'm checking out permanently.

So, my question really, is how do I cultivate that sense of comfortableness that I've occasionally experienced? How do I get rid of the 'bubble', how do I break the Phalanx?

TL;DR. I'm a grotesque frankenstein, people are pretty and I want to deal with them without them freaking out and running me off with fire, how do I do that?

Slainbylich on

Posts

  • RokateRokate Registered User
    edited December 2009
    I had a similar feeling a few years ago - like I had no existential home, and like I was always alone even when surrounded by people.
    Went into my general practioner, and started the Zoloft medication - and it has worked wonders (turns out I have a chemical imbalance of serotonin, and that's partially what was causing those feelings). I also have some OCD and depression issues, so it helped with those as well.
    Another thing that you might try (and please don't flame or anything, it's just an option) is some sort of religion/belief system. After realizing that I want an "existential home" I looked into religions like Buddhism. Really fell in love with the Yoga aspects of it, kind of a way to meditate/pray, and as it turns out it is also great for toning muscles, improving balance, and blood flow.

    Rokate on
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  • SlainbylichSlainbylich Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    It's interesting how much I see myself in that reply. I've been on medication for this for the past year and a half, and I've been going to counseling.

    I have also taken to Zen Buddhism as well. I find it helps me somewhat, but it isn't the 'home' I'm looking for. I'm just looking for a way to break to social phalanx that seems to stand against me.

    Slainbylich on
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    The things you are experiencing are perfectly normal for chronically shy people. I personally rarely feel comfortable in social situations, even when I am enjoying myself a lot - it's called introversion. Learn to feel comfortable with your difference from the norm - it is part of what makes you 'you'. Not everyone has to live like they are in an episode of 'Friends'

    Connecting with people is hard. Loneliness is a part of being human. Even the most popular people often feel lonely inside.

    Have you tried roleplaying/larping? It really helped me come out of my shell. Unlike most social interactions, there is no awkward pauses while everyone tries to think of what to say, and you can try out new personalities without social consequence.

    Don't give up on the online dating. Most people have to go on a lot of dates before finding anyone special, and the more dates you go on, the more comfortable you will feel in the situation. Treat it as an opportunity to meet someone interesting rather than as a test of how attractive you are, and you won't feel so crushed if the date does not go well.

    CelestialBadger on
  • badger2dbadger2d San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    How much time do you spend in front of your computer or TV?

    May sound like a random question, but I've found for myself that this seems to be the most directly relevant factor in when I get that 'bubble' feeling that you're talking about. Anything much more than an hour at a stretch spent staring at a glowing screen is likely to leave your mind overstimulated, and that makes socializing subtly difficult.

    Socializing is a really complex activity. Although it's one that our brains our made to handle, picking up and responding to a bazillion little social cues more or less subconsciously (which gives that effortless 'social zen' feeling when it's going well), if your mind is tired out from something else already, it's going to become difficult. And because it's mostly subconscious, you get the 'bubble' feeling: you can feel that something's wrong, but it's not enough in your conscious control to put your finger on what it is that's not working, and you just feel strangely isolated.

    I've found that if I give myself a cushion of 2-3 hours media-free before heading to a social gathering, my mind has time to relax and I'm much more likely to connect with people and enjoy myself.

    From your post you sound like a pretty normal person, no Frankenstein's monster. It seems to me that you're not in need of anything dramatic, more just a few adjustments here and there in how you approach things. I could've written most of your OP myself only a few years ago, and these days I'm socially more comfortable and happier than I ever thought I'd be. But that was just the result of a series of subtle realizations and adjustments, like the one I suggested above.

    badger2d on
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  • SlainbylichSlainbylich Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Thanks everyone for your suggestions and advice so far.
    Don't give up on the online dating. Most people have to go on a lot of dates before finding anyone special, and the more dates you go on, the more comfortable you will feel in the situation. Treat it as an opportunity to meet someone interesting rather than as a test of how attractive you are, and you won't feel so crushed if the date does not go well.

    I actually, have never gotten a date in the two+ years I've been trying this. As for roleplaying/larping, when I meet with my friends on the weekends we usually get our D&D on. I find myself as the dungeon master more often than not, mainly because I have so much free time. Hmm, and LARPing... I'm not sure. I've checked for groups in the area but haven't managed to find anything within a manageable distance. Living in amish country is... suppressive.
    I've found that if I give myself a cushion of 2-3 hours media-free before heading to a social gathering, my mind has time to relax and I'm much more likely to connect with people and enjoy myself.

    What do you do to pass the time? Read, write, draw? Sleep? I feel awkward at the few social things I go to, and going to new ones feels like its becoming harder.

    I'll try to apply some of this and see how it goes. I feel though that the core of this issue is a central part of my psyche, so we'll see.

    Slainbylich on
  • desperaterobotsdesperaterobots perth, ausRegistered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Do you drink? It can help in social situations, especially at your age... Uh, our age. Just keep a lid on it - don't go nuts. A few stiff drinks beforehand.

    One of my housemates deals with depression and anxiety and is terribly shy. She always downs a few drinks before heading out to loosen her up. Everyone thinks she's gorgeous but she's been single for a long time. She struggles to make the connections you're talking about. She's 24. So, you know, it's not that rare.

    I can't suggest strongly enough the importance of challenging yourself to experience new things. Go to new places or events that you might not otherwise go to - alone if necessary. If you don't like what you wind up doing, that's fine, you're at least taking steps towards figuring out what you do really like. You might be able to react to the situations more truthfully if you're not around people you know. Same with dating - forget the sex thing, try to just have a drink with people. Don't give up!

    desperaterobots on
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    Sounds like you are not too bad off socially - anime friends, D&D, martial arts club. You are by no means isolated - you just feel isolated. Just make sure you don't withdraw and things are likely to improve in the future. It sounds like you have plenty of friends - don't worry if they are not very close soul-buddies, as few people actually have such close friends.

    You have never got a date from the online sites? Maybe you are trying the wrong sites. Or perhaps you need a better photo with a new haircut/clothes? Perhaps your profile is not right somehow? I understand there is a skill to getting responses on those things.

    CelestialBadger on
  • FoodFood Registered User regular
    edited December 2009
    If you feel like there's a 'bubble' around you, it's probably one you set up yourself. Think about your history with social relationships of any kind. If strong emotions (like the ones that come with any relationship) always seem to lead to pain, you can sort of condition yourself to suppress emotions or at least to ignore them. This makes it really difficult to relate to other people or to express yourself, both of which are pretty necessary to initiate a friendship.

    If that's the case you need to find some way to let out your emotions. Break a hole in the bubble so to speak. Maybe music or art will help you? Or even just keeping a diary. Train yourself to feel again or else it will get harder and harder to connect to other people as time goes on.

    Food on
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