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[Anxiety?]My head literally overheats when I try to talk to people

PeasPeas Registered User regular
edited October 2016 in Help / Advice Forum
Hi folks thanks again for the awesome replies for my previous request! I have been pretty much a hermit loner for a majority of my life and after going to the bank just now and botching a relatively simple request I feel that I should stop and address this issue since I am 31 and going to art school next month, which I am told that I will be expected to do something like a presentation monthly and actively engage in collaborations with people after a certain point

1) My eyes starts watering and eventually tears fall when I try to look at someone directly in the eyes while talking, which makes things really awkward because it doesn't make any sense at all since i'm not even sad or emotional. To avoid the problem I just don't look at people in the eyes anymore but then some people gets really offended if I don't

2) It's not hyperbole, my head really heats up, I put my hand to my forehead and it's like feverish warm. I couldn't have a meaningful conversation/discussion or convey my actual thoughts or make good decisions because after a short while my mind begins to shut down

At this point I am really unsure what I should really do or try, I've read numerous self help books, tried meditation and talked to a couple of therapist over the years and while doing all these stuff really made me a much more positive person the core physical problems still remain. Pretty much the only thing I've not done is medication, because i am kinda afraid of horrible side effects which might or might not occur

Peas on


  • IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    The good news is that social anxiety is quite common and the are many people who have figured or different ways to deal with it, so there's a good chance you'll be able to get through it with enough effort. I have a lasting case of it myself, but I've put enough time into handling it that I can fake being a socialite for short bursts.

    I also heat up all over when I feel guilty, enough that I feel feverish from head to toe, so it's not unusual that you have a physical reaction to anxiety.

    So, in short, you're not alone in this, and many people know how you feel.

    The thing with anxieties like this is that you have to expose yourself to what makes you anxious. Bit by bit you need to find enough bravery to do something a little scarier and for a little longer, with that "fake it til you make it" perspective. Find little challenges for yourself that aren't entirely overwhelming to start, and gradually work toward bigger goals. Try things like staring into the eyes of a photograph or of a friend who is willing to help.

    With the heat thing, take a walk outside or do some meditation (aka breath slow and deep while focusing on stillness). Your brain needs to stop going on circles and needs to just stop for a bit to cool down, so you need either a physical distraction or to just shut your mind down. Drink cool water to help.

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  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    When you say your head heats up, you mean you flush badly right? This is very common for people with social anxiety. Your eyes might be watering because you are so nervous you are not blinking enough or blinking too much.

  • PeasPeas Registered User regular
    A person with social anxiety disorder is afraid that he or she will make mistakes, look bad, and be embarrassed or humiliated in front of others. The fear may be made worse by a lack of social skills or experience in social situations. The anxiety can build into a panic attack. As a result of the fear, the person endures certain social situations in extreme distress or may avoid them altogether. In addition, people with social anxiety disorder often suffer "anticipatory" anxiety -- the fear of a situation before it even happens -- for days or weeks before the event. In many cases, the person is aware that the fear is unreasonable, yet is unable to overcome it.

    Oh man
    This description is pretty much on point

  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    Incidentally, medication might not be as scary as you think. Don't accept Xanax from a doctor - it's addictive and very bad long-term. But a mild antidepressant or a beta-blocker might be just the thing for you.

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    If you think you anxiety is getting in the way of your life, you can talk to your doctor about meds without making any sort of commitment. I'd do so and assess the risks before ruling it out.

    I have social anxiety that does all of these lovely things. It sucks, but it helps to externalize the feelings and remind yourself that anxiety is an affliction you have that you can work with and around. I've learned to put myself more out there despite my fears, and a combination of that and retail/food service work helped me learn how to fake a bit more confidence even if I'm normally in my head screaming.

    I'm also coming to grips with the fact that just because I've learned to turn the volume down doesn't actually mean it goes away. I'm going to have to get in a taxi two weeks from now, and its already causing me anxiety. Why? I don't really know. I'm going to have to say the address, but I may pronounce it wrong, what if he thinks I'm an asshole? I have zero idea why this matters but I can guarantee I'm going to have a few stress dreams about it, even if I manage to convince myself not to obsess over it in the daytime. Shit like that stacks up, and if I let it I'll just freak about every next thing I have to do.

    I find anxiety to be hard to explain to people, because it tends to make you very careful in your interactions, so people don't always see it. When you talk about it, people just think you are either freaking out, beating yourself up, or just need to "do it" or "put yourself out there" and it goes away. For the most part, I've needed to learn how cohabitation with my anxiety works, rather than thinking it will magically go away with yoga and such. Its easier to tell myself "You're going to be afraid, but you have to go to the post office" than "You have to not be scared of going to the post office", Because the truth is no matter how much of my self knows I'm going to go, give the man a package, and everything will be goddamn fine, my anxiety will still be there telling me I'm a fucking idiot fucking it up and this dude hates me. Externalizing it has helped me get that its looming, but I can put it on a leash and keep it under control.

    Yoga/meditation has helped me with breathing exercises which has helped me mitigate panic attacks (I've only had light brushes with panic attacks, luckily), But it hasn't lessened my actual anxiety, just the grief that I allow it to cause me.

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  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    Incidentally, medication might not be as scary as you think. Don't accept Xanax from a doctor - it's addictive and very bad long-term. But a mild antidepressant or a beta-blocker might be just the thing for you.

    Yeah, I had emergency anti-anxiety stuff that was great for just getting rid of the "anxiety" stuff. Just knowing I had that available actually cut my anxiety in half.

    Also understand that no one else can see your internal awareness or monologue, so even if you're scared shitless of an interaction, all they likely see is "Oh, they were nice". This was the biggest hurdle for me to get over.

  • SwashbucklerXXSwashbucklerXX Swashbucklin' Canuck Registered User regular
    Medication might not be a bad thing to discuss with a doc. Modern SSRIs have a lot fewer side effects for a lot fewer people than the stuff we used to hear about all the time in the '90s. Plus, they start you off at really low doses, especially for anxiety. I have general anxiety and I find that the meds really help with the physical symptoms (heating up, muscles clenching, etc.). They aren't a cure-all, but they can definitely help, especially along with some solid therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is very practical and worked quite well for me, but everybody's different.

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  • PeasPeas Registered User regular
  • PLAPLA The process.Registered User regular
    Even when I feel as if I'm probably blushing, it turns out nothing is actually visible. I guess that ought to vary with people's sensitivity to the feeling, properties of the skin, bloodflow and whatnot, but you don't necessarily look how you feel.

  • PeasPeas Registered User regular

    Okay this pretty much nails it except for the part about being hopeless about being able to change

  • CasualCasual Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle Flap Flap Flap Registered User regular
    I know you don't want to hear it but for a condition this severe medication may be what you need. I understand the anxiety surrounding side effects (it stopped me trying medication for years) but most people don't get any and you have to ask yourself "would mild side effects be worse than what I'm going though now?".

    You should talk to your doctor and at least discuss options.

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  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    Casual wrote: »
    I know you don't want to hear it but for a condition this severe medication may be what you need. I understand the anxiety surrounding side effects (it stopped me trying medication for years) b

    Irony = being too anxious about anxiety drugs to seek out treatment for anxiety.

    PeasCasualLovelyLanlaornCommander Zoom
  • PLAPLA The process.Registered User regular
    To avoid talking with people about social anxiety.

  • IncenjucarIncenjucar VChatter Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    Worth keeping in mind that getting good sleep, eating a healthy diet, and getting some exercise can help with a large range of issues. An exhausted body is going to jump toward anxiety more readily.

  • firewaterwordfirewaterword Satchitananda Pais Vasco to San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    edited November 2016
    Iruka wrote: »
    Yoga/meditation has helped me with breathing exercises which has helped me mitigate panic attacks (I've only had light brushes with panic attacks, luckily), But it hasn't lessened my actual anxiety, just the grief that I allow it to cause me.

    I so completely agree! I know it's not for everyone, but practicing yoga and pranayama (mindful breath exercises basically) has been incredible for helping me deal with anxiety. Yoga has, without a doubt, changed my life for the better. The idea of going to a yoga class is possibly scary as fuck so maybe check out some youtube videos if it's something you think might be helpful. Off the top of my head, I can recommend the doyogawithme youtube channel. All the videos are free and there are videos for all levels.

    It took me, quite literally, years to get comfortable in my practice, especially since a great yoga class (generally ones with lots of hip openers) will leave me in tears. The good kind, mind you. It took me a while to come to grips with, and eventually embrace the emotional release, especially as a male in a mostly female cohort. I also use mantras a lot when I'm stressed out or feeling particularly anxious, but again, that's not for everyone.

    A simple breath exercise I like to do is the 3 point breath. I've copy/pasted a quick guide in a spoiler if you're keen to try it, but it's basically just breathing in from bottom to top (belly, ribs, upper chest) with pauses, then exhaling top to bottom. Heck, maybe you already know this, but oh well here it is anyway:
    Sit comfortably either in a cross-legged position on the floor or in a chair that allows you to maintain a straight spine with your feet flat on the ground. The important thing is that while your spine is straight, the rest of your body is relaxed and comfortable. Relax the shoulders. Three-point breath has three parts, each part equal in duration. Based upon your lung capacity, you are going to challenge yourself to inhale, hold the breath, and then exhale in equal amounts of time. For instance, if you are working on your breath capacity for the first time, you might want to choose to inhale for 8 seconds, hold the breath for 8 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds. If your lung capacity is much greater than this, you can inhale for 15 seconds, hold the breath for 15 seconds, and exhale for 15 seconds. Choose a ratio that works for you and as time goes by, you can gradually increase it. The ultimate goal is to inhale slowly for 20 seconds, hold the breath for 20 seconds, and exhale for 20 seconds.
    I sincerely hope you find something that works for you!

    (Disclaimer: I just came back from a 5 day yoga retreat yesterday and am still crazy high on all the Shakti energy, so please forgive my exuberance).

    firewaterword on
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  • KoopahTroopahKoopahTroopah The koopas, the troopas. Philadelphia, PARegistered User regular
    edited November 2016
    I have really bad social anxiety that just started creeping up on me late last December. Pretty sure it was because of the immense amount of stress that I had riding on my back from the previous year. Parents divorce, no job, student loans piling up, being single, loss of friends, still live with parents... It just seemed that there was no bottom to it and things didn't seem to ever look up. Eventually it just effected my physical well being instead of just my mental state. Panic attacks, strange unease-queasy feeling, fever or shakes, stammering of speech... The worst part about it was knowing that it was 100% going to happen, but being unsure when it would or what would (for lack of a better word) trigger it to happen. I couldn't even go to my grandma's house for a visit for longer than 30 minutes. I let it effect my life for three months before I accepted that I needed help beyond just what I could do for myself.

    So, I started taking Lexapro after being recommended it from Gabe and Tycho during their PAX panels/PATV back in March and boy howdy, has it done wonders so far. No more panic attacks, no more fear of conversation, no more sinking queasy feeling or shaking. It's been great. Not only that but because I'm feeling better mentally, I've been able to continue to build myself back up again too. Got a new job, a new car, been dating regularly, bought my dad a new washer and stove for all the help he's been giving me, and I'm starting up an exercise regime to help me lose weight. I used to hate the idea of needing medication to go throughout the day, but I'm so, so glad that I finally went to a doctor and got a prescription. At least for right now. It's been nothing but aces.

    I guess the best advice I can give is that just because you could use meds to help you, doesn't make you crazy or disabled. Which might sound stupid at first, but you're no less of the person you are after taking medication. It's perfectly okay to accept the help because not everyone is built the same. What is normal for everyone outside of this conversation is different for me, or you, or well everyone else in this thread lol. And that's 100% okay.

    I can also recommend that meditation and maintaining healthier diet/sleep would help me during those months before Lexapro. I would pretend that I was in an empty white room like in the construct from The Matrix. Just heavily focusing on my body position and slow breathing, blocking out my senses. Sometimes that couple minutes break from it all would be enough to put me back on the rails.

    If anything from this comment, I wish you the best of luck. These replies should be enough to convince you that you're not alone in your struggles. You'll always have someone to talk to around here with us fellow freaks. :biggrin:<3

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