Intense social phobia

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have always had friends perhaps not many but I always had a few good friends. I have always been socially awkward and had to ‘role play’ and pretend to be someone else in order to get by in social situations. I can pinpoint the time I lost my friends, it was about a month after I was mugged at knife point. I was working security and was to ashamed of myself for not being stronger to face my work friends. I was in school at the time 3 classes away from finishing with a 4.0 for guess what as a major in criminal justice. I withdrew from my school friends and from school all together, my gpa dropped and I couldn’t face my friends feeling like I should have been smart enough to keep something like that from happening. I had friends not in school but I stopped hanging out with them since we normally met after dark and I was afraid to go out at night. I used to go out to them and have tables next to known gang members.

After I left that job I got a nice office job and had a few friends all work but me and one girl hung out all the time. Soon as I moved out of state I lost touch with her completely clean break from all of them. Since then the only friends I made was from on-line, world of warcraft, and online rpgs. I realize they aren’t real friends they don’t really care about me. Soon as any of them get too close I just cut them off and leave.

This has become a real problem while looking for a job and have no real personal contacts. Also have asperger syndrome, had it managed for awhile but think I can’t manage it like I used to.

A: I’m so, so sorry you didn’t get the help you needed right after the mugging. You couldn’t know that you were experiencing an absolutely normal reaction to an abnormal situation so you hid in shame. The mugging traumatized you and made you feel like the world is unsafe. As an Aspie, you have difficulty negotiating social situations as it is. Since the assault, the social skills you worked so hard to develop got overwhelmed by your fears that something bad could happen again. Of course there are no guarantees but as you’ve found out, living in fear and isolation isn’t a solution.

The mugger stole more than your wallet. He stole you college education, your social life, and your self-confidence. Personally, I hate to see the bad guys win like this. It’s time you got angry! Your best revenge is to go back to school, get that degree, and help make sure that others don’t go through the years of pain and shame you’ve experienced. I know it sounds hard. It is hard. But it isn’t impossible. With some support from a therapist who specializes in trauma you can do it. Be sure to let your therapist know that you also have AS so that the two of you can sort out what part of the problem is trauma-based and what part is a function of being on the spectrum. If you need added encouragement, use your online skills to help you find a support group with other victims of violence.

Please follow through and get the help you need. You once were on track to having the life you want. With support and personal effort you can get back to building the life you deserve.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Sep 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). Intense social phobia. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/09/22/intense-social-phobia/