Panic and anxiety seem to be a problem, as does social anxiety. Your social anxiety may stem from having spent a lot of time alone as a child and not having interacted with many others. If you haven’t had much experience interacting with others, it makes sense that you would fear these interactions. People are frightened of unfamiliar things.
Self-injury may be your way of attempting to deal with your strong emotions. It’s also sometimes related to feelings of low self-worth. People who don’t think highly of themselves often feel that they deserve to suffer.
Feelings of low self-worth might also explain your suicidal thoughts. Your feelings of emptiness are also likely related to your suicidal thoughts. If you don’t feel that life has any meaning or that anything is real, then it’s logical that you would consider suicide. It might be logical but it’s not normal or healthy and it’s a sign of depression.
In Viktor Frankl’s famous book, Man’s Search For Meaning, he discusses the root cause of depression. It is his belief that people need to find meaning in their lives, to have something to live for and without that, they will suffer from depression. He also contends that it is our duty to find meaning in life even when we are confronted with hopeless situations. It reminds me of Frederick Nietzsche’s famous quote “he who has a why to live for can bear with any how.”
From what you’ve written, these are long-standing problems. I would recommend consulting with a mental health professional. The idea of visiting a mental health professional might seem overwhelming to someone with social anxiety but I can assure you, it’s not. It’s a relief. You’ll finally be in the presence of someone who understands your symptoms and who can treat “what’s killing you.” Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental health disorders. They’re both highly treatable with therapy or medication or both.
There are many therapists who can help you. I hope you will contact them and attempt to find the best one for you. Interview at least five of them and choose the one with whom you feel the strongest connection. That will give you your best chance of overcoming these very treatable issues. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle