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I Think I Have Been Suffering from Social Anxiety without Knowing

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I think I have been suffering from anxiety for many years without realizing. I know this may sound stupid but I have always been like this and just assumed it was normal and never thought too much about it. It wasn’t until I had to do a group presentation in front of about 80 people that I realized there is something wrong with me. The back of my head felt stiff and I couldn’t stop my head from shaking, I didn’t know where to look and my heart was racing 100mph. Whenever I tried to smile it’s almost as if my mouth wouldn’t let me. This event triggered something inside of me and after evaluating other situations it seems like I have social anxiety.
Whenever I walk in public I fell everyone around me is watching me and when I walk past a bus it fells as though everyone on the bus is laughing at me. I get the stiff feeling on the back of my head and have to divert me attention to my phone (which stops the shaking), I find it so hard to just walk normally on the street without pretending to be on my phone. I don’t know why I’m like this.
I was abused when I was a kid by my father, he was suffering from his own personal problems at the time and I guess it helped him to release the anger on me. It wasn’t the beating (very rare) that had a impact on me but being constantly put down by him swearing and telling me how useless and pathetic I was (I was around 8 yrs old). I didn’t think this had a big effect on me until recently and it seems to be the only answer I could give to myself.
It’s very hard for me to meet new people and I have never had any physical contact with anyone before, I’m dying to be loved but the fear of rejection has been so strong it dominates everything I do. I just want to function like a normal human being and be able to fit in. please help me. (From the UK)

I Think I Have Been Suffering from Social Anxiety without Knowing

Answered by on -

A.

I am sorry you had to endure the abuse from your father. I do believe you are right in linking it to your reactions. Since your profile indicated you were at a university I would contact their counseling center for some individual therapy about your reaction. Since it was affecting school (your group presentation) I think it is important to let them help you find a way to cope and recover from this.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

I Think I Have Been Suffering from Social Anxiety without Knowing

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). I Think I Have Been Suffering from Social Anxiety without Knowing. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 20, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2017/06/28/i-think-i-have-been-suffering-from-social-anxiety-without-knowing/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.