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Social Anxiety At Church


Kodiak

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I am 47. Here's my dilemma. From as far back as I can remember I have delt with some kind of cognitive processing ability or learning disability. It shows it's self whenever I need to express myself (articulation). Many people, once they here me speak, begin to treat me like a child. To add to it, I am a very sensitive person and the combination of the two has caused me more than my share of heartache and grief. Over the years I have learned some coping skills but have also developed a healthy phobia for anything in the church setting that might possibly expose my issues.

3 years ago I was asked to be a Bishop in a small overseas branch by a Stake President who hardly knew me. They were reorganizing 3 Bishoprics and I was expected to give an answer that evening so they could continue with their testimony meeting afterward. Somehow against everything I have been taught I mustered up the courage to tell them I had to think about it. I took three days to fast and pray about it but received no confirmation one way or the other. I could not see how I could possible fulfill such a calling. Again, against everything I have been taught I had to let them know that I was not able to do it. This sent me into a tail spin of depression for 2 years. I went to a physcologist and phsyciatrist for counseling. I was diagnosed with inattentive ADHD, social anxiety, and depression. I tried 7 different medications, none of which helped with any of it. I gave up on professional help and slowly started to dig myself out of the hole.

It seems that I can find no one in the church who has the ability to see this as it is. As soon as those in the church discover my issues they make a project out of me and set out to fix me. So I slip into a reclusive avoidant position. They found a spot for me as a Stake Clerk. I have always been very obedient and even submissively humble when asked to serve but after this many years of frustration it is all turning to anger. I often just want to be left alone. If I had only one wish it would be to feel some peace when it comes to the church and not pressure and fear. It's very discouraging for me to imagine dealing with it at church for the rest of my life. I am of value at work and have dear friends there to support me but not at church. Shouldn't there be more help or understanding at church?

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I am 47. Here's my dilemma. From as far back as I can remember I have delt with some kind of cognitive processing ability or learning disability. It shows it's self whenever I need to express myself (articulation). Many people, once they here me speak, begin to treat me like a child. To add to it, I am a very sensitive person and the combination of the two has caused me more than my share of heartache and grief. Over the years I have learned some coping skills but have also developed a healthy phobia for anything in the church setting that might possibly expose my issues.

3 years ago I was asked to be a Bishop in a small overseas branch by a Stake President who hardly knew me. They were reorganizing 3 Bishoprics and I was expected to give an answer that evening so they could continue with their testimony meeting afterward. Somehow against everything I have been taught I mustered up the courage to tell them I had to think about it. I took three days to fast and pray about it but received no confirmation one way or the other. I could not see how I could possible fulfill such a calling. Again, against everything I have been taught I had to let them know that I was not able to do it. This sent me into a tail spin of depression for 2 years. I went to a physcologist and phsyciatrist for counseling. I was diagnosed with inattentive ADHD, social anxiety, and depression. I tried 7 different medications, none of which helped with any of it. I gave up on professional help and slowly started to dig myself out of the hole.

It seems that I can find no one in the church who has the ability to see this as it is. As soon as those in the church discover my issues they make a project out of me and set out to fix me. So I slip into a reclusive avoidant position. They found a spot for me as a Stake Clerk. I have always been very obedient and even submissively humble when asked to serve but after this many years of frustration it is all turning to anger. I often just want to be left alone. If I had only one wish it would be to feel some peace when it comes to the church and not pressure and fear. It's very discouraging for me to imagine dealing with it at church for the rest of my life. I am of value at work and have dear friends there to support me but not at church. Shouldn't there be more help or understanding at church?

yes!!!! I used to have really, really bad panic attacks and sometimes they hit at Church. Once I was asked to pass the sacrament and when I was seated there between two youths I felt boxed in and I was not today so I left and got someone else to do it. I have talked about these experiences in various talks I have given and you'll be surprised at what people say to you afterwards-just hang in there and pray for Christ's strength to get you through. If you have a chance you should Elder Alexander B. Morrison of the Seventy's book about Depression, I highly recommend it!

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Just stay involved to whatever level you feel comfortable at, then slowly extend a hand to others.. The Lord is cognizant of your problems. Please be aware that most people in and out of the church are far more involved in their own lives and problems to be overly concerned about others. It's just one of those things about human nature.

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Best Bishop I have ever had was one who didn't do much if any counselling himself, he told me when going through a very rough patch, "I don't know but I know someone who does" and I got reffered to LDS Social services, got the help I needed and I can't thank that man enough. No shame in seeking help!

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I am 47. Here's my dilemma. From as far back as I can remember I have delt with some kind of cognitive processing ability or learning disability. It shows it's self whenever I need to express myself (articulation). Many people, once they here me speak, begin to treat me like a child. To add to it, I am a very sensitive person and the combination of the two has caused me more than my share of heartache and grief. Over the years I have learned some coping skills but have also developed a healthy phobia for anything in the church setting that might possibly expose my issues.

3 years ago I was asked to be a Bishop in a small overseas branch by a Stake President who hardly knew me. They were reorganizing 3 Bishoprics and I was expected to give an answer that evening so they could continue with their testimony meeting afterward. Somehow against everything I have been taught I mustered up the courage to tell them I had to think about it. I took three days to fast and pray about it but received no confirmation one way or the other. I could not see how I could possible fulfill such a calling. Again, against everything I have been taught I had to let them know that I was not able to do it. This sent me into a tail spin of depression for 2 years. I went to a physiologist and psychiatrist for counseling. I was diagnosed with inattentive ADHD, social anxiety, and depression. I tried 7 different medications, none of which helped with any of it. I gave up on professional help and slowly started to dig myself out of the hole.

It seems that I can find no one in the church who has the ability to see this as it is. As soon as those in the church discover my issues they make a project out of me and set out to fix me. So I slip into a reclusive avoidant position. They found a spot for me as a Stake Clerk. I have always been very obedient and even submissively humble when asked to serve but after this many years of frustration it is all turning to anger. I often just want to be left alone. If I had only one wish it would be to feel some peace when it comes to the church and not pressure and fear. It's very discouraging for me to imagine dealing with it at church for the rest of my life. I am of value at work and have dear friends there to support me but not at church. Shouldn't there be more help or understanding at church?

I smiled as I first read your name and then your post. Having lived in Alaska the first thing I think of when I read Kodiak is the giant grizzly bear of Alaska. We each are a child of God and are capable of such great things, but we are also enrobed in a carnal body with countless weaknesses. I could just see a Grizzly bear ripping out of your chest a la Alien. My mind runs away with thoughts sometimes.

I don't think it is helpful not to face our weaknesses; however, there are times when we need to take things one step at a time. These must be conscious choices and not a delaying choice to keep from making good choices. If you choose to take a slow time away from Church as you reflect on how to make it better or how to achieve a feasible end, then do so. You are not a victim in the matter, but are directly in control of the situation. When things become too uncomfortable it is time to ditch.

The only thing you must do is partake of the Sacrament each Sunday. If you leave after it has been passed, then you have fulfilled your duty and have cared for your spirit. If your leaders are not hearing you, stop wasting your time. There will come a time when they will understand, but at present, for other reasons, they cannot see it. Be honest in your communication with them when you do talk; be clear, be concise, and don't pull any punches.

Keep your chin up; God is with you and you have never been alone.

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My daughter has severe social anxiety to the point where she can't attend church at all. Even the thought of it and other activities set it off. I have taken on the role of being the one to thank others for their efforts on her behalf but refuse to participate. It gets really old after awhile. I can imagine what it is like to want to be a part of things, contribute but not be able to handle it and then have people treat you differently. My daughter comes by her anxiety honestly as both I and some members of my husband's family have it, though none as bad as her. She has other complicating factors (diabetes, thyroid disease, and a sleep/movement disorder that mimics anxiety) all of which magnify her difficulty and that prevents medications from being useful for her. We have finally be able to get the diabetes and thyroid diseases under control enough that we have hopes that her anxiety levels are going down over all (she reports this) so that she will soon develop a strong enough desire to escape the trap that her severe and almost constant episodes created for her, but it is an effort we look at with little steps taking months to happen and feel it is a success for just getting through a week without me being waken up at night having to comfort her because this shows she is controlling it, not it her.

It is not an easy life especially since there is nothing to point to physically and people associate severe anxiety with the mild, natural everyday variety that they get when facing a test or meeting new people but it is most definitely not the same and definitely not just much worse. One cannot just grit one's teeth and work through it, or even just slowly adapting and getting used to it. It takes special ways of learning step by step how to change one's thought processes and how to control one's physical responses and this can be different for different people.

The only way I've been able to deal with it (both my own and working with the more severe disorder my daughter has) is to pray to the Lord and leave it in his hands. He has blessed me with peace and the knowledge that when she is ready, she will be able to take the steps to deal with it in the best way possible for her. The Lord is the best source of help in this situation, imo, but getting therapy if possible can aid in acceptance and stability and figuring out what is possible and what limits one should accept. I have also found that with any health problem (I have many inherited from my parents which I have unfortunately passed on to my daughter so I've wanted to learn as much as possible for both of us) the best thing one can do for oneself is to educate oneself as much as possible on the subject. Thankfully with the Internet there is a wide range of support features out there.

There are those out there who have it...quite a few according to reports of friends and family, but they are usually the last ones who are comfortable enough to talk about it so I can see why you might feel like you are the only one out there. It is an wicked disorder where the very ill that you need to be treated for is the ill that keeps you from asking for help or making use of it when you need it.

If you can make it work at work, just try to have enough confidence that it will come together at church too eventually and keep working at it. You will not be happier if you give up and stay home even if you are more comfortable speaking from experience, not in the long run. Nothing wrong with taking a bit of space to recharge and reassess and plan, just don't let it slip into excuses for avoidance. That is a habit that is extremely hard to break.

Edited by calmoriah
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I stutter, though it's not as severe as it used to be, and I always struggled with giving talks, bearing my testimony, or even saying a prayer in church. It's still tough for me sometimes. It's usually not noticeable when I'm having a casual conversation with someone, but when it comes to public speaking, I have to actually try to not stutter too much. So I can't say I know exactly how you feel, but I can relate to you to some extent. Just be patient and keep at it, and the Lord will help you.

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I think you’re being to hard on yourself.

We had a guy in one ward with that same problem. He never came but he paid a faithful tithing and he picked out an older sister in the ward to care for. He kept her yard clean, shoveled her snow and took in meals when she needed it. He was probably the best example of Christ like love around, isn’t that what we are all working for in the long run.

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Don't stress about trying to meet what you perceive the expectations of others to be. Have an honest chat with your bishop about what you feel like you can and can't do. If after a while you get on your feet and feel comfortable with a calling that stretches a little, that is one thing, but to overwhelm yourself now probably isn't good for anyone.

Sometimes we expect our leaders to intuitively know what our limitations and concerns are, but if we don't let them know, they likely aren't going to have that information.

Very recently, I had a good discussion with my bishop about what I felt my own limitations are, and felt that it was a great conversation. We are both happier working within the framework of where I am at right now in the gospel. In the end, I didn't even change callings or anything, but it was just good to let him know what I was and wasn't able to do.

Whatever you do, please don't let yourself feel guilt or shame for your own personal frailties. They are a part of who you are and should be worked with and around, but are not something to be ashamed of.

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I think you’re being to hard on yourself.

We had a guy in one ward with that same problem. He never came but he paid a faithful tithing and he picked out an older sister in the ward to care for. He kept her yard clean, shoveled her snow and took in meals when she needed it. He was probably the best example of Christ like love around, isn’t that what we are all working for in the long run.

Someone once told me a long time ago, that we're going to be surprised at who ends up in the CK and those who don't.
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Very interesting post, Kodiak....

I have struggled with social anxiety all of my life, and as I have grown older it has gotten worse. Because my wife works in the primary and I am alone after sac. mtg ends, I often head home for the simple reason that I can't deal with going into gospel doctrine alone, the chit-chat, etc. Priesthood mtg. is even worse for me. B/c of this I found myself in some hot water when it came time to renew my temple rec, i.e., I wasn't attending meeting regularly. In the past this has simply meant that I would go without a temple rec for a period of time but recently I told my bishop about my condition and we set a goal of full church attendance once per month to qualify for a temple rec. But this bishop is soon to be released and I don't know what my situation will be when he is gone.

These kinds of issues are not at all understood in the church...or maybe they are just starting to be. When I was a missionary my first companion I got as a trainer was a missionary who'd just about been destroyed in the MTC. He had some form of dyslexia and he couldn't learn the language although he was very smart (he would later go on to earn a Ph.d) and he had it hammered into his head that he wasn't praying enough, wasn't worthy, unresolved past sins, etc., etc. When I picked him up at the airport he was literally shaking. He was a broken, shattered soul. Over the course of the next few months he got to where he was okay, and he actually finished out his mission.

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I think most leaders are very willing to work around members' limitations, IF they know about them. My brother-in-law has severe anxiety, to the point that he has been homebound at times. During one of these periods, he was called to be the YM president. The bishop had a short list of things that he wanted BIL to handle himself (that fit within BIL's current abilities), but everything else was to be delegated. It ended up working surprisingly well.

Incidentally, I've come to the conclusion that sometimes callings are issued simply to give the person called the opportunity to explain the challenges they are facing. Sometimes bishops need specific information. I know many people who have received a calling that didn't seem doable. When told why, their bishops were able to say either, "Ok, let's put this calling off for a while, what can we do to help?" or else, "We can handle a, b, and c by doing x, y, and z. Would that work for you?"

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I have struggled with social anxiety all of my life, and as I have grown older it has gotten worse.

I had some issues with severe anxiety due to sleep deprivation after my first child was born and I would go to church just for Sacrament Meeting. It was an older building with low ceilings and people would be stuffed wall to wall in class and I just couldn't stand the sense of being closed in so I would enjoy a nice quiet walk home after SM or even sometimes after the Sacrament. It was a BYU ward with tons of kids and at times I couldn't filter out the kids enough to listen and instead would be overwhelmed (I tend to be highly aware of children, must have an overactive maternal drive).

Nowadays I have a problem with feeling closed in when there isn't a sense of air movement even with the high ceilings and open areas of our chapel (it is one of the oldest in the Church and has windows at least though unfortunately no longer open), so I bring a fan and exhaust my wrists waving it through the meeting. I entertain myself and the kids around me at times by playing peekaboo with them. For some reason they think the fan is pretty cool. Might be the rainbow effect on it. Even then there are times I have to leave and go listen to the meeting in the foyer. No one looks at me strangely in this ward since it's been this way since we moved into it ten years ago and these days they are just pleased when I actually make it. There are quite a few older and also handicapped people in the ward so I am actually one of the more typical ward members, lol. It probably helps that my husband is very active and knows all the leadership through being ward clerk plus my sister in law has lived here for 20 years or so, so if anyone wonders what is going on it is easy for them to find out without having to ask me.

I do avoid getting into details if someone asks me how I am though since I burst into tears once and thoroughly embarrassed myaelf in front of an older sister who I wasn't that close to at the time. She was very sweet, but still....

When I went to only Sacrament Meeting after several months they called in my husband to see if he wanted any help with his inactive wife. We laughed about it and I guess I figured out at that time if it wasn't going to bother him, I wasn't going to let it bother me so beside getting a bit ticked off by people giving us advice in our old ward on how to take care of our daughter when she first got diabetes (they were confusing it with type 2 diabetes), nothing members have said has ever bothered me and I think it only bothered me in that case because we were so overwhelmed at the time. If I had been in my normal coping zone, I would have just blown it off. Of course, it's when things are feeling overwhelming that you need the most understanding but it often seems that is when it is least available. Don't know if this is just a perception thing or how people react to others having crisis. I do know it's the time I learn best to rely on the Lord so it almost seems worth it after it is all over.

Find out what works for you. That is really what life is about anyway.

Edited by calmoriah
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I am 47. Here's my dilemma. From as far back as I can remember I have delt with some kind of cognitive processing ability or learning disability. It shows it's self whenever I need to express myself (articulation). Many people, once they here me speak, begin to treat me like a child. To add to it, I am a very sensitive person and the combination of the two has caused me more than my share of heartache and grief. Over the years I have learned some coping skills but have also developed a healthy phobia for anything in the church setting that might possibly expose my issues.

3 years ago I was asked to be a Bishop in a small overseas branch by a Stake President who hardly knew me. They were reorganizing 3 Bishoprics and I was expected to give an answer that evening so they could continue with their testimony meeting afterward. Somehow against everything I have been taught I mustered up the courage to tell them I had to think about it. I took three days to fast and pray about it but received no confirmation one way or the other. I could not see how I could possible fulfill such a calling. Again, against everything I have been taught I had to let them know that I was not able to do it. This sent me into a tail spin of depression for 2 years. I went to a physcologist and phsyciatrist for counseling. I was diagnosed with inattentive ADHD, social anxiety, and depression. I tried 7 different medications, none of which helped with any of it. I gave up on professional help and slowly started to dig myself out of the hole.

It seems that I can find no one in the church who has the ability to see this as it is. As soon as those in the church discover my issues they make a project out of me and set out to fix me. So I slip into a reclusive avoidant position. They found a spot for me as a Stake Clerk. I have always been very obedient and even submissively humble when asked to serve but after this many years of frustration it is all turning to anger. I often just want to be left alone. If I had only one wish it would be to feel some peace when it comes to the church and not pressure and fear. It's very discouraging for me to imagine dealing with it at church for the rest of my life. I am of value at work and have dear friends there to support me but not at church. Shouldn't there be more help or understanding at church?

I am sorry to hear this, but we are as human as any...with all the weaknesses that implies. I hope things improve for you, my wife is so good in such situations. I am very shy and always being called to teach, it is hard at times, but I am lucky and can come out of my shell when teaching the things I love.
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Hello Kodiak...

You've received some wonderful responses and suggestions here... so just let me add my voice to the encouragement... please don't give up... I too think you should have a frank talk with your bishop and make sure he understands the severity of your situation.

In the past I've served in teaching and leadership roles... currently I serve in the library and I love it! I'll be 72 next month, and there are certain things I just don't have the energy for anymore. But the library is great. It gives me an opportunity to associate with various ward members without having to do a lot of talking or lengthy contact.

Another calling would be in the Family History Center... If you don't have a formal Center in your ward, is it possible to set up a limited center that simply provides the forms like family group sheets, etc., along with other printed information and instructions.

Or perhaps helping in a supportive role for the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator. Providing printed information to ward members on food storage, kits, "what to do if" situations, etc etc.

These are the type of callings that don't require a lot of speaking, social interaction, etc., but give an opportunity to serve. Perhaps you and your bishop can sit down and discuss these and other callings that might be appropriate... be creative.

You know your capacity, and hopefully you will allow yourself to stretch a little... Most of us are more capable than we think...

But whatever, please continue to be as active as you can be... All good wishes...

GG

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Kodiak,

I actually had a stake president who informed my husband and I that we should never accept a calling unless we felt that it was from the Lord. We have to have that confirmation for ourselves. Yes, we should support and sustain our leaders, but they make mistakes. There is a reason for personal revelation.

It sounds like your anger is coming from guilt over turning down a calling and you are feeling judged by people around you. You are feeling like your sense of self worth is diminished because of your decision not to contribute to a "higher" calling. Don't let yourself fall into the trap of feeling one calling is greater than another. It also sounds like you feel people pity you and only contact you because they feel sorry for you or out of duty. That would bother me too! No one wants to feel others only talk to them out of obligation. At the same time, you seem to base your sense of personal pride on what you contribute. How do you feel about asking your leaders not to make you a charity project and then start volunteering for projects? Become the kind of person people want to talk to by serving them. Be an awesome home teacher. Visit the sick and afflicted on your terms for now. Find joy in the gospel again, don't get caught up in church administration in and of itself.

A few years ago we had a missionary couple here for a few years. The husband had a speech impediment. But he was beloved by all in our area and people still talk about him years later. He loved many by being his humble and loving self, and now many love him. It was not over night. He was not particularly charismatic, or "popular" in a crowd. But their influence was great in a quiet and profound way, on an individual level. Serve people one at a time and you will find that several individuals who appreciate you will make up a group of people who do and help you feel more comfortable in this setting.

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IME, life-long disabilities or struggles do not have to be forever crippling. Anxiety and social anxiety are treatable. There is an intervention called Social Thinking by Michele Winner Garcia (incorporating cognitive behavioral therapy) that is being given to more and more students who have non-verbal learning disabilities or are on the autism spectrum. She publishes a book as well as an assessment tool. The intervention is most often offered by speech language pathologist as it addresses expressive language as well as social interaction.

You are looking for a therapist who does cognitive behavioral therapy, since it is the only research proven effective intervention for teen depression, one of two for PTSD, and is proven effective for a number of other problems. Lots of therapists claim they use it, few actually do it. If you are receiving CBT, you will have homework, and you won't be speaking much about how you came to be where you are. While anxiety and social phobias sometimes also need guided exposure therapy, the healthy thinking skills learned in CBT are critical to getting to that point.

For those who want to try it, a research group on Australia is trying to determine whether CBT can be delivered effectively via computer. You can use their tools and give them feedback at : https://moodgym.anu.edu.au/welcome

Some resources for the younger of us are Dawn Huebner's workbooks: What to do when you worry too much", and a bunch of others addressing specific issues are also CBT based. And there is the NIM and WHO recommended FRIENDS intervention for preventing anxiety in school aged children.

When you say you don't want anyone to fix you, it is not clear that you are saying you don't want to get treatment or that you think no treatment will work. Maybe you are just saying that you accept yourself and want others to do so too. Maybe you are saying that you can't just wave a magic wand and pull yourself up by the bootstraps, and you are annoyed when others treat the issue as imaginary. But I hope those that love you will accept where you are, but not give their approval for avoiding the treatment that might resolve the issues which cause you such distress. If the manifestations of the disability can be reduced and your life can be richer, don't you want those who love you to want that for you?

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I am 47. Here's my dilemma. From as far back as I can remember I have delt with some kind of cognitive processing ability or learning disability. It shows it's self whenever I need to express myself (articulation)....

Must say you certainly express youself well in writing. If someone in particular doesn't "get it", and they really need to, you might try writing them a letter.

Sounds to me like you're about ready for a break. Personally I see nothing wrong with asking to be released from your calling as Stake Clerk, and telling them that you'll let them know when you're ready for a calling again. But I'm not even a black sheep, I'm more like a goat.

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  • 2 weeks later...

First of all thank you for all of your words of encouragement and advice.

Let me start in again and give an update.

I am very busy with a family, church and work responsibilities. It has been difficult for me to find the time to get back to you all. Being continually overwhelmed with responsibilities has always gotten in the way of my personal development. With ADHD it takes me longer to learn, develop any talents and accomplish any goals so I feel like 99% of my life and my efforts up to now has been focused on keeping everyone else happy. How's that for a complaint?

Since I wrote my last post in our branch (ward) a new Branch president was called. He had one day to call counselors. Our District President called my wife and I in to interview me as one of the counselors. All pressure, fear, and stress came pouring back into me that I had spent so much effort trying to purge over the last few years. After the usual counseling about having enough faith and that it was an inspired call I sat and struggled to deal with it all. When I finally pulled myself together enough to tell him that I just can't do it all of the guilt hit me and I completely broke down and bawled for 10 minutes. So, now all of the new bishopric and their wives are aware all my issues who knows how many more in the new branch will begin to treat me differently because of it.

Duncan, Thanks for the reference on the book. I have sought help with some local professionals but I don't have access to Social Services like that where I am at. It has helped for me to talk to them but I think I am through with trying medications that don't help. Doesn't Social Services charge allot?

Thesometimesaint, Yes, I understand the concept. It's difficult though for someone who has been self conscious for 47 years to imagine that people aren't watching. It's good advice though that I am continually trying to remind myself of.

Nathair, Autism would be another thing that no one can really see until you expose your issues to them. When I meet someone new it feels good that they don't know anything about me but eventually as they spend time with me they find out my issues and begin to treat me differently. Some people are overly kind as if I desperately need their sympathy. These are people who have very good intentions but don't really understand that I just want to be treated like other people are. Most people though just decide it's uncomfortable for them to converse with me and they avoid me. I struggle with continually having to go through the process of people changing once they get to know me. Makes want to be where no one knows me.

Storm Rider, I have often though about ditching or taking a break. That does make life easier and more enjoyable for me (like when I was working in Alaska out on the aleutian islands where I couldn't attend church) like you say it doesn't really solve any problems for me. I also have 4 kids watching me that would not understand why their dad is being a slacker. I've got an example to uphold. Plus, what would my extended family think :)

Calmoriah, Thank you so much for understanding. Especially for this..

"It is not an easy life especially since there is nothing to point to physically and people associate severe anxiety with the mild, natural everyday variety that they get when facing a test or meeting new people but it is most definitely not the same and definitely not just much worse. One cannot just grit one's teeth and work through it, or even just slowly adapting and getting used to it. It takes special ways of learning step by step how to change one's thought processes and how to control one's physical responses and this can be different for different people."

Thank you for telling me about your daughter. I wish so bad I could give her a hug tell her about myself. For someone who has the anxiety with them always and for many years it is very hard to imagine the possibility that they can be fixed. I get tired of being told that eventually I will get over it. What helps me the most is when someone tells me that it's OK for me to be me and to have issues. If I ever get past any of it it will be because I decided on my own terms and schedule that I can. Even being told that "eventually you'll get over it" hinders me and detours me from my agenda and can even hurt sometimes. I just want people to be OK with me being me. Wow, wouldn't that be the most wonderful thing in the world?

Altersteve, I have often thought that someone who stutters would know exactly how I feel. Especially if they were born with a very sensitive personality which drags them into a poor self esteem that eventually develops into a healthy phobia and continual anxiety. I am so glad you have the courage to stutter in front of people. I believe the lord will help me to. Just maybe not in this life :)

Jude2, Thank you for noticing that is doing the service and for thinking that he is a good example. I too get most of my joy from doing these things. If my Sundays were full of that type of service. It's the other type that most people see and judge.

Control freak, Hmmm.. Easy for you to say. Harder for someone who has made no progress for 47 years to just believe and do. Thanks for the advice anyway.

Tacenda, what a wonderful thought! I have thought about that comment allot the past few weeks. Your short post has given me more hope and encouragement than the rest put together.

bdouglas, Sounds like you understand. I too wish I didn't have to explain to church leaders that it is not related to a lack of faith, a lack of desire to serve, worthiness, laziness, or rebelliousness. Although it may appear to be one of these because after I've had too much I am learning to turn to anger (just a little). It helps a bit to help me deal with the fear. A counselor once asked me "don't you ever just get really mad?" I actually never get mad because I have always been the submissive one but I think I am beginning to see that a little bit of anger once in a while can help balance things.

Maybe between the two of us we can find the holy grail and be free at last.

Traela, I think you right. It's hard to remember and realize somehow though when they begin an interview with "This is an inspired calling and with enough faith you can do it" Then you have to change their tune when you tell them the details. I believe your right though.

Garden Girl, You must be a wonderful lady with a great deal of wisdom. Thank you. I won't give up, I promise. I will vote for you the next time they call a new bishop :)

Queenamanda, If the calling comes from the Stake President and he says it is from the lord shouldn't we have enough faith to believe him? Actually, I agree with you. I just haven't figured out how to think for myself after so many years of just doing as I am told out of faith. You're right about everything you said. Lots of good advice that have tried to do and will continue to try to do. Thanks

Treeface, Thanks It take a very long time for me to right a letter and I go back and make many corrections. I wish I had time to do this in a church talk or a blessing. In response to your post please read what I wrote to storm rider. I can't take a break really.

Thanks again to all. I welcome any further discussion.

I believe the inattentive ADHD is not fixable. They anxiety, phobia, self esteem, and depression probably may be. All of these things make social interaction much, much more difficult and also makes the ADHD (memory and recall problems) much worse. Having dealt with it for so long has actually had an huge impact on the way my brain has been wired I believe emotionally and physically.

rpn, I need to have a closer look at your post and will respond to it later.

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Kodiak, sometimes I think there are those that care too much. And it appears you're one of those people. It may be either a curse or a blessing. I don't know too many people that would put so much thought and detail into thanking someone as you have done here with each of our posts. I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that what you said about our posts made us feel very good inside and appreciated. I can only imagine how you make others feel with the same application. And pretty sure they'd get over the fact you have severe anxiety pretty quickly. Hopefully one day your anxiety filled days will be over with. I know only a fraction of what you might be going through. I get it now when I drive on the freeway. It's so debilatating sometimes I am physically overcome and can't operate the car. I hope it won't bleed into the rest of my life.

Edited by Tacenda
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Thank you for telling me about your daughter. I wish so bad I could give her a hug tell her about myself.

She wouldn't let you. Would make her too anxious. ;)
For someone who has the anxiety with them always and for many years it is very hard to imagine the possibility that they can be fixed. I get tired of being told that eventually I will get over it. What helps me the most is when someone tells me that it's OK for me to be me and to have issues. If I ever get past any of it it will be because I decided on my own terms and schedule that I can. Even being told that "eventually you'll get over it" hinders me and detours me from my agenda and can even hurt sometimes. I just want people to be OK with me being me. Wow, wouldn't that be the most wonderful thing in the world?

The reality is, imo, those of us with social anxiety won't get over it, we will only learn how to cope with it successfully. I can go out and act like an extravert very well these days, I have been doing it long enough I have enough confidence in that, but if I stop and look at my feelings rather than focus on others, the anxiety is still there and if I focus too much on it, all the sick feelings and panic floods back and I feel frozen while feeling a scream building up inside....so I make a point to not think about how I am feeling and instead find other things to occupy my mind. The big difference for me is the anxiety is now balanced by confidence and other feelings that allow me to function in society so as long as I don't add 'weight' to the anxiety by focusing on it, I can function pretty well.

For those with more severe social anxiety than I have, it will of course take much longer and take more extreme measures to find ways to balance it, ways to look at the anxiety different so they can set controls up for it and they may never reach a point where that balance and sufficient control actually exists enough for 'normal' social interaction.

That doesn't make them weak people anymore than someone who is completely blind never being able to function as a seeing person while others who have sight issues can reach 'normal' sight with the aid of glasses or other mechanical devices.

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Kodiak, sometimes I think there are those that care too much.
Most people I know with social anxiety are very caring people. It can make it worse because they get angry with themselves when the anxiety prevents them from helping others as they wish, creating more anxiety...a vicious circle.
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These are people who have very good intentions but don't really understand that I just want to be treated like other people are.
It helped me a great deal when I decided I wanted to be treated differently (I am not suggesting this is the path for you, just describing my choices; my daughter feels the same way about it as you do). Of course, I have other issues that make a normal life impossible for me even if the anxiety issues completely disappeared so that probably makes a huge difference. I am at an age where it is actually a relief not to deal with people who feel awkward around me, I want easy relationships where people communicate with me without drama or games. So if people avoid me because they don't know how to act, then less work for me helping them feel comfortable.

A certain level of selfishness does help. :)

Edited by calmoriah
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  • 1 year later...

Sorry to resurrect this. But I need advice for social anxiety at church and RS meetings/activities. The only time I would go to them is when it was part of my calling, or a service project.

Last night as I walked my dog, I heard the laughter of a RS get together outside. I felt like a total outsider. My ward is having a lot of young families move in, from many new homes being built.

If I wanted, I could totally hybernate. I took myself off the list to be visited a year or so ago, but I still visit teach. Why do I even care? It's difficult to go when in a FC. Sometimes I want to attend another faith just for the social part, but I'd probably revert to my old social anxiety again. Glad I saw this thread I'll read through for some help.

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