Over the past six months, the frequency of me thinking about social anxiety has slowed down to a stop. Really, I don’t even consider myself to have that diagnosis anymore. I still have some problems, but I would say they are on the normal side of the spectrum. I went to a party last month, the guests were mostly people I knew – friends of a friend and her husband. I’d had intermittent contact with them for years, but never really got to know or like them. So, it wasn’t a room full of strangers, but somewhat a room full of people who were part of two groups of friends, and a few other guests who knew each other. So, I’m not good at mingling, I have nothing to say, don’t know what to ask. I had one real conversation, instigated by one of those people I’d known slightly for years. The rest of the time I tried to busy myself by taking pictures, going for cigarettes, fiddling with the video game system or the stereo. Finally, my meds petered out and I had to rest until the next dose kicked in. I found myself lying on the couch watching the goings-on, and though I felt like a weirdo, I was able to accept the fact that this was necessary. By the end of the night I had probably exchanged at least a few words with 75% of the guests, and hadn’t felt like crying or that I needed to go home. This I call a success. This is the only party I hadn’t been able to avoid for probably 10 years, but there have been a few other occasions, such as weddings, that required mingling or something, and I can’t say I had a blast at any of them. And that is fine for me, as long as I can avoid them in the future.
On the upside, I’m much better at making phone calls, asking strangers the time (or whatever), making small talk with random people. I don’t walk down the street feeling everybody’s distainful eyes on me. If I do feel some distain, I think, “what’s their problem?” I am much more able to just go about my business and i don’t think about social situations with apprehension (unless it is a social gathering of many people, not family).
This is only one aspect of my fears, but it was a huge obstacle, a problem that effected everything in my life, so it is a relief to be over it. Of course, I still think it is solely the Effexor, and I will never stop taking it.