I'm a 60 year old single male who suffers from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), depression, social phobia, and hypochondria. It's not bipolar to my knowledge since I can feel anxious and depressed, dread social interaction and worry myself about my health all at the same time. (Multi-tasking?) These things all just become more intense the more stress I'm under. I also score very high on "highly sensitive person" tests - I get A+ for being HSP.
For years I managed to cope with all this, and people would not believe that I suffered as much as I did. In fact, some former friends thought I was joking when I expressed concern about my health or some other issue, when I was actually in excruciating fear or despair.
I realize from being 100% abstinent for months because of real health issues (blood pressure, rosacea, sub-par liver readings, exhaustion) that I drank to "smooth everything out" - with a few glasses of wine in me, I became sociable, funny, upbeat, and full of motivation and energy. But I'm proud that I never drank while working. The focus required at work made it possible for me to function well without alcohol. I don't crave alcohol. I just knew it would let me relax my personality disorders and have fun with others in the evening.
But now, my social life has shut down. Without the buffer of a drink or three, I can't bear parties or public places full of people (and have declined all holiday invitations as a result). And I feel very uncomfortable entertaining people in my home - I feel very tense and self-conscious - I know this is awful, but I find myself just longing for them to leave. Further, I have lost all motivation to clean house, and right now I would be mortified to have anyone see what a pig sty I've let my house become. (A therapist said that that is likely unconscious self-protection.) Shopping has become a nightmare for me.
Unfortunately, I have no family left, and I've lost my closest friends, who have moved away, died...or just betrayed me. This loss is so unbelievably total that it seems like a carefully planned plot to complete my social phobia and loneliness.
Well, there probably is no place for me...but thanks for "listening".
PS: Just to "add insult to injury", I recently tried to join a forum for highly sensitive people, and when accepted, I was bombarded with 12 (no lie) different e-mails from the moderators, telling me what I could and couldn't say or do in the forum - ironically, they warned in one that I should not set my account on "receive e-mail" because too much e-mail is upsetting to HSPs! And they started by sending me a dozen stern e-mails themselves, all at once! Well, upset but determined, I made a post to introduce myself anyway, and I got the response that it was being cleared by the moderators before posting...it was never posted, and no reply or explanation was ever given. However, when I "unjoined" I was immediately sent a "why did you leave" form letter! The whole experience just made me sick at heart.
Last edited by Vocrinthedes; 12-27-2011 at 03:02 AM.
I will try to write more later, as I have to get ready for work now; but I wanted to say one thing that is in your favor. I have read that people that are completely and totally exhausted do not even care about their health anymore, so the fact that you care about your health may not be a bad sign. Do you consume caffeine of any form, as that can magnify problems?
The Following User Says Thank You to Leegh For This Useful Post: Vocrinthedes (12-27-2011)
I do consume coffee in the AM, but it seems to be the only way to get the motivation to do anything at all. Plus, I'm prescribed lotensin and a bit of xanax for my BP and anxiety in the morning (pre-coffee), both of which make me too drowsy if I don't have coffee. Vicious circle, I guess.
I look forward to reading more from you whenever you have time.
I would gradually reduce, with the intention of eliminating the caffeine and xanex, and see if that helps. When meeting new people in social situations one way to "break the ice" is to compliment them; for example you could tell someone you like their shoes, hat, etc. People respond very well to compliments. It's like fear of flying, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Also, an imbalance of omega 3 and 6 can cause depression. I had a test and my omega 3 is quite low (not good) in relation to my omega 6. Unfortunately, a lot of the bottled salad dressings contain a lot of omega 6 and I used to have bottled salad dressings most days on salads. Although I rarely drink now, I've used alcohol as a "crutch" in the past to call up a guy or something. Alcohol is known, of course, for causing depression. It sounds as if you don't have "anhedonia" which is a lack of joy/pleasure, because I think (but I'm not totally sure) with anhedonia one cannot feel happy even while drinking. With anhedonia if one found a $100 dollar bill, they would feel no joy. In addition, I think people feel better in a neater environment, possibly you could hire a maid service to come in for a cleaning. I don't agree with what your therapist said about why some people have trouble keeping a clean place. I am not fond of therapy. My opinion is a lot of therapists don't want their patients to improve considerably, otherwise they would be out of business. I'm sure this is not true in all cases, as many probably truly care about their patients. You sound like a very intelligent person, and your post was well written, and I think if you make some modifications you can do very well.
The Following User Says Thank You to Leegh For This Useful Post: Vocrinthedes (12-28-2011)
I know this is months afterwards, but I want to thank you again, Leegh. The reduction in caffeine really has helped. I also realize that I was probably still in PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome) when I started this thread (geez, I sounded so pathetic...it embarrasses me now), and I was not yet really "healed" from the regular (normal to some) consumption of alcohol - I had quit it altogether. Anyone withdrawing from any routine amount of alcohol or benzodiazepines (xanax, klonopin, ativan, valium) might be helped by reading about PAWS - just do a search for it online - there's lots of material about it.
But the root of all my other "evils" was actually job burnout. My GP diagnosed that and wrote my boss to put me on medical leave. This has brought about a tremendous relief! I'm amazed at how my ease in social situations and my motivation are increasing, I have no more anxiety attacks and little depression. And my blood pressure is much easier to manage. Plus, I have no craving for alcohol whatsoever.
Originally Posted by Leegh
It sounds as if you don't have "anhedonia" which is a lack of joy/pleasure, because I think (but I'm not totally sure) with anhedonia one cannot feel happy even while drinking.
I think I did have some anhedonia, because I found pleasure in very few things. But I'm now finding new pleasure in simple things of everyday life.
Originally Posted by Leegh
I think people feel better in a neater environment.
You're absolutely right! There is something to the concept of feng shui. I managed to clean and straighten my place up, and it makes me feel MUCH better!
Originally Posted by Leegh
I don't agree with what your therapist said about why some people have trouble keeping a clean place.
You were right. This therapist turned out to need more therapy than I did, it seems. She actually asked me to come to her house for therapy and share losing her dying dog. What had put me back in therapy again was that I had just lost my beloved 23-year-old cat and was overwhelmed with grief. The therapist thought my being with her dying dog would help us both! I'm no expert, but I don't think exposing a grieving person to even more dying is good therapy.
Originally Posted by Leegh
I am not fond of therapy. My opinion is a lot of therapists don't want their patients to improve considerably, otherwise they would be out of business.
That makes perfect sense to me, and after going through a number of therapists, I tend to believe that's too often true. It almost seems like "Keep the patients just slightly out of kilter and those insurance checks will keep rollin' in." I've had too many therapists who always said something untoward at the end of each session that left me troubled all week.
Originally Posted by Leegh
I'm sure this is not true in all cases, as many probably truly care about their patients.
I truly want to believe this, and I'm still keeping a lookout for one...that doesn't need more therapy than I do.
Originally Posted by Leegh
You sound like a very intelligent person, and your post was well written, and I think if you make some modifications you can do very well.
Thank you very much, Leegh. I have made tremendous progress on my own following your simple advice.
Hi-glad to hear you're doing well. Sorry for the delay in replying, but sometimes I take internet "breaks", where I don't use my computer. Thanks for the great information on PAWS, I plan to do a google search on it as soon as I finish this post. I am no stranger to addiction. I've stopped drinking, hopefully for good, as my blood pressure became really high, Another reason I stopped was the bad hangovers, and the "broken sleep", constantly waking up and unable to get back to sleep. I used to have my first rum and coke at 4:00 P.M., and would look forward to it all day. In addition, I've always had a weakness for cigarettes, as I started smoking when I was a teenager, and many years later I still have the craving, but I only allow myself a couple of cigarettes around Thanksgiving and Christmas when I have to deal with several obnoxious relatives! I used to travel by air frequently, and I would take valium for the flying, and sometimes to sleep in my hotel room. About a week or so after each trip I started to feel really depressed, and I thought it was just being tired from the trip, but I think now it was withdrawal from the valium. The only "drug" I am using now is caffeine, as I have coffee in the morning. I've cut back and stopped in the past, but have always started up again. Best Wishes Leegh
The following user gives a hug of support to Leegh: Vocrinthedes (05-19-2012)
We have a lot in common here, Leegh. I was so fortunate that I was never around smokers while growing up, or else I'd very likely have had a serious problem with that. But re everything else you wrote, I kept saying "been there, done that".
It's great that you never started smoking. Unfortunately, I'm probably one of the few people that likes the smell of cigarette smoke. I think with me it was probably the valium which made me feel depressed. Many years ago a doctor prescribed valium for me for neck pain from a car accident. I never even really knew what valium was then, and looking back I wish that it had never been prescribed for me. I don't take valium anymore, but do keep some at my home (and also in my purse in case of an emergency). I think somehow the brain "remembers" things it likes, like cigarettes, alcohol, valium, etc. The alcohol was probably the worst experience for me, as after several drinks it would give me the "confidence" to call up old boyfriends, etc. and I said some really, really dumb things, and then to wake up the next morning with a bad hangover, knowing I'd make a complete fool of myself. Life for me now is not great, but OK at times, and I can't really complain. Hope you have a great summer. Leegh
Of all the benzodiazepines, valium seems to be the least dangerous as far as PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome - not the numerous pet protection programs with the same acronym! I'd forgotten about that!), because valium has the longest half-life by far. It stays in your system for quite a while and gradually decreases, allowing for an easier withdrawal, but a withdrawal that does tend toward depression rather than anxiety in my experience, too.
A glass or three of wine also freed me a bit too much from my inhibitions, and the liberated social reformer would come out in me. I'd openly chew out anybody (by phone, e-mail, or in person) about how unfair they were and how ashamed they should be of their behavior, from my TV company for having all customer service "outsourced" to other countries, to major importers of products from Asia (you can guess which stores) and putting so many Americans out of work, to pet food companies for contaminating and killing so many beloved pets (remember the melamine tragedy of 2007? I went to every grocery store in my area with the gov't recall list in hand and had them pull the products off the shelves.). The next day, I'd feel physically awful and emotionally mortified for chastising people who have little control over these things.
I know just what you mean by the brain remembering what it likes. My brain misses the freedom to openly express my displeasures, but especially the heightened appreciation of beauty, music, and nature that I temporarily felt (all too fleeting and at such a cost, however). But like you, it was keeping my blood pressure too high and ruining my sleep as I aged. I also started developing embarrassing rosacea, which has stopped since I quit alcohol.
I'm so glad we have forums like these to share our health experiences. One doesn't feel so alone in these things anymore. I hope you have a great summer, too.