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Old 12-06-2018, 12:06 PM
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Default Well, a sort of "type" of social anxiety

I hope no one here minds that I post this here. I was going to post it with a different subject title on the bipolar disorder group (I have bipolar type 1), but sort of chickened out. My psychiatrist has never diagnosed me with a social anxiety, but a long-time therapist/psychologist has to a degree. A certain type of social anxiety. I have also had a two-year period in the past (ending maybe 4 years ago), when I was agoraphobic to varying degrees. Anyway, here is my story. I'm wondering if anyone can relate. PLEASE please, I hope the ladies of this group will not judge me in any harsh way. I think women are wonderful and I love being a woman.

As a young kid, I was one of the most popular girls in my school and had oodles of friends. As a young teen, after moving states, I had few or even no friends in the public school I went to, but a number at ballet, which I attended five days per week. Ballet was my life back then. The lack of friends at school unfortunately had to do with rejecting peer pressure. The least popular girl at school was my neighbor and I befriended her for that reason. When I started at the school the kids asked me if I liked her. I could have said "No" and rejected her, but I didn't. The obvious happened. Rejection of me and being bullied. And not only that, that unpopular friend even rejected me after a few years.

After I quit ballet, I lost my two to three good ballet friends because of "out of sight out of mind", sort of. That happens when you leave "a life" like ballet or similar. Plus, my first major bipolar symptoms started then, around 15/16 years old. Depression isolates. Mania or mixed episodes do, too, or even scares people.

Something kind of horrible happened to me at the public school that was a bit traumatizing. It had to do with my bipolar symptoms and social isolation. My parents then transferred me to a private school for my last two years of high school. There I had a few friends, but they were male friends. I also had a few boyfriends. The girls were not mean to me in any way there (and I wasn't mean to them), but they were not my friends.

I knew at 18 years old that I had developed an issue with relationships with females (other than my mother and sister). For that reason, I took a leap and accepted the spot at a large university's female college. I wanted to try to make female friends! There I made maybe five female friends (not all at the same time), and some superficial female friendships, but I know that I was distant in some ways. And just not a great friend at times. My bipolar disorder hypomanic/manic behavior also caused riffs and ruined friendships. When it came to guys, I had no problems, but they were all boyfriend type relationships. Not regular friends.

After university graduation, up until my early 30s, I usually had only one real female friend at any time, and maybe a few friendly female acquaintances. Again, I had a number of boyfriends, but they were less friends and more "boyfriends" and at 25, I met the man who would be my husband. Though I did socialize with some females, my husband described my relationships with them as friendly, but guarded. Or me having a "glass wall between them and me". Again, some women seemed to not like me at all, and could even be downright viscous towards me. Over the years, I developed a somewhat thick skin towards such women. I also continued to eventually give too little to the women that were my friends, and so the relationships would eventually dissolve. Truly, mostly my fault and/or the fault of my bipolar behavior, which I generally found justified through some lack of insight.

During the last 19 years, I only had one female friend. She seemed to be a good friend, though I was not her best friend, and I confess I never gave enough of myself to really earn such a place. Then the worst of my bipolar disorder struck, and the friendship dissolved. People sometimes also can't handle such a challenge as having a severely mentally ill friend like me, especially if they have young children.

For the last 5 years, I have had zero friends. I am extremely friendly with many men in my area, but I wouldn't call them true friends and I wouldn't pursue romantic relationships with any, since I'm happily married. I've been on disability for 8+ years, and my isolation has at times been extreme. During the period since my initial bipolar diagnosis about 14 years ago, I have gone through several female therapists. My illness was a factor for the relationships failing, but also my issues/anxiety around women. When I had male therapists, there was sometimes an unhealthy sexual tension involved. My male psychiatrist eventually told me to only get female therapists from that point on. I have found two in the last 6.5 years that I made progress with, but the first took a long time. The second of the two I adored from the beginning, but perhaps because she reminded me of my mother. Now with my latest therapist, I again have that glass wall between us.

I am able to talk to women. It's not like I always have immediate anxiety attacks around them. Actually, often my reactions are too far in the opposite directions. I'm too expansive too soon. Or I appear grandiose around them. And other negative presentations that ultimately keep a distance or turn them off from me. My behavior is clearly a protective shield. When the relationships fail, I generally don't grieve, but brush the failures off like a Teflon pan.

I'm in my late 40s now. I have no idea if I'm ever going to have a good female friend again in my life. I have finally grown to grieve that fact, feel slightly embarrassed by it, and feel that having zero friends is a deterrent to making any friends. What woman would want to be friends with a woman who has zero friends?

I feel that the worst of my illness has made me into a more compassionate and supportive person. I have developed some nice online friendships with women, but unfortunately online friendships are not the same as in-person friends, generally. People eventually move on or drop out of sight. They only see a portion of you. They don't see your facial expressions, body language, and other communication. They see dialogue that can be more well thought out and even deleted and reworded before read. Online relationships basically have the protective "glass wall" built in. They don't see or hear anxiety, or fear of rejection. The ability or need to trust is not as much of an issue.
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I have Bipolar type 1

Tegretol XR generic (1200 mg)
Lamictal generic (100 mg)
Seroquel XR generic (600 mg)
Latuda (20 mg)
Klonopin generic (0.5 mg)

PRNs - Seroquel IR generic (25 to 100 mg in a day), Ativan (1 mg, up to 3 mg/day)

Others: Propranolol (40 mg), Synthroid (150 mcg), OTC multi-vitamin, OTC iron supplement (during periods), Biotin supplement (for my otherwise thin fingernails)
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