1/21/18 Hero: “Andrew”

Today’s #SameHere Hero: “Andrew” (Another brave soul, sharing a story anonymously, wanting to do anything he can to get it out there in the hopes of helping others. Yet another topic we haven’t discussed but is such an important mental health topic: how as kids, we treat our peers in school when they appear a little different. At a young age, few consider the impact their words have on others. Kids just react to what they perceive as “out of the norm” and often project their own insecurities on others. Childhood teasing can have a life-long effect.)


“Both of my grandfathers died within six months of each other when I was five years old. We always had a very tight-knit immediate family and both of them were very important to me, even at such a young age. Losing them almost back-to-back like that had a tremendous emotional impact on me. I’m not sure if anxiety was just in my genes, or my family’s loss alone was in itself the determining factor in how my emotional psyche took shape, but in kindergarten/first grade, I developed a stuttering problem that was obviously hard to handle in a school setting…when kids don’t quite yet know how to treat someone who is a little different. I believe that the effect of how kids reacted to my early stuttering, and how I obsessively thought about what they must think of me, is a big reason why I remain a quiet person to this day.


In early middle-age I am still somewhat shy, introverted, withdrawn and find it difficult to make friends and participate in social gatherings. My parents brought me to a child psychiatrist my junior year of high school. Due to how my symptoms were manifesting, my doctor diagnosed me with Social Anxiety Disorder.


I have sought help on and off since then because I desperately want to be more social and have both male and female friends. Because of some of the difficulties in that area, my work has been a passion for me. But even there, my social anxiety played a large role in losing one of my jobs, and that was a big blow. Fortunately, I was able to recover from that experience and I am now stable and happy in my new role.


I take the following medications: Wellbutrin, Abilify and Klonopin. They seem to be helping to dampen my symptoms. I tried to go off of Klonopin once but the results were a disaster. I recognize that I’m on the ‘standard’ cocktail that most pdocs recommend: a first level anti-depressant, a booster to it, and a benzo for anxiety.


I also am recognizing from reading these Hero stories, that most ppl suffering from something similar are put on a plan like this, and that meds alone don’t seem to do the trick to achieve optimal mental health. I tried group therapy and exposure therapy to acclimate to more social situations, but those just exacerbated my social anxiety. I now look forward to exploring some of the other practices being talked about here, that seem to be working for others.


Anyway, #SameHere…I would hope that people would empathize with me and go out of their way to help bring out the social ability that I know is buried inside me. But I also know a lot of this work still has to be done on my own. It’s just so hard feeling alone. I am a good, decent person and just want the opportunity to share those qualities more with people that I can socialize, with more regularly.”

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