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  1. #11
    Senior Member bluebell's Avatar
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    I skipped a few questions.

    First of all, how acute do you consider your shyness or social anxiety to be?

    These days, non-existent to moderate. In the past, though, it was much worse.

    Do you find it easier to talk to people online than in real life? If so, what do you think makes it easier?

    Usually easier but not always.

    I guess there's having more thinking time, easier to leave if I want to, plus the people I've talked to online have been fairly similar to me in terms of personality, so there's less nervousness about being judged for being a bit different.

    Why is it, do you think, that people are often more comfortable when someone says, "I'm not feeling well" than when they say, "I'm feeling shy and socially anxious"? If you get a hit of anxiety in a social situation, have you ever used the "I'm feeling sick" excuse or an excuse that wasn't the truth to explain why you were acting the way you were or to get out of the situation altogether? Why? (Be careful to distinguish shyness and social anxiety from mere introversion.)

    Because people accept it as not being your fault. Being shy or socially anxious is not understood by those who've never experienced - people don't seem to comprehend that it's not easy to get over. Like with other psychological issues, there often seems to be an attitude of 'just get over it' or it's something to make fun of. I can't imagine ever saying 'gotta go now, I'm feeling too anxious' to anyone other than my partner. And yes, I've used that excuse in the past, for all the reasons in this paragraph.

    When you realized you had the disorder, how did you familiarize yourself with it? Where did you seek information? What kinds of information about your disorder are most important to you (treatment options, coping skills, causes of the disorder, experiences shared by those afflicted with it)?

    I read a book on overcoming shyness. It was very prescriptive and scheduled and didn't suit me. But I did take on board the suggestion from the book that you do need to desensitise yourself and make yourself realise that while you may feel anxious, it is just anxiety and doesn't mean that anything bad is going to happen.


    Do you think people see social anxiety or shyness as a weakness? Do you think they see it as your fault or as something you can fix?

    See above.

    Do you consider it your fault? Do you feel shame because of your disorder?

    When I realised I had it (maybe 4 or 5 years ago), I was ashamed until I realised which events in the past had contributed to it. I'm mostly over that now but shame still comes up now and then when I'm not having a good day.

    How much does your shyness define you?

    It used to, but not much anymore.

    What hope do you have for improvement?

    I'm mostly over it now. So, yeah, there's always hope IMO.

    How acute has it been in the past? If your condition has improved, how did that happen?

    It was crippling in the past. I'd go to an occasional party and leave after an hour or two because the anxiety got overwhelming (although I was kinda in denial about that). I also used to walk the long way round when I was in grad school to avoid having to say hi to people I knew. I missed out on a lot of opportunities to make friends and meet people.

    I've now mostly overcome it because I worked out the reasons why I was so socially anxious and so I could be more objective about it. I also made myself socialise no matter how anxious it made me feel (Edit: getting drunk at the pub or at parties helped get over the initial severe anxiety). Silence in conversations is what triggered the worst of the anxiety so I had to learn how to just sit and stay there and not run away. I also watched other people when I was at the pub and noticed that there were a few really quiet people and it was ok for them to sit in silence, so I eventually learnt that it was ok for me to be quiet as well. I also did things like make myself introduce myself to people I didn't know, like at work or at parties. It's horribly awkward to start with but eventually it became something I can do on autopilot.

    Desensitising took a long time. It was several years IIRC. I think sometimes people expect desensitising to happen overnight but for me I really had to perservere with it.

    I still occasionally have shy/anxious days (usually when I'm in a social situation that I haven't been in before and I don't know what to do) but mostly things are ok. My job also made me get over a lot of it. I have to talk on the phone to a lot of people, some of whom are pretty hostile/unhappy, I run meetings, I give presentations to large groups of people, I make small talk with strangers at conferences etc. Sometimes I even enjoy it.
    ...so much smoke pouring out of each chromosome.

  2. #12
    nevermore lane777's Avatar
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    SAD.

    This thread is so unsettling. Been sitting here for 10 min trying to think up something useful to say.

    Said a prayer for you all instead.
    To die would be an awfully big adventure - Peter Pan

    INFJ ~ 4w5 sp/sx ~ RLOAI ~ Inclusion e/w=1/0 (Melancholy Compulsive) Control: e/w=0/6 (Supine) Affection: e/w=4/0 (Phlegmatic Melancholy)

  3. #13
    Mamma said knock you out Mempy's Avatar
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    Thanks for all these great and thoughtful responses, guys.

    Quote Originally Posted by lane777 View Post
    SAD.

    This thread is so unsettling. Been sitting here for 10 min trying to think up something useful to say.

    Said a prayer for you all instead.
    They're running just like you
    For you, and I, wooo
    So people, people, need some good ol' love

  4. #14
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    First of all, how acute do you consider your shyness or social anxiety to be?

    I'm 40 now. In my teens, 20's, and even somewhat into my early 30's, it was devastating. There were times I simply could not go into a public place, and if I did, I avoided everyone I could.

    Calling people on the phone even just to make a service call (like credit cards or utilities) took a lot of mental preparation (in rehearsing the conversation dialogue and having it all planned out) and I'd still be extremely nervous and often felt tongue-tied.

    Meeting new people was rather like being skinned alive, depending on their personalities. (If they led the conversation and all I had to do was respond, fine. If they were unresponsive, forget it.)

    In my worst times, I would even avoid people by taking other routes through the workplace if I heard someone coming, or I wouldn't go in the bathroom if I heard someone in there -- I didn't want to have to talk to them when I was so anxious about what to say and not know ahead of time what might happen.

    Do you find it easier to talk to people online than in real life? If so, what do you think makes it easier?

    Online.
    • It adds an extra "buffer." There's distance there, and I can come and go as I wish.
    • It removes any anxiety I have over my physical presence.
    • It utilizes my writing, not my speaking, ability. I'm finally getting to the stage where my speaking ability feels comfortable to me and I know I can handle any conversation in real-time. But in the past i only felt competent when writing, not speaking. I know writing is a strength for me, compared to many others.


    How much does your disorder inhibit your dating life? In what ways does it inhibit it? What do you think your prospects in dating are?

    It was pretty horrible when I was young.
    I didn't date much at all.

    Nowadays? Meh. I have other issues than the shyness to worry about with dating.

    But also, I feel comfortable NOT dating; I would never go out with someone I hadn't already met and realized I'd have a great time with, I wouldn't do blind dates or go out to "pick up someone" at a bar or club.

    Why is it, do you think, that people are often more comfortable when someone says, "I'm not feeling well" than when they say, "I'm feeling shy and socially anxious"? If you get a hit of anxiety in a social situation, have you ever used the "I'm feeling sick" excuse or an excuse that wasn't the truth to explain why you were acting the way you were or to get out of the situation altogether? Why? (Be careful to distinguish shyness and social anxiety from mere introversion.)

    Not feeling well first of all sounds like it's something you can't control, and it's also temporary. You should feel better shortly.

    Being shy and/or socially anxious to some people is something you have to "rise above" (whether or not that is true). But also, it's pervasive, part of a person's psychological makeup, and so it's not going away; people might not want to commit long-term to someone who struggles with it, it's a "negative" trait to them.

    When you realized you had the disorder, how did you familiarize yourself with it? Where did you seek information? What kinds of information about your disorder are most important to you (treatment options, coping skills, causes of the disorder, experiences shared by those afflicted with it)?

    I read lots of books, and eventually the Internet, once I became aware that there were others with similar issues.

    What roles do this forum, support groups, and nonprofit organizations play in your life? How important are they to your knowledge, socialization, health and treatment?

    The online community saved me in the sense it provided enough interaction so that I could gain confidence in who I was, develop some friendships I could expand into real life, figure out what things were important in life, etc. Eventually I started to move from online into physical relationships since the online world can only fulfill part of my needs as a person.

    SUpport groups were helpful for a bit; I only did online things, really. At some point, support groups become more about me (1) meeting new people and (2) helping people who are worse off than me, they weren't necessarily helpful to me anymore since mostly people just talk about what they don't like.

    What do you think the public perception of SAD is? Does it match the reality of SAD? What misconceptions do society and even your own family and friends have about the disorder?

    Geez. I think most people unless they have experience just think "get over it." Once they have people who are debilitated by it in their lives, then they feel sort of helpless; there's little you can do to get someone to overcome the fear, at least nothing short-term. It demands a change in a person's feelings of confidence and self-esteem.

    Do you think people see social anxiety or shyness as a weakness? Do you think they see it as your fault or as something you can fix?

    I think it can be combated by (1) successful relationships and/or interactions with others and (2) increased feelings of self-esteem and honesty with oneself. Often there are components of self-loathing or self-ugliness -- "I am not acceptable to others because I'm not <adjective> enough" -- and the whole point is to say either, "Actually, I'm not those awful things," OR "I might actually be bad at the things I fear... but it does not change my value or acceptability as a person."

    Do you consider it your fault? Do you feel shame because of your disorder?

    I guess at times I have felt embarrassment inside over having such a hard time of it, and wishing I could join the group... and I would have to fight hard to not cater to those feelings and just join the group anyway.

    How much does your shyness define you?

    Not as much now. But the skills i developed BECAUSE I was shy (such as studying situations first, being hypersensitive to social cues, being aware of internal anxiety, being very aware of what responses trigger what reactions, etc.) are useful skills in the right contexts.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mempy View Post
    First of all, how acute do you consider your shyness or social anxiety to be?
    Practically nonexistent, now. My friends call me a social butterfly and joke about how many activities I have on my calendar, how busy I keep myself with friends and acquaintances. Pretty much all of my hobbies have a group of people involved. I also actively involve myself in the lives of other people and take a genuine interest in them, trying to help them realize their full potential.

    In high school, I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder and placed on Paxil. My social anxiety used to be absolutely horrible, to the point where I actually hated other people because I didn't realize a problem with myself. I had fears of crowds, felt rejected and conspired against by groups of people, didn't associate with anyone in high school.. and so on. I used to spend most of my free time in my room, dabbling in isolated hobbies and focusing on my career and schoolwork.

    Do you find it easier to talk to people online than in real life? If so, what do you think makes it easier?
    I'm good at "off-the-cuff" conversations now, but talking to people through email, chatting, or texting is often still easier for me.. but for reasons not attributed to anxiety anymore.

    While I used to rely on online conversations to allow me to craft my responses out of fear, I now use those tools to communicate basically asynchronously. Sometimes, I can't sync my schedule with people I want to talk to, so I have to do it over email rather than by phone.

    How much does your disorder inhibit your dating life? In what ways does it inhibit it? What do you think your prospects in dating are?
    I was involved with girls in high school, but I never allowed anyone to get too close to me.. I don't think I gave anyone a second date. In college, I never dated because I thought it was hopeless to even try.

    Now, I realize what I have to offer, and I'm picky and very selective when it comes to those I date.. maybe a bit too much so.

    Why is it, do you think, that people are often more comfortable when someone says, "I'm not feeling well" than when they say, "I'm feeling shy and socially anxious"? If you get a hit of anxiety in a social situation, have you ever used the "I'm feeling sick" excuse or an excuse that wasn't the truth to explain why you were acting the way you were or to get out of the situation altogether? Why? (Be careful to distinguish shyness and social anxiety from mere introversion.)
    Everyone can relate to not feeling well, but not everyone can relate to something like social anxiety. I used to use the "not feeling well" excuse a lot when I had to duck out.

    Although, it is truthful.. anxiety isn't exactly a good feeling.

    When you realized you had the disorder, how did you familiarize yourself with it? Where did you seek information? What kinds of information about your disorder are most important to you (treatment options, coping skills, causes of the disorder, experiences shared by those afflicted with it)?
    Like any problem I want to solve, I researched it in great detail through books, conversations with doctors, articles, online postings, forums, therapists.. you name it. I found the collection of all of the information useful in talking about the same problem.

    What roles do this forum, support groups, and nonprofit organizations play in your life? How important are they to your knowledge, socialization, health and treatment?
    I was in group therapy for a while and found it to be one of the best resources I could use.

    What do you think the public perception of SAD is? Does it match the reality of SAD? What misconceptions do society and even your own family and friends have about the disorder?

    Do you think people see social anxiety or shyness as a weakness? Do you think they see it as your fault or as something you can fix?
    Everyone always tells shy people to break out of their shells and have fun. They're It just plain doesn't come easily when anxiety is involved.

    Do you consider it your fault? Do you feel shame because of your disorder?

    How much does your shyness define you?

    What hope do you have for improvement?

    How acute has it been in the past? If your condition has improved, how did that happen?
    I always wondered why I wasn't strong enough to interact with other people, which left me ashamed and depressed for a very, very long time. I started therapy about two years ago, and it worked wonders for me. I still struggle with self-esteem and some anxiety issues from time to time, but it's been a great improvement overall. I've led group therapy sessions in an effort to help others with the same sort of problems.

    My interest in exactly how therapy could help people led me to become very, very interested in psychology, which has completely defined my career. So, yeah, if it weren't for my experiences, I probably never would have found that out.

    If anyone (including the OP) has any other questions for me, feel free to shoot them my way!

  6. #16
    Senior Member bluebell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greed View Post
    If anyone (including the OP) has any other questions for me, feel free to shoot them my way!
    I guess I'm curious about how you actually overcame the social anxiety. Did you work on desensitising yourself to social situations? Or was it more along the lines of working on other emotional stuff which spontaneously led to the anxiety lifting? Or something else?
    ...so much smoke pouring out of each chromosome.

  7. #17
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    Certainly.. I think "I had therapy" isn't exactly a helpful answer.

    Anxiety in general definitely runs in my family. My dad's also an ENTJ, and he, my sister (ENFJ?), and I all suffer from it.

    I was on Paxil in high school, which was supposed to help. It did nothing except for make me not give a damn about anything, and I came off it my senior year of high school so that I could pick my grades up and actually do things.

    I did get myself out there more and more during college, but I still had horrible self-esteem issues and depression until I started therapy. It took me until after college to be able to trust doctors and therapists again.

    To answer your question, it was really working simultaneously on both the emotional (depression) aspect and also "getting myself out there" as my therapist guided me. Those issues were definitely connected; there's a perpetual feedback loop between self-esteem or hatred of others, and anxiety and depression--they feed on each other. Through therapy sessions, I found that I could relate to and read other people. My therapist also coaxed me into taking more risks, such as going to a concert out of town. I also started on medication for the depression, which helped lift me out of the depression enough to get me out there even more. Things pretty much started improving from there.

    Like I said, I still struggle with self-esteem issues, and I had a bunch of major changes in my life recently that led me to question who exactly I was. Putting it in typing terms, I couldn't find a type that exactly fit me until I came full circle, back to ENTJ as I originally tested two years or so ago.

    I used to beat myself up over never being complacent with the present, looking toward the future, and being anxious until I realized that those aspects helped me become the person that I am. I recognize my gifts and work to minimize my faults. I must admit that typing and cognitive theories have contributed greatly to that understanding and acceptance.

    One recent development is my ability to let go of "should have's" and "should do's." I think I'm more inclined to do what comes naturally to me, and I'm a lot happier as a result.

    Oh, and the Ten Days to Self-Esteem workbook is a godsend for anxiety and depression issues.


    Maybe this snippet from my introductory post will help, too:

    Through therapy, I discovered that I was actually able to subconsciously "read" other people--starting with mere facial expressions--when I thought that I didn't have that ability. This led to me slowly getting myself out in social settings. When I "broke out of my shell," so to speak, I became very, very interested in helping others do the same. I became the person who would introduce himself to others and include them whenever I felt that they might be lonely or in need of someone to talk to. The first time I was called "brave" in a social situation was one of the defining moments of my development as a person. I found that I could relate to most anyone and could find some initial thread of communication that allowed others to open up to me. I find that I'm happiest when I'm around others, and I strive to meet new people. Part of my drive to meet others is so that I can learn from them.. many of my core beliefs and understandings have been shaped based upon the collective experiences I've had in interacting with others.
    I'll be glad to answer anything about social anxiety, anxiety in general, depression, and so on.

  8. #18
    Senior Member htb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greed View Post
    I'll be glad to answer anything about social anxiety, anxiety in general, depression, and so on.
    No questions, but a bookmark. Lately I've become concerned that old maladaptations to experiences affect me more these days than I thought. I'll look into that book.

  9. #19
    Senior Member Travo7's Avatar
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    First of all, how acute do you consider your shyness or social anxiety to be?

    Hard to say. Some days I think I have a grasp on it, or that I've figured out a way to overcome (or maybe its the meds??), and other days I feel totally overwhelmed. It's like trying to climb a rainy, wet mountain only to hit a mudslide which takes you back all the way down.

    (Just so you know what I "have" : Anxious Depression, which in my case is SAD + Depression.)


    Do you find it easier to talk to people online than in real life? If so, what do you think makes it easier?

    That's a hard one. Of course there are certain elements of online communication that, as others have said, can prevent things like an awkward silence, or going blank during a conversation, but I sometimes get anxious about possibly being misunderstood, or unclear when posting, because most of the time I'm not face to face with anyone, so if there is a misunderstanding, then I feel like I have missed the opportunity to explain myself (I don't think I was able to say what I meant to).
    Basically, I just get really nervous when I post anything.

    How much does your disorder inhibit your dating life? In what ways does it inhibit it? What do you think your prospects in dating are? I'm married, so it does happen, even to people who suffer this kind of thing.

    Why is it, do you think, that people are often more comfortable when someone says, "I'm not feeling well" than when they say, "I'm feeling shy and socially anxious"? If you get a hit of anxiety in a social situation, have you ever used the "I'm feeling sick" excuse or an excuse that wasn't the truth to explain why you were acting the way you were or to get out of the situation altogether? Why? (Be careful to distinguish shyness and social anxiety from mere introversion.)

    I think because it is seen as a weakness, or in the minds of many disorders like these equate to the person being a "wuss" (or even weak-minded).
    Actually in middle school, I just used the "I'm tired" approach, which means isolating yourself in a quiet corner to "get some sleep." Why? To avoid more awkward feelings, I suppose.

    What roles do this forum, support groups, and nonprofit organizations play in your life? How important are they to your knowledge, socialization, health and treatment?
    I really just come here to "talk" with others about mbti stuff because I don't really know anyone IRL that is dorky enough to do that with me.

    What do you think the public perception of SAD is? Does it match the reality of SAD? What misconceptions do society and even your own family and friends have about the disorder?

    I think, actually, that many people don't even acknowledge it as a disorder. Almost like it's an excuse for cowardice, or laziness. Or something...

    Do you think people see social anxiety or shyness as a weakness? Do you think they see it as your fault or as something you can fix?

    Yes, I do. Yes, yes, yes... sometimes even close friends seem to think that I'm not trying hard enough, which sucks. I try real hard sometimes.


    Do you consider it your fault? Do you feel shame because of your disorder?

    My fault? No, but I don't blame anyone else for it either. Shame? Sometimes...I guess...


    Whew, I'm tired, I can't answer anymore right now.

  10. #20
    homo-loving sonovagun anii's Avatar
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    Caveat: I haven't been diagnosed with this disorder, it's just my self perception that I have features of it.

    First of all, how acute do you consider your shyness or social anxiety to be?

    It depends on how I percieve the person(s) I am interacting (their social status mainly) and the context of the interaction (group vs. one-on-one, public speaking vs. conversation).

    Do you find it easier to talk to people online than in real life? If so, what do you think makes it easier?

    Not necessarily, because there is more potential for misunderstanding online than in IRL, due to lack of body language. In general though I feel more comfortable with written communication than with verbal, so in that sense it's easier.

    How much does your disorder inhibit your dating life? In what ways does it inhibit it? What do you think your prospects in dating are?

    The social anxiety symptoms I experienced in my younger years were very inhibiting; I used to compensate by drinking too much. Which is risky and habit-forming. My standards and objectives for dating have changed drastically in recent years. I have a more realistic perspective on what I want and what I believe I can get. I feel more confident in myself and therefore pretty much get what I want, within the limits of my standards and objectives. So the prospects, they are great at the moment.

    Why is it, do you think, that people are often more comfortable when someone says, "I'm not feeling well" than when they say, "I'm feeling shy and socially anxious"? If you get a hit of anxiety in a social situation, have you ever used the "I'm feeling sick" excuse or an excuse that wasn't the truth to explain why you were acting the way you were or to get out of the situation altogether? Why? (Be careful to distinguish shyness and social anxiety from mere introversion.)

    In nutshell, medical excuses are more socially acceptable than psychological excuses. The latter put others on the defensive or make them feel uncomfortable because they don't know what they are expected to do in that situation. Sadly, mental health issues have been swept under the carpet, marginalized, and exaggerated/stereotyped in our society and media, so most people don't know how to deal with them. It's the fear of the unknown and people tend to reject or distance themselves from the unknown.

    Therefore, it's much easier to say "I'm tired" which was my most often used response when I'd suddenly go quiet due to anxiety and someone would ask what's wrong. I suppose "I don't feel well" would work just as well.

    When you realized you had the disorder, how did you familiarize yourself with it? Where did you seek information? What kinds of information about your disorder are most important to you (treatment options, coping skills, causes of the disorder, experiences shared by those afflicted with it)?

    I discovered I had acute performance anxiety while leading career workshops for mid- to upper-level professionals. I ended up having to quit because I couldn't take the stress anymore. I've practiced meditation, breathing, and exercise since then. I've looked into beta-blockers; if I ever have the opportunity to do that kind of work again (I loved it, which made having to stop all the more painful) I will insist on a prescription.

    For some reason, perceived (not necessarily actual) social status really pushes all of my buttons.

    What roles do this forum, support groups, and nonprofit organizations play in your life? How important are they to your knowledge, socialization, health and treatment?

    Aside from this particular thread, I wouldn't say this specific forum has helped. There is a local "shyness and social anxiety" meetup I'm on the mailing list for. I haven't had time to go to a meeting. I suspect that's because, like I said earlier, I probably do not have the full disorder, just random symptoms of it. My social life is quite full, my work is fulfilling both professionally and socially, so I haven't really seen a need to go. Still, I maintain a membership on the mailing list, so I must still see a need to keep it in my back pocket, just in case.

    What do you think the public perception of SAD is? Does it match the reality of SAD? What misconceptions do society and even your own family and friends have about the disorder?

    I think people with this disorder have an uphill battle. There is alot of social stigma attached to being "shy" or "introverted" or in any way socially awkward. All you have to do is watch one or two reality show episodes to see how these kinds of "outsiders" are treated. The US in particular is skewed toward Extraversion, that is what is recognized and rewarded.

    I think the greatest misperception people have is that we can "just get over it" somehow, through sheer force of will. Unfortunately, I've found that this sort of pressure only results in increased anxiety. I've found the best practice is to acknowledge it is there, to embrace or accept it, this has the effect of dissipating it. Still, there are biochemical factors involved - adrenaline, norepinephrene, blood sugar levels, thyroid, etc. - all of these can make one feel overly revved up and enervated. It's not a simple thing to treat.

    Do you think people see social anxiety or shyness as a weakness? Do you think they see it as your fault or as something you can fix?

    Absolutely. All of the above.

    Do you consider it your fault? Do you feel shame because of your disorder?

    Absolutely not. (I used to though.) Except to the extent that now I know there are steps I can take to manage and minimize it, that is, I do not own any feelings of guilt or shame about it.

    How much does your shyness define you?

    I don't know if I am shy. I know that sometimes I feel shy or behave in a shy manner. I usually tell the person I am feeling shy, oddly it makes me seem more appealing to them.

    What hope do you have for improvement?

    Aside from the steps I've already listed, having access to continued research on what works.

    How acute has it been in the past? If your condition has improved, how did that happen?

    It was more acute in the past. Improvement has been due to education, experimentation, self-awareness, and self-advocacy.
    There's reason to be afraid, and reason to open your heart. ~ Seal

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