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Selective Mutism


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#1 Lindsay

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Posted 17 September 2007 - 05:05 PM

Selective Mutism The Entire Article is in the DF Portal
Selective Mutism is a psychiatric disorder most commonly found in children, characterized by a persistent failure to speak in select settings, which continues for more than 1 month. These children understand spoken language and have the ability to speak normally. In typical cases, they speak to their parents and a few selected others. Sometimes, they do not speak to certain individuals in the home. Most are unable to speak in school, and in other major social situations. Generally, most function normally in other ways, although some may have additional disabilities. Most learn age-appropriate skills and academics. Currently, Selective Mutism, through published studies, appears to be related to severe anxiety, shyness and social anxiety. Selective Mutism may be associated to a variety of things, but the exact cause is yet unknown.

Selective Mutism

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#2 mmf

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Posted 17 September 2007 - 06:00 PM

:hearts: Thanks Lindsay. :bump:

I have never outgrown this. But, I think, I cope pretty well. Nice to have a "name" to it.

Finally!! Noooooo, I am NOT stubborn, I am not "refusing" to talk. I have a real disorder. It is more than just "shy." Sometimes in stressful situations, my brain shuts down the speaking center and I can't talk.

Edited by mmf, 17 September 2007 - 06:34 PM.


#3 sara1975

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Posted 28 September 2007 - 11:13 AM

blimey, i didnt know there was a word for it.
i started being like this when i was 18 months old and wouldnt talk to anyone but my mum dad brother sister and nan.
the school just said i was shy and would grow out of it but i didnt then the social phobia and agoraphobia started.
just goes to show you learn something new everyday.
thanks

#4 caelyn

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Posted 04 October 2007 - 12:10 AM

This is interesting. There are times when I feel like I cant talk even if I wanted to, usually around the time after an anxiety attack. I didnt realize there was a name for it. I also have a personality disorder (possibly 2 different ones) along with my depression & anxiety so I guess there are a lot of possibliites of what could cause me to be mute at times.

#5 Silent Expression

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 06:04 AM

Hi everyone :)
I am 20, I have MDD and GAD. I thought I might have a kind of social phobia but I never really get phobic symptoms in social situations, sometimes less intense anxiety symptoms, but generally I find I just lose the ability to speak. I wonder if I might have a kind of latent selective mutism? It can happen in large groups, small groups or one on one situations. It is worst in any group of 3 or more. I often find myself unable to speak up, even if I have something pretty funny or insightful to say. It's like I'm afraid of the sound of my own voice, like it would be an unwelcome intrusion, or betray a lack of intelligence. Sometimes I sit up drinking with my housemates for hours without saying a word. I don't physically lose the ability to speak - I will generally respond if I'm spoken to (and will make every attempt to be civil) but will be eager to 'get out of the spotlight' and end the conversation as soon as possible. If it's really bad I might use verbal communication but only as a last resort, when no gesture will suffice. At this point I am usually feeling very anxious and feel a strong need to leave the room. If leaving the room means drawing attention to myself, like if I have to ask someone to move, I opt to stay put, and the anxiety builds. Then we're in panic attack territory... Among friends I am generally better, but can still be just as bad. The interesting thing is that I showed signs of SM as a child, although I grew out of it.
Any advise/opinions appreciated

#6 Scattered13

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 06:38 AM

I have functional aphonia/dysphoia which is basically a conversion disorder resulting in actual voice loss for extended periods of time. The vocal chords paralyse themselves and each time I have to retrain them using speech and voice therapy. It is related to depression and anxiety. Selective mutism comes under the same umbrella.
Dx: psychotic depression, panic disorder, rheumatoid arthitis, 'something else going on'
Rx: mirtazapine 45mg,respiridone 1mg, adalimumab 40mg, azathioprine 150mg, hydroxychloroquine 400mg, prednisolone 5mg, diclofenac sodium 150mg, codeine 30mg, zaleplon 10mg, calcium and vit.d

#7 StarGazed

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 04:55 AM

I don't know if I have this or something else, but hwen I'm really upset or under a lot ofs tress I just can't talk. My brain forms the words, I feel like I'm mentally shouting to my mouth to say them, but it doesn't come out. Its only temporary, like when I'm getting told off by a teacher for doing something wrong or feel really awful about myself, I guess it's that sort of thing. Nice to know it can happen to others, it can be really freaky when it happens and it's hard getting people to understand you really *can't* say anything, partly because you can't speak at the time.

#8 mysticalgumballs

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Posted 08 November 2009 - 10:57 AM

I rarely ever go out anymore, partly because of shyness but mostly because I don't find enjoyment in it anymore. On the rare occasions that I do go out, a lot of the time I wont say a single word. I am not exactly sure why i do it, but when I ask myself why i just think "I can't be bothered" or "I have nothing to say". I can type on a computer but I don't like to move my mouth for some reason... then when I have returned from my strainfull journey of going out somewhere I then ask myself "why the hell did i bother?"
I have a partner of 6 months, but 0 friends, and make little to no effort to make any. I'm not sure if it's because I can't or don't want to.

#9 Pheniox

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 10:23 PM

I'm just about to turn 27yrs old and a Mom of a 9yr old girl. I have just recently learnt a bit about selective mutism from a documentary on tv here in NZ recently and discovered that its something that I suffer from. After battling depression and sleeping disorders for many years this anxiety still comes back for me on some occasions now. Up until last year I was an adult who would not talk on most occasions even to the stage that I wouldn't contact close family members. This went on for 6-7 years at least... When i was a very young child I was very confident(like what my 9 yr old daughter has been growing up).. but something changed, im not sure what that was. Would be interesting, now I know what I have is not just me being shy and immautre (this is what I was teased for,I had no idea otherwise) to find others that could help me help recover from or get better from selective mutism. Recently i have had a few big hits of axiety and its really time for me to take some control of this.

Would appreciate any information on treatment
Thanks

#10 Beanchop99

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 02:55 PM

Hello Phoenix,

I'm sorry that you're still struggling. Disorders like anxiety can affect us our entire lives. Trust me, Phoenix, I know what you're going through. :shocked:

Although I know very little about Selective Mutism, I know anxiety inside and out. You mention suffering recent "big hits" of anxiety. Can you isolate the trigger(s)? How bad are the anxiety attacks? How do you handle them?

Also wondering if you're on meds? Seeing a doc? In therapy?

What about your daughter? I believe you said that she is not suffering Selective Mutism. That's great! Is she displaying signs of anxiety? Have you mentioned your troubles to her doc? It may be a good idea to, so both and her doc can keep an eye out for early warning signs of any problems. Of course, I hope your daughter will never suffer any MI. :sneaky2:

Like I said, Phoenix, I don't know much about Selective Mutism, but I did want to let you know that you're not alone. Many here at DF, myself included, are longtime suffers of anxiety. You have all of my support. :huh:

:wwww:
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#11 brightblue

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Posted 19 February 2010 - 06:08 AM

i have this and no one believes me. i wish i would lose my voice box so they would stop trying to make me talk.

#12 Beanchop99

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Posted 19 February 2010 - 05:29 PM

(((((Bright Blue)))))

Hello and :shocked:

I'm so sorry your going through such a difficult time. Those of us here at DF believe you, Blue. We truly understand.

Have you been to see a doc? Are you in therapy? I know that may be hard for you right now, but professional help can truly make a difference.

Keep posting here. DF will always here when you need us.

:wwww:
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#13 brightblue

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 04:20 AM

(((((Bright Blue)))))

Hello and :shocked:

I'm so sorry your going through such a difficult time. Those of us here at DF believe you, Blue. We truly understand.

Have you been to see a doc? Are you in therapy? I know that may be hard for you right now, but professional help can truly make a difference.

Keep posting here. DF will always here when you need us.

:wwww:
~Bean


i am in therapy, and am about to start meds, but completely losing faith in it because i don't trust that doctor, i want a new one. and thank u for the welcome. i do like this forum, its the first time at a forum i feel like i can say how i really feel and not feel unheard.

#14 brightblue

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 04:26 AM

i have never heard of selective mutism until recently btw. i had it all through school so far. the "you're just shy, you'll get over it" is getting OLD. and people think i'm a snob because i don't talk so i try to smile at them to show i am not a snob, but i still can't make friends. one of the many reasons i like animals better than people- you don't have to talk to animals to get them to like you.
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#15 Beanchop99

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Posted 22 February 2010 - 06:58 PM

...and people think i'm a snob because i don't talk so i try to smile at them to show i am not a snob, but i still can't make friends.


Hi Bright Blue,

I can totally relate. Because I get nervous and panicky in social situations, I don't say much. No one every thinks I'm shy, though. For reasons I've never figured out, I come across cool & aloof. People think I'm arrogant and, let's just say witchy. :shocked: Because of this, I dread social situations 10 times more.

I understand you want a new doc, but getting in to see one can take a while. I'd hate to see you suffer more while waiting during this transitional time. Would you consider allowing your current doc to Rx meds, then see someone new? This way, you won't go without treatment. If this doc suggests a med that makes sense, it may be all right to take it.

Trust is key to the doc/patient relationship. If you don't trust your doc, you're right, it's time to find a new one. I've gone through several docs over the last decade (tdocs as well as GPs and ob/gyns). Even thought switching can be a real pain, in the end I've always been happy that I did make the change.

I'm happy you feel at home here at DF. This is a safe place to express yourself, while getting tons of support from people who truly understand. Keep talking, BB. DF's here for you. :wwww:

:sneaky2:
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#16 Solo

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Posted 30 October 2010 - 06:14 AM

:rolleyes: Hi, Im new here.
I get this when I go to parties or barbecues [which I dont go to anymore]. I just freeze with fear, and cant say a word. I get too scared to even move. Im older than most of the people on this site I think, so Ive had plenty of years to learn about myself, but even though I understand myself better, I am still the same person, so it is much better to just avoid the situations that make me uncomfortable.
I find that my two dogs give me so much, I get more from them than what I would get from any other person. But I do still get lonely, or feel alone. I have given up on realtionships.:console:

#17 homeforthehopeless

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Posted 30 October 2010 - 09:09 PM

some mutism can be associated with ptsd. as a child, i was a live nerve ending. my father , for some unknown reason, seemed to hate me. the only time he spoke to me was to belittle me in every way possible. my mother could not help, she was severely manic/depressed and spent much of her life in a hospital. i started stuttering. my father would scream at me to shut up......so i did. there were other things but this is about going mute. teachers were not interested, we were poor white trash from a housing project. i missed quite a bit of school so i could hang out with the tough kids. some of them thought it was cool to have a mute kid, dumb to them, around.

i never lost the stuttering. i avoid phones like a plague. fortunately, i stopped urinating on myself when someone would scream at me. anxiety and ptsd are tough to overcome.

i only speak when necessary. later in life i attended night school and a psych professor took an interest in me and we spent many hours sitting in his garden. after a short time i stopped stuttering when speaking to him. what liberation. he had cancer and died, of course he did.

i hope doctors, who think they know everything, look for signs of abuse in mute kids. but, of course, they won't. not in their books.
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#18 Vimsen

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Posted 25 November 2010 - 09:50 AM

Although never diagnosed as this did not exist when I was a child, I had this growing up. I spoke to my mother only, not even my (step)father or my siblings. At age 10 I was sent to a special school periodically with other kids who had problem, not selective mutism, but a wide variety. I really openend up there and learned to talk to others as well.

I have minor traits from this today as well, I am not the talker in a group and sometimes when I try to say "hi" to people no words come out... so I have taught myself to smile instead.

#19 MissDaisy

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 12:21 AM

interesting thread, my child they think has this

#20 mmf

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Posted 02 September 2011 - 09:40 PM

Thank you again, Lindsay, for this thread.

#21 OnMeds

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Posted 22 November 2011 - 10:25 PM

I just wanted to add to this post. When I was 11 years old I had this. I thought it was called "elective" mutism.


I had a very traumatic childhood, my parents were quite abusive. After an expierence of being left in a far away place with my drunken father, an old man tried to molest me after I called my mother on his phone to ask her to come help me and my brother. She screamed at me "What do you want me to do?" and hung up. The old man saw that I was utterly abandoned by my parents and tried to molest me, but stopped.


It was incredibly traumatic for me and after that, I stopped speaking. I would not speak at school or to anyone, I just stopped talking. The feeling I had was, even in the most desperate situation, asking for help was useless. And in my child's mind I thought, why bother even speaking if no one will help you?


I think it lasted for a good 5 or 6 months. Incredibly, it was ignored. Even the school personnel ignored it. This was in the 70's. It didn't seem to trigger in anyone's mind that perhaps I had been traumatized. Well, I did eventually start speaking again. But I did decide to stop talking, for a reason.


Just wanted to share that. I know what caused it.

#22 evalynn

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 12:48 AM

I have this, and I feel like it's completely ruined my life. I'm now 28, and it still plagues me. I can't talk in front of certain people. I also can't do certain everyday things in front of people because they might judge me. I can't express when I don't understand something, share painful feelings, or even gratitude sometimes for fear of sounding like an *****. I can't be myself without feeling like I might be rejected most of the time, with most people. Sometimes I try to talk and the words literally won't come out. I have no close friends, and the idea of anyone getting to close to me causes alarm bells to go off in my head and makes me want to run for the hills. I can't drive with other people in the car wthout being nervous (I read somewhere that other SM people have this problem as well). When I need people the most, I feel the most withdrawn and feel the need to "hide" from them and want to be alone and not have to speak.

I will make huge sacrifices to get out of talking. I won't make doctor's appointments, ask for help in even potentially dangerous situations, or go out on a limb to start a conversation with someone if they don't start one with me first. I feel like I"m always on guard, waiting for rejection or to embaress myself.

My greatest fear is that someday someone will grab me or hurt me and I won't be able to scream for help or tell anyone because I"ll be too anxious to talk and literally won't be able to. No one I now fully understands it, and my famly often makes jokes about how I "refused to talk" when I was kid as if it's some funny thing and not something that made me miserable and still does. I have no one to talk to about it, and it makes me feel hopeless.
"Y un día después de la tormenta/ Cuando menos piensas, sale el sol" ~Shakira

#23 evalynn

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 12:56 AM

I just wanted to add to this post. When I was 11 years old I had this. I thought it was called "elective" mutism.

I had a very traumatic childhood, my parents were quite abusive. After an expierence of being left in a far away place with my drunken father, an old man tried to molest me after I called my mother on his phone to ask her to come help me and my brother. She screamed at me "What do you want me to do?" and hung up. The old man saw that I was utterly abandoned by my parents and tried to molest me, but stopped.

It was incredibly traumatic for me and after that, I stopped speaking. I would not speak at school or to anyone, I just stopped talking. The feeling I had was, even in the most desperate situation, asking for help was useless. And in my child's mind I thought, why bother even speaking if no one will help you?

I think it lasted for a good 5 or 6 months. Incredibly, it was ignored. Even the school personnel ignored it. This was in the 70's. It didn't seem to trigger in anyone's mind that perhaps I had been traumatized. Well, I did eventually start speaking again. But I did decide to stop talking, for a reason.

Just wanted to share that. I know what caused it.



I'm so sorry that happened to you. I can't imagine what you went through, and I hope you've been able to deal these issues.

As a child of the very late 80's/90s (I started preschool in 1988), it was still called "elective mustism." It was treated as if I was doing it on purpose, being defiant, and that I was choosing to be this way. I had teachers put me on the spot and then snap at me or deny me recess because I "refused" to talk. What they didn't understand was that all the attention was making my anxiety worse, and making it even harder for me to start talking again. If they had showed a bit of sympathy or understanding, I would have much easier for me to attempt to talk more.

No one ever explained to me that this was a disorder; I though I was the only one in the world like this! One day, in college, I googled it and found out it is called "seletive mutism" and there are others out there with the same problem! Yet, I don't understand why it is categorized for the most part as a child's disease when I know I still have it as an adult. Also, it seems like most people have never heard of it, and many therapists don't know much about it. That is very discouraging to me.

I feel that, unless I am able to overcome this, I will always be isolated, anxious, and unable to reach my full potential.
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"Y un día después de la tormenta/ Cuando menos piensas, sale el sol" ~Shakira

#24 evalynn

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Posted 19 December 2011 - 01:06 AM

i have never heard of selective mutism until recently btw. i had it all through school so far. the "you're just shy, you'll get over it" is getting OLD. and people think i'm a snob because i don't talk so i try to smile at them to show i am not a snob, but i still can't make friends. one of the many reasons i like animals better than people- you don't have to talk to animals to get them to like you.


I can relate. I think many people think I'm standoffish, snobby, arrogant, or just a Biotch. Others probably think I'm just strange; I've overhead people discuss why I am so quiet (needless to say, it made me even more anxious/uncomfortable around them).


I think I overcompensate sometimes by trying to be accomodating to certain people. Even if I don't like someone, I want them to like me. Or at least not think I'm weird/crazy. I think I have let some people walk all over me, which of course makes me feel even worse about myself.
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"Y un día después de la tormenta/ Cuando menos piensas, sale el sol" ~Shakira

#25 anchor

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 01:19 AM

I dont agree with this. I am the silent strong type when i feel like it and to talk for the sake of it isnt the most effective way of expressing yourself. Thats just my opinion.

#26 hate

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 11:58 PM

I can't say I've ever had selective mutism, and I am no longer a child, but I can relate to some of the symptoms. I've had trouble speaking to people for the longest time, and with time it's gotten simutaneously better and worse. It's so frustarting being this way as an "adult" (pfft, I am so not an adult). I really, really wish I could get some sort of help...

Edited by hate, 22 March 2012 - 12:01 AM.


#27 Onelightburning

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 01:11 PM

I had this in the grades 1-3 and before that shortly in the kindergarten. It's the nervousness and new peoples presence just somehow rises my anxiety level and lowers my self esteem. I've really never dealt with it properly before, but trying to get to the bottom of it now.

#28 shiomi

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 02:15 PM

It's interesting to read about this in more detail. I read some about it for a class project last semester and could relate to some of the symptoms. I don't really remember whether I had trouble speaking at school or not when I was young. But I've noticed as I've gotten into my 20s that if I'm feeling overwhelmed or upset, even with people I can talk to at other times, my voice box just shuts down.

I don't know if it's the same thing exactly but it's good to know that other people can relate to that feeling of being physically unable to talk. It's hard to explain to people who think you're ignoring their arguments or trying to get out of talking to them, especially since you can't do much when it happens.

#29 Cogent

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 10:19 AM

I wonder what the comparative of this is; my child is a complete chatter box and has no qualms with talking to strangers. :biglaugh: 


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#30 FeelinBlueAllTheTime

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 12:43 PM

 

i have never heard of selective mutism until recently btw. i had it all through school so far. the "you're just shy, you'll get over it" is getting OLD. and people think i'm a snob because i don't talk so i try to smile at them to show i am not a snob, but i still can't make friends. one of the many reasons i like animals better than people- you don't have to talk to animals to get them to like you.


I can relate. I think many people think I'm standoffish, snobby, arrogant, or just a Biotch. Others probably think I'm just strange; I've overhead people discuss why I am so quiet (needless to say, it made me even more anxious/uncomfortable around them).


I think I overcompensate sometimes by trying to be accomodating to certain people. Even if I don't like someone, I want them to like me. Or at least not think I'm weird/crazy. I think I have let some people walk all over me, which of course makes me feel even worse about myself.

 

 

 

Wow, I can definitely relate!    I've also been labeled/judged for being quiet.   When I was in college, there was one class where I rarely spoke.    The professor seemed annoyed by this and at one point she insinuated that I thought I was better than everybody else.   She wasn't the first person to think this way about me.   

 

Being a very light-skinned Black woman (actually of mixed race) the stereotype of being "snobby" goes even further because I'm quiet.   No one ever stops to think that I could be shy or nervous or that I feel out of place.   They simply assume that I'm arrogant.

 

And being called weird and crazy is just plain hurtful...I've experienced this, too.   Being quiet doesn't mean we'll shoot up a school or harm other people, but sadly that is the perception folks have of quiet people.

 

I believe Maya Angelou suffered from mutism for several years after being raped as a child.  We all have our reasons for not talking, whether it is shyness or social anxiety or whatever, but it's frustrating when people judge us.        


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#31 FeelinBlueAllTheTime

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 12:45 PM

I wonder what the comparative of this is; my child is a complete chatter box and has no qualms with talking to strangers. :biglaugh: 

 

 

My husband is like this, too.   I've forced myself to be fake-happy and talk to people but it is so draining.    The other day we went to a Japanese restaurant and sat at one of the hibachi tables with people we didn't know.     He carried on a conversation with no problem while I sat there awkwardly.    



#32 JW OLDBUSA

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 09:02 AM

I never thought about this as part of my problems, but I seem to have a lot of this.

At a young age with my older brother I didn't talk when we were around other people. He was very dominant of me and others.

I developed a pattern of just keeping quiet because I felt like I didn't know what to say to others, like him. I heard him lie to others constantly and I didn't want to be like that and didn't understand why one would do that. My Mother did that as well.

I have always been quiet around strangers and just can't talk when asked.

When I joined AA, I couldn't talk when asked in a group for a year. I could talk to some friendly people 1 on 1.

This has become so emotional now at meetings, when I'm asked to talk about myself, I start to cry when I talk and need to stop. I've been called a crybaby and stay away from all talking at meetings.

I haven't met or dated any women for years because I don't know what to say to them and don't feel confident to say anything. So I avoid any contact of others because I can't say anything. Now I have trouble trying to comprehend what others are telling me now. Even the simplest things I need to have explained or I don't understand them.

I have never been able to look others in the eyes to talk with them.


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#33 DepressionAnxiety

DepressionAnxiety

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Posted 23 December 2013 - 10:29 PM

I've had this most of my life around people I am unfamiliar with.






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