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Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Friendless


 BobGarfield1960 - Sat Sep 05, 2009 9:24 pm

Hi. I've just started my junior year of college and I haven't yet made any friends. I've always been shy, but I think it's gotten worse. I've lost touch with nearly all of my friends from high school. When I go back home there's mainly one person I hang out with. I've tried talking to the people I've lost touch with, but they're very distant.

I don't know why I was so afraid to talk to people freshman year. I think I was avoiding making friends without realizing it. I had plenty of opportunities. I tried joining a club, but only attended a few meetings. Much of my free time I spent going to the movies alone or reading. My roommate had some friends over once and I was on the computer talking to my ex-girlfriend, who told me she'd been raped earlier in the year. I wanted to know if the person who raped her was sent to prison but she didn't want to talk about it and signed off. I grabbed my coat and left the room angrily and then I heard a moment of silence and then everyone laughed very meanly; I think they thought I left because of them. For the rest of the year, they would sometimes drop little quips about me being an angry person, or about how I basically don't do anything social. One time a girl said something that hurt me enough that next time I was alone I tried to kill myself by doing numerous shots of vodka. I just ended up, ah, ruining my bedsheets.
I tried telling my ex-girlfriend, because she was the only person at that point that I felt I could talk to about anything. She thought I was misinterpreting the things people were saying and that the vodka incident was just my trying to get attention. I guess I can't totally blame her because of what happened to her, plus earlier she had to go to the hospital for drinking too much. And you know what, maybe in a way I did want attention, what's wrong with that, I just wanted to talk to someone who cared about me.

My sophomore year roommate was nice, but he moved out a little into the year. I just stopped trying. I didn't shave, my hair grew out really long, I got fatter, I only left my dorm when I had to, I started playing games and watching movies on the computer all the time. For the whole year, maybe half a dozen times I ate with people I'd met the previous year. My grades got much worse. One night I heard some kids who live down the hall walk by my door and I guess saw my name tag and someone said something mean and that I had slammed a door in his face once (if I had only one social skill, it was that I was overly polite about holding doors open for people). After they left, that had left me feeling so bad that I actually found online how to tie a noose, and made one with my blankets. Whenever I put my weight on it, it came undone from the pipe it was tied to. At one point during the process, the same people walked by again and someone shouted that I was something not very nice...
I got accepted into an internship at a life insurance company for the summer. I got a haircut and shaved and ended up barely passing my classes. Incidentally, at home, two friends got me to try marijuana, which I continued to use occasionally over the summer.

I resolved to try to be friendly and meet people at the internship. And it worked a little bit. Actually, I still didn't talk much, but I guess I acted friendlier. I didn't go to lunch with anyone unless I was invited; that's a habit of mine, that I have lots of trouble joining people because I'm afraid they don't want me to. There was a girl interning there that I kind of liked, and as a result I decided to start running everyday and eat healthier and actually ending up losing a good deal of weight. Buuuut the more I like a girl the less I talk to her. No matter what I try, I can't seem to do it. It's like my mind just goes "alert, shut down" and I stop even thinking about saying anything. In fact, at one point I just stopped looking at her altogether when possible. It made meetings hard because just hearing her voice made me want to cry. At the end of the summer, a lot of people left without saying good-bye to me. A few did though.

Now I'm in my junior year. I'm trying harder to keep up with my studying. I still run almost every day. I just joined a couple clubs. It's hard for me to talk to people and worry about them realizing that I have no friends. I'm kind of ashamed of it. I don't know, I'm not sure what else to say. Maybe someone can give me some words of wisdom.
 Debbie Miller, RN - Sun Sep 06, 2009 10:52 am

User avatar Hello,
I can see that it hurts you to feel your efforts to be friendly have not resulted in making and keeping friends. This can be very discouraging and it sounds like it is also making you feel depressed. I would recommend that you see a counselor or therapist as soon as possible. You may need medication to help you to cope with your feelings and it can take some time in therapy and even with meds to feel better. There are disorders that interfere with social functioning so an evaluation can help you better identify the cause of the problems and thereby find remedies.

Perhaps your college has resources to help students with this. You might try checking into either student health centers or community mental health facilities. If you don't have such resources, NAMI might be able to help you find something in your area. http://www.nami.org/ There are sometimes support groups where others with like concerns share with one another the tips that have helped them. It also helps to know you are not alone in such feelings.

If you are feeling suicidal at any time, please contact a loved one, doctor, clergy, school counselor, suicide hotline (possibly through mental health care centers) or other supportive person and let them know clearly how you are feeling. It is usually a temporary feeling of desperation which will pass once you get through the crisis (with help) and get the appropriate treatment. Things are usually not as bad as they appear at such times. With help, you will be grateful you did not follow through on your suicide thoughts or attempts.

Life is worth living and therapy should help you feel better about yourself while you find solutions to help with your social anxiety or disorder. Please reach out to someone and I do hope you can find the energy to seek the help you need. Your level of social functioning may require that you work on a few friends at a time and make small improvements and adjustments to your thinking and behavior. People with Asperger's Syndrome are especially prone to relationship/friend difficulty and there are groups who work with these individuals to help them to function better.

Best wishes,

Best wishes.
 BobGarfield1960 - Tue Sep 22, 2009 10:53 pm

Thanks for your post.

I read some of the symptoms of Asperger's and am pretty sure I have most of them. My campus does have a mental health thing, I am kind of afraid to talk about it though. I think maybe I will finally try to get to that.

I think I am afraid of way too many things. I am afraid of what people think, I was afraid to go down the faster rapids on a kayaking trip I went on, I was afraid to jump off a rope swing. I feel like I am afraid of many, many things.

I couple weeks ago I tried going on trips with some clubs here and even though most people were friendly I still was afraid to talk and I think many people ended up disliking me.

I wanted to go on a study abroad next semester but I can't because my GPA last semester was too low. This semester I am on this program where I meet with a facilitator once a week who, I dunno, tells me about how to study? I was happy because I spent much of this past weekend doing a lot of reading assignments for this coming week but whoops, I barely retained any of it so it was pointless. I had an exam today which should have been stupidly easy but I got a 76 (below the class average). I used to get As in chemistry when I was a freshman and that was much harder (I think). I learned my grade shortly getting a couple of physics homework problems wrong even though I just had them explained to me several times at a tutoring place.

I have stopped running and I've been eating worse than usual. I don't know I just have no self-control.

I feel like it's unfair and I don't deserve this. I feel like that's whiny, but it's how I feel.
 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Mon Jul 19, 2010 4:43 pm

Hello, BobGarfield60,

I apologize that your continued concerns have not had a speedier reply. I'll give you some information that may help you determine what you might do next.

You appear to have many symptoms of a Major Depression, which is fairly common in college students. Depression affects all aspects of one's life. Exercising does help a great deal, but likely would not be enough to replenish neurohormones in your brain and help you re-establish a stable level. If you are still having the difficulties that you have described, please see a psychiatrist, psychologist or someone at a local public mental health agency for a complete evaluation. Self-medicating with alcohol or smoking pot is just a temporary pause in the acute symptoms, and indeed may make them worse. It's also very helpful to maintain a diary of your symptoms, including what the symptoms is (a feeling, an action, panic, despair, etc.), what time it started or you noticed it, what was happening at the time it occurred, how long it lasted, what helped or made it worse, and anything else you feel is important about it. Always take this record with you to medical and therapist appointments. It can help your doctor determine what is really happening to you, and it will help you both track your progress. Depression is nothing to be ashamed of, although being depressed includes a lot of self-blame.

I hope this is helpful to you. Good luck!

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