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Fear of people and communication

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Hi. I'm an 18year old guy with some problems. After ignoring them for a while, i'm going to ask for help. I'll start with my smaller problem, since i'm not sure if the two are linked.

Firstly, i'm terrified of the phone. Really, really scared of it. Even people I know, like my partner, if they ring me it'll be a huge battle of wills to decide whether to pick it up. And it's stopped me from getting job interviews and things in the past because the idea of speaking to someone I don't know is awful. I had to ring my bank yesterday, and it took about half an hour of just staring at the phone before I physically forced myself to dial. Before I was even connected my hands were shaking like mad and I had trouble speaking to her because I couldn't catch my breath. My hands shook for about 20 minutes afterwards.

The other thing is a little more complicated. For a while now (maybe 2-3 years?) i've been feeling like i'm slowly growing less intelligent. I got fantastic grades for my writing back in school, and was hailed as a bit of a wonderkid. But things have gone rapidly downhill since then, my creative writing skills have all but vanished, and looking at the work I used to produce, I could never write that well. I find it difficult to hold a conversation at a normal pace, I stumble over words and switch around letters, or sometimes just start talking gibberish and have to start again, slowly. It's got to the point where I can't spontaneously speak to people. I can't respond to things people say to me unless I know they're going to say it. All I can do is smile or say 'yeah' no matter how relevant it is. I feel like i'm slowly losing my personality. All the time, I feel like i'm being pretentious and not true to myself, but i'm not sure who I am anymore. The only thing I ever worry about is how others percieve me, when I change my image, it's purely for other people, to make them like me and think i'm cool. I get so utterly paranoid it makes me want to cry. I feel like I have no sense of self, even as i'm writing this now I feel like i'm being pretentious. I'm so trapped in this permanent confusion, having no idea who I really am, what my personality's really like. Is this how normal teenagers feel?

There's more of the same, but I really can't put it into words, no matter ow hard I try. All I know is it'a making me so miserable. I just want to be me.

Oh, and I realise some of my symptoms may sound drug-related but i've only ever smoked dope once, and that was way after the symptoms started. I've never touched any other drug.

Can you give me some idea where to look to start helping myself?

I'm also extremely forgetful about certain things, but not others. For example I can remember names fairly well, and my memory is so good in places that I can read a book and then recall passages exactly where they were on the page, things like that. But i'll often forget to call someone, or to set my alarm, or sometimes to eat. I'm also very tense most of the time, I naturally hunch my shoulders. I also have a very high iq, and was a member of mensa until I realised all they wanted was my money. Could my iq have anything to do with it? I don't know, i'm just trying to cover all bases lol. Thanks.

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replied December 4th, 2006
Schizophrenia Answer A1862
About the first issue: it is not clear if you are scared to speak on a phone or to speak with people in general? Are you afraid of the phone or of communication with others? According to the description of your second issue, I'm assuming that you fear interactions with the people around you. This type of behavior of yours can be due to an anxiety disorder (maybe social anxiety disorder). For a correct diagnosis and proper treatment, you can consult a mental health specialist. If you have trouble with a referral, you can visit your general practitioner for suggestions.
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