People scare me so much that I shake when they are near

Starfish

Confident
i seem to be getting worse. The only people I am around anymore are my son and his family and even being around them makes me shake. I understand what happened to me to make me this way, so afraid of people. I was able to wear a mask and interact with people for many years. Now, they trigger me. I am thinking I will just have to get used to being alone and be ok with it if that keeps me feeling safe and not shaking. Problem is that I think I am looked upon as a freak being so isolated. Even thinking about an upcoming interaction makes me shake more. I find ways to entertain myself and keep as calm as I can. I am wondering if anyone can relate to my situation. Is it ok to be alone so much? I have a therapist I talk to weekly and they listen and are supportive.
 

Sideways

Moderator
I am wondering if anyone can relate to my situation.
Yes, and I spent a long time not leaving my apartment.

I don't think being alone is necessarily unhealthy or problematic. But isolating because of a mental illness is something very different to making a personal choice to avoid people out of mere preference. It's avoiding symptoms of an illness, rather than choosing something that just makes you happier or more fulfilled, and that's a big difference.

One of the problems with isolating because of mental illness is the tendency for that to put pressure on every other symptom, as well as feed other mental health issues that love to piggyback off PTSD (anxiety and depression are PTSD's 2 best friends). Everything gradually gets worse, even though it's an attempt to just make things easier.

It's a lot like if you decided not to sleep to avoid nightmares. That may nix the nightmares for a short period, but all your other symptoms would escalate, and your coping skills would quickly deteriorate at the same time.

For a PTSD approach? I'd come at this from the stress cup angle for good short term gains: what can you do to empty out that stress cup? That's reducing other known stressors (eg. Leave work earlier, take on less commitments or let go of some with kiddo, cancel some stressful upcoming engagements, ask people to help out with certain obligations etc), and increasing stress-reduction stuff (more exercise, better sleep, better nutrition, etc).

This kind of PTSD issue is also very often greatly assisted by Anxiety disorder treatment approaches (and that's where I made the most gains, probably). Starting with therapy modalities - getting back into CBT and DBT behavioural habits, behavioural activation stuff, and ACT skills (particularly mindfulness and value-driven actions).

If the Stress Cup is a good general analogy for reducing/managing ptsd symptoms, the Anxiety version is probably SUDS (on a scale of 1-10 how distressed am I right now?). They're very similar. SUDS is about constantly checking in with your personal distress levels, throughout the day, and modifying behaviour to reduce your distress when it starts increasing before it gets out of hand.

At the same time, SUDS means including daily habits that reduce your baseline SUDS level (how distressed am I, usually, when I wake up each morning?). Regular guided relaxation (20-30 minutes a day, taken like essential medication), regularly practicing your deep breathing, and other activities that help get the central nervous system to chill the hell out (which can be anything from yoga to gardening). Reducing that baseline SUDS level is, for Anxiety, akin to emptying out our stress cup. That builds up a much better tolerance for those stressful human interactions.

The truth, for me? Was there was profound depression in the mix at the same time. And that made doing all those basic daily mental health care activities extraordinary hard. If you've got that in the mix? Speaking to your treatment providers about any depression support that might be available can, potentially, make it a shiteload easier to do the things that need to be done in order to manage the PTSD stuff successfully.

Just my 2 cents, based on my own experience of something very similar. Hopefully something in there is helpful.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
i totally relate. when even being around close family members makes me shake, i retreat to the wilderness where i can isolate from all things human. there has been more than once in my personal herstory where coming in from the wild took every ounce of courage i could muster.

i like being alone and am not the slightest tempted to be the life of any party, but being alone and being afraid are two extremely different phenom. when my beloved alone time turns to fear of people, i force myself to sit in public places where there are many people going about their personal business until i am calm enough to casually approach someone to ask the time or some such.

there's nothing wrong with being a loner, a social butterfly or one of the many shades between the extremes.
living in fear is an atrocity none should be content to endure, whatever your social style.
 

Friday

Moderator
Avoiding triggers/stressors never works long term, as our lives become constricted past the point where we actually want them to be; but can be a super useful tool in the short term.

It’s the whole.., I’m limping to avoid pain. Not because I want to be limping. If I want to stop limping & be walking/running freely WITHOUT pain? I actually have to do the physical therapy (which SUCKS!) to strengthen/retrain those muscles that have atrophied &/or were damaged.

Isolating from triggers stressors? You can go a thousand miles away into the wilderness, and 2 branches will creak together sounding exactly like X’s voice. A shadow will come up behind you startling you into panicked collapse. Your heartbeat will perfectly mirror another time your heart thrummed in your ears, and tried to beat it’s way out of your chest. The water will taste just like the water from when…

There are an infinite number of triggers and stressors, and the more one pulls back attempting to escape them? The more appear.

But?

Triggers and stressors can also be ELIMINATED.

Blunted down to meaningless annoyances, and then gone, full stop.

 

Starfish

Confident
i totally relate. when even being around close family members makes me shake, i retreat to the wilderness where i can isolate from all things human. there has been more than once in my personal herstory where coming in from the wild took every ounce of courage i could muster.

i like being alone and am not the slightest tempted to be the life of any party, but being alone and being afraid are two extremely different phenom. when my beloved alone time turns to fear of people, i force myself to sit in public places where there are many people going about their personal business until i am calm enough to casually approach someone to ask the time or some such.

there's nothing wrong with being a loner, a social butterfly or one of the many shades between the extremes.
living in fear is an atrocity none should be content to endure, whatever your social style.
thanks arfie. i like your perspective and it basically is how i am handling my aloneness vs interaction. I realize being alone for too long without interaction puts me in a bad headspace where negativity and paranoia creep in. When I do check-in with other humans, often I walk away feeling appreciative for the interaction.
A lot of my situation is that I never learned to "do" conversations and feel very inept.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
A lot of my situation is that I never learned to "do" conversations and feel very inept.

ditto here and radical acceptance of that not-so-simple fact is where i started. the radical acceptance opened me to learning how, albeit a bit late to the class. thinking of myself as a student rather than a victim makes the not-so-simple fact far less frightening and much easier to remediate. is my current preference for being alone just another mask of denial or an honest preference? more and more i feel like it is an honest preference for my personality type, but i still do a daily inventory for that fear factor. when i find myself afraid to be around people, it's time to pull out the therapy tools.

for what it's worth
the covidic madness has heightened this psychotick to epic proportions for me. with the world's governments in agreement that it is my patriotic duty to resume those old, heavily psychotheraputed habits, i am more reluctant than ever to come in from the wild and close those social distances. just mask it all. . .
 

Starfish

Confident
ditto here and radical acceptance of that not-so-simple fact is where i started. the radical acceptance opened me to learning how, albeit a bit late to the class. thinking of myself as a student rather than a victim makes the not-so-simple fact far less frightening and much easier to remediate. is my current preference for being alone just another mask of denial or an honest preference? more and more i feel like it is an honest preference for my personality type, but i still do a daily inventory for that fear factor. when i find myself afraid to be around people, it's time to pull out the therapy tools.

for what it's worth
the covidic madness has heightened this psychotick to epic proportions for me. with the world's governments in agreement that it is my patriotic duty to resume those old, heavily psychotheraputed habits, i am more reluctant than ever to come in from the wild and close those social distances. just mask it all. . .
yeah, not considering myself a victim is a good route to go. If I felt I had the energy I could read about tips for getting along with others, etc....since I am not the only one with this issue.

for me, it is about not feeling like I have an identity and feeling like everyone else is somehow more significant than me thus feeling shame at being seen. Truly, being alone for me for very long is pretty destructive. Fact is my self-worth is elevated when I get the feedback from others that I am an acceptable, even likeable person. It is just a matter of what environment to put myself in.

This would be a radical acceptance that I need to face. It just seems like a lot of work for me, especially since I no longer work nor am I involved in any project as I have been in the past and muddled through with the tasks at hand with others.

I went to a yoga class yesterday ....first in a few years, since before covid. I was familiiar with the teacher who welcomed me by name. I noticed so much shaking in my body. I just kept going and did not care if anyone saw me shaking. I said to myself "this is what my body is doing, it is. shaking, and that is how it is". I was glad I went. Radical Acceptance.

"for what it's worth
the covidic madness has heightened this psychotick to epic proportions for me. with the world's governments in agreement that it is my patriotic duty to resume those old, heavily psychotheraputed habits, i am more reluctant than ever to come in from the wild and close those social distances. just mask it all"

Admittedly, I was relieved with covid isolation, i felt like the rest of the world was more on the same page as me.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
It just seems like a lot of work for me, especially since I no longer work nor am I involved in any project as I have been in the past and muddled through with the tasks at hand with others.

another ditto for me. during the years i lived the retired life, filling those empty days was a far greater chore than i could have imagined when i was muscling my way through the grueling demands of an active career.

Admittedly, I was relieved with covid isolation,

alas, i was grieving the death of my son (35) in a traffic accident september 2019 and reeling from having been called out of retirement to raise his 3 orphans (my only grandchildren) when corona crowned. the children were still in protective custody with cps and what the covidic madness did to the already struggling foster care system is ? ? ? unforgivable? i have never felt so abandoned in my entire broken life. oh how i envied my age peers who were relieved with the isolation. i'm still struggling to forgive them for that abandonment. i feel like our bonds are broken forever, but to me forgiveness is about letting go of the bitterness. closing those new social distances is another therapy process, entirely. sometimes forgiveness still points to maintaining masked and proper social distances.
 

Loveann

Learning
i seem to be getting worse. The only people I am around anymore are my son and his family and even being around them makes me shake. I understand what happened to me to make me this way, so afraid of people. I was able to wear a mask and interact with people for many years. Now, they trigger me. I am thinking I will just have to get used to being alone and be ok with it if that keeps me feeling safe and not shaking. Problem is that I think I am looked upon as a freak being so isolated. Even thinking about an upcoming interaction makes me shake more. I find ways to entertain myself and keep as calm as I can. I am wondering if anyone can relate to my situation. Is it ok to be alone so much? I have a therapist I talk to weekly and they listen and are supportive.
Sometimes l make myself do things even though l'm worried about going. If it's something fun or good for my son or me to do. I should go even though l feel this way. It's just my depression, aniexty, and PTSD that's is holding me back. I have a good time. It was just all in my head.
 

Nehi

New Here
i seem to be getting worse. The only people I am around anymore are my son and his family and even being around them makes me shake. I understand what happened to me to make me this way, so afraid of people. I was able to wear a mask and interact with people for many years. Now, they trigger me. I am thinking I will just have to get used to being alone and be ok with it if that keeps me feeling safe and not shaking. Problem is that I think I am looked upon as a freak being so isolated. Even thinking about an upcoming interaction makes me shake more. I find ways to entertain myself and keep as calm as I can. I am wondering if anyone can relate to my situation. Is it ok to be alone so much? I have a therapist I talk to weekly and they listen and are supportive.
In all the years I dealt with the neurogenic tremors, no one ever took me aside and explained nor did I finally ask until recently. Out of desperation, for three days just at the topic of the next therapy session sent me there. My therapist said that it is the body's way of getting rid of everything we've held in from the traumas- a release of toxins. The toxins that eat away at our immune, nerve and digestive systems. He recommended leaning into if you will, as a pup shakes his coat. Sent me a link about the benefits and TRE shaking. Worth a gander. Our body gets to choose most times and it is embarrassing, for myself at least, always wanting to be in control. The shaking was happening without consent and in front of the people I loved most as well. Like you, I prefer the isolation. Unfortunately it's too draining just for a trip to store or see a friend. I'd much rather be in the woods, in nature or in my cave. It's love that forces me out, won't pass up on seeing that boy. It is highly stressful being around people period and I've got to work through it with my soon to be in-laws. Empathize with your every word. Hard work trying to find the balance between isolation and natural introvert. A word, a phrase, a touch (God, I wish people would stop touching me, especially when we don't know each other). Going to try walking barefoot on the ground and attempt the purposeful shake. Hopefully something positive. Will say that the session I dreaded so today, wasn't as frightening as was after the shaking so there's definitely something to it. Hope this was helpful.
 
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