Emerging blogger, Mental health

Emerging Blogger Series: Janine

The Emerging blogger series on Mental Health @ Home; background of cherry blossoms

The emerging blogger series is aimed at community building through giving mental health bloggers who are early in their blogging evolution the opportunity to have their work seen by a wider audience.  It’s also a way to introduce you as a reader to some newer members of our community.

This post is by Janine of Nina’s Corner.

 

the words "who am I" with a question mark on a sign covering a person's face

Social Anxiety Disorder – No Sense Of Self

I’m a 40 year old and I still feel very detached from myself. I always wonder what it would feel like to have a strong sense of self and to be self aware. There are things that I know for certain what I like and what I don’t like but I have always felt like my soul and body are not connected the way they should be. I have gone through my whole life constantly changing my hobbies and interests because I get bored too quickly. I am unable to stick to something for long periods of time because I feel it just isn’t me. Most people that I speak to can clearly outline their own identity yet that is something I struggle to even put into a clear thought. I have been diagnosed with both social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety disorder from a very young age (as young as 5). At one stage I thought I was misdiagnosed and that I had borderline personality disorder rather than social anxiety disorder. But as time went by it became very clear to me that this wasn’t the case because I had none of the borderline traits except for the one: no sense of self. I began to do more research and came to the conclusion that I in fact do have social anxiety disorder (not to be confused with social phobia). 

According to the DSM-5 identity refers to an ongoing awareness of a unique self and having no sense of self is a symptom of borderline personality disorder. When I look at the DSM-5 their definition of social anxiety disorder focuses mainly on fear and panic. I have spoken to a few people in my social anxiety disorder support group on Facebook and a number of them have expressed to me that they too feel they have no sense of self. From a human perspective as someone who has experienced this for most of their lives will tell you these things about having no sense of self:

  • They don’t know who they are (no identity)
  • They might feel they have no soul and are an empty shell
  • They change between interests and hobbies all the time
  • They change between careers and jobs all the time
  • They lose interest in things very easily
  • They don’t know how to act/react around other people
  • They mimic other people’s personality traits to fit in
  • They don’t like making small talk
  • They feel extremely overwhelmed around other people (even if it’s just one person)
  • They feel like they don’t really exist
  • They have trouble setting and/or maintaining boundaries
  • They struggle to maintain relationships with love interests

I have never had any GP, psychologist or psychiatrist tell me that no sense of self can be one of the main symptoms of social anxiety disorder. And the reason I don’t tell them I have this is because they will immediately diagnose me with borderline personality disorder. I am in no way, shape or form a licenced medical professional, however, I strongly believe that having no sense of self manifests itself as social anxiety disorder and the symptoms stem from that. Yes, of course it can be a symptom of borderline personality disorder too but I don’t think it can only relate to one and not both. 

For those who don’t already know, social anxiety disorder presents itself as a fear of being in public and of embarrassing yourself in front of other people. My own personal symptoms relating to SAD are:

  • No sense of self
  • Generalized anxiety disorder 
  • Extreme blushing in social settings (the line at Tesco etc..)
  • Feeling embarrassed for no reason
  • Not knowing how to act around other people
  • Mimicking other people’s personality traits to feel whole
  • Extreme nervousness around other people
  • Minor agoraphobia and isolation
  • Panic disorder (panic attacks)
  • Slurred speech and/or stuttering when talking to others
  • Memory issues
  • Extreme empathy

My mission in life is to raise awareness about my disorder to encourage others to speak out about their symptoms so that others can better understand what it is like for us to have it. I am also trying to raise awareness to make people understand that it is not just panic and a phobia of being in public but deeper than that. 

 

Bio:

My name is Janine. I grew up with social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. I have overcome obstacles so high they should have been impossible. I am still here. I am still recovering. I am still learning. I am here to express myself as best I can so that the world has a better understanding of me. I write blog posts as a way to express myself and it has helped me tremendously. 

Blog Link: https://cornernina.com/

Twitter Handle: @corner_nina

 

Thanks so much Janine for participating in the emerging blogger series!

You can find a listing of all of the posts in the series directory.

The Emerging blogger series on Mental Health @ Home; background of cherry blossoms

Do you want to be the next emerging blogger?

Criteria:

  • personal blog focused primarily on mental health and illness
  • relatively new blogger, with WordPress following <100 preferred

Interested?  If you fit the criteria above:

  • email me at mentalhealthathome (at) gmail (dot) com
  • let me know the topic you’d like to write about and include your blog name/URL

 

 

5 thoughts on “Emerging Blogger Series: Janine”

  1. This is very interesting, Janine. I see what you mean about how one aspect of a personality disorder is going to immediately have a healthcare provider shrieking, “You’re borderline!” I had that happen to me when I was fifteen, and the psychiatrist gave me this horrifying book called “I Hate You; Don’t Leave Me.” That book scared me to death about my mental problems. Later, I learned that most teenage girls are borderline as a developmental phase, which is why you’re not supposed to diagnose personality issues until adulthood. Of course, the damage to my psyche was done by that point. I suspect we all have a symptom here, a symptom there, of personality disorders. I have one narcissistic trait: I’m extremely self-righteous. I’m trying to tone that down or at least examine it. But the thought of being a narcissist is terrifying. Thanks for sharing your story! And thanks to Ashley for posting it!

  2. I agree, from personal experience, that lack of sense of self might be a symptom of SA. SA numbs emotions, thoughts and desires. It also can cause social performing – playing a role for different people as an safety behaviour adaptation – further complicating the sense of self. The more you ‘perform’ or ‘play-act’ the more confused you feel about yourself. And, SA makes partaking in social activites difficult – even those that one has an interest in – creating further conflict in the self. Finally, SA can lead to depression and a sense of hopelessness and disinterest in things generally. All in all, I think it’s very possible that numbing of the self or loss of identity is a symptom.

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