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  1. #1
    Lesser Hivemind Node gary's Avatar
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    Attempting to remedy my social anxiety by using a mic.

    I've been a part of this outfit for a year and 3 months now (I joined early december 2013) In that time I have never spoke to any of you through anything other than text chat. I told everyone I didn't have a mic, which was a lie, I just didn't want to explain the reasons why I didn't want to talk to you. This is what this post is about, and my decision to start using one.

    This is probably going to be a wall of text, so TL:DR here: I have crippling social anxiety. In an attempt to alleviate this I'm going to slowly desensitize myself to speaking by starting to use a mic. This will be incredibly difficult for me so I'll rarely speak, and slowly build my confidence.

    So I have aspergers syndrome, as well as dyslexia and dyspraxia. A result of these is my crippling social anxiety, I struggle immensely in social situations. I find it difficult to simply walk to the shops. Everytime I'm outside I have the constant feeling and fear that I'm being judged, by everyone. I know I'm not, but I can't shake it. Every action I take is with the fear that it might be the wrong one. I stumble over my words and have little confidence, which just makes everything worse. Holding a conversation with someone is close to impossible. This is essentially the main reason I don't use a mic, fear of being judged by you.

    In the past I kept telling myself I'll use a mic when I feel comfortable with using one. I recently came to the realisation that I'll never feel comfortable using a mic until I start using one regularly. Which is exactly what I'm going to do. The prospect is terrifying to me, so I'm going to take it slowly. You probably won't notice any changes for a while, I might speak up once or twice and then be silent for the rest of night. I'll still be communicating primarily through text chat, it'll be a while before I give that up. You will also notice a pretty huge disconnect between my forum/text chat persona to my actual self. Part of the allure of the internet is that I don't have to be my crappy self.

    Thanks for reading, I don't really expect any of you to understand, people usually don't, but I just want to explain why even after all this time I can't speak properly.
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  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Cei's Avatar
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    Good on you.
    I can't put myself in your shoes, because I don't suffer from the same things you do and it would be unfair for me to say I understand. Yet I can relate, because I have friends who have the same thing to varying degrees. I chat to patients on a regular basis who are crippled by their anxiety, and I do my utmost to do my best for them.

    From me you won't get judgement, but encouragement. I agree, push yourself, but do it in stages. If you want me to, I'll try and direct the occasional question or conversation your way, but only when you're in the zone to do it.
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  3. #3
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    Good for you, Gary.

    I can't speak for everyone, though it may seem so since I never shut up, but I doubt anyone will ever judge you for anything your anxieties are trying to tell you we would.

    You're awesome. Keep it up.
    Disclaimer:
    Sometimes I get a bit manic and then I talk too much and wall-of-text a lot.
    This rarely lasts for more than a week or so at a time. Feel free to ignore any and all walls of text at your leisure.

  4. #4
    Lesser Hivemind Node sinomatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gary View Post
    Thanks for reading, I don't really expect any of you to understand, people usually don't...
    You'd be surprised!

    One of the reasons I even joined the outfit was because I was trying to get over my anxiety (I think I even stalked them around the map for a day or two before psyching myself up enough to ask for an outfit invite!). Took me a while to speak up on the mic, and I'm still not generally really chatty when there's a big group of us (I'm a lot more comfortable in smaller groups/one on one), but I just forced myself to speak and after a while found that it's not too terrifying. Especially if you mostly stick to simple game-related stuff to begin with.

    Also, RPS folk are lovely (daft, but lovely), which helps. A lot. I doubt you'll find much in the way of judgement here.

  5. #5
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    Was going to say something like 'no pressure, just do what you are comfortable with, just cos others use mics doesn't mean you have to'. It's true, but actually I don't want to be that dissuasive. You obviously contribute a lot to the outfit already, we would surely benefit from having you on voice comms. There is absolutely no pressure but it would be great to hear you!

    When I first started playing online games I also put off using voice comms, even after ordering a headset for exactly that purpose. It is weirdly intimidating, in spite of (because of?) becoming so familiar with the other people's voices. But that feeling went away quickly once I started talking, even a little bit.

    And it's interesting that Sino did not feel comfortable speaking when she has volunteered for the welcoming committee at the last few calls to arms...

  6. #6
    Activated Node Horg's Avatar
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    This is exactly the right thing to do. I don't know if it's ever possible to shake that feeling of people judging you, but it's certainly possible to reach a state where you no are no longer concerned by it. Time and perseverance will get you there, and RPS is a good little community to build social confidence.

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    The key thing when worrying about being judged is to remember everyone indeed judging, but mainly judging how much you are judging them, people are vain animals and generally speaking care about themselves and people who care about them.

    Some games with mic's might have people shout at you if you screw up, don't worry about it, people just get way too into the games and forget they are abusing real people.
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  8. #8
    It'll be good to have you there Gary. Don't feel under pressure to chatter away all night, but it'll be good to hear from you!

  9. #9
    Lesser Hivemind Node laldy's Avatar
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    I would suggest starting small, with 3 or 4 other people. There are plenty of options for you on that front in mumble. I'm sure PS2 is not the only game you play, and you'll find members of our crew all over the shop. Why not follow up this post with one about the games you play (doesn't need to be a multiplayer game), and then create a subchannel to chat about that game with your comrades. That way you have some control over the situation (apart from just pulling the plug), and can tailor it to your comfort level, without getting overpowered by garrulous muppets like me. On Friday evenings, there's a Tabletop rpg session, attended by Myself, Quantacat, Wiggly Bottom, Christine and Sinomatic, and a couple of non-PS2 folk. You would be more than welcome to lurk with us (no need to participate), and chat in a pressureless, competition-free situation (no-one giving orders, no one acting as opposition). Or there is Dewi's Minecraft set up, among many others, where I'm sure you could have the same experience.

    I empathise with your high anxiety levels, having suffered from (at times severe) depression for 35 years, along with its pals (for misery loves company), paranoia and anxiety. It's not fun being constantly wired by your "fight or flight" response, which triggers at the most inconsequential events, real or imagined.
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  10. #10
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    Good on you man small steps lead to bigger ones, takes real courage to speak about personal issues like these in public. I'll be sure to say hello when we are on at the same time. Feel free to say hi in chat or comms ; ).
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  11. #11
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    I hate groups of people though I'm not familiar with dyspraxia or aspergers. I'm damn sure that even if any folks on mumble don't/can't understand...you can be damn sure none of us will judge you.
    Best of luck to you buddy

  12. #12
    Lesser Hivemind Node sinomatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rizlar View Post
    And it's interesting that Sino did not feel comfortable speaking when she has volunteered for the welcoming committee at the last few calls to arms...
    That was my 'next step', if you will, because I felt so crappy about not being able to SL/PL, it gave me the push I needed to force myself to volunteer. I was freaking terrified beforehand. Talking in-game and in the welcome channel gave me the confidence to join in with stuff like the server smashes, play other games with RPS folk and join the RPG night on fridays (where I interact a lot more) too. It's just been one step at a time, but it all started with using the mic in PS2!

  13. #13
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    Inspiring stuff! The idea of being the welcoming committee for a CtA still scares the shit out of me.

  14. #14
    Network Hub moms's Avatar
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    This is a great thread, Gary. I applaud your courage and honesty.
    I can also, to a degree, relate to your anxiety and frustration, as I have, quite recently, developed somewhat of a 'public speaking' phobia myself.
    It is ironic too, as most of my working life my voice was my tool of the trade, being an operator at a large hospital. I paged codes overhead and dealt with doctors and callers from all over the world.
    I was damn good too.
    But over the years, for various reasons, my voice got raspier and deeper until I was constantly being called, sir. (Even by people who I had been speaking with for years.)
    This shook my confidence, a bit, and I began feeling a (low) level 'performance' anxiety that I never dreamed I would.

    I think this is the reason that I tend not to speak when playing PS2 with you lot.
    I have let this 'fear' of speaking hold me back, not only as a player, but as a productive member of RPS, in general.

    I think Laldy's idea of starting off in a small chat group is a great one. We can begin with just me and you, even.
    We can call it, Baby Steps And Babble.
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  15. #15
    Lesser Hivemind Node Grible's Avatar
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    I first read this thread last night - after just having come off comms with you :-)
    That's the way to do it! And remember if in doubt just blame Grumpy for stuff and pick on me. It's the RPS way!

    The downside to using a mic is people do tend to address things at you more directly - and you get rope'd into the banter... this may eventually seem like a good thing.

    Hopefully this afternoon's little squad wasn't too exhausting or stressful. Good on you, both for trying at all, and having the nerve to tell us!

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moms View Post
    But over the years, for various reasons, my voice got raspier and deeper until I was constantly being called, sir. (Even by people who I had been speaking with for years.)
    You should just roll with it, wear a suit and go by Mr Moms.
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  17. #17
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    I think it's quite heartwarming hearing all these stories about people increasing confidence and reducing anxiety by playing with/talking to Giraffes. Best of luck, gorncaptain!

    I know it's nowhere near the same thing, but I certainly got better at communication with groups/online strangers by playing PS2. I never used to mic up in other games, but I'm less shy these days. It helps to have a group you're comfortable with.

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Squiz's Avatar
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    Just stumbled across this thread while shuffling through the corridors of the forums, sorry for coming in here in such a random fashion. First of all: Great that you're trying to take steps in dealing with your current situation! Finding motivation to tackle personal issues such as these is probably the hardest part of overcoming them. Having said that, I'm curious as to what kind of support the NHS provides in such cases. Social anxiety is an mental issue that can very effectively be treated by behavioural therapy. Might be that I'm crossing the line saying that, but have you ever considered giving that a try?

    Anyway, I wish you all the best! Keep at it.
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  19. #19
    Lesser Hivemind Node TWChristine's Avatar
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    I was going to reply last night with something along the lines of "I think you'll find you're not alone when it comes to games" but several people have already shared their own stories. I think games are a way for us to interact on our own terms, or "live" in a different world. I have a really hard time calling places, as I fear that as soon as someone answers I'll forget what I'm supposed to say or not know how to answer their questions. As soon as the other end starts ringing I start to get more and more anxious before I finally hang up. When someone does answer, I start stumbling over my words which gets me more worked up, and I can tell they sound confused or I start to think that THEY think "Who IS this idiot?" which makes my stumbling/forgetting worse. At work I only have to interact with customers for an hour before the store is closed, but I usually try and make myself busy out back so I can avoid them.

    Anyways, like others have said, RPS is what made me finally come out of my shell some because I found the people to be kind and open to others. The first day our pen/paper game started I was having mic problems, and I could hear everyone else talking already and I started to get very anxious; that plus my insecurity about how my voice sounds (and like you I often trip over my words) made me nearly quit before I'd even started. But I stuck with it, and at this point I'm sure Laldy, Pepper, Sinomatic and the others would wish I'd shut up!

    And also like Laldy, said you're more than welcome to stop by our game and just listen in. None of us will pressure you to talk, and I'll even tone myself down!
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  20. #20
    Network Hub Safilpope's Avatar
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    Good on you for giving it a go!

    I was in a similar place when I started. I've suffered from social anxiety since High School, and have found interacting with people to be incredibly taxing as a result. When I joined I had suffered from a huge anxiety attack about 9 months before, the resultant depression I suffered forced me to leave college, move out of my place in Glasgow and move back in with my parents.

    Like others here I started by lurking in the background and just silently played along side. I dreaded the times I'd default as squad leader and would often just quit when it landed on me. Now, years on, I take leadership roles in Folk ARPS sessions and even create missions for them. I never would have dreamed of doing that when I joined you guys.
    I'm still not to chatty in big groups and I tend to avoid groups of 3 or fewer people too as I feel like I'd be obliged to talk, but I'm miles better than what I used to be like.

    I'd add that playing with RPS has helped me a great deal in real life too. There are still things that terrify me but I've managed to join new groups and meet loads of amazing people because of the confidence I gained here

    Just do what makes you comfortable, but don't be afraid to push your boundaries every so often. You might just surprise yourself at what you can do!



    p.s Laldy, I'm interested in the tabletop group you mentioned. Is there a link to more details?
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