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I have always felt very disconnected around others. It feels like my mind doesn't process conversation the way it's supposed to and I am always very aware of this when socializing and observing others socially. In social settings I'm always observing others and listening to what they're saying but never usually have much of an opinion about it or one that I feel I'm able to articulate with much clarity in that moment, so I stay silent (possibly not enough mental energy/ability to organize my thoughts well on the spot, since this is often alleviated with Ritalin).

Most of my life, my energy has been put into trying to balance myself out/figure out my mental health and so I haven't really put much time into hobbies. To be honest I usually don't have much energy to put into hobbies. Most hobbies don't interest me or if they do as with art, it seems like the talent doesn't come naturally to me and with having ADD it's difficult to stay focused/complete the project. I'm sure part of why I have difficulty relating to others is honestly because I haven't had a very eventful life, so I don't have all these crazy stories from college and have never had much of a circle of friends or anything like that to draw past stories from. I don't know.

When I meet people I just feel like this blank slate with nothing to share. Like I was wired to just go through this existence in a very painful, lonely way because my mind doesn't allow me to connect with others in a very natural way. Like it's too self-focused because it's always trying to self-protect and look for ways to self-heal. I feel like there aren't any answers for me. Anything I've gotten from a therapist has been extremely vague/generic advice, albeit well-intended. It makes me wonder if there truly isn't much hope for some people.

I have tried CBT and looking for distortions and thinking/replacing negative thoughts with positive ones but it really hasn't done anything when it comes to helping me connect better socially. Sure, CBT has helped me feel better briefly while I'm doing it but the next time I find myself in a social situation, I respond the same way and feel very checked out because I'm having a hard time connecting with those who are trying to get to know me. Then after a while, they give up because I don't have much mental energy to keep up so I'm not usually sharing much and I guess they're done trying. It's extremely anxiety-inducing and depressing and has even led to me dissociating - experiencing depersonalization/derealization at its most extreme moments.

If anyone has any familiarity with dissociation or extreme social phobia (possibly selective mutism or something like it?) please let me know. Or if you have any other theories/ideas I would greatly appreciate any and all positive feedback. I don't mind explaining anything in further detail. I'm just feeling really trapped and honestly don't know where to turn.
 

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I have always felt very disconnected around others. It feels like my mind doesn't process conversation the way it's supposed to and I am always very aware of this when socializing and observing others socially. In social settings I'm always observing others and listening to what they're saying but never usually have much of an opinion about it or one that I feel I'm able to articulate with much clarity in that moment, so I stay silent (possibly not enough mental energy/ability to organize my thoughts well on the spot, since this is often alleviated with Ritalin). Most of my life, my energy has been put into trying to balance myself out/figure out my mental health and so I haven't really put much time into hobbies. To be honest I usually don't have much energy to put into hobbies. Most hobbies don't interest me or if they do as with art, it seems like the talent doesn't come naturally to me and with having ADD it's difficult to stay focused/complete the project. I'm sure part of why I have difficulty relating to others is honestly because I haven't had a very eventful life, so I don't have all these crazy stories from college and have never had much of a circle of friends or anything like that to draw past stories from. I don't know. When I meet people I just feel like this blank slate with nothing to share. Like I was wired to just go through this existence in a very painful, lonely way because my mind doesn't allow me to connect with others in a very natural way. Like it's too self-focused because it's always trying to self-protect and look for ways to self-heal. I feel like there aren't any answers for me. Anything I've gotten from a therapist has been extremely vague/generic advice, albeit well-intended. It makes me wonder if there truly isn't much hope for some people. I have tried CBT and looking for distortions and thinking/replacing negative thoughts with positive ones but it really hasn't done anything when it comes to helping me connect better socially. Sure, CBT has helped me feel better briefly while I'm doing it but the next time I find myself in a social situation, I respond the same way and feel very checked out because I'm having a hard time connecting with those who are trying to get to know me. Then after a while, they give up because I don't have much mental energy to keep up so I'm not usually sharing much and I guess they're done trying. It's extremely anxiety-inducing and depressing and has even led to me dissociating - experiencing depersonalization/derealization at its most extreme moments.

If anyone has any familiarity with dissociation or extreme social phobia (possibly selective mutism or something like it?) please let me know. Or if you have any other theories/ideas I would greatly appreciate any and all positive feedback. I don't mind explaining anything in further detail. I'm just feeling really trapped and honestly don't know where to turn.
Yes, I definitely have struggled with living an uneventful and slaved out life. I have tried applying to far too many corporate careers in a major city only to have been rejected, despite having a two college degrees. I am an organized, patient person and I think mainly I was never pocket-sized enough to fit into the ideal office environment type of woman for the company. I have had to stick to menial, minimum-wage jobs that wore me out so much that I didn't even have the energy to go out after work, better yet, have friends with whom to go out with. When I moved a state away from my tiny groups of drinking and smoking buddies, I quit smoking and drinking entirely and it was too inconvenient to keep in contact with those people and so we just sort of stopped hanging out. When I moved here they hung out with me one time as a form of walking me home, in a way, and it was dramatic and a strange form of duality/love triangle formed that I cannot even begin to explain on here. It was far too strange for me to stay in that circle of people because I had silently witnessed the beginning of duality occurring, unless it's just what I want to believe. I think introverts like myself tend to rationalize the amounts of truth that we see on a daily basis without really being able to concretely do much about it, and so it feels as though we are dreaming our days away, especially intuitives. I know my issue is not only that I never went out enough, but it's also that I never really enjoyed living wherever I ended up living...I guess I just haven't found my place of comfort yet.
 

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You've said yourself that you are more focused on yourself and your mental health to focus much on conversations. So presumably lack of focus and distracting mental health issues are the problem.

Your description also reminds me of anhedonia.
 

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@Grac3 Have you read anything about the Enneagram theory? The way you describe your behavior and your issues reminds me a lot of Enneatype 9s in their lower levels of health. In their very lowest levels of health, E9s are supposed to feel this way; numb, checked out, disconnected from reality and mildly catatonic.


Level 8 (of health): Wanting to block out of awareness anything that could affect them, they dissociate so much that they eventually cannot function: numb, depersonalized.

I don't know if you are seeking typology-based advice (if you're not, I apologize) but I strongly recommend the Enneagram as a self-development tool. In a way, it has saved my life (discovering my type, the reasons behind my major psychological blocks and my arrow of integration made me change a lot - for the better).

Enneatype 9's integration arrow is 3, so you have to get in touch with your image center. A little focus on vanity wouldn't be bad for you. You have to discover what motivates you to be more competitive and present in the outer world, as well as what you think is worth investing time and effort (i.e. what makes you pragmatic and productive).
 

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I can relate so much to the first two posts. I'm in my 60s now and have just begun to figure out a few things. Here's one:

My brain doesn't work at talking speed. I can read a written remark and respond in writing in, say, 10 seconds, but in conversation you only have 1 second.

I do have an online life, but I also realize that I can relate to some people one-on-one. I can also fit into some groups if talking is not that important (this could be people who hang out on the beach together, or who do some activity together).

I no longer try to fit in with people who aren't in sync with me. What a relief! For example, I live next door to a cafe, but I never go in there. Most of the people are nice, intelligent, etc., but the dynamic doesn't allow me to shine or even relate.

I don't have time to write more now, but I'll be back.
 

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I have always felt very disconnected around others. It feels like my mind doesn't process conversation the way it's supposed to and I am always very aware of this when socializing and observing others socially.
So, first of all, do not blame your mind. Your mind is not the chooser, you are. Accept blame. Blame is empowering. If YOU are at fault, then you can choose to change. I am NOT saying that such a choice is easy.

YOU have established a certain pattern, and YOU are now stuck in that pattern as a consequence. It DOES NOT matter that you, your personality, your mind, whatever (excuse) you want to use, is the way it is. That is CURRENT STATE only. And your choice is very powerful to change the CURRENT STATE.

In social settings I'm always observing others and listening to what they're saying but never usually have much of an opinion about it or one that I feel I'm able to articulate with much clarity in that moment, so I stay silent (possibly not enough mental energy/ability to organize my thoughts well on the spot, since this is often alleviated with Ritalin).
So this is the typical thing most clinical types will tell you and it is a very popular form of modern psychology. I am NOT a trained psychologist, but I propose a different attempted solution.

Your issue is your lack of anger. You have no presence. You are NOT present. That is alleviated by anger. You may even denigrate anger, thinking it is a 'bad' emotion. Most of our society does, incorrectly. Anger IS NOT bad.

There are only three emotions, fear, anger, and desire. These combine to form all other emotions in varying degrees and taken together all the way, they are love itself.

Anger is fully 1/3 of love. Most people think desire is the best emotion. They denigrate fear and anger. They are wrong to do so.

The personality that best describes this model is the Enneagram. It would help to know your Enneatype, but reading this, I suspect you are a 4 or a 5, maybe even both in your tritype, and possibly 9 as well. These are all anger deflated, WITHDRAWN (presence) types.

All personality types are moral errors. That is to say, your personality tendencies express how you FAIL. People thing they express how they succeed. But seen the right way, it is also how you fail. Your strength is a weakness, and your weakness is a weakness also. That is a hard truth to swallow.

For example, the likely situation here is that you lack presence. That is you. Your choice. Your anger is low or lazy. This may sound like I am attacking you. Observation leading to self awareness is helpful, not at attack. The intent here is GOOD, to help.

So, it is not 'JUST WHAT HAPPENS' to you that you sit and observe. It is not 'JUST WHO YOU ARE'. Both of these delusions are incorrect weakness and you are CHOOSING that weakness every single time. You have to begin to take baby steps to being more present, to being louder, to expressing your essence, your being, more. That is all. It's your choice.

The feeling you have of being disengaged is your choice that you feel. You are LITERALLY disappearing from the world. Your essence is faded. You need to turn the volume up and that is anger.

Most of my life, my energy has been put into trying to balance myself out/figure out my mental health and so I haven't really put much time into hobbies.
'Balance' is a type 9 word. You may be infatuated with peace. Peace is a delusion. When 9s speak of peace they should speak of balance.

If balance is properly understood, it is war, not peace. The result seems peaceful but the duckfeet are paddling like mad under the surface. That is war. That is truth. That is real balance. It is no laughing matter. You have to have your presence. You have to STAND against all else in reality, the dogs, the winds, the other people who are naturals with anger, ALL of it, the ravages of time, of gravity, of pain, of damage, ALL of it.

You can be balanced by CHOICE, a warring internal choice, and sit there and watch and be happy. But you cannot be balanced by peace, by laziness, by sitting there wishing to be a part and choosing NOT to be a part. It's your CHOICE that makes the difference. You are to blame.

To be honest I usually don't have much energy to put into hobbies.
Having energy is choice.

Focus is presence is anger.
Will is persistence is desire.

But you net energy is controlled by your BALANCE of fear, anger, and desire. The higher you make each one, the more net energy you will have. And be very wary of over expressions of fear. They lead to cold and death and imprison you. Over expressions of desire lead to explosions that rot and destroy you. Over expressions of anger lead to wasting presence and energy, and often destructiveness, which is why anger is maligned so much incorrectly.

But rest assured most of your energy is just your choice.

Most hobbies don't interest me or if they do as with art, it seems like the talent doesn't come naturally to me and with having ADD it's difficult to stay focused/complete the project.
Interest and focus are anger and they are only your choice.

Practice, practice, practice. As you use anger you will get better with it.

I'm sure part of why I have difficulty relating to others is honestly because I haven't had a very eventful life, so I don't have all these crazy stories from college and have never had much of a circle of friends or anything like that to draw past stories from. I don't know.
You are RIDICULOUSLY passive. You are the agent of cause to events. You need not sit there lazily waiting for life to happen to you. Then you blame your external life as if that has much to do with it. Your choices are far MORE relevant. Choose your life.

When I meet people I just feel like this blank slate with nothing to share.
Your feelings are a choice. All desire reflects on you. It causes worthlessness. All fear causes delusional worthiness. Anger is balance and more honest in this sense. Anger demands your fears and desires shut up. Anger must rise to equal them, or they will destroy you.

Like I was wired to just go through this existence in a very painful, lonely way because my mind doesn't allow me to connect with others in a very natural way. Like it's too self-focused because it's always trying to self-protect and look for ways to self-heal. I feel like there aren't any answers for me. Anything I've gotten from a therapist has been extremely vague/generic advice, albeit well-intended. It makes me wonder if there truly isn't much hope for some people.
Your therapist and modem psychology IS NOT working for you. It is not empowering you to choose to change. You believe nonsense like your mind is your enemy. Your mind is yours and you control it. Choose to believe that. Choose to believe that you can control your destiny mostly. Start taking the blame for how your life is. Quit blaming CONCEPTS that make you a permanent victim.

I have tried CBT and looking for distortions and thinking/replacing negative thoughts with positive ones but it really hasn't done anything when it comes to helping me connect better socially. Sure, CBT has helped me feel better briefly while I'm doing it but the next time I find myself in a social situation, I respond the same way and feel very checked out because I'm having a hard time connecting with those who are trying to get to know me. Then after a while, they give up because I don't have much mental energy to keep up so I'm not usually sharing much and I guess they're done trying. It's extremely anxiety-inducing and depressing and has even led to me dissociating - experiencing depersonalization/derealization at its most extreme moments.
No drug can MAKE you choose. Choice is the proper fix. Some drugs can help you choose. They do so by getting you in touch with yourself, bringing you to full anger, full presence. They short circuit your fears and desires so that you are out of your own way. But you have to take really really strong drugs to do this well. And your choice to be lazy and WAIT to feel action or being overtake you, will stop even these drugs.

Taking drugs is often a crutch and you get used to the crutch and need a bigger crutch. This is the very nature of desire. Desire rots you. It is self-indulgent. If you focus on how you FEEL you are catering to desire, being self-indulgent. That will rot you, disintegrate you. Desire is chaos.

Anger helps you stand to this. You use anger to effectively deny your desires and they lose their control of you. You then do not have these giddy immoral feelings. They vanish into a sublime feeling known as 'Happiness'. That is proper choice.

If anyone has any familiarity with dissociation or extreme social phobia (possibly selective mutism or something like it?) please let me know. Or if you have any other theories/ideas I would greatly appreciate any and all positive feedback. I don't mind explaining anything in further detail. I'm just feeling really trapped and honestly don't know where to turn.
I have sever social phobia from when I was a kid. I was bullied and ridiculed fairly often. I was two years ahead of myself in school because i was so smart. The boys and especially the girls at a certain age, were bigger. My fear and desires teamed up on me badly.

But I had an advantage you do not. I am enneatype 8, a natural warrior. Pain does not matter to me, and I demand of myself that I stay present. So I did it. I chose.

Later in life I discovered other issues. I have MVP, panic attacks, and dysautonomia. But it does not matter. I have had cardiologists come sit next to me in their offices and stare at me. They cant believe I am functional. These are experts, many of them. They do not know. I use my anger in so many constructive ways. I challenge everyone and everything to do better, to BE better. And it works. I help hundreds of people. Belief if powerful and anger is balance and presence both. It is the DIRECT emotion that combats dissociation, which is literally fading by choice.

There is more.

I was bitten by ticks most of my life. I suppose it was a matter of time before I contracted Lyme or at least burgdorfi infections and dissociative episodes related to it. But anger again powered me through it. I learned to balance these attacks and stay present and without ANY drug at all, by choice.

So, I know you can choose to empower yourself, and be more present.

Go out and strap an old mattress to a tree and hit it with a bat. Get your anger up. Practice touch. Touch is NOT creepy. Get permission of course. You would benefit from offering massages. Touch is discipline. You have to do it intentionally every single day many times. Pets help also, dogs MORE than cats. Dogs force you to defend with touch and that is GOOD. It helps you stay present. Take up a sport or even better a martial art. It will teach you fear discipline and anger presence of mind. That will really really help you. Get out in nature and hike. Hike at differing speeds intentionally. Go off trail (make sure people know where you are and you are with a buddy). Finally, intentionally speak up and decide to care about literally everything. Your life will explode with meaning. Not caring is your choice only. Choose to care.

I hope all of that helps and that you take it the right way.
 
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