Friday, April 18, 2008

Like an alien

My pastor has been speaking lately about how Christians are like aliens in the world. We're different in many ways from those who don't follow Christ - in the ways we think and act.

I don't know if I've talked about this before (couldn't find it in recent posts, though I felt I had talked about this not long ago), but often I feel like an alien in the world, and even at church. As a teen I had social phobia, and it crops up again every now and then. In searching the internet I found that often social phobia is linked with mood disorders.

Research published by Cambridge University Press found that "Strong associations exist between lifetime social phobia and major depressive disorder (odds ratio 2·9), dysthymia (2·7) and bipolar disorder (5·9). Odds ratios increase in magnitude with number of social fears. Reported age of onset is earlier for social phobia than mood disorders in the vast majority of co-morbid cases. Temporally-primary social phobia predicts subsequent onset of mood disorders, with population attributable risk proportions of 10–15%. Social phobia is also associated with severity and persistence of co-morbid mood disorders."

I guess it's natural that having a mood disorder is going to make you feel different from others, like you don't fit in, like you're on the outside looking in. We are different in many respects. But those are such very uncomfortable feelings to have.

On the blogs I've heard many say how they don't feel comfortable at church. They don't feel accepted; they feel judged. It's one reason many stop going to church. But maybe these are false perceptions caused by social phobia. I know that my feelings of not fitting in are usually due to my own perceptions - not the perceptions of others.

When I reach out to others, not thinking about myself but thinking about the people around me, these feeling disappear. This, I believe is the solution to the problem. If we can stop thinking about our own needs but turn our thoughts to the needs of the people around us, our social phobia can stop being an issue.

I guess the biblical teachings to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is something we need to live by if we're to overcome feelings of alienation. If we can think of others, have the courage to reach out to others and show our love for them we will soon feel more like we fit in. Others will then reach out to us and we will feel that we belong. The old adage: "to have a friend you need to be a friend" is a valuable lesson we should not forget.

I know all this, and yet...every once in a while I still feel like an alien in a foreign land.

And...reaching out takes courage, especially when - perhaps - you're not feeling very confident or good about yourself.


Merelyme said...

yes it sure does take courage and i am so glad you are doing it. i feel like an alien a lot of the time too...i have always felt different from others. but then i find that most everyone feels a little off center and we are not alone.

Nancie said...

I experienced social phobia too. Even now sometimes I still feel that way. Like you, I find that when I reach out to others and forget about myself, I enjoy the friendship and don't feel out of place anymore. Reaching out to others is really not easy when I am conscious of my limitations and the fear of rejection. But God is gracious. When we ministers to others needs, ours are met in very wonderful ways which we never even expected. Praise Him.

Have a blessed weekends and Lord's day!

Paula Joy said...

I have wondered if social phobia is somehow related to bipolar. I've never done any research on it, but have found myself quite weird in some social situations. Do you have any good links??

Paula Joy said...

I tagged you on my blog today - just something fun!!

Anonymous said...

Most of you know me as “Dreamwriter.” I recently
Launched a new blog called, “Bipolar Speaks.” One day something came over me as I was reading websites called “Post Secret” and also a blog who had a post where they had quotes from other Bloggers with mental illness about how they felt.

It occurred to me that WE need an escape to let out our feelings and frustrations. I know that a lot of bloggers say what they feel within their own blogs, but you are welcome to share your thoughts, opinions, and feelings.

You are welcome to help raise awareness and put a stop to the Stigma that lies within mental illness. We can change the world - one story at a time.

I thought it would be interesting
To design a “Safe Haven” for those who battle with a Mental Illness; and allow them to come and let out their most darkest, painful, and emotional feelings. This would be a great way to spread awareness by letting society know what is REAL about mental illness.

If you are interested, you can submit a story or short piece as an “Anonymous” contributor, or if you don‘t care about what others think, then feel free to reveal your blogger identity; its purely up to you.. I tried this several times and the “Anonymous” button works and ends up in my email as an “Anonymous” comment.

The rules and regulations are in the blog within a post. Take the time to read them thoroughly and I hope that you become a constant contributor.

Remember, we all have things on our chest to let out and we all truly don’t want others to know. But now is an opportunity for YOU to speak up, speak out, and be heard!

I know that I have a lot of feelings and issues that I don’t want my husband, friends, or family to know about…this is my chance to get it off my chest and I WILL be a constant contributor.

Depending on the issue, I might submit the story under both “anonymous” and my name.
Go to “Bipolar Speaks” and look around, don’t forget to display the Bipolar Speaks button on your blog and link it back to us.

By the way, I still have my other blog, so don’t forget about me over there, too. :)

Dream Writer said...

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog...I have been so busy with school and working on other projects that I haven't had time to visit everyone on a regular basis.

My last day is May 2nd so NOW you won't be able to get rid of me :)

Becca said...

Interesting post you have here. Social phobia is not easy to overcome. But you can learn from www.whatcausespanicattacks.comabout simple prevention methods. Can be pretty handy.