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I have *undiagnosed* selective mutism and it's constantly there... watch

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    Firstly it's never been diagnosed because I'm simply too scared to see someone about it.

    I'm now 17, doing my A-Levels and I have been affected by selective mutism for as long as I can remember.

    Ever since primary school I was known as the 'quiet' boy who just got on with his work. This soon got worse when I started secondary school, not knowing many people and being in new situations.

    Without going into many details, I was covertly bullied by a couple of boys and I had little friends. Most of the people in my year thought I was weird just because I didn't talk!

    It was in Year 11 where I finally decided "I need to sort this out". I set myself mini goals to try to be more confident, such as just saying hi to a teacher if I knew them.

    I'm now feeling quite a bit better when it comes to speaking to people but it's constantly there.

    I struggle to have conversations without getting tongue-twisted (even with my family this happens tbh), my heart rate increases and I sweat heavily.

    I want to be the person I know I can be. I didn't ask to be this way.
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    (Original post by Anonymous)
    Firstly it's never been diagnosed because I'm simply too scared to see someone about it.

    I'm now 17, doing my A-Levels and I have been affected by selective mutism for as long as I can remember.

    Ever since primary school I was known as the 'quiet' boy who just got on with his work. This soon got worse when I started secondary school, not knowing many people and being in new situations.

    Without going into many details, I was covertly bullied by a couple of boys and I had little friends. Most of the people in my year thought I was weird just because I didn't talk!

    It was in Year 11 where I finally decided "I need to sort this out". I set myself mini goals to try to be more confident, such as just saying hi to a teacher if I knew them.

    I'm now feeling quite a bit better when it comes to speaking to people but it's constantly there.

    I struggle to have conversations without getting tongue-twisted (even with my family this happens tbh), my heart rate increases and I sweat heavily.

    I want to be the person I know I can be. I didn't ask to be this way.
    I'm not sure if this is really "selective mutism" or some kind of bad social anxiety (although I do suppose they tend to coexist). What I get from it is that you DO speak, you just feel incredibly nervous when doing so. I don't know, I'm not a big expert on mental health.

    I'm also 17, and I can relate to a lot of what you've described. I was "diagnosed" with social anxiety disorder when I was 15 and I remember feeling very similar to the way you do. I was always the "quiet kid" who sat at the back of the classroom and never spoke. Ever. Not to the person next to me, or even if a teacher would say hello to me in the hallway, I would normally just glance up in surprise and by then the moment had already passed. I got teased a lot too. I remember other girls dumping pencil shavings all over my books and on my skirt, or asking me patronizing questions. I always got so flustered.

    Conversation was pretty much impossible. My mind would go blank and I would start to sweat. Pretty embarrassing. People started realizing how awkward I was, I think, so they stopped trying to talk to me.

    Anyways, what I'd suggest for first steps is to see someone. I know you said that you're too scared, but it's good to get some kind of solid diagnosis. That being said, my GP was absolutely no help so I went about finding a local mental health organisation on my own. Never got a formal medical diagnosis, but I saw on the sheets once "social anxiety and depression" which was pretty much just a confirmation of what I already knew. People's experiences with therapy vary greatly; some people find themselves in a MUCH better position after just a few months of it (which is why I think you should definitely get some help), others end up looking back on it and finding it rather pointless. I.e, Me. Gotta say, therapy itself didn't really help me, but having someone to talk to about my struggles did.

    I don't necessarily think it's paramount to get professional help, although it would be huge stepping stone for sure.

    What I did was just force myself to talk to people. I don't know, I feel like you must hear this sort of advice all the time; I definitely did. But honestly, it's what they tell you in therapy too. My therapist did it in really subtle ways, breaking down different situations, getting me to do mind maps. But in the end, the message was clearly "push yourself." If you don't at least try, you'll never know if it works. I know it's hard, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.

    I mean, you've said that you already see some marked improvement, so that's a good sign. Just keep going with it, you'll get better. Small things, like asking if you can share a book with someone, or if you can borrow a ruler. One big thing that helped me (and it'll sound stupid) was to just observe people. When the people next to me were chatting, I'd listen in. I'd notice where they would pause in conversation, how they enunciated certain words etc. If I could, I'd glance over and check out body language, too. Again, it sounds weird, but it really helped me with my own flow. For example, I used to think that if someone spoke to me, I'd have to respond lightning fast, otherwise it'd get awkward. After my observations, I realized that doing that would actually make me sound a bit weird, and that I should allow time for myself to think and speak.

    Just take your time with. I assume that like me, you'll be moving onto university soon, or college or whatever. Either way, new environment = new opportunities. Make the most of it! Sorry for the long windedness. If you want to talk to me, just send a message.
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    Hello hello!

    I'm not sure how useful I'll be but your post stuck in my head so I had to come back to see if I could be of assistance. I can see you're really trying and fighting! Good on you! Your mini goals strategy honestly seems like an excellent idea, maybe your progress can be accellerated by trying different things though? I'm really sorry that this is so cliche, but help from a medical professional will really be of the best help to you (though I'm sure you know that). However, it doesn't necessarily have to be your first stop and maybe it might help to try few things yourself in preparation to work up to it more comfortably. The point of this is to make you more confident, comfortable and happy so there's no point making yourself super unhappy by doing something you aren't ready for yet. I think it should defo be your end goal though!

    Have you ever tried any type of CBT? You can watch videos/engage on forums/use the workbooks. If you're worried about getting a diagnosis, this could be an excellent place to start for you to build your confidence (also you'll know what a GP or therapist is talking about which should make you feel more at ease if you decide togo.)

    Perhaps it might also help to try and search for the reasons which combine together to stop you from speaking so you can tackle them one at a time rather than all at once? Like for example is there any particular element of conversation that sticks out as being a major problem for you? As in, is it worse in certain places/situations or with certain people? Is it because you're nervous you'll mess up, or because you're uncomfortable/feel a disassociation with your voice or because you're worried of being judged or drawing attention to yourself? It might not be that obvious though or there might just be such a huge range of reasons that its unclear, in which case that's okay. Heck, you may be even able to investigate it when you're in different social situations and learn a bit more about yourself and how you deal with stuff.

    Phew! What a mouthful! I hope there was something in that huge swathe of text that was useful (I promise I meant it to be :lol:)
    PM me if you need to, but in the meantime keep going and keep us updated!
    • #1
    • Thread Starter
    #1

    (Original post by Anygy)
    I'm not sure if this is really "selective mutism" or some kind of bad social anxiety (although I do suppose they tend to coexist). What I get from it is that you DO speak, you just feel incredibly nervous when doing so. I don't know, I'm not a big expert on mental health.

    I'm also 17, and I can relate to a lot of what you've described. I was "diagnosed" with social anxiety disorder when I was 15 and I remember feeling very similar to the way you do. I was always the "quiet kid" who sat at the back of the classroom and never spoke. Ever. Not to the person next to me, or even if a teacher would say hello to me in the hallway, I would normally just glance up in surprise and by then the moment had already passed. I got teased a lot too. I remember other girls dumping pencil shavings all over my books and on my skirt, or asking me patronizing questions. I always got so flustered.

    Conversation was pretty much impossible. My mind would go blank and I would start to sweat. Pretty embarrassing. People started realizing how awkward I was, I think, so they stopped trying to talk to me.

    Anyways, what I'd suggest for first steps is to see someone. I know you said that you're too scared, but it's good to get some kind of solid diagnosis. That being said, my GP was absolutely no help so I went about finding a local mental health organisation on my own. Never got a formal medical diagnosis, but I saw on the sheets once "social anxiety and depression" which was pretty much just a confirmation of what I already knew. People's experiences with therapy vary greatly; some people find themselves in a MUCH better position after just a few months of it (which is why I think you should definitely get some help), others end up looking back on it and finding it rather pointless. I.e, Me. Gotta say, therapy itself didn't really help me, but having someone to talk to about my struggles did.

    I don't necessarily think it's paramount to get professional help, although it would be huge stepping stone for sure.

    What I did was just force myself to talk to people. I don't know, I feel like you must hear this sort of advice all the time; I definitely did. But honestly, it's what they tell you in therapy too. My therapist did it in really subtle ways, breaking down different situations, getting me to do mind maps. But in the end, the message was clearly "push yourself." If you don't at least try, you'll never know if it works. I know it's hard, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.

    I mean, you've said that you already see some marked improvement, so that's a good sign. Just keep going with it, you'll get better. Small things, like asking if you can share a book with someone, or if you can borrow a ruler. One big thing that helped me (and it'll sound stupid) was to just observe people. When the people next to me were chatting, I'd listen in. I'd notice where they would pause in conversation, how they enunciated certain words etc. If I could, I'd glance over and check out body language, too. Again, it sounds weird, but it really helped me with my own flow. For example, I used to think that if someone spoke to me, I'd have to respond lightning fast, otherwise it'd get awkward. After my observations, I realized that doing that would actually make me sound a bit weird, and that I should allow time for myself to think and speak.

    Just take your time with. I assume that like me, you'll be moving onto university soon, or college or whatever. Either way, new environment = new opportunities. Make the most of it! Sorry for the long windedness. If you want to talk to me, just send a message.
    Thanks a lot, it's comforting to hear from someone who can empathise. Maybe I have SAD then? I'm not sure to be entirely honest.

    My parents wouldn't take me seriously if I saw a professional, they'd tell me to "get a grip" or something along those lines. They're not bad parents but they wont want me to be labelled all my life.

    If I keep going then I think everything will improve. Thanks again.
    • #1
    • Thread Starter
    #1

    (Original post by slurredsquash)
    Hello hello!

    I'm not sure how useful I'll be but your post stuck in my head so I had to come back to see if I could be of assistance. I can see you're really trying and fighting! Good on you! Your mini goals strategy honestly seems like an excellent idea, maybe your progress can be accellerated by trying different things though? I'm really sorry that this is so cliche, but help from a medical professional will really be of the best help to you (though I'm sure you know that). However, it doesn't necessarily have to be your first stop and maybe it might help to try few things yourself in preparation to work up to it more comfortably. The point of this is to make you more confident, comfortable and happy so there's no point making yourself super unhappy by doing something you aren't ready for yet. I think it should defo be your end goal though!

    Have you ever tried any type of CBT? You can watch videos/engage on forums/use the workbooks. If you're worried about getting a diagnosis, this could be an excellent place to start for you to build your confidence (also you'll know what a GP or therapist is talking about which should make you feel more at ease if you decide togo.)

    Perhaps it might also help to try and search for the reasons which combine together to stop you from speaking so you can tackle them one at a time rather than all at once? Like for example is there any particular element of conversation that sticks out as being a major problem for you? As in, is it worse in certain places/situations or with certain people? Is it because you're nervous you'll mess up, or because you're uncomfortable/feel a disassociation with your voice or because you're worried of being judged or drawing attention to yourself? It might not be that obvious though or there might just be such a huge range of reasons that its unclear, in which case that's okay. Heck, you may be even able to investigate it when you're in different social situations and learn a bit more about yourself and how you deal with stuff.

    Phew! What a mouthful! I hope there was something in that huge swathe of text that was useful (I promise I meant it to be :lol:)
    PM me if you need to, but in the meantime keep going and keep us updated!
    Thank you! I think it's because I'm mainly self-conscious - I don't like my voice, I often get tongue-tied and I can't get words out and I'm not a fan of attention.
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    Hey


    I’m a speech and language therapist (SLT) and can confirm selective mutism is a type of anxiety. I would suggest you try and see your GP, if you write down what you want to say and let them read this that will help a lot. They may be able to refer you to counselling and/or SLT. As said above, this could be online to start with. A SLT will be able to help you with your voice and not being able to get your words out too

    (Original post by Anonymous)
    Thank you! I think it's because I'm mainly self-conscious - I don't like my voice, I often get tongue-tied and I can't get words out and I'm not a fan of attention.
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    (Original post by Anonymous)
    Thanks a lot, it's comforting to hear from someone who can empathise. Maybe I have SAD then? I'm not sure to be entirely honest.

    My parents wouldn't take me seriously if I saw a professional, they'd tell me to "get a grip" or something along those lines. They're not bad parents but they wont want me to be labelled all my life.

    If I keep going then I think everything will improve. Thanks again.
    Same situation with my parents; precisely the reason I never told them and never will. Thankfully, my organisation offered a free 6-8 weeks counselling program, so I really had no need to tell my parents where I was going every Wednesday! And no worries.
 
 
 
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