July 16th, 2004, 07:19 PM #1
Paxil, Antidepressants, depression, girlfriend, etc.
Following many, many years of unhappiness… and a breakup with my girlfriend (pic) of 2.5 years… I decided to get some professional help. Following 4 sessions, I was diagnosed with Dysthymia, mild clinical depression, and social phobia (social anxiety). The doctor wants to medicate me with Paxil CR. Dysthymia BTW (for those who don’t click the link) is chronic, low-level depression for a period greater than 2 years.
I've got no reasons to be unhappy, save for strife with family which I am no longer really a part of. I have a successful career, live in a nice place, am financially secure, and had a great girlfriend. Many would have enveyed me.
I did a quick search on paxil here… and saw a few members that I respect greatly have struggled with this so I figured what the hell… let me post all this crap. I’ve always been scared of the idea of meds. It is disconcerting to me… but after 10 or so years of dealing with things on my own… I have come to the conclusion it may be required. I think if it were depression, or social phobia alone, I might stand a chance of fighting in without meds. I have been very successful in fighting for my goals. I have had to be very strong, and overcome a lot to get where I am. However, I have been unable to defeat this. The idea of medication bothers me because it might be permanent… and it fools with my brain… the most important part of me. But I can’t handle this anymore, my brain is fooling with itself. I am about 75% likely to choose the meds right now.
So what I am looking for is other member’s experiences with Paxil, Zoloft, or other Seretonin reuptake inhibitors. Or any other thoughts other members might have. I am not so much looking for a shoulder to cry on… advice more than anything. What follows is a short bit on what got me to get help… and then a longer bit I typed up first on what laid the groundwork for my problems. BTW, if anyone would rather… PM me or contact me via AIM at “Gomer IMO”
Anyway, GF of 2.5 years recently (5 weeks) broke up with me. Says she still loves me, and cares for me… but lost her physical attraction towards me. She said she thought she was making me unhappy. That she is confused.
Now at first… I was sort of off-base… and thought it was her issues that broke us up. She has never been very intimate as a result of both her upbringing and poor self-image. That portion of our relationship was ok for the first 5-6 months… but went downhill from there. It was a working relationship.
What finally hit home though was when she said that 2 of her friends, who I had hung out with on a few occasions and really liked… they told her I thought I didn’t like them. I’ve always had issues with social interaction… and I dunno, that was the slap in the face that made me see I think. And the fact that she thought she made me unhappy. She really was the greatest source of happiness in my life… but I would often be unhappy… unhappy in general… I won’t get into all the symptoms here… but the docs diagnosis is dead on the money right.
It was then I decided to get help. It was something I always knew I needed… but until 2 years ago… it was never something I could pursue for financial reasons. I am a horrible mess because of the breakup… but the primary reason for getting help was to fix the things that destroyed this relationship. I know now those things need fixed or I am dammed to suffer forever.
My ex and I are talking… and have seen each other twice. She is an awesome girl. Intelligent (MS in Biomed Engineering from UM), cute, goofy, caring… I could go on and on. She was a unique girl who was just right for me… and I for her. She has told me she needed to do it because she was feeling worse and worse in the relationship. I know she still has strong feelings for me and she won’t deny it. She is broken up with me and is staying neutral. She is not pushing me away (and she knows she should if that is how she feels). We have seen each other twice (after 3 weeks apart, and last week)… when we saw each other… I could tell she still had feelings… and when we hugged, I know she herself felt right in my arms. I know she has no other guys… and I know she isn’t playing the field. I can trust her when she tells me those things.
I am stuck in limbo right now. I am doing a variety of little-medium things to remind her of how I feel and how I am feeling. Until she pushes me further away, or this resolves itself I am stuck here. I don’t want to lose her.
So I am getting help. For myself, honestly. I didn’t go into all the details of how I was feeling/symptoms… this is long enough. If anyone wants to know more let me know.
Readers digest version of my troubled life:
Grew up in a dysfunctional, semi-poor family. Dad was an alcoholic. Was physically abusive until I was 7-10 years old or so. Nothing too severe… would just get drunk and liberal with the belt. I have a scar on my hip from the buckle I think. Would get sober and liberal with it too. Was physically abusive to my mother as well. This was until I was 7-10 or so (pardon my rough timeline, memories not the greatest).
When I was 7, my dad had a severe accident at work and had his arm torn off at the elbow. The reattached it but he lost probably 50-60 percent of its function. My brother was also born at this time (I also have a sister 1.5 years younger). Sometime in the 3-4 years following the accident, something changed and my dad stopped being physically abusive… but the mental and emotional abuse continued. The alcoholism went underground at this time as well. From there on out, denial was the standard. All alcohol was hidden in and outside of the house, car etc.
When I was 14-16 or so my mother (a musician, Irish) started playing gigs several nights a week and would be gone until 3-4 in the morning or the weekend etc. Kids would have to fend for ourselves against our father. I was the oldest and took the brunt of it.
When I was 17 or so, my mother started taking 4-6 week trips to Ireland. Not only was I left to deal with my father for this period… but I was working 40 hours a week while attending high school so I would be able to go to school. Us kids were left to fend for ourselves when it came to post-HS education. I never had anything any other kids have, and my mother was able to take intercontinental vacations. I’ve still never seen the ocean myself, and I am 26 years old.
I lived at home until I went away to school at the age of 21. While at home, I put myself through community college working 40-50 hours a week while attending full time. I had no direction as to what to do or how to go about doing things financially. I did not qualify for any federal aid because due to my fathers income. All the while my mother would leave for Ireland on a regular basis.
When I was 21 I had saved enough and was able to borrow enough money to go to MSU. I would leave home for the school year, and come back over the summer and work 45-55 hours a week at the lumberyard to roll up some cash for school.
When I was 23 or so, my mother began making longer trips to Ireland and eventually moved to Ireland permanently. My younger brother was left to fend for himself during this time. He has his own set of substance abuse problems now. When my mother decided to move, I had full blown resentment of her, and cut off communications.
All this time my dads alcohol abuse was almost continuous. He has been arrested a few times for DUI etc. Again, this was all underground… we’d hear about it second-hand from others who knew people. For periods after an arrest, he would remain sober. I think he made it a year or so once. After his most recent arrest 6 or so months ago (for both possession and DUI we hear), he lost his license. He is now riding his bike everywhere including to work. He works swing shifts of 12 hours on, 12 off and needs to ride his bike 8 miles to a co-workers house and 8 miles back every day.
My mother is in Ireland… and has a “male friend” she is living with. To my knowledge, my parents are not divorced. Is separated a legal state? Anyhow, she has brought this gentleman home with her on several occasions. Hard to deal with that especially given all my other feelings. I recently (last 3 months) started communicating with her on a very limited basis. When we would cross paths at home before that on holidays and the like I kept any contact to a minimum.
Again, growing up I was among the have-nots. I was a small guy in school, didn’t have have nice clothes, had a name that lent itself to teasing, and to top it all off my mom made me play the flute through jr. high. I was a great target and school was really hell for me. Social life was severely limited The few friends I was able to make, I had to somewhat keep insulated from the seedy underbelly of my homelife. To this day, I have never discussed any of this with my best of friends (ones I grew up with) out of shame and wanting to keep it hidden. All they know is what they have observed or heard secondhand. Really the only reason I am able to discuss this here is that I know none of you. I am just Gomer… pages of text on the internet.
My younger sister (1.5 years) managed to do the best of all of us as far as normal development goes though she does have a few issues. My younger brother got to lead a different life than we do. He did not have the physical violence portion of it. He was also spoiled by my father growing up so was able to develop better socially. However, He fell in or wound up in the wrong crowd. Had an marijuana and alcohol problem by the age of 17-18… and is now working at a factory following graduating highschool. Having to fend for ourselves was good for my sister and I in that respect.
Many dark years. This was just the readers digest version I cranked out here pretty quick. Ought to give a good enough picture though.
Damn this is long. Prolly bounced around abit.
Last edited by Gomer; July 16th, 2004 at 07:25 PM.
July 16th, 2004, 08:20 PM #2
Hey Gomer. I don't have any really valuable input aside from that I know my b-i-l has a similar affliction for which, I believe, he takes zoloft. After he began taking it, there was a marked change, for the better. He's now much easier for me to interact with. Of course there are still times when he'd rather not visit, and that's fine. You're incredibly intelligent, as evidenced by many of your posts (except the political ones ) I wish you the best and am glad you could share this w/ your fellow IMOers.
July 16th, 2004, 09:36 PM #3
- Join Date
- Jan 2003
- MA / NH
Prozac, Zoloft, and Seretonin all have had there share with sam.
They have ruined her. They make her weaker, and she becomes dependent on them. If she stops taking them she just breaks down, and crys, and does other stuff. If she is not on them, she cannot be alone.
I got her off them for a week, and there was incredible improvment. She wasnt sad, and could deal with problems that arose. when she is on them, she cannot deal with anything.
just my .02
July 16th, 2004, 10:08 PM #4
I've been taking them for seven years after I had my heart attacks. The reason they were prescribed for me was I quit drinking and smoking cold turkey right after the first HA. The doctor said they would relieve my anxiety and help me cope with the lack of alcohol. My advice to you is to stay away from them if you can as they are very habit forming and have a few side affects that I know you won't be happy with.Go Pats
July 16th, 2004, 10:18 PM #5
I may not know anything about you, but you're not "just" Gomer, you're still a person behind that keyboard. You'll be in our thoughts. Best wishes dude.
July 16th, 2004, 10:54 PM #6
- Join Date
- Jan 2002
- Blog Entries
Wow, I don't know what to say, but I have a little advice for you...
My wife was on Prozac for a couple of months due to a sexual dysfunction (priapism if you are curious, google it your results will be interesting but it isn't as "interesting" as it sounds p.s. I don't know any of you either so I can tell you this) and she hated every minute of it. It made her "numb" from the waist down, trying to get not too graphic here. It also made her very ambivolent towards life.
Me: "Hey honey, I killed a group of people on my way home from work today"
Her: "'kay that's nice"
Me: "Oh yeah, ya know that hot chic at work, we fooled around a bit and it was fantastic"
Her: "Really, that sounds cool"
Get my drift?
But, again, your experience may be different because of the depression you are dealing with. But the sexual side effects definatly weren't good.
Good luck Gomer!!!!
I have a soft spot for MSU grads, my dad graduated from there.
July 16th, 2004, 11:05 PM #7You can't fix stupidity.
July 16th, 2004, 11:15 PM #8
- Join Date
- Aug 2003
- South Texas, unfortu
My experiences are also through my wife, she was prescribed zoloft. Detritus's dialogue was pretty acurate. When she did try to get off them she was just as blazer mentioned above, that is she'd cry and cry and cry for no reason. It was as if all the emotions were suppressed and when she got off of it they flooded her. She did finally go off of it by being weened off it as cold turkey was too much. I can say she wasn't the same person when she was on them. It wasn't happiness as much as it was indifference. I remember googling "side effects of zoloft" when she was trying to get off of it and I was amazed by all the stories I read about people who had problems with it. While I wouldn't intentionally shrug off any doctors advice, I would ask if there were another way to go without using those drugs. Whatever you decide I wish you the best.
July 16th, 2004, 11:53 PM #9
I think sometimes these drugs are poor replacements for the art of psychoanalysis. Psychiatrists just don't want to spend the time with patients. Or maybe it's because the insurance companies won't cover the visits.You can't fix stupidity.
July 17th, 2004, 12:25 AM #10
- Join Date
- Oct 2001
Well Gomer....Ill just tell you from the PERSONAL EXPERIENCE of my life. We are not talking some outer space theory..I am talking experience.
My opinion is that you dont need drugs of any sort for these issues.
drugs didnt start the issues, drugs wont AT ALL fix the issue...all those drugs will do is mask the issue.
I was raised in a broken home....alcoholic father, alcoholic grandfather (who I never met)...no male figues of any stability to look up to etc. Small town. "Smalltown minded" family. Lived below poverty level for my whole childhood.
Anyway I sort of ended up being manic depressive. No one could talk to me about it to do me any good etc...the issues were just too deep...feelings of insecurity, feelings of inadequacy...the typical "young boy with alcoholic father" type stuff.
So I went thru school, then into the air force....ended up with a broken heart from a serious relationship....more depressed then, lol.
so I got out of the air force...started slipping on into my late twenties etc.....still fighting the depression.
At various points along the way I kept telling myself it would get better....you know like "when you get to high school it'll get better"..then "when you get in the service and get out of this dead end town it will get better"....then it was "when you get out of the service it'll get better". It never really did....no matter where I went I was still me.
So then my mom started harping on me about "there must be a chemical missing in your body...something out of balance" etc etc....thats all I heard for like 2 years.
So to shut her up I went to the doctor for a check up etc.....so I told him the deal..you know...."sometimes life doesnt seem worth living" etc etc.
So he says "you ever heard of prozac?"....Im like "yep, heard a lot of horror stories".
Anyway, no offense to anyone in the medical field....but that is their standard answer...drugs.
So I think he prescribed me something....cant remember if it was prozac or not...I dont think it was though....
so I take it for a while..a few weeks anyway....you know what?? I was still me. same old me.
In my opinion drugs dont "fix" things like this..they only mask the issues.
But thats not how my story ends....because I am not depressed now....and havent been, oh, probably 8-9 years or so. I am talking about used to get into blue funks that would last WEEKS..not anymore....if I ever have a bad day now it is rare and even then it is NEVER more than that one day.....and it takes a lot to really make a bad day....like my car broke down bad almost 3 hrs from home a few weeks back....that sort of made a bad day..but I was NOT DEPRESSED. When I drove down to pay the guy almost $700 to get the car back I was not depressed.....when he didnt have a credit card machine and wouldnt take a check and I had to drive back the next day, another 3 hrs down and back..I was not depressed.
And I am not going to mix words at all....I will tell you EXACTLY what has made the difference in my life....and it is something you dont have. My relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the center, the beginning and the end.
Now I will be honest with you Gomer....you have said some things to me that have really been hurtful to me...belittled and abused me in these public forums because of my religious views....but let me ask you...is YOUR WAY really working out all that well??
Now I am sorry for the straight talk but thats the way it goes....I had to get to the end of my rope..the end of myself...before I could get out of all my various problems....I had to finally realize that my way just wasnt working.
Perhaps you are at that point.
My final analysis....with everything in me, and my 37 years of life experience...my opinion is that going on some sort of drug medication is a big mistake. YOU WILL STILL BE YOU..THE ISSUES WILL STILL BE THERE. The doctors go to that because they have no other power to help you....but if they are honest they will tell you plainly that the drugs wont "fix" ANYTHING...they are just a coping device.....just a way to mask off the real issues of life. But time with Jesus can fix ANYTHING...PERIOD. He made you..He knows how you work...He can untangle even the most tangled messed up life. I know, He untangled the mess that I had made.
the doctors prescribe drugs cuz that is their way of life....no other answer enters their head except the latest expensive drug....and then they expect you to be on it for the rest of your life. I am soooo glad that I am not on prozac...I cant even imagine it. Today I am ME and I am quite OK with that. If I were some prozac'ed out, numb zombie...it wouldnt be me....I would just be a zombie making some prescription drug company more filthy rich.
For those who I know will jump in and call me uneducated etc.....you can go jump in a lake. The doctor was quite ready to prescribe me prozac...turns out I found something stronger....inner peace thru Jesus. Not workarounds, not short cuts....FIXES, HEALINGS....has it been easy?? Heck no...facing issues squarely isnt easy....the easy way is to hide out with drugs, or sex, or money, or power trips, or busy-ness. facing stuff is hard....but it is SOOO rewarding.
WHAT I AM DOING IS WORKING.
sorry for the militant tone but thats just the way it is.
I hope you take a little time and consider some of what I have said.
ask the doctor if the medicine will FIX the problems and how long will you have to be on it.
Keep it real, JP
(edited for spelling)
btw..your story and mine are very similar..my dad did time etc..reading thru your story is almost like thinking back to my own.
2nd btw....I've got no reasons to be unhappy, save for strife with family which I am no longer really a part of. I have a successful career, live in a nice place, am financially secure, and had a great girlfriend. Many would have enveyed me.
Last edited by John Prophet; July 17th, 2004 at 12:48 AM."Even a fool is thought to be wise if he is silent"
July 17th, 2004, 01:43 AM #11
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- Dec 2003
Paxil affects everyone differently. I took it for 2 years to treat depression and social phobia. I didn't notice any changes at all while on the med so i eventually just quit taking it.
July 17th, 2004, 01:44 AM #12
- Join Date
- Dec 2003
When I said "just quit taking it" what I really meant to say was that I slowly was weened off of it.
July 17th, 2004, 08:57 AM #13...drugs wont AT ALL fix the issue...all those drugs will do is mask the issue.
Go see a psychiatrist who is willing to spend some time doing psychoanalysis with you. If they pull out the prescription pad on the first or second visit, find another psychiatrist. You MUST deal with the underlying issue. Drugs are not the answer.You can't fix stupidity.
July 17th, 2004, 10:16 AM #14
Gomer..You can take this with a grain of salt or just disregard althogether. First, you'd obviously are going thru a rough time, as we all have at one point in lives. In my almost sixty years old, I've had a few myself. If you feel that you DONOT need to be hospitalized , and you can cope with everyday life, then you can solved your own problems without drugs and IMO without a shrink. The situation with the woman in your life seems to be the root cause of your problems. Been there, done that. I could elaborate for pages. My advice, depending on what style of nightlife is, go out and get some new threads, get a haircut ( shampoo job and all ), give your car the complete " auto detail " thing. Get some of your buddies , hit a few clubs, check out the chicks and fine a girl you'd like to date and build yourself a NEW ,Lasting relationship and go on with your life. Break the cord, NOW and give yourself a chance to breath before your sufficated on your present existence. It worked for me. This is my second marraige ( 33 years ) after a devastating first ( 2 years ) which I thought I would never recover from.
Any particulars send me a PM
July 17th, 2004, 10:32 AM #15
Brother John Prophet!!The Beatings Will Stop When Morale Improves
July 17th, 2004, 01:26 PM #16
I'm with M_Six on this one. Anti-depressants can be useful for limited periods of time. Some kind of therapy should be a part of the plan, IMHO, if long-term success is to be achieved.
SSRI's are associated with a very high rate of sexual dysfunction.
Best of luck. Recognition of the problem is a huge step.
July 18th, 2004, 05:30 PM #17
Where I am today:
Late Friday night, the fog cleared a bit. I started feeling strong again, more rational. I don’t know if was as a result of posting this or what. I don’t think it was that so much. I think it was more a realization of what my problems were finally… and the fact that I feel like I can address them now.
When I left the doc on Thursday… I wanted to walk back in and get that prescription. I wanted to call them and leave a voicemail that night to let them know I would be in to pick up the script. At the time… I just wanted to feel better so badly they seemed like the answer. At the time… I was afraid if I did not get the pills in my system, I would talk myself out of it and continue to be miserable forever.
Well after reading through the site M Six, and thinking through it a bit… I’ve decided that meds will be a last resort, and I am not to that point yet. Like the doc said… I’ve got a 40% shot of getting better w/ therapy alone and an 80% chance of getting better with meds and therapy. However, the doc said nothing about what the 20% would be like if the meds did not work right. And I think that there is too much to lose if they foul things up as they did for the people posting at the drugawareness.org site. I’ve seen no sites with people praising the meds for straitening them out.
Like I said, I’m feeling better having made that decision. I feel better now that I realize there truly is something wrong (and it has a name). I had this thought yesterday, “I’ve dealt with depression and the phobia for a long time, but I’ve never tried to deal with it.” Does that make sense? Meds seem like an easy way out… I’ve seldom taken the easy way out of anything, and know that is not often the best way.
So I’ve set my self a course of action. Whenever I buy a computer part, or bike, or anything… I always do my homework first. I read reviews and educate myself on the various features. Why should I treat this any differently? So I went on to Barnes and Noble and made myself a shortlist of books to read (about 12 or so, $150 worth). My first round of meds would have cost me $100, and $25 a month until I was off of them. I am going to read up on this to understand it better, to see what I can do myself, to see what changes I can make, to better understand my options and implications of the meds.
I also plan on changing/supplementing my diet. I found several interesting studies on essential fatty acids (omega-3’s) found in fish oils and their impact on depression. http://www.docguide.com/news/content...256C5B005A901A I know lipids play an important role in cell membrane chemistry, and I know I don’t eat anything that contains Omega 3’s. I also know that I don’t have anything to fear from taking a supplement and that the Omega-3’s have numerous other benefits. So what the hell, I picked some up today =)
Now I have not ruled out meds entirely. I am waiting to hear from my best friend on the matter. I’ve been talking to him about this… and he is a pharmacist, so he can offer me a professional opinion as well. He’s been off the grid for a few days though. I am pretty sure I won’t be jumping on the meds bandwagon this week or the next. I plan on sticking with the therapy for a while.
jmebonner: Thank you for the kind words.
Blazer06: I think part of Sam’s problem is that she just quits them cold. As far as I know… yer not supposed to due that. Is she self-medicating as well?
SPEEDO: Sexual side effects? Hey, no girlfriend anymore, so what’s the big deal? =) Honestly… of all the things that concern me about them, that is not high on the list, though it is a concern.
Gutter Ball: Thanks for the kind words as well. Nice to know you read the whole thing.
Detritus: Sad that I knew what priapism was without having to look it up eh? Wasn’t aware it affected women tho. Thanks also for the kind words. Go Spartans!
M_Six: Thanks for the link. Pretty scary. I was hoping for a link link that but with positive stories. It helped me reach a decision though.
John Prophet: I’d have wondered if you were feeling alright yourself if you didn’t post here =) Sorry if you have ever felt “belittled”, never was my intention. I’ve take a little time to consider what you have said. And I still am extremely comfortable with my spiritual life. If Jesus made you that is fine by me. I am glad that works for you. However, I am very confident that is not the panacea for me.
mark146914: I’d like to hear more about your experiences.
pickel: =) Your’s was the most amusing. Mainly because it seems like the ideal solution… But is one that is not possible for me.
The breakup with Nik is what set me into more of a clinical state of depression for sure. But she truly is a great woman… and I am sure that it was what ailed me that finally pushed her away.
As for the nightlife etc… that is exactly where the social phobia comes in. I shutdown in situations where people might be judging me. I am hypersensitive to how I think people are perceiving me. I don’t do the clubs because I am unable to dance. I don’t even know if I can or not. Going to the mall or out in public in general is not an issue because I am not looking to form any sort of relationship with those people (though it is still slightly disturbing). I am only comfortable around people that I am… well that I am comfortable with. People that I have met in some sort of controlled environment. I don’t have any “buddies” around here really. Mainly due to the fact I can’t do things they consider normal. As a result of dealing with the things I had to deal with growing up… having a beer or two to “loosen up” is out of the question.
That part was hard on Nik and I. I’d never want to do anything with her friends… because they would be situations where I would be uncomfortable. I hated wedding receptions because of the mingling and dancing. Nik would be lucky to get a slow dance or two. And I really loved dancing with her… I just couldn’t handle it. I was the best man at my best friends wedding. And I gave the speech with no problems. Everyone thought it was an awesome speech. But afterwords… I had to keep myself busy doing all sorts of things. I couldn’t interact with anyone at all. If I wasn’t doing anything, I’d just sit and try to do nothing… to not stand out. Nik was really mad at me for that one, because I would disappear and leave her to her own devices around people she didn’t really know.
It is a really serious issue of mine. One that makes it difficult to fight the depression. I am hoping there might be a med for that that is different than an anti-depressant. Something I can take when I need to rather than having to take it every night. That will be harder to beat than the depression of you ask me.
pickle: That really is the saddest part about this. That it cost me something great.
July 18th, 2004, 05:51 PM #18
July 18th, 2004, 06:31 PM #19
Hear hear John Prophet
I was just going to say drugs are bad, even prescribed ones.
I have a god brother who had a nervous breakdown, wife cheating and left him mother and father divorced, and the drugs they gave him made him a lot worse than what he was.
we worked together for about 2 years and I would tell him to throw them away and he got better
we went our sepereate ways for a few years and he ended up in the mental hospital and was given even stronger drugs, when i visited him he did not know me. He was 35 and i was 28, we grew up together he knew me since I was born. he's in a half way house now about to turn 50, he recognizes me when I see him but the his mental state is that of, I can't say it gently, he not all there and never will be again.
hear John Prophet
July 18th, 2004, 07:39 PM #20
I can't offer any insight as to the meds -- your approach (exhaust other alternatives 1st) makes sense. Recognizing and confronting the problem and your need for help may be the hardest and most important step. You are obviously very intelligent and self-aware.
Sounds as if your mother couldn't handle the alcohol abuse in your home, but saved herself without saving you. You might examine (if you haven't already) the extent of alcoholism in your family. Could be your dad is an isolated case. In which case, enjoying a beer or two and a game of pool wouldn't be life-threatening.
One concrete idea I have is to check out Toastmasters. They may help with feeling more at ease out in public, and you'd gain public speaking skills to boot!
My earnest best wishes to you. You are a brave guy.
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