I've been thinking about creating this thread on some forum for a long time now. I have been unsure about which forum would be best. I already frequent a forum specific for this kind of thing, but feel that I know all that will be said there (since I've been reading threads there for a few years). Since this is a support community, I figure it's worth a shot posting here.
I think I know the answers...I guess I'm looking for a different kind of support.
I have depression, anxiety, and maybe some other problems. I've never had many friends, and I went years without any real life friends or acquaintances from 14-21. I had one online friend during most of this time. Currently I have one real life friend, but he is off at university.
I often notice on small forums how a lot of the members there know each other, and obviously talk to each other/do things online with each other beyond the forum, but I've never known how. How did they become online friends like that? I never see it happen in posts on the forums. Did they PM each other? Did one of them offer a IM ID via PM immediately, or did they keep PMing each other for awhile first? What did the initiator say? What did the other person say? How does it work?
I'm sure to a lot of people these questions sound ridiculous and I seem like I've been raised by wolves.
I was home schooled from kindergarten/pre-school until I got my GED (1 year from graduating). Until I got a job at 15, church was my only way of socializing. So when I was young, I only saw other kids 2 days a week (church + 1 day playing with my best friend). I spent the rest of the time mostly alone. My mom worked and spent most of her time either in her workroom or bedroom. My sister always hid in her room reading. School only took me 2 hours, and I only had so many video games to play.
Anyway...I don't have good social skills. When it comes to talking, I'm never sure what to say. I guess I'm just very worried about being creepy or being rude, or that I will try but I won't be interesting enough or take enough interest into the other person and nothing will come of it. I will end up with quick tries where nothing materialized and I am once again left lonely, feeling like a failure. I guess I worry that I will just become more depressed than I am now.
Something else I need to add in here: I am completely clueless about how to appropriately be supportive or helpful or show that I am indeed listening/reading (trickier with online interactions). Everyone is different (something that further paralyzes me--endless possibilities and preferences)--some people don't want simple, short replies over and over, others don't care and just want someone to listen. I guess I'm just worried that I could destroy any chance of friendship very easily, because it seems so hard for me.
I have a problem caring about other people, their interests, things happening in their lives etc. I guess it's my apathy of my own life, interest, and events spilling over into everything else. It's not that I can't care, or that I don't care about anyone or anything. It's just hard. It's hard for me to feel.
And the thing is...I can't fix myself. I've been on a lot of different medications over the years, I've been doing therapy for the past 3ish years with a great therapist, and I've been using a lot of different techniques...
I'm just starting to wonder if I need to live a more normal and social life, and get support from multiple other people in order to get better. My plan of action for a long time now has been to work on and improve myself, mostly alone, before venturing on into the world and adding other people into my life. It hasn't worked out that well and it doesn't seem to be working anymore at all.
So feel free to offer any advice for online or face to face interactions.
TLDR: I can't think of a paragraph that combines everything above into something that will still be useful to me. Sorry.