My Social Anxiety nightmare in the church.

Anon 4 this May 2014

For people with social anxiety Mormonism is so impossible. First off there is the forced testimony meetings growing up where everyone is expected to say something during mutual testimony meetings. I remember the first time I was asked to speak in sacrament meeting I hoped I would get hit by a bus before the dreaded day. I HATED interviews with anyone especially the bishop.

I would shake and my face would turn red. It was so incredibly embarrassing. After I got married we were semi-active and so I would get approached all of the time with people asking questions and trying to befriend me. I was so anxious I could barely talk. Being visit taught or visit teaching was also very difficult. Especially if I was in charge of the lesson. I finally reached a point where I had to stop going to church altogether. I told my husband that I no longer believed and also couldn't handle going anymore because of my anxiety.

Re: My Social Anxiety nightmare in the church.

So true!

I've really just realized, the last few years, that I totally have social anxiety. The church has always been such a torturous experience for me. Finding out it was a fraud has been hard, but also WONDERFUL.

You are not alone

I have social anxiety to the point of disability. When I was young, and forced to go to church, I sat in the pew with my brain on fire. I fidgeted, and my hands shook. I was scorned for irreverence. I was threatened, cajoled and spanked. But I learned how to sneak out of meetings. I had to have alone time, which is a sin in Mormonism. It's a mad subculture of chatter and glad handing.

Those of us who need solitude and isolation are, by definition, sinners. We sin by refusing to attend meetings that should be considered voluntary in the first place. We sin by avoiding public speech and callings that involve a lot of crowds. We sin by following secular and artistic pursuits. We sin by being.

Re: You are not alone

That's true, we sin by simply existing as introverts. The Mormon church was hell for me as I also have social anxiety.

Re: My Social Anxiety nightmare in the church.

Mormons just can't accept that social anxiety is a thing. If you are someone who is introverted and just doesn't feel comfortable around people you aren't close to, Mormonism is one anxiety attack after another.

Re: My Social Anxiety nightmare in the church.

All these years I thought I was alone.

Re: My Social Anxiety nightmare in the church.

As an extremely introverted never-mo who grew up in Utah, there where many things about mormonism which gave me the heebie-jeebies: assigned talks, roadshows, dances, having to go to a preassigned ward with neighbors, having a 24/7 missionary companion. Yikes!! I don't know how introverted Mormons survive the constant attacks on their need for privacy and solitude.

Re: My Social Anxiety nightmare in the church.

Yes to all of this! In part the church probably sees introverts and deep thinkers as the ones that can't be controlled, the ones most likely to find the lies.

September, you're probably right

I was a brooding, book reading boy. I read my way out of Mormonism at age twelve. I was too introverted to tell anyone, except my father, who punished me relentlessly for my crime.


Re: You are not alone
I was very shy when I was young. I was afraid of people. I felt like I was being constantly humiliated and shamed. Getting up in front of people and speaking was my worst nightmare. I hated church because I never knew when i'd be put on the spot. No, was never an acceptable answer. Being forced to say an opening or closing prayer was horrible. I used to feel sorry for the deacons, especially if they made a mistake. How humiliating.

Re: My Social Anxiety nightmare in the church.

I never even knew social anxiety disorder existed until I found this board less than a year ago.

I'm definitely an introvert, and I'm quite certain I have social anxiety to some extent (although it's hard to know where I am on the spectrum of it).

I always had a hard time with church, but it was hell during the times I knew I might be put on the spot. Our Stake president had a nasty habit of calling random youth in the stake up to give a testimony at most stake meetings and firesides. I always felt like I couldn't refuse him.

I'm now ashamed I ever gave him so much power over me.

Re: September, you're probably right

hey don, I read my way out, too, age 15. how much better would it have been had RfM been around?!

what book did it for you?

mine: Fahrenheit 451.


Re: September, you're probably right

Fahrenheit 451? Oh yes, yes. That and 1984, and Brave New World. After reading those books, I knew something was screwy about Mormonism. Then I read Mark Twain's "Letters From The Earth." I was all grown up after that.

Churches need to be supportive their congregants.

The morg is only helpful and supportive of the members who fit the Mormon image. Everyone else is expected to adapt and knuckle under. Mormon members are seen as commodities to be used. Most other churches see members as valued individuals to be served and nurtured.

Re: Churches need to be supportive their congregants.

Right. And in most other churches, it is easy to slip in and slip out of services without anything being expected of you. If you want to be left alone, you can be left alone. No one will pester you.

Re: My Social Anxiety nightmare in the church.

Mormons earn their value by the number of people they can convert.
This includes the number of newborn BIC converts.

You are not comfortably accepted into the Mormon group:

If you are not popular
If you never bring new friends to activities
If you are unmarried or childless
If you are an intellectual or a bookworm
If you are a woman who concentrates on her career
If you like to be outdoors, and love nature
If you volunteer for any charity outside of TSCC
If you turn down a calling, for any reason (even if you are extremely ill)
If you refuse to give a talk or a public prayer
If you aren't good at small talk
If you aren't good at memorizing scriptures
If you don't dress just right

I feel sorry for introverts. I am one at heart. I crave solitude and peace. The thing is, exactly who is it that really is "accepted" in the Mormon cult? Who is really good enough to feel comfortable in that perfectionistic, judgmental atmosphere. I withered away in that soul-sucking cult. Yes! Finding out it was a fraud was WONDERFUL! Now, I can be myself--a balance between being people-oriented and solitary. I am friends with only nice people, now.

I'm not cured from social anxiety, when I'm in a group of Mormons. I will never be cured enough to mingle happily with people who are shunning, judgmental, gossiping, rude bullies. I know our ward members too well, now, and I will always be introverted around them. It is a form of self-preservation.

I read The Mysterious Stranger by Mark Twain

but only after I'd already started the road out. It's pretty hideous.

Re: My Social Anxiety nightmare in the church.

I'm not an introvert, but some of my kids are. Church was horrible for them, much like what the OP described. They hated being forced into leadership roles they didn't want, forced to bear testimony in front of and to their peers, forced to give talks, and forced to be social at weekly activities and Girls Camp.

I'm an extrovert, but because I didn't fit the Happy Valley mold for women, I was rarely asked to participate in anything. As a divorced, single mother, I never got to give a talk, was never given a leadership calling, never even asked to bear my testimony to a group. Back in the day, that hurt.

My social anxiety nightmare was that I'd thoughtlessly say or do something the other women wouldn't approve of -- which ended up happening pretty much every time I opened my mouth. Eventually, I became an introvert so I would stop offending people and being the subject of gossip.

Either way, it's awful.

I refused to stay prayers

For one, I think Mormons say stupid prayers. All the flowery language, everyone trying to outdo the other. I actually NEVER prayed in front of my ex-husband--so that is why he is still gay (tongue in cheek).

I had a bishop tell me that I needed to practice praying so I wouldn't be embarrassed praying in front of others. That was SUCH AN INSULT. The most heartfelt prayer I ever heard in my life was a very simple prayer. I felt prayer was too personal to be sharing with a bunch of people sitting in an audience judging my abilities.

As I've stated before, I would rather be a woman in Mormonism. I can't imagine passing the sacrament, blessing the sac., collecting fo, going HT in my teens with an older member.

I've never for a moment missed going to church.

Re: My Social Anxiety nightmare in the church.

So true. TSCC is a church of extroverts for sure. I have a form of social anxiety disorder (SAD), where I have bad stage fright speaking in front of groups. It was triggered by a traumatic social event in the 9th grade when I went to a new school. Once, when I was 15, I was asked to give a talk in Sac mtg. 10 minutes before the meeting, I left the building and hid in our family car. I received so much ridicule for that from church members over the next five years, including my bishop, the asshat that he was, mentioning it in my missionary farewell talk. In the mormon world, you either conform, or you are ridiculed.

I take medication for it now, because I am an administrator, and must speak in front of groups often. Thank God for medication.

Re: You are not alone

As an adult, I had grown adult TBM's tell me that if someone (i.e. me) I didn't want to be social it is a sign of sinning. I don't know if the church causes my social anxiety or I have always had it and that is why the mormon church didn't work for me. I had never received much fulfillment socially while a mormon.

Re: My Social Anxiety nightmare in the church.

One big reason DH finally left TSCC was because of the shunning. In our old ward, in the Midwest, back when I attended, he was treated as a top member. He was asked to give talks all the time, he was part of EQ, he was a respected member because he fit the mold. Successful, engineer, LOVES to speak publicly...

Well we moved and I stopped attending and became inactive and he was a pariah. No one spoke to him, no one EVER asked him to speak, in 2 years he received NO calling and no one introduced him. He came home one day upset because a new couple were taken around and given the royal welcome. He was shunned because I didn't go. That's not gonna fly in TSCC.

Stupid church. If they'd treated him well he'd have tithed and given them 110% of his energy.

It wasn't even me that got him to leave...TSCC did it all by their self.

Also when I first attended I was horrified that they made a huge deal of my presence in RS and made me stand up and tell my name and they assigned some lady as my friend. It was just horrific because I'm extremely introverted and I like to blend in.

The StalkerDog™
DonBagley, I'd like to bite your dad!

My mom was a shy, homely, bookish introvert and she got picked on relentlessly. She says she has gotten worse with age!

"Recovery from Mormonism -"