I have General anxiety disorder , and social anxiety. ( I was going to make a post about May and mental health month and awareness and all that but I sorta failed). I'm trying to be more social or at least do things involving other people, medication and therapy are helping, but up until last year I had avoided getting help ( too anxious to contact a therapist :P) and pretty much stopped going out of my home lest I have a panic attack.( Every six months to see my neurologist and if the kids had something very important they wanted or needed me there for.) Actually leaving the house resulted in a panic attack, so I didn't. Never leaving the house interferes with having a normal fulfilling life. Then we moved. Moving was very stressful. I went into therapy, things are getting better. I get out a few times a week, and even plan on going on a short holiday to a convention in July. (when we signed up, we'd joke how I'd be cured by July, I'm not but I'm better) I highly recommend getting help if you are going through these sort of things or supporting someone you know as they get help.
I tend to worry a lot about how people will perceive me. ( definition of social anxiety) I am (was?) the bad stereotype of a gamer who doesn't go out. I kept in contact with family and friends via phone or the internet or they come visit me. I often think that admitting I have problems in my life sort of makes people who play MMOs look bad.
WoW and other games have been sort of a substitute "outside" they have places to go and people ( even if most times I'm too shy to interact). I don't think this is a bad thing, a lot of people might, but I don't. Before WoW I had books and my art, my family, so having a game just broadened what I had. PuGs are sorta pseudo - social, since you don't actually have to say anything , although the fear of what people will think is still there, I did get quite a bit of confidence from doing them. One thing WoW did do, is make me long for going out in the real world. I would be in the barrens and remember holidays with my family in the southwest and how I loved being out there and how back then I was never scared. Swamp of sorrows made me want to go out and muck about in wetlands and I missed the smells. One day standing in a lake in game fishing I intensely wanted to go stand in a lake and feel the sand and the water and you know what I did, I logged out and we went to a lake and I just stood there in the water, squishing the sand with my toes and chasing minnows ( I have no fishing gear or license anymore so no fishing, yet). I hadn't done that in a long time. It felt good. I think games are a good safe place to explore and interact, a little less scary then the big outside .
Last night I went to Wow Insider's scavenger hunt, it was fun, I enjoyed watching the people, and gathering the items and just generally being there I won a cute pet. ( a mini felreaver , they're cute right *looks around " why is the ground shaking?"*) Even if I did have a panic attack while trying to show my items to Roblinator and have to take a moment to step back and take a bit to breathe and keep myself under enough control not to log out and delete my character out of embarrassment for getting scared and freezing, also it's hard to type while shaking. I stayed anyhow and felt pretty successful after calming down . I didn't do much that was social but I did trade a very drunk shirtless blood elf some more alcohol ( although that may have been sorta bad as he was already quite drunk , but warlocks can be indifferent to other people possibly drowning in a fountain of drunkenness , right?). I even plan to keep that character and level her .So a step forward in socializing. maybe some day I'll find a guild of people I didn't already know before WoW where I feel comfortable and things will be even better.