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Why do I seem invisible to people?

By Aunty Julie

Dear Aunty Julie,

I am a 23-year-old lady with an issue that bothers me a lot. I feel invisible to most people and it has made me really suicidal and depressed. I feel that no one really wants to be friends with me and no one cares about me. Recently, I went out with my friends and we took pictures but when I checked Instagram , I realized that they have posted the pictures of three of them without me!

sexIt made me question our friendship in my mind. But I also feel like no one else cares either. It is always me who texts/call people for special occasions and when I don’t do it, people forget about me!

It made me think that I might have some mental problem, like social anxiety, depression, or something else! I’m really shy and get anxious in most social situations. To the point that I lose my energy so fast. So I sometimes avoid social situations.

I was much better as a kid. I was still shy around some not-so-close relatives. But I was okay in most other places and sometimes, I was shy at first, but not so shy when people started to know me. I think it started getting worse after secondary school to the point that I can’t even look into people’s eyes when talking to them.

I’m painfully shy and socially anxious, even around old friends that I sometimes meet on the street and usually, I don’t know how to start conversations, how to hold a conversation and what to talk about.

I really feel jealous of loud and popular people who have lots of friends who care about them. But when I go to a social situation, I can’t be the real me. I can’t emotionally open up to people , I can’t be loud. Also, I’m really afraid of conflict, and I always try to be careful and not to do things that “might” bother people or make them uncomfortable.

What should I do about this?

Nneoma, Jos

Dear Nneoma,

There is nothing “wrong” with you! When we are feeling depressed or anxious, we tend to spend a lot of time caught up in negative thoughts. Our brains tend to latch onto the negative and sometimes we misinterpret different things that people do and say.

When you have the thought that “no one cares” or “other people are better than me,” try to catch these thoughts and ask yourself if they are true and helpful. If you do some detective thinking, you may find that the thoughts that go around in your head aren’t actually completely correct.

You said that you went out with friends and took photos but they didn’t post the photo with you in it. There could be many reasons why – maybe they didn’t like how they looked in the photo with you, maybe they didn’t even realise that you would feel left out by that! Our negative brain can be quick to jump to conclusions, which aren’t actually true at all.

You are very shy and so you aren’t spending a lot time talking to others, which then “confirms” the negative thought that you don’t have friends and no one likes you. Therefore, you continue to be shy and avoid talking to others.

But the good news is that once you realise you are in this cycle, you can start to make a few changes that will help you get out of it. Learn forcing yourself to smile at someone or ask a question to someone sitting next to you in a bus or public places. It might not be instant, but keep persisting as you’ll start to notice people positively responding to you.

This will increase your confidence in talking to others and hopefully, will help form stronger friendships. Don’t pressure yourself to jump straight into long conversations, a smile is a good start! Also, try to keep yourself busy with things you enjoy . Staying at home not doing anything can lead to getting caught up in all the negative thoughts and feeling more and more helpless. The important thing to know is that you are never alone and there are always people who care.

My parents fight a lot

Aunty Julie,

I grew up to meet my parents fighting a lot . I think my dad beats my mum for no reason. My mum cries everyday and I hate seeing her like that. It also affects me and my siblings psychologically. Sometimes, I feel like we are not like normal children or our family is different from other families. My social life is suffering and I fear I will grow up to be like my dad and a wife beater.

I feel so helpless.

Fabian, Lagos

Dear Fabian,

That’s a terrible situation to be in. You clearly worry about your mother a great deal, and it’s not easy knowing what to do. It also sounds like you’re quite angry about how they fight. Sometimes, in relationships, issues come up which couples find difficult to agree on. There may not be easy answers, and sometimes, a compromise can’t be reached. Some couples find it helpful to get counselling together, to help sort out differences.

You haven’t mentioned whether this is something your parents have done. If they haven’t, it’s really difficult as a child to suggest such things. I wonder though, if your parents know how upset you are over them fighting? If this is a conversation you are able to have with either of them, it may be helpful as a starting point to look at getting further help.

I do understand that you might not necessarily be able to talk to your parents about these things. If so, you may find it helpful to get advice from someone you trust, like a family member or close friend. Sometimes, such people may have a different perspective on things, which could help you understand the situation, or they might be in a better position to talk to your parents.

You said something about you turning out to be a wife beater like your father. That is why you also need counselling so as to live a separate life different from your father. You’ve talked about feeling helpless and having thoughts of killing yourself. It’s understandable to feel hopeless when faced with such a difficult situation. It might be a good idea to see a professional on your own to get some support.

And do you ever get caught up in the fighting? The most important thing right now is safety. If you’re worried that anyone, you or either of your parents are physically threatened in anyway, it’s important to call the police.

We are both itchy in our genital areas after sex

Aunty Julie,

A few weeks after my boyfriend and I had sex, we discovered we were both itchy in our genital areas. We postponed sex thinking it was just a yeast infection, his symptoms being redness and a bit of bumps, mine being itchy redness.

Two weeks later, we had sex again thinking it was cleared, because we were symptom free and then it came back again. He has multiple bumps on and under his foreskin along with itchiness and redness. I feel slight itchiness and a little redness. What might this be?

Jessica, Port- Harcourt

Dear Jessica,

You may have been right in the first instance. It does sound a bit like a yeast infection but you need to treat it to make it get better. You’ll need to see a doctor and explain your symptoms, which is a bit embarrassing but the best way for them to know what to suggest.

If you try this and it gets better, that’s probably what it was . I recommend going to see a doctor anyway as you two should get a routine test for STIs, especially chlamydia, as well as make sure you’re using a reliable form of birth control.


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