Hi WK friends, this is my first forum post. I have a very specific problem and I was hoping for some advice.
A bit of background: I’m 30 and have been learning Japanese since I was 15 and living in Asia (not Japan). I live in the USA now and have been mostly self-teaching myself Japanese since I was 18, on and off due to health and university, but I feel like I have a strong foundation from this and childhood studies. For the past 4 or so years I’ve been studying consistently and I’m N4 level.
The problem I’m having now is I absolutely cannot speak; I feel like I could speak more when I was an absolute beginner. I was diagnosed with PTSD when I was 25 and I’ve worked incredibly hard to overcome and process it in therapy - it’s improved an incredible amount and now I am undercover as a “normal person”, haha (my words). I have a lot of random anxiety and when I try to speak in Japanese my mind goes completely blank and at that time I wonder if my mind is capable of ever having a thought again. This also happens when someone asks me a question in English that requires thought and reflection.
I can’t seem to figure out how to make this work. I worked at a Japanese restaurant for two years, with the intention of being around the language, I have a Japanese tutor who I like to speak to in English, my partner is Japanese and he desperately tries to get me to speak but I just can’t, and I have an old coworker from the restaurant days who, get this, I speak to in English but text in Japanese. I can text my partner in Japanese too, and I got Pimsleur from the library and don’t have many issues keeping up with the audio lessons. I was in Japan two years ago and after about a week there I could talk to people I knew couldn’t speak English (!!!). I feel like if I know they can speak English, I’m just burdening them with my bad Japanese. It’s so ironic because I’m a language teacher at a community college.
I know that I need to speak to get better at speaking, but I feel like I can’t make words come out of my mouth due to weird, hidden anxiety. My skin just crawls when people ask me to speak or when I try to speak by myself. It’s gotten so deep I just feel nauseated and guilty writing about it.
Thank you everyone for your thoughts; I sincerely appreciate any advice.