Hi im new here and think this is a awesome site its reassuring reading about people who go through the same thing I do everyday. I have lived with social anxiety for a little over 4 years now although everyday is a struggle I have learnt to deal with it. Recently me and my partner have found out that we are expecting a baby and although we are very excited, my anxiety levels have hit the roof! My panic attacks have gotten worse than ever and i am no longer able to control them. I am really happy to be having a baby but cant help but think this must be very stressful on the baby just as it is on me. Im interested to know if this has happened to anyone else and how to deal with it, without medication.
So, I somehow convinced myself that this was going to be a good idea. Everyone reassured me that it was a fine idea when I explained it, so I felt okay about it. Here is a graphic representation of what I envisioned along with a poem that inspired me.
The idea was that I would buy a balloon and give it away. This is how I saw it. A great time, framed by this whimsical poem of spring. I imagined that I would be a little awkward like Cummings' balloon man, but I would make people happy. That's not quite how it went.
First, I went to the party store. I picked out a big monkey balloon. A big monkey balloon. I tied it to a hair band around my wrist. I drove to a store I was not accustomed to. I felt lost as I wandered through the isles looking for someone to give the balloon to.
I felt like people were staring at me because I was carrying a giant monkey balloon. They were. I knew I should look them in the eye and smile. I think they were grinning at me. But I started feeling self conscious. Where was my inner extrovert when I needed it?! "Square your back, chin up, don't look at the floor," I told myself. And just then I saw a mom with a toddler.
I approached my "prey." I asked the mother if she wanted a balloon. Her eyes widened. She looked flustered. I freaked out."Oh, no. Oh, no. What does she think is wrong with me? Oh, no. Oh crap," Uncertainty crept through my spine like seeping, black, fog. That made her feel even less sure. As I drew the balloon toward her, she tensed. Okay, this was stupid. "Well," I said, "he's probably too young"
"Yeah, too young... I was going to say," she responded. I walked off. AGH! Why did I decide to walk around Walmart with a giant monkey balloon? Could I please explain that to myself again? How did this seem like a great idea? I felt like a big, stupid, clown. It was as if the monkey was screaming, "Idiot! Idiot!Idiot!"
I hid in the toy isles and pretended to look at some Batman action figures. I felt a burning in the back of my eyes. Was I going to cry? "Dear Heavenly Father," I prayed, "Please do not let me cry in Walmart while holding a monkey balloon."
I emerged into a clearing of children's clothes. I passed some people who stared at monkey and me. I felt ashamed. I had to get rid of this horrible, smiling, banana munching anathema of evil. A girl of perhaps three or four and her mother were picking out clothes. They had their backs to me. Great, now I had to get their attention.
"Um," I stammered, "excuse me." They turned around. "Um, I was buying balloons for a friend" a partial lie, only a partial lie, "and I had this extra balloon" that was true, "and I'm trying to give it away." She looked slightly confused. "So, um, do you want it?"
Ahh! This awkwardness surpassed Napoleon Dynamite! "Sure," she said politely. Turning to her daughter, "It's your birthday next week anyway, isn't it?"
The little girl happened to be wearing a monkey hat. "It matches your hat," I said. She smiled as I transferred the burden from my wrist to hers. I felt like Frodo finally dropping the ring into the volcano. I turned to go. "Thank you!" the mom said.
When I got to my car, I felt like the most giant loser on the planet. What had I been thinking? "Stupid,stupid, stupid!" I told myself. I suppose, in feeling these things, I was doing what my therapist, Dr. Headman, tells me I often do. I was figuratively sticking an ice pick into my leg and twisting it all around. I didn't actually do anything wrong. In a sense, it happened a bit like I had imagined, but with minor set backs that I blew out of proportion. I gave a little girl, who obviously loved monkeys, a giant monkey balloon a week before her birthday. 'nough said.
Sometimes, people think that shy people are snobs and that's why they don't interact more. A cool, quirky girl wrote a blog entry that discusses how this is usually not true.
In the case of people with anxiety, it's not that they don't like people or don't want to have positive interactions with them. It's not that they don't want to make friends. It's that it's hard for them. They may feel foolish, as if they're carrying around a giant monkey balloon and are inevitably going to elicit rejection.
Until my next awkward adventure,
Namaste (bye in Napalese)
Coming to the realisation that getting better from Social Anxiety Disorder was going to involve more than a quick fix, was the first real step I came to in finally starting to recover.
I was 22 or 23 when I made that decision, and I'd had severe S.A.D since I was 11. For years, although I knew something was wrong, and that I was far more 'nervous' of doing things than other people, I refused to listen to people telling me that I had to work hard to fix the problem. I honestly thought it would just eventually go away. That I'd 'get over it'. That one day I simply wouldn't have to deal with it any more.
For my entire time at high school I played the avoidance game. I became very good at giving excuses, making up little 'white lies', being 'sick' at invonvenient times or just not doing things. My friends and family came to simply 'accept' that that's what I did. It stopped seeming weird. In fact, if I had done something different, they probably would have made a big deal out of it - which maybe made me even less likely to try and change.
It wasn't until I'd dished out big money for a university degree only to find myself unable to sit in a lecture theatre without nearly fainting or vomiting that I finally started to accept I might need help.
Sure - I'd seen counsellors galore up until then, but leaving home meant that now I had to face up to some realities.
It's not normal to feel nauseas upon entering a supermarket.
It's not normal to be unable to breathe during a movie just because you aren't on the edge of an aisle.
It's not normal to be unable to eat 3 weeks before a performance (the day of, sure, but three weeks?).
It's not normal to lock yourself in your dorm room because you can't face interacting with your flatmates friends.
When I decided I wanted to be a teacher, I had to make a serious choice. I got offered a place on an intensive three week cognitive behavoural therapy group course for sufferers of Social Anxiety, but in order to do it, I had to quit my job.
So I quit my job.
I thought "I didn't really need to go on it", that "I wasn't bad enough to be in cluded in their group", that "this was only a way of helping make me cope with speaking in front a class".
But when I got there, it was clear that I was one of the worst.
I cried twice and had three panic attacks on the first day, and went home refusing to go back.
But I did go back, and it was hard. But it did help. Just not immediately.
Three years later, I am back in their clinic after relapsing. Seeing the same amazing clinician who is teaching me to slowly change my thought processes. To view panic as something that isn't dangerous, but just is. Learning that I will never fully be 'free' from anxiety, that if I were, that would in fact be a bad thing. That this process of 'overcoming' anxiety simply means learning to manage it better. No longer letting it rule you - but allowing you to have the skills to rule IT a little more.
There is no quick fix for anxiety and depression. It takes a lot of hard work. But it is So worth it.
Contact me and follow more of my journey and song writing project here. http://jessicaclaire.webs.com/apps/blog/
Social Anxiety Disorder is also referred to as being a Social Phobia. This condition is present in an individual when they experience anxiety and a heightened self-consciousness when they are in social settings. This anxiety is overwhelming and is present in almost any social setting. However, the individual may find that certain social settings provoke a more heightened anxiety response. Individuals with this disorder are often excessively conscious of the people around them and are overwhelmed by self-conscious thoughts and feelings of embarrassment and insecurity. Individuals with a social anxiety disorder will often dread upcoming social events and will struggle with immense amounts of worry and anxiety as the event draws near. Sweating, nausea, and difficulty concentrating and speaking have all been associated with this condition.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) treatments have been found to be effective for the treatment and relief of social anxiety disorder. Typically, this type of therapy treatment is most effective when worked through with a counselor or psychiatrist. However, the CBT can also be done independently if a person is willing to work through the process on their own. However, having success on one’s own will require significant dedication. It is usually easier to make changes in one’s life if you have a support person who is able to encourage you along the way.
It requires time and effort to overcome a social anxiety disorder. Although the symptoms of this disorder can feel extremely overwhelming there is potential relief and treatment options that have been shown to be fairly effective for this disorder. The following are four ways that individuals with social anxiety disorder have found relief from their symptoms.
Setting goals. Setting small measurable goals is a great way to promote growth in an individual. Set small goals for yourself. Challenge yourself to face your fears in small measurable increments. For example, challenge yourself to spend 5 minutes in a social situation that provokes anxiety and worry in you. Set a small goal that you believe you could meet. Once you have reached your goal challenge yourself to extend the amount of time that you are spending in the social situation.
Learn how to relax. Through controlling one’s breathing an individual can gain control of their anxiety and promote relaxation in their body. When an individual begins to feel their anxiety build they can focus on their breathing. Through breathing in for 4 seconds, holding one’s breath for 2 seconds, and releasing one’s breath for 4 seconds an individual can put their body into a relaxed state.
Challenge the negative messages that are anxiety producing. If you feel that other people around you are thinking negative things about you and making judgements about you, try to test the negative thoughts. For example, if you feel that everyone around you is always thinking negative things about you go to the grocery store and ask several people that walk by you what they are thinking about. Although this exercise sounds anxiety producing you will be surprised to find that most people are busy thinking about many other things other than you.
Change your self talk. If you feel bad about yourself chances are you are going to feel even worse about yourself in social settings. Identify things that you love about yourself and continually remind yourself of your valuable assets, strengths, and unique traits. Focus on the positive components of yourself and find special ways to remind yourself of these things. For example, you could write positive notes of encouragement to yourself on your bathroom mirror or put inspiring uplifting quotes on your door. Through continually promoting positive thoughts you can limit the focus that gets put on negative and anxiety producing things.