As many of you know, I am currently in an intensive group therapy program. Its five days a week Monday-Friday. Tomorrow is the final day of my 10th week. I have come such a long way over the past 10 weeks. During my intake interview for this program I was challenged to set 3 goals. One of the biggest ones for me was opening up to people in order to et them support me. From day 1 I have been completely open with the people in this group. I guess it also helps since I'm there for a reason. In about week 2 or 3, I was doing some anxiety research online and stumbled across this website here.
At first I thought it might be awkward since I didn't know anyone else on here. I thought it would be like facebook where u may have over 500 "friends" but only comment on maybe 3 people's things. I didn't really know if I would stay on here or if it was just a one time thing. The next day, I was reading my email and I had a bunch of notifications from this site saying that people were commenting on my posts, adding me as a friend and messaging me. It was an awesome feeling. I noticed very quickly that it is socially acceptable for anyone to comment on other people's posts here.
A few weeks later, I saw someone post a link for tiny chat. I tried logging in a few times and nobody else was ever online. Fast forward to today and I have a pretty good idea as to when I can expect people to be online.
A lot of people in my therapy group feel anxious after the group and on weekends. I don't have to worry about that because I can come here to a whole other group.
A lot of people feel very nervous when they get past the 6 week mark in the program since they are working on transitioning out and it can be uncertain (also we can't have any communication with any of the others until we have both completed the program). I am ecited about finishing. I had 2 awesome people graduated when I was in week 5 and I haven't been able to see them since. I am looking forward to seeing them. Also I have my ASN people to rely on.
Week 11/12 next week. Time to start getting my life back on track. I'm totally ready for the next 2 weeks :)
Today was a bit rough in terms of anxiety. Tomorrow is the start of my 8th week in therapy. I decided to take some time to look at the handouts I have accumulated over the last 7 weeks. A lot of these handouts are CBT related. For those of you who do not know Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is one of the best and most popilar types of therapies out there. It can also be applied to almost anything. It can be used by someone witha severe anxiety disorder or even someone who just wants to eat healthier. There are also many variations of it specific to different situations.
One problem with it is that it takes a lot of work. There is usually homework every week.Getting people to do homework is difficult, and therapists do not want to make it like school so the homework is not mandatory. You can get great success from just going through different exercises during the sessions, but to get the full long term effects, you should really do the homework. I have decided that since this is week 8 I need to be more serious about this aspect of the program. Tonight, I am going to write a mock letter to my boss in my journal. I am also going to make photo copies of some of the worksheets so that I have enough copies to do the exercises this week as well as in the future. I am also going to set a goal to do that this week so that I actually do!
Why am I telling you all this? Well because as a person with a degree in psychology I know that if you really want to do something. You need to tell as many people as possible that you are going to do it. This provides extra incentive to do it since it would be embarassing not to do something that you announced publicly you were going to do.
I Consider myself to be a smart person. But even after so many years having Anxiety/Panic attacks i still find myself worrying that it really is a heart attack. I know that must be the "Fight or Flight" Response but it still is scary everytime! I have this fear that after so many years of having these Panic attacks that my heart must be worn out from them, that maybe the next panic attack will be the heart attack.
I hate Heart Palpitations. But the Cardiologist says my heart is fine. I am plus sized but i am working to change that. i think my weight is contributing to my anxiety very much. No excuses..I love food. i know even if i am average weight i would still love food. i just have to make better food choices and stick to that and plan my meals. I am also a pop addict. :( yes soda's..my favorite soda pop is coca cola. Yes it has caffiene. but in my mind i tell myself if i have heart palpitations i blame the pop. So why is this a never ending cycle? that is where CBT comes in to play. i know i am better now than ever before because changing thoughts and habits. But if you start reading this again you will think not really. i am still a work in progress But i am not as bad as i was in the beginning when my anxiety started in my teens. i was very housebound, always needing another adult around and have a car outside just incase and they better have a mobile phone! Yes that was me. I now am a mother of 3 and a stay at home mom..in my own house. i go out and take my kids for walks and i occassionally meet with friends and socialize..So yes CBT helped me. and i love my life despite the occassional anxiety/panic attack.
I can do this. I just have to be determined and keep trying. i hope you reading this will find peace and calm for yourself.
Much love and light.
A bit about myself as an introduction
I am writing these diary entries as it helps me a lot with coping, but also incase it will help anybody else who is wishing to relate or offer advice.
I suffer primarly from emetaphobia, panic disorder, panic attacks and anxiety disorder.
i also suffer from a type of social disorder, and ocd and other phobias such as needles.
I have been having help since the age of 6 and am developing to cope better with day to day life..
I have overcome anerexia, partly needles due to CBT, depression and small daily tasks i have been unable to do in the past such as public transport.
I am currently 21 years old and am completing a degree in university, i do not live at home but i am with my partner who is the most amazing person in the world and i love him dearly.
so this is a little about me
feel free to get in touch, i am more than happy to talk to people over chat :) and listen to anybody who would like to talk x
What we all need is to understand that medication is an aid to recovery. It’s a shame that long term sufferers are not given better help to overcome their illness. While every case is different and some more traumatic in how the illness has developed or evolved, there is always a way to help.
The human mind is a powerful tool and is underestimated in its ability to heal and recover as so much of it is used needlessly in sustaining thought patterns and functions that are detrimental. This has long been documented that the human brain operates in this way to adapt to survive. When we are a child and learning it is a regular occurrence- don’t touch that it’s hot, yet a child will out of curiosity and the need to learn ignore warning, but, the pain felt registers in the brain- don’t touch that it’s hot and will hurt.
As an adult we form self education we develop the ability to create opinion and apply it. However, this means we stop wishing to learn as we believe we have made all the right risk assessments and no longer need to learn. We know now not to touch a hot stove; we understand to look both ways when crossing the road. We don’t however always apply this when it comes to our health. We like to be told by people who did carry on learning what is best.
Every medication is different, and interacts with other medications in a different way- the developments in medicine are amazing. In Chemistry lessons I bet we all thought I don’t care about this mixing with that I will never need to know. Wrong.
Sometimes learning is more empowering than you think- not boring and overwhelming but gratifying and life-changing.
I have personally swapped medications 3 times and relied on the doctors thoughts on my side effects each time when I could have just read the instructions or gone online to do my own independent research.
Anxiety related illness is often treated by depression medications- depression is a product of the anxiety often this is why the two are linked. Initial diagnosis is often that a person is depressed and then when we go deeper we find the root cause although a traumatic event or series of events usually exacerbated by behaviours displayed in anxiety sufferers. Panic Attacks may not always happen regularly and so as a one off are often put down to stress.
I have personally swapped medication three times, and now on ‘Sertraline’ which has been proven although an anti depressant to aid anxiety suffers more effectively and with less side effects than other drugs.
This is true certainly of many people I have spoken with but all cases are based on medical fitness (other medical conditions) and mental state/severity of problem.
The most important thing about Medication treatment of Anxiety Disorders, or Depression is research.
You have to help yourself, be an active patient- ask questions; don’t just jump on a bandwagon because its trending CBT is not for everyone the same way medication is not, but you must find out! A doctor can not know how you are feeling just by looking at you- because you are physically upset does not necessarily mean that you need medication.
1.Write things down! Whether it be how you feel on new meds, reaction to situations or a Journal- it may help you and your doctor in your treatment.
2.Consider talking to someone- it is always when you are ready too – ASN is a great outlet available that means you can have facelessbut find out about how to get free counselling non evasive is out there, see if your work offers a service- Google it!
3.Ask questions- Knowledge is power and with that power great things can be achieved.
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/
My notes for working through cognitive behavioral therapy for depression, in case that helps anyone here!