Do people with social anxiety experience this? - Social Anxiety Forum
 
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-11-2020, 02:17 PM Thread Starter
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Question

Do people with social anxiety experience this?


Hello everyone, so I'm not diagnosed with SA but I am 99.9% sure I do have it. The main reason for this is because of something I've been experiencing since Year 8 (12 years old) and I'm 16 right now. I live in the UK BTW. I wanted to post this thread so as to get advice from you guys and see if anyone on here diagnosed with SA has experienced this.

So I basically always have this lump in my throat and I can't swallow my spit. I know it might sound a bit weird but I'll just try to explain it as best as I can. This always happens in class when I'm listening to the teacher talk, watching something on the interactive whiteboard, reading something, doing a test, when in assembly etc. etc. Whenever I want to swallow my spit, I always have to look at my watch, down at my feet or just grab or fidget with something. But sometimes I just hold it in because I'm afraid other people will notice me fidgeting so much and so I then just end up gulping. Honestly it's literal HELL when we the teacher talks for so long or when we have to watch a video or movie in class because I have to do it every 10 BLOODY SECONDS. There's no way I can control it. I just feel that everyone can notice this and that I'm nervous, someone even asked me why I look so nervous all the time. I have no idea why this always happens to me but it has really affected my life. Before Year 8 I never even thought about swallowing my spit because it wasn't even something I was aware of.

This also happens when I go out, like sometimes if I'm walking past someone or I'm at an appointment or something. I can literally never escape from it unless if I'm at home. Right now I'm not thinking about it AT ALL. I've kind of forgotten how it feels like because I haven't been at school (or gone out LOL) since March but I'm going to Sixth Form in September so it'll be a whole different school and I know this thing will be the worst it's ever been.

Can you guys PLEASE give me some advice? I kind of want to go to a doctor but I'm nervous to talk about it and I'm scared that they won't take it seriously or whatever because I'm just a teenager, and EVERYONE thinks they have an anxiety disorder these days. Before that, I'm thinking of taking probiotics because I'm GASSY lmao and I've heard they also can help with anxiety. Do you guys think I should go to a doctor and would anxiety medication help with this?

THANK YOU in advance to anyone who reads this and gives me some input.

"Don't ever, for any reason, do anything, to anyone, for any reason, ever, no matter what, no matter where, or who, or who you are with, or where you are going, or where you've been, ever, for any reason whatsoever." - Michael Scott
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-11-2020, 02:18 PM Thread Starter
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MAN this is LONG AF I'M SORRY

"Don't ever, for any reason, do anything, to anyone, for any reason, ever, no matter what, no matter where, or who, or who you are with, or where you are going, or where you've been, ever, for any reason whatsoever." - Michael Scott
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-11-2020, 02:42 PM
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Hi

Nobody on here can diagnose, including me, but I will do my best to offer some advice.

Firstly, its very common for anxiety to manifest as a lump in the throat. So yes, its a fairly common anxiety symptom. Secondly, the "having" to do something to relieve it, is a little bit on the OCD side. Thirdly, I am going to save you some time, and a lot of frustration, and hopefully help you nip this in the bud, if possible.

Your compensatory behaviour (having to look down) is actually what is exacerbating the situation. Your brain is getting caught up in a loop. Its mostly unconscious.. it goes something like this:

1. Notice throat sensation (very very common, if i think about my throat here, I will notice this)
2. Worry that people will notice you swallowing (less common, but i can totally understand why this might happen)
3. Compensatory behaviour to avoid the catastrophic reaction your mind has come up with for if people see you swallowing (think about this btw, what do you fear?)
4. The catastrophe doesn't happen!!! the compensatory safety behaviour worked! Nobody reacted.
5. Better make sure to do it again next time to prevent the bad outcome. (go back to 1).

Here is what will make the situation worse.. thinking that you need to "treat" the throat sensation.. thinking you have abnormal levels of social anxiety... thinking you might have ocd... going to the doctor and getting prescribed an SSRI, or have them not understand. Feeling ashamed in any way. Feeling you are abnormal, or broken, or anything else.

Here is what will make the situation better.. remove the safety behaviour, the need to look down to swallow. You need to not do this, and then let your unconscious learn the safety behaviour isn't actually doing anything.

Two ways to go about this.

1. literally time yourself with a stopwatch to see how long you take before you need to swallow. If its really 10 seconds, day 1, push yourself to do 12 seconds. You can absolutely last another 2 seconds, because you already do 10.
2. next day, 14 seconds
3. next day 16 seconds
4. next day 18 seconds
5. next day 20 seconds

congratulations, your problem is now half as bad..

6. next day 25 seconds (it should get easier)
7. next day 30 seconds
8. next day 35.... you get the idea

Its going to be uncomfortable, but you can do it, and take your time, do it gradually, the gradual approach is the key here, if you do too much you wont get there. Slow, slow slow.

Altternatively, it might be worth visualising the situation and trying to recreate the sensation now, when you arent in class (its worth doing this anyway tbh), and practice lasting longer. Really try to *feel* the sensations and invite the uncomfortable sensation when you aren't there. Then time it and see how it goes. This should be safe, so you should be able to do longer, but again, if you struggle, increase as per above.

What you can do is visualise the hell out of it, time it, and go for 5-10 more seconds than your daily goal in class, do this in the am, then achieve your goal in class.

The solution is to face up to the problem now, while its relatively minor, trust me. This is called exposure and response prevention, its a part of CBT, and its your best option to get the job done.

Go slowly, slowly, slowly.

If it doesn't work for you, type in IAPT provider and your area in the UK, and find somewhere that can offer CBT therapy, it should be quick (ish), but you might as well have a bash at this on your own.

Above all. More important than anything, be very very kind to yourself. It's extremely easy to get caught in these kinds of loops. Don't label yourself as socially anxious (please, it will only make things worse), just treat it as an artefact of having a human brain (it is). Our brains pull all kinds of unexpected things on us, its okay, its a loop.

If you struggle with the speed, slow it down. All you need to do here is very very slowly push back in the other direction, do this, and you will prevent the safety behaviour, your mind will catch up, and it will become manageable.

Be kind to yourself, and good luck. You can do it.

Compassion focused therapy audio, guided meditations:

https://balancedminds.com/audio/
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-11-2020, 02:47 PM
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As a further example of the how the safety behaviour needs to be stopped...

If someone randomly punched me in the face, and it hurt, I might start to (understandably) be scared of being punched in the face.

1. I am nervous I will be punched in the face
2. I make a silent prayer to mooman, the god of cows
3. I walk past someone and they don't punch me in the face
4. My unconscious learns that making prayers to mooman prevents being punched in the face.
5. I have to make a silent prayer to mooman every time i walk past someone

It's a more silly example, but hopefully you can see that here, the treatmet is to remove the safety behaviour, remove the prayer, and tolerate the discomfort, and eventually the unconscious will catch up.

Compassion focused therapy audio, guided meditations:

https://balancedminds.com/audio/
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-11-2020, 02:52 PM
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This isn't medical advice or anything, and I am not a trained professional, but I have some understanding of certain therapies.. this would be how i would deal with it on myself.

Compassion focused therapy audio, guided meditations:

https://balancedminds.com/audio/
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