Everything I've learned about SA. - Social Anxiety Forum
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-20-2009, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
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Everything I've learned about SA.


Everything I've learned about SA

I'm posting this in hopes that it will help some of you. I found out a few years ago that I have SA. While putting a name to my "problem" was helpful, it was also disappointing because now I could not stop thinking about my "problem". Knowing that this "problem" could be treated with medication made things worse because I immediately began to feel like my "problem" was now an "illness" that could never be cured. I'm not on medication nor have I tried any medication but I do feel as though SA can be treated effectively. Treated, not cured. You can't cure yourself of anxiety. No one can. Nor would anyone want to since anxiety causes your body to go into "fight or flight" mode which can save your life in dangerous situations. That said, here's a long list of things I've learned about SA, how to control your SA, how to get over the emotions that come with SA, how to overcome your depression, as well as what I've learned about the world and other people in general. Here it goes...

Knowing what caused your SA in the first place might be helpful or hurtful-I can pinpoint how and when my SA came about. It started at the end of middle school and the beginning of high school when I looked at other girls my age and felt like I didn't look normal. To me, everyone else was far more beautiful than me, and even worse is that I felt like everyone was looking at me and thinking I was ugly and abnormal. While it's interesting to know why my SA came about, it's also hurtful because I'm still self conscious about my looks and still feel like I don't look normal compared to other girls. I also felt like no one would find me attractive. I've had one boyfriend in my 21 years of life and I've known quite a few guys who've had crushes on me (too bad I'm a lesbian) so I know I'm capable of being loved and oogled by creepy men. If your SA came about due to your looks, please, please believe that there is at least one person out there who finds you attractive. I have a manager who is 34, has had one boyfriend in her life, and drinks a boatload of beer every night because she feels lonely and unattractive. Little does she know that I, along with a few other coworkers, think she's beautiful although I would never tell her this. I know people say that it's what's on the inside that counts and a lot of people think that saying is bogus. I truly believe that if you're a good person, confident, with a good personality, your looks are only 25% of what makes you attractive. If your SA has something to do with anything that doesn't have to do with your self confidence issues, I regretfully can't help you because I don't know how you feel. Sorry.

Although this may not be true for everyone, natural herbs and vitamins didn't work for me-I've tried valerian root, magnesium, B vitamins, rhodiola rosea, multivitamins, omega 3 pills, fish oil, hops extract, and others that I can't seem to think of right now. Nothing worked. Period. Sometimes I'd experience the placebo effect when taking some pills but it didn't calm my anxiety, it just made me feel happier.

There ARE certain things you can do to ease your depression-Exercise has been proven to remove excess adrenaline, thus calming you for a few hours after you exercise. Exercise can also make you happy. And it's not even due to being healthy and losing weight. Exercise increases serotonin which is a chemical in the brain that makes you happy. Other than exercise, there are plenty of things that can get you out of your depression. It may be hard, but try to think of things that DO make you happy. Is it music? Is it a nice, warm bath after a hard day? Is it going for a walk so you can sort out your thoughts? Is it shopping? Whatever it is, as long as it's not harmful to you or to others, do it.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-20-2009, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
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Being selfish is OK-Trust me. I know us SAers tend to put our feelings and wants on the backburner to impress others. This is not healthy. PLEASE believe me when I say that being selfish is not only OK, it's also the key to making you happy. Your happyness is the most important thing in the world. While others may judge you for your actions, all that really matters at the end of the day is that you're happy. If you're preventing yourself from being happy in order to make others like you, what kind of a life is that? Here is where I get into a couple of things I've learned about people in general. I work at a grocery store and I've worked in retail for about 4 years. Dealing with people on a daily basis, I've seen plenty of people steal (literally), I've seen people tattle on my coworkers for stupid reasons, I've seen countless numbers of people who are in a bad mood and refuse to acknowledge me after I ask them how their day is going, I've seen parents let their children make a mess out of the store, I've witnessed coworkers steal, I've witnessed parents letting their child steal pregnancy tests, taking the test in the bathroom, and then running out of the store, I've witnessed coworkers asking for favors and refusing to return the favor when I ask for it. I know it's not wise to live with a "All people are bad" mentality but if the shoe fits... I find it hard to trust people because I've found that most people are incredibly selfish and will do whatever they can to get their way even if it's hurting someone else. My store recently had a bomb threat. Before the bomb threat, my store manager would tell us constantly about how the customers are important to him and his employees are important to him. After the day of the bomb threat, I have a different opinion about him. You see, 25 minutes after someone called in the bomb threat, he decided to evacuate the store. And during those 25 minutes, he was deciding whether or not to evacuate. It took him 25 MINUTES to do so. Anything could've happened during that time. And when he eventually evacuated the store, it was for only 20 minutes and then the workers and customers were let back into the store. Turns out, the district manager came in and he and my store manager decided that they didn't want to lose any money because the sales from Easter were lower than expected. True story. So I think it's perfectly OK to be selfish as long as you're not hurting others. I'll give you another example: I can't tell you the number of times I've been called into work on my day off without receiving a thank you from my managers for saving their asses. I've come in when I've had plans simply because I wanted a good raise for my next evaluation. My evaluation came a few weeks ago. I got a measly 25 cents because my store manager said that the economy is crappy. So now, I only come in when I want the hours or if someone asks me who I trust and know would be willing to return the favor for me. All that to say, don't let others prevent you from being happy. SAers tend to be more caring to others than average people. Why? Why should you let someone walk all over you? You DESERVE to be happy. No, I don't think everyone is evil. I do think that the happier people in the world are more selfish than others and they put their happyness before everyone else's. And I truly believe this is the best way to live AS LONG AS YOU'RE NOT HURTING ANYONE ELSE. How many of you have put another person's needs before yours and felt let down? I'm willing to bet it has happened multiple times to you. Be kind to yourself. YOU are the only one who is able to live the life you want to live.

Your anger is what you make of it-I read a book recently about depression and if there's one thing I got out of it, it was this: You don't get angry because someone is doing something wrong. You get angry because you interpret what they're doing as wrong. It's OK to let go of little things that make you upset. The little things are what cause you to be depressed.

Get over everyone else's opinion of you-This goes with the "Being selfish is OK" one. Although I've stopped caring about what other's think of me, I'm still guilty of allowing others' opinions of me, effect my mood. This is ONLY the case when someone affirms something negative about myself that I believe is true. If someone tells me that I have a big nose, I get upset because they have affirmed my belief that my nose is big. But is this enough to make me afraid of most social situations? No, it's not. SAers tend to be fearful of others judging them because they don't feel normal and are afraid that others will see this. Truth is, you're not abnormal. I'm sure that in my daily activities at work, I would see at least one person who I would look at and think they're abnormal. Heck, I probably come across people with social anxiety and don't even realize it. Most people can't see that there's something wrong with you unless you're a stuttering mess, you can't maintain eye contact for more than a second, or you're shaking like crazy. Most people have no idea that I have social anxiety. I have quite a few friends and the most someone has said to me when it comes to my socialness (is that even a word?) is that I appear to be shy when I'm meeting new people but who isn't?

In order to get over the emotional side of SA, you need to start thinking positively-I know it's been said that SAers live in their heads and in order to stop feeling so anxious, we must live in the now. If you are capable of going through your life everyday without thinking about anything, good for you. You must not be human. Everyone thinks about something everyday. You can't NOT think about at least one thing a day. That's impossible. I think when you're in a situation where you're anticipating something anxiety-worthy, THEN and only then do I think it's good to keep yourself busy to get your mind off of whatever is causing you anxiety. But I think an easier way to get over the emotional side of SA is to just start thinking positively, otherwise known as self talk. It doesn't work for every social situation but it does work for most. There are a few ways that self talk works effectively. First, when something "bad" or "wrong" happens in a social setting, you can tell yourself that it truly is not the end of the world. You can tell yourself that you will get over it (and believe me you will) and then just drop it. Your mood is effected by what you tell yourself. If you correct your thinking so that it's positive (so that your happy with your thoughts), and then just stop thinking about it, you will be in a better mood. Second, I think it's important to tell yourself any and every positive thing that will come out of that social experience. You may be afraid to go to the grocery store because you don't want to talk to the cashier but, you know what, your getting yourself some of those cookies you really like and you got yourself out of the house, didn't you? Living inside your head positively is a better solution than thinking negatively or not thinking at all.

You can turn your physical symptoms into positive ones as well-There are two things I do when I'm feeling jittery. First, whenever I get that weird feeling in my chest, I picture it melting away into me and then I ignore it. This works sometimes. What has worked more often is turning your physical symptoms into a positive feeling. If you're feeling anxious, concentrate on your physical symptoms (whether it's your jitters or heart palpitations or whatever) and tell yourself that you're heart is beating fast because you're happy. You're not anxious that you're going to the store. You're happy because you can't wait to eat those cookies you're craving.

Breathing almost always helps-If you start to feel jittery or if you feel a panic attack coming along, take a few deep breaths. This will not only take your mind off of what's making you anxious, it will also calm you. Go ahead. Try it.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-20-2009, 01:40 PM Thread Starter
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Stop blaming everything on your SA- I posted part of this in response to another thread about what to do when passing someone on the street but I think it needs to be posted here too.

Have you ever noticed that after being in a social situation where you did something "wrong" (like stuttering, losing eye contact, feeling embarassed, feeling any of the physical symptoms of your SA for that matter), you feel down and disappointed with yourself? Do you know how many people without SA stutter, feel embarassed, or feel anxious during certain social situations? Everyone does. The only difference between you and I is that we associate these feelings with our SA and thus feel like there's something wrong with us when there isn't. Try this. When out in public, instead of blaming everything on your SA, just tell yourself that you're shy. Tell yourself "It's ok if I didn't feel perfectly calm in that situation. I'm just shy". To SAers, doing something "wrong" in a social setting makes us think there is something wrong WITH US. Like it's a personal thing. If you simply tell yourself that it's ok, you're just a little shy, that's all, you'll stop blaming everything you do on your SA.

Instead of asking yourself why you behave a certain way in a certain social situation or asking yourself what you SHOULD do in a certain social situation, just BE. Don't overanalyze your thoughts and actions and relate it to your SA. Remember, the only difference between you and someone who doesn't have SA is that they don't analyze everything, you DO and think there's something wrong with you because your conversation with so and so didn't come out perfect. I'll give you an example. Yesterday, I was talking to my manager and the new girl (who I happen to find incredibly attractive) was standing next to my manager. I was asking my manager a question and stuttered a little. Now, someone with SA would come out of that situation and say "Man, why did I make a fool out of myself in front of the new girl? I stuttered because she makes me nervous. She probably thinks I'm an idiot. This SA is putting a drain on me. I hate myself." Now, the average person without SA would probably say "Haha! I'm always a mess around people I find attractive." That's it. After all, it's not ABNORMAL to stutter is it? Here's another example: I work in a grocery store and we have someone called a "leveler" who basically goes around the store and fixes the products on the shelf so they look good for the customer. Occasionally, they let a cashier out to help the leveler. Sometimes, when I'm let out into the store to help the leveler, I dread having to help the leveler because I don't feel comfortable around them. So then I force myself to go help whoever that person is. Now the thought process of someone who has SA in that situation would go something like this "Ugh. I really don't want to help the leveler. I never know what to say to him. I wonder if he thinks I'm boring because I don't talk. Why do I feel nervous around him? What the heck is wrong with me?". Now the average person would go something like this "Ugh. I really don't want to work with him. We really have nothing in common. We never have anything to talk about. He's just so boring. Whatever. I guess I'll help him just so we can get the store done." The average person understands that you're not going to be buddy-buddy with everyone. Not everyone is the same. Not everyone has the same interests. Not everyone has the same personality. You can get along with most people but that doesn't mean you should have to like them let alone feel the need to force them to like you and or feel the need to impress them.

All of that to say: Stop blaming every thought or action on your SA. Instead of wondering what to do when passing someone on the street, do whatever you find comfortable. And if you find it comfortable to just look down the entire time instead of maintaining eye contact with the person you're passing, don't feel the need to blame it on your SA. Just realize that that's how you acted because it's how you WANTED to act, not because your SA got in the way and told you to act that way.

Be proud of your accomplishments-One good thing about having SA is that we have many more occasions to give ourselves a pat on the back. And it doesn't have to even be when you go through a social setting perfectly. Give yourself a pat on the back even if something did go wrong. You got through it and you deserve praise. Now go out and treat yourself to some ice cream or a nice, warm bath. Remember, doing these things will provide more happyness.

Push yourself through anxious-worthy moments-I don't think that exposure therapy is the absolute answer when it comes to treating your SA. I do believe that the more you're able to do, the better you'll feel about yourself and the sooner you'll learn that there is nothing to be afraid of. I know it's hard for some people to push themselves to "just do it" but all you need to do is stop thinking about it, fake some confidence, and do it. You will find out in the end, it almost never is bad as you think it's going to be.

Maintaining eye contact shouldn't be that hard-The problem with eye contact is that, when having a conversation with someone, they're concentrated more on how to properly maintain eye contact rather than what the other person is saying. If eye contact is a big problem for you, try this. Relax your eyes a little. Then force a little smile. It doesn't need to be fake. And most of the time, when I'm forcing a smile, you can't even tell that I'm smiling. It just helps me relax and concentrate on what the other person is saying. And if you need to do something with your hands when you're talking to someone, do it. People without SA talk with their hands. It's not weird. I sometimes have an elastic band on my wrist that I play with when I'm talking to someone because I feel like I need to do something with my hands constantly. It doesn't matter if these are coping mechanisms, if it helps you, do it. And as I said above, don't blame it on the SA. If it gets you through the conversation comfortably, do it.

Stop looking at others with jealousy in your eyes-Everyone has problems. EVERYONE. The popular girl in school might seem happy but there is SOMETHING going on in her life that she's struggling with. No one is better than you. If you're happy, then you're happy. No need to compare yourself to others. Want an example? My cousin killed himself last month. He seemed happy. Obviously wasn't. Most married couples with children that I know have more problems than they can handle. Let's put it this way. I'm a 21 year old lesbian who is about to move in with her sister and I think I'm happier and more well off than most people my age. I could look at myself and think "You're 21 years old and you don't have a license. You're a lesbian and your family is going to hate you when they find out not to mention that you're never going to get a girlfriend since it's harder to date when you're gay. You just bought a condo and you're going to barely be able to pay your bills". Or you could look at it in a positive light like I do- "You may not have your license but you've saved sooo much money on gas and car insurance. And you're working on getting your license anyway. Small steps.. You know what? I'm happy that I'm gay because I don't have to settle for an ******* guy like most of my friends do. I might only get $200 every month after I pay my bills but that's more than a lot of people have. I'm independent, I have no debt, I have good credit, and I'm happy with my life."
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-20-2009, 01:53 PM
 
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We've had posts like this before. I appreciate the fact that you are trying to help people. But for those of us that know intellectually that nothing is wrong yet can't "get over" the irrational beliefs and thoughts this line of thinking just makes us feel more depressed. What's the worse that could happen? not much, but so what. I know it but my body don't I still get the feeling like i'm going to die, I might know that i'm really not but it's hard to push that feeling back.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-20-2009, 03:09 PM
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Thanks for all the helpful tips. It seems like you are getting a lot of control over your anxiety. I like the tip about not overanalyzing everything and just doing what is natural. It seems like it should be ovbious, but I usally do tend to overanalze things. It helps to be reminded not to

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-20-2009, 07:00 PM
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I dont understand why people get so turned off by SA being an illness. Honestly? I love the fact that SA is an illness. I welcome that something is wrong with me because if what i feel every day was in some way normal, I dont know what i would do. I would never be able to accept the fact that my anxious feelings are somehow part of everyday life and something i would just have to deal with for the rest of my life. If someone told me that, I just wouldn't be able to take it. SA being an illness says to me "what you go through is not normal and you shouldn't have to live like this." The fact that there is medication is even better. It says to me "you shouldn't have to live like this AND you wont live like this in the future." It gives me hope. Hope that i can some day defeat my SA and find normality again.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-21-2009, 07:11 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by screwjack View Post
We've had posts like this before. I appreciate the fact that you are trying to help people. But for those of us that know intellectually that nothing is wrong yet can't "get over" the irrational beliefs and thoughts this line of thinking just makes us feel more depressed. What's the worse that could happen? not much, but so what. I know it but my body don't I still get the feeling like i'm going to die, I might know that i'm really not but it's hard to push that feeling back.
Part of the definition of SA is knowing that your thinking is irrational. You say that your body reacts negatively to your anxiety. You know what? So does mine. Even until this day it does. That's why I posted some tips to help you control the physical symptoms of your anxiety before they become full blown.

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Originally Posted by wxolue View Post
I dont understand why people get so turned off by SA being an illness. Honestly? I love the fact that SA is an illness. I welcome that something is wrong with me because if what i feel every day was in some way normal, I dont know what i would do. I would never be able to accept the fact that my anxious feelings are somehow part of everyday life and something i would just have to deal with for the rest of my life. If someone told me that, I just wouldn't be able to take it. SA being an illness says to me "what you go through is not normal and you shouldn't have to live like this." The fact that there is medication is even better. It says to me "you shouldn't have to live like this AND you wont live like this in the future." It gives me hope. Hope that i can some day defeat my SA and find normality again.
I don't like thinking of SA as an illness for two reasons: 1)I hate knowing that medication can control it. I hate this because I never want to take medication for my SA so if the only reason to control it is by taking meds, I'll never get over my SA then, will I? 2)Thinking of my SA as an illness only made me obsess about my SA. If you "mess up" during your daily conversations with people, you blame it on your SA, don't you? Instead of blaming it on your SA, think of it as something wrong with your thought process. It's not some scary illness taking over you, it's simply a matter of you thinking differently. That thought alone made me realize that I COULD get over this.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-21-2009, 01:49 PM
 
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Originally Posted by childofsolitude View Post
Part of the definition of SA is knowing that your thinking is irrational. You say that your body reacts negatively to your anxiety. You know what? So does mine. Even until this day it does. That's why I posted some tips to help you control the physical symptoms of your anxiety before they become full blown.
Yes but the procrastination, depression and listlessness that comes with SA is something I still don't know how to deal with and no amount of affirmations or changing my thoughts actually do anything. As i've said many times before I was worse off when I didn't know it was SA, i've changed my behaviors to the better nor do I blame my problems on SA so I can't relate to what you are saying.



Quote:
I don't like thinking of SA as an illness for two reasons: 1)I hate knowing that medication can control it. I hate this because I never want to take medication for my SA so if the only reason to control it is by taking meds, I'll never get over my SA then, will I? 2)Thinking of my SA as an illness only made me obsess about my SA. If you "mess up" during your daily conversations with people, you blame it on your SA, don't you? Instead of blaming it on your SA, think of it as something wrong with your thought process. It's not some scary illness taking over you, it's simply a matter of you thinking differently. That thought alone made me realize that I COULD get over this.
Well with medication if your SA is not a chemical imbalance then you only take the medication under doctors orders so you can cope with the situations. Exposure and cbt really are the best way to get through this but you need someone to hold your hand because we've been telling ourselves so long "we can't do it" that we really can't just do it. If I had the money and insurance this is the way I would go.

I don't get the denying SA is an actual illness thing. Despite what others have said I think it is like a form of cancer or diabetes except the effects of the disease make you not want to get treatment. Really like any other mental/behavior problem like schizophrenia, ptsd, depression, bipolar etc. Being sick is not an excuse for your symptoms if you do nothing about the disease for instance if someone had diabetes and they missed there insulin and died it would be there fault. Unless you are one of those smarmy people that think mental/behavioral illness dosen't exist and it's that these people don't have enough willpower.
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