Help me, extreme social anxiety - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 09-10-2007, 11:49 PM Thread Starter
 
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Help me, extreme social anxiety


I talk to myself all of the time. I always wanted to be my own best friend because most of the real friends that I had was backstabbers/fake friends.

Since I was a little kid, I talked to myself. Now that I'm almost 19 years old, do you think it's too late to change the way I think?

Whenever in social place, I get very nervous that I get to be stuck and just thinking, "Don't embrass yourself, and Don't talk to yourself outloud".

Thinking too much in my head, someone might walk by and say Hi and I do this Hi back weird look that I might scared most people.

What to do? Am I crazy? In gym class, everybody thought I was crazy for talking to myself

I already visited counselor for anxiety problems and it didn't work. By the way, I'm new to the forum
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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 09-11-2007, 05:26 AM
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Re: Help me, extreme social anxiety


Welcome to SAS .

Its never too late to change. Your still pretty young, you've got heaps of time. You're not crazy. Counselors suck, they never helped me. Theres lots of things you can do to start. You could go the whole self-help route or get help from someone. Have you told your parents? Think about seeing a psychologist or something. Eh someone else here can probably give you better advice than I can.

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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 09-11-2007, 05:29 AM
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Re: Help me, extreme social anxiety




Counsellors are where you get sent when you are young and with problems. Docs send you there first seemingly to make you worse and set you up with a lifelong mistrust of the medical world ... at least, thats how I found it. I saw a 'counsellor' at 15, and it then took the medical world until I was 21 to admit I actually had a problem.

SA, an inner sense of worthlessness, and deep mistrust of others does not go away quickly. It needs consistent, guided work to gradually change the way we think and feel. A counsellor is not the same as a qualified therapist. The first one is just a 'shoulder to cry on', whereas the second will use actual psychotherpeutic techniques to help you to feel better. This can take several months. The quickest way to dampen anxiety and feel brighter again is to take antidepressants / anti-anxiety meds - but these are only a temporary solution. Generally if you have deep rooted issues, you will need someone qualified to help you. Or at least, that will be the quickest (months instead of several years) way to feeling better in the long term.

Try not to be put off by your experience with a counsellor. Bearing in mind that even the FASTEST route to feeling better is at least two weeks (meds, not including benzos which you probably wont get at your age, but can present problems such as dependency) here are some suggestions:

1) Buy yourself a copy of 'Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness' by Gillian Butler and work through it gradually (its a CBT for SA book). IMO this is the best CBT for SA out there. Either that or "Overcoming Shyness and Social Phobia: A Step-by-step Guide" by Donald M Rapee. Give it a good few months of really trying - the more you put in, the more you get out.
2) Buy a book on mindfulness meditation. Ask Ruby Tuesday, Maslow or Ardrum for suggestions.
3) Look into getting a private therapist, if you or your parents can afford one or you can get it on insurance.
4) If your docs are happy, look into trying meds.

A lot of people when faced with these options think "But I'm depressed. All of these things are too much work when I feel this way - I can't do that". But the other option is to stay feeling bad until the feeling builds and builds. Then you have a bigger task ahead of you. If you can begin to chip away at it whilst you are young, you have the chance of enjoying more years of your adulthood.

Good luck

Ross

On to concentrate on bright things Stuck around in hopes to help, didnt seem like there was much left I could do anymore ... good luck and comfort to those who are on their own path and hope for those yet to take their first step! Much Love
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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 09-11-2007, 04:59 PM
 
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Re: Help me, extreme social anxiety


I recommend journaling everyday for 15 minutes or so. You will feel better. I bet writing this post made you feel a little better, same thing.
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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 09-11-2007, 07:15 PM
 
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Re: Help me, extreme social anxiety


I talk to myself way too much...I'm doing it right now, reading aloud what I type. It's just that my mind is always so busy and whatever I'm thinking inevitably comes out (when I'm alone). I tend to practice conversations aloud, too.

People can be serious asshats, anyway, so I wouldn't worry too much about what they think. Undoubtedly they talk to themselves, too.

I don't think it's too late to stop if this is a serious issue for you. Try to stay present so that you can consciously control it.

Edit: How rude of me, welcome etc.!
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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 09-11-2007, 07:40 PM
 
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Re: Help me, extreme social anxiety


I talk to myself, OUTLOUD, everyday. I've always done this and I'm 36 years old. I do it while driving, I do it at home (my husband has caught me doing this a few times ), I even do it while shopping. A lot of people do. It's a habit, it can help ease anxiety, it's no big deal, and it doesn't mean you're crazy.
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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 09-11-2007, 10:20 PM
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Re: Help me, extreme social anxiety


read "yea yea yea" posts and others. they are helpful
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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 09-11-2007, 10:57 PM
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Re: Help me, extreme social anxiety


Sure i have talked to myself.People think im nuts
I still do. I am nuts.(what can i say?)
What i dont understand is why is it ok to think thoughts in your head but not say them out loud?
huhhuh

edit: i also have severe social anxiety and welcome

"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." -Aristotle
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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 09-12-2007, 12:26 AM
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Re: Help me, extreme social anxiety


I have always talked to myself. I do it practically all of the time when I am alone. If I am sitting at a traffic light, and someone comes up beside me and sees me talking to myself, I just keep right on talking. I have always enjoyed doing it, so I am not going to quit. Its always been easier for me to talk to myself than others, anyway. Its one of the few pleasures that I get a kick out of in life.
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 09-12-2007, 03:08 AM
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Re: Help me, extreme social anxiety


there's no problem talking to yourself because giving yourself self therapy is cheaper
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post #11 of 29 (permalink) Old 09-12-2007, 06:57 AM
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Re: Help me, extreme social anxiety


I talk to myself out loud, and this is VERY common actually (regardless of whether someone has SA). Granted, I don't often talk to myself while around others, but I don't think this is something to be ashamed of either. If someone was talking to themselves near me, then saw me, and laughed and said he/she always talks to himself/herself, I wouldn't think anything of it. It's that nervous anxiety that makes us think we can actually read minds and know that "everyone" is thinking we're "crazy." In reality, this is monumentally unlikely.

I can second the recommendation of the Gillian Butler CBT book. I own it, and I find it to be very helpful. It describes, in a straightforward way, how to apply CBT techniques to address your social anxiety. You can use a journal to perform the exercises found in the book.

In many social situations, I find mindfulness to be extremely helpful. People often say they want to "stop thinking so much" when they're hit with fearful thoughts from all sorts of mysterious directions simultaneously, but they fail to realize that taking direct approaches to forcibly shut off one's thoughts are rarely successful and sometimes (if not often, like in my case) make the situation worse.

Oh, and welcome to the forum!

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He ran because it grounded him in basics. There was both life and death in it; it was unadulterated by media hype, trivial cares, political meddling...It was all joy and woe, hard as a diamond; it made him weary beyond comprehension. But it also made him free.
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post #12 of 29 (permalink) Old 09-12-2007, 11:00 AM
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Re: Help me, extreme social anxiety


Can someone PLEASE post a mindfulness for beginners thread? I cannot wade through the Thich Nhat Hanh books and that other one ... Wherever you go, there you are. Each page just feels like its trying to be really profound and I'll be honest, its irritating the hell out of me. Yeah I know I know I'm not spiritual enough ...

I know it works, BUT its taking forever to actually get anything solidly USEFUL out of these books. Ardrum / Ruby T / Maslow / Leppardess SOMEONE - please can you write a very simple, straightforward 'how to use mindfulness to help anxiety' WITHOUT going into all the profundity and zen master riddles that these guys seem to write in? I mean like all the "there is no spoon" type rubbish. Translate it for an engineering geek, please. I am clearly too right brained (or is it left?) to extract meaning from their words.

Thank you.

Ross

On to concentrate on bright things Stuck around in hopes to help, didnt seem like there was much left I could do anymore ... good luck and comfort to those who are on their own path and hope for those yet to take their first step! Much Love
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post #13 of 29 (permalink) Old 09-12-2007, 11:18 AM
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Re: Help me, extreme social anxiety


Maslow has this article up: http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/mindfulness.php

Also, the ACT page on the main SAS page is rather informative (incorporates mindfulness as well). It seems to be similar to a Buddhist approach, which is an interesting similarity since it was developed independently through scientific study.

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He ran because it grounded him in basics. There was both life and death in it; it was unadulterated by media hype, trivial cares, political meddling...It was all joy and woe, hard as a diamond; it made him weary beyond comprehension. But it also made him free.
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post #14 of 29 (permalink) Old 09-12-2007, 01:22 PM
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Re: Help me, extreme social anxiety


OK

Sorry Ardrum I didnt get too much from that. I think I have a mental block and I dunno why ...

So lets say I am totally new to any kind of anti-SA methods. I am sitting there in a meeting at work, with 10 other people. The chairman of the meeting suggests we all introduce ourselves. I suddenly get an instant shot of panic. Although I know that the situation is not dangerous, I feel my heart step up three notches and begin to pound in my chest. My breathing becomes shallow and faster and I feel certain that if I speak it will come out in short, breathy chunks. I feel embarrassed by this. My mind seems to race at 100 miles an hour. As people work around the circle towards me, my heart reaches 130 bpm and I can feel every thump as it seems to almost force out through my ribcage.

How do I use mindfulness in this situation? I think I kinda know, but hey I need some pointers. What I'm struggling with is - how do I watch my breath, or focus only on my emotions, when I am simultaneously trying to think what to say? I thought that having too many things to do at once was part of the problem with anxiety - that while the brain is thinking about being scared and what others think, you cant concentrate on your words. If I'm following my breath AND watching my moods, aren't I taking resources away from thinking what to say, and, if in conversation, from what the other people are saying? This is the problem I am having trying to apply it and maybe others are too.

Ross

PS I'd like to know and I'm sure many others would too. Except I am lazy as well.
PPS The above is an example I used cos I thought most folk could relate to it.

On to concentrate on bright things Stuck around in hopes to help, didnt seem like there was much left I could do anymore ... good luck and comfort to those who are on their own path and hope for those yet to take their first step! Much Love
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post #15 of 29 (permalink) Old 09-12-2007, 03:11 PM
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Re: Help me, extreme social anxiety


Not many people are mindful at any given moment. When we're doing something we love, it's very easy to be mindful and notice every detail of our activity as it happens. We don't really continue experiencing the present like this during mundane tasks and other moments though, and especially not during moments of anxiety, when it feels like living in the present will surely torture/kill us!!!

Many of the "steps" of mindfulness would be to simply recognize everything you've just stated for this scenario (waves of anxiety, perspiration, etc.). If your speech is weak/choppy, notice it as it happens, and notice when it stops happening (even if that's not until you stop talking). Continue noticing in the present, and if you're mindful, you'll notice at some point later on (when you stop being mindful) how you were not thinking about perceived social failures of the past or predicted social failure in the future during your time of mindfulness. Being mindful for a long time is very difficult for me still, but I'm getting better with practice (although slowly, haha). I still have a long way to go in practicing mindfulness, but the rewards are immense, in the sense that irritation/anxiety symptoms are lacking.

I'll share Thich Nhat Hahn's example of washing dishes, which comes from his mindfulness book. He doesn't resort to bizarre riddles with this example at all.

Most people who wash dishes by hand are washing dishes so that they can go watch TV, or go play a game, or go to the grocery, etc. In other words, while they are thinking about what they need/want to do next, they don't notice they're washing dishes, much like how we often don't notice we're even breathing! It's not often that people wash dishes to wash dishes. This would be to notice every aspect of what it's like to wash dishes, which takes ALL of your concentration. Seeing soap bubbles as they float and pop, feeling warm water on your skin, noticing the color of the water as it changes, listening to the sounds of the water as it splashes, the smell of the soap, etc.

I wash my dishes by hand, and I often practice mindfulness during this time (since I found myself hating doing dishes, I thought it would be perfect, especially after reading about this example).

The same principle applies for other situations. Just notice as much as possible in the present. That's all being mindful is.

I put "steps" in quotations in the second paragraph of this post since mindfulness isn't ultimately a step-by-step approach, or at least I don't necessarily see it that way. If we're thinking too much about what steps to take to be mindful of the present, we're not aware of the present moment, but rather stuck in our thoughts of what steps to take, in what order, how long to be at each step, whether we're "doing it right", etc. We don't really need to be conceptualizing at all in order to just experience the present as it is, completely.

Mindfulness is such a simple thing that it makes it hard to elaborate on. There are only so many ways to say the same thing. Noticing your breathing is commonly referred to because it's something we have conscious control over it when we notice it. When we don't notice it, it just seemingly happens "by itself" without our conscious knowledge. For the vast majority of the day, I and probably most other people don't even notice we're breathing. If I find myself hit with a boatload of anxiety all at once, I often will notice my breathing as well as my anxiety, surroundings (your projecting outward technique is like this), and any other sensations (not trying to push away anything, just noticing it all).

By noticing our present experiences and immediate surroundings, it becomes impossible to ruminate/worry since we're too busy noticing "right now," which really takes all our concentration. It might take practice to be effectively mindful for significant amounts of time as well. There are situations in which I still find it difficult to be mindful. From what I've read, continual practice helps with this.

For me, mindfulness makes symptoms of anxiety become like a feisty kitten rather than a ferocious tiger. The kitten might still bite and claw us, and even draw blood at times, but it's almost cute even when this happens (ok, bear with the analogy if you hate cats, haha). When I'm mindful, I'm not afraid of anxiety symptoms since the symptoms are not fuelled by thoughts that take me out of the present moment. Without these thoughts, the kitten remains a kitten and doesn't get any scarier.

Hopefully at least some of this is helpful to anyone reading it.

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post #16 of 29 (permalink) Old 09-12-2007, 04:14 PM
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Re: Help me, extreme social anxiety


Quote:
Originally Posted by yeah_yeah_yeah
OK

Sorry Ardrum I didnt get too much from that. I think I have a mental block and I dunno why ...

So lets say I am totally new to any kind of anti-SA methods. I am sitting there in a meeting at work, with 10 other people. The chairman of the meeting suggests we all introduce ourselves. I suddenly get an instant shot of panic. Although I know that the situation is not dangerous, I feel my heart step up three notches and begin to pound in my chest. My breathing becomes shallow and faster and I feel certain that if I speak it will come out in short, breathy chunks. I feel embarrassed by this. My mind seems to race at 100 miles an hour. As people work around the circle towards me, my heart reaches 130 bpm and I can feel every thump as it seems to almost force out through my ribcage.

How do I use mindfulness in this situation? I think I kinda know, but hey I need some pointers. What I'm struggling with is - how do I watch my breath, or focus only on my emotions, when I am simultaneously trying to think what to say? I thought that having too many things to do at once was part of the problem with anxiety - that while the brain is thinking about being scared and what others think, you cant concentrate on your words. If I'm following my breath AND watching my moods, aren't I taking resources away from thinking what to say, and, if in conversation, from what the other people are saying? This is the problem I am having trying to apply it and maybe others are too.

Ross

PS I'd like to know and I'm sure many others would too. Except I am lazy as well.
PPS The above is an example I used cos I thought most folk could relate to it.
I got a video and a guided meditation and thats all I use to learn mindfulness. Some of it seems a lot like CBT style stuff. The video by Marsha Linehan explains it in 'how' and 'what' parts. I dunno if I really even do the stuff from the video, it just made me think about being more aware of what I'm doing. The guided meditation is by Jon Kabat-Zinn, I think its good. I don't really know much about it so I may be wrong but I try to explain.

Its a mix of stuff I think. Relaxation, some thought stuff similar to CBT. Basically your thoughts tend to go off into thinking about worries or analyzing the past or fantasizing, and mindfulness helps you bring your attention back to the present. Thats what you practice in meditation/yoga/whatever.

So in your scenario, the chairman suggest you introduce yourselves. CBT style I guess you'd disprove you're negative expectations. But mindfulness style you'd notice that some worry thoughts came into your head, and then go back to being aware of what you are doing - which is probably just sitting there, which is great cause thats what you do in meditation, so you've had heaps of practice. And then when its your turn to talk you can do that mindfully too.

Obviously neither approach really helps in the moment unless you've been practicing. Nice thing about mindfulness is you don't need to do exposure to practice, you can be mindful when you're perfectly comfortable. And same as CBT mindfulness has long term stuff like acceptance, and I think theres a whole list of attributes that you're supposed to cultivate, at least according to Jon Kabat-Zinn. The other thing I like about it is that it doesn't push you to do stuff that you just don't wanna do.

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post #17 of 29 (permalink) Old 09-12-2007, 04:53 PM
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Re: Help me, extreme social anxiety


Yeah, practice definitely helps.

As I mentioned before, I find it difficult to maintain mindfulness in moments that bring in a LOT of anxiety at once.

It would probably be best to start small by being mindful regularly during a situation in which you aren't facing anxiety (for me, it's the dishes). Over time, you could introduce mindfulness to other aspects of your life as you become more skilled.

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post #18 of 29 (permalink) Old 09-13-2007, 01:58 AM
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Re: Help me, extreme social anxiety


Hey thanks Ardrum

I will continue to practice with what I have and try to use it more when the anxiety actually hits. I suppose combining it with the "it doesnt matter if people notice I'm anxious" belief of my CBT will help to get me out the other end of the 'attack' - long enough to have applied the mindfulness.

Talking of kittens, does your anxiety look anything like THIS? (reproduced without permission of njodis, the kittens discoverer and keeper.)
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On to concentrate on bright things Stuck around in hopes to help, didnt seem like there was much left I could do anymore ... good luck and comfort to those who are on their own path and hope for those yet to take their first step! Much Love
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post #19 of 29 (permalink) Old 09-13-2007, 05:57 AM
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Re: Help me, extreme social anxiety


One more thought to Overlynice....I can TOTALLY RELATE to the BEING STABBED IN THE BACK/FAKE FRIENDS thing. I have to be my own best friend. My trust factor is ZERO.
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post #20 of 29 (permalink) Old 09-13-2007, 06:52 AM
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Re: Help me, extreme social anxiety


Nice feline!

AIM: adamhoef

He ran because it grounded him in basics. There was both life and death in it; it was unadulterated by media hype, trivial cares, political meddling...It was all joy and woe, hard as a diamond; it made him weary beyond comprehension. But it also made him free.
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