How I "conquered" my public speaking phobia (long story) - Social Anxiety Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 04-30-2008, 05:33 PM Thread Starter
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How I "conquered" my public speaking phobia (long story)


I'm only going to speak in relevance to college experiences here but I feel the pain of ANYONE who has this phobia in ANY situation, and sincerely just want to tell them my story.

My first experience was a NIGHTMARE. I was shaking, sweating, twitching, stuttering, could NOT control my heart race. Paranoid, insecure. The whole speech was basically a panic attack. I'm still not sure why I didn't run out of the room that day.
I lingered on for weeks hating myself, feeling inadequate in other areas of my life that had nothing to do with this phobia.

My second experience wasn't as bad, because 2 mins prior me to presenting, I grabbed my bad and left the room. I couldn't stand the thought of going through that hell again.

My third experience was worst than the first. I thought I was crazy, I KNEW and BELIEVED I was. That I had no control over my thoughts or anticipation anxiety.

A year passed by and luckily no presentations that year.

My junior semester, first couple weeks of fall semester, I hear that I'll be doing 2 presentations that semester. 2 weeks before, I tried killing myself.
Over a SPEECH, well 2 actually.

I was so convinced I was defective, my brain didn't work, it was broke.. I never felt so hopeless in my life.

For 10 days in the psychward I underwent intensive psychoanalysis.
I kept telling shrinks I had no reason to live. Sure I had social anxiety, but I could live with that.
I couldn't live the fact that these 15-30mins of time would eventuall affect my ENTIRE life, as long as it may be.
That I might drop out of school, kill myself, all over this phobia.

..................................................

The deconditioning process.
What I think it important here is not what I learned, but what overtime I taught myself to UNLEARN. And it DID take some more experiences to really impant this new belief, as it clashed with my old "I'm defective" belief system.

My improvements I attribute largely first to medication, but than to my shifting paradigm as I realized these medications were changing my BIOLOGY.
And if my biology was the root of the issue, I rationally had no reason to feel crazy anymore.

I did my first presentation on MANY meds/drugs.
My thought was f this. I'd rather od during a presentation and not feel anything, than to feel what I normally was use to.

I took a LARGE glass of opium tea, klonopin, xanax, inderal, toprol and a few shots.

A little bit of each (more of the opium because it has some alkaloids that counteract the sedative affects of the other drugs, but still keeps your CNS depressed)

WOW.
Class loved it, I didn't care about a thing in the world. Nobody looked at me weird, suspected, anything, just assumed I was confident and a good speaker.

A new belief begins to arise.

Maybe there is a solution?
But logically speaking, taking that many meds/drugs is a deathwish, not a "solution".

Second time I take klonopin, xanax, inderal and a few shots.
Not the best presentation in the world. But it was at least average or better. I didn't feel inadequate anymore, I thought I was learning how to fix it.

New semester starts.

I have a presentation. I have no more klonopin or xanax as a clutch. Now I'm on Lexapro and all I have with it is inderal.
The weak before i was literally shaking in fear, nautious, angry, agitated. What was suppose to be a 10min presentation once again had me feel like I wasn't really moving forward with my progression.
I was STILL getting equally as apprehensive weeks before, anxious. Couldn't focus on anything, was affecting my school work and the little social life I did have.

I LOAD up with inderal. Again take 2 shots of vodka.
Mentally I'm nervous as ****, I think the meds aren't going to work.
I think I didn't take enough, I'm too scared to take more.

I get up there, I OWN the presentation. I AM getting better now. But these periods of anticipatory anxiety before the speeches aren't getting better they're ruining my life.

What the f**k is my solution?

Desensitization? Meds? I'm still freaking out beforewards, but when I get up there, and realize I have control over my body, I care less about the words that come out of my mouth.
I'm not an idiot, I have common sense. So I figure I'll be boring and factual rather than emotional and persuasive (like some of the best public speakers I admire).

Today would be the longest and most elaborate presentation I'd ever have to do. 3 weeks ago I appetite goes through the floor. I've actually lost 10lbs since.
Again I feel helpless and inadequate.

This last week at some point. It wasn't like an epiphany. It was ME accepting ME for once in my life.
When I think of speeches, I think of Martin Luther King, Joel Olstein, Tony Robbins, some of the best orators in the world.
I have this intense need inside, and this feeling like I really have something important to say, more important than most people.. but I just don't know how to communicate to audiences the way I want.

Well I thought this last week "ok, just as an experiment, this time I'm simply just NOT going to care about the presentation". I now have good past experiences that should reinforce the fact that those first few times, that were nightmares, have now been outnumbered by good experiences.

And if I need to take meds before, so be it. But I'm going to do it responsibly.
Today all I take is 60mg inderal and 1mg xanax.
I take 3, 20mg inderal every half hour prior to an hour before the actual presentation. So it doesn't just hit me at once.
I take the xanax an hour before.

I show up, and OMG. My partner, had choked. We had worked on this presentation for weeks together. She doesn't even show up.
Teacher says "Rob I'm so glad you came today but sorry to say your partner couldn't make it".

Instead of getting crazy about it, I say "cool, no big deal, I'll just make mine a little longer".
Presentation wound up going 45mins. Longest EVER.
What I noticed is this (for me).
Xanax does help, but too much can really cloud your judgement.
Inderal is MY godsend.

It takes TIME even after a med works for you to really believe its going to keep working, and thats what allowed me to have faith in the med, stop the pre-anxiety bs, and go through with this.
I spoke slowly, used my tonality to accentuate important points.
Paused after making points. (so people could think about them rather than just machine gunning facts at them).
It allows people to slowly be drawn in.
If some contributes something, commend them enthusiastically. "THank you so much, excellent point".
It makes other people really want to particpate, unless what they contributed was really dumb, which I find more rare if you're an openminded individual.

But now I feel weird.
I'm not proud anymore. Its like a monkey of my back.
I'm not thinking about future presentations anymore, I simply found a formula that worked for me. It was really difficult, so I guess I can only sum this up by demanding anyone on this board, suffering from w/e it is they have.
Please have hope, try to be optimistic.
Don't feel bad about needing to take certain meds. (like I use to)
Feel bad about thinking you need to feel bad for taking something that will help you.

But thats it. I feel like now I need to find a new phobia, or something to obsess about. But I can't quite yet. I don't feel like "me" anymore.
I feel like I'm just discovering who I really am.. and he really isn't a bad guy, and I don't know why I want to assume this, but I'm sure a lot of you are some really good people as well. And wish you the power to overcome what ever it is in life that may be holding you back.

G/luck!
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-04-2008, 05:29 AM
 
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Re: How I "conquered" my public speaking phobia (long story)


Hey you are the same person that posted that beta blocker thread right? Wow sounds like it went really well for you! I'm so glad congrats... Thanks for the posting about it as well as I have a few presentations coming up and even thinking about them is making me panic... Can I just ask what the lowest dose of BB you need to stop you feeling nervous but not affect you (I have only taken very small amounts a few times just to test if I have any side effects)
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-05-2008, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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Re: How I "conquered" my public speaking phobia (long story)


Quote:
Originally Posted by tainted_
Hey you are the same person that posted that beta blocker thread right? Wow sounds like it went really well for you! I'm so glad congrats... Thanks for the posting about it as well as I have a few presentations coming up and even thinking about them is making me panic... Can I just ask what the lowest dose of BB you need to stop you feeling nervous but not affect you (I have only taken very small amounts a few times just to test if I have any side effects)
I take beta blockers (inderal) daily so I have a tolerance.
It depends on the bb but I'd recommend 40mg inderal for someone with no tolerance.

I know some people just take 10-20mg and it works perfect for them. Make sure its the fast acting. And I'd say take 20mg 1 hour before, than another 20mg 1/2 hour before sublingually. You can even take it up to 2 hours before because for me they usually last about 4-6 hours. But I like hitting the peak right as I'm about to get up there.

For me I took a lot more than the avg person, but I noticed when I go overboard I still don't get any negative sides. Just if you get up to 150-200mg you get dizzy and may get hypotensive.

But I'd say 40 would be perfect.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-06-2008, 05:11 AM
 
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Re: How I "conquered" my public speaking phobia (long story)


Do Meds really work, takes away all anxiety? I'm the type that rarely uses meds for anything.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-29-2013, 06:20 PM
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Get over it


Public speaking was the biggest obstacle in my career. Being a highly educated "expert", I was called upon to provide my expert knowledge and views. I would spend days researching, writing, re-writing, freaking out, speculating what awful things could happen, expecting to fail miserably. My anxiety would build up until the speaking time, hoping along the way for some miracle that would cause the event to be cancelled. My notes were so edited by the time for delivery, that I could barely read them. In order to do so, I could hardly look up! Yes, I gave them good advice, but I had to be the most boring one-dimensional speaker of all times.

I realized my focus was on the wrong thing. I was focused the perfection of the speech and the completeness of what was in it, since I was an "expert". It had to be perfect, even if my delivery would be rotten and boring. After struggling to get through my marked up notes once, I decided I would make a few bullet points, and have a few key words under each bullet for the next presentation, which was coming soon.

I wrote out the speech, then made a separate page with 4 bullet points with a handful of key words following for each bullet point; the key words were the primary concepts that I wanted to get across for each bullet point. There was lots of white space, and I fought the temptation to make notes on this page. I kept the long form speech on the podium under the bullet point page, just in case I went blank or something.

The result was amazing. Instead of droning on for an hour without coming up for air, I went over the presentation in about a half hour (leaving out a few things-but who knew?). With the extra time, I opened up the floor for questions, and fortunately there were some; I was surprised at how elementary they were. I came off like an expert! I stuck around afterwords answering one-on-one questions and taking compliments from the crowd, if you can imagine!

After that, I realized that the crowd will only pay attention if you are interesting and easy to follow. They give you a couple of minutes to establish that. So, once I got that, I had the luxury of honing my presentation skills. I had my solution - bullet points and key words, of all things! The time to prepare the speech dropped dramatically, and the anxiety monkey on my back seemed to weigh less and less, and eventually wasn't around much anymore.

I'm not saying it will work for everyone, but you must realize an audience will give you a few minutes to be interesting; if you aren't, then they start thinking about the softball game, what's for dinner, the phone calls they need to return, etc. They won't really care if the information was important, or if you were good or boring. Mentally, they are not present. Just get a few good points across and everyone will be happy!
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-29-2013, 10:29 PM
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Morale of the story just stuff yourself with a bunch of meds and drugs then you're good to go? Idk about this.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-29-2013, 11:08 PM
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Good job man. I remember my first public speech for a communication class I had where I was unable to finish the speech (easily one of the most embarrassing moments of my life)

I somehow got the courage to do the speech over the next class and finished it even if I did stutter every other word.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-29-2013, 11:13 PM
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So..... let me get this straight
1.Have disorder
2.take drugs
3.???
4.profit
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-30-2013, 09:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob View Post
I take beta blockers (inderal) daily so I have a tolerance.
It depends on the bb but I'd recommend 40mg inderal for someone with no tolerance.

I know some people just take 10-20mg and it works perfect for them. Make sure its the fast acting. And I'd say take 20mg 1 hour before, than another 20mg 1/2 hour before sublingually. You can even take it up to 2 hours before because for me they usually last about 4-6 hours. But I like hitting the peak right as I'm about to get up there.
I take 10 - 15 mg about an hour before the presentation. Lately I've seen that 10 mg is not working that well anymore. I don't know if that would because of developing tolerance as I do not use Propral (Inderal) more often than three times a week at max and there are often weeks or months with no need to take it at all.
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