Social anxiety disorder ****ing sucks and so do the suggested solutions
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in my case is 95% useless. Every time I read about Social Anxiety Disorder the most common symptoms given are "fear that people are judging you", "feeling like everyone is looking at you", having a bunch of "what ifs?" and ruminating over what might happen.
I get almost literally none of that. When I do get actual thoughts like that I handle it very well. I want purple boxing gloves. That's not the most masculine color. Who cares? What's more masculine, using purple boxing gloves or using a different color because you're worried about other people's judgement? A lot of women love purple, maybe some of them will come to compliment your gloves. Wouldn't that be great?
When I get an actual anxious thought that's how I handle it and it works. I don't struggle with that at all. However, 99% of the time, there is NO thought like that.
A lot of CBT techniques come off as either completely stupid or just simply entirely irrelevant to my case. Thinking about making a phone call can paralyze me with fear. "What's the worst that could happen?" Is one of those questions/techniques suggested.
Well, let's take a look. What's the worst that could happen? My phone blows up as I'm dialing the phone number and I lose both my hands. That sounds bad to me, maybe that's the worst? That doesn't scare me at all. I'm not worried about that. Let's rephrase the question to be "What's the worst that could happen that worries you?" Good question! What's the worst that can happen... ****, that's interesting. I'm not actually worried about anything at all! The anticipation of doing the phone call, just thinking about it is what scares me to death. If someone else calls, and then I take over after the person on the other end has already answered, then I'm fine.
What about going to boxing classes? Well at my previous gym, I did have some things that were worrying me. The air wasn't very clean and I have asthma. That may very well be just me over-thinking it. Maybe not, but either way, I changed boxing gym. I was extremely stressed out, but I managed to go. Once I got there the anxiety went away (as I expected). I like the coach, I liked my training partners. I signed up on the spot.
I haven't been able to go back since. Why? I don't know. At this point I'm having doubts that this even is social anxiety disorder, maybe they'll come up with some new "social activity anticipation disorder". The class is Saturday morning, today is Thursday and I was already stressing out way too much. I texted the coach to let him no I would no longer attend classes. I missed 3 classes already. I got lucky last week because something came up which meant I literally couldn't go no matter what, and that saved me from stressing Thursday to Saturday.
Now let's talk about exposure therapy. Let's also talk about learning a language. With languages I'm lucky, I can learn a language a lot more easily than other people can. I'd say I learned English passively by playing video games, in about 5 years. I certainly didn't learn it in school if I dropped out at 16 and had been absent about 40% of the time to class during the three years prior thanks to social anxiety disorder. As a challenge I tried to learn Spanish by myself, on purpose. Replace my days of playing video games with just and only learning Spanish. That went exceptionally well, it took much less than a year.
Let's compare that with exposure therapy for social anxiety disorder. Good news is: it helps. Exposure therapy helps. In the short term. Succeed at going to boxing class twice a week 6 weeks in a row without skipping a beat? Great! For legitimate, unrelated reasons, you have to miss a few weeks? Great! Fantastic! You're right back at the start, a whole month of progress gone. It took me almost three months to sign up again, and I was able to only go once.
The thing that troubles me the most is that I had about 1 or 2 years in which my social anxiety was almost completely gone. I quit high school and everybody judged me for it (they told me, this isn't a cognitive distortion) and I didn't care. I let everyone know they could tell me about why I should go back to school once, but after that, they couldn't talk about it again. I had zero trouble speaking my mind and setting up boundaries with people. I wasn't "managing" my anxiety, there wasn't any to manage. I could go on quite a few tangents on possible explanations, but nothing certain.
Point being, even when it seems that there's been a ton of improvement, it looks like nothing is actually permanent. If no improvement is permanent, than what is the ****ing point of torturing myself with efforts and false hope? I like working out. If I spend 3 months doing push ups, stop a whole month, and start back again, not only do I start back at maybe 70% of my previous strength, but it comes right back to where I was in a matter of a few weeks. Social anxiety isn't like that. If you screw up for just two weeks, you're ****ed for the next 5 months. So again, what is the ****ing point then?