I have spent an entire month dealing with a number of things I was absolutely terrified over!
I feel more confident actually as in my case I had plenty of practice to learn ways to cope. I can understand that the treatment is not for everyone tho.
I'm also spending quite a couple of days on exposure right now... it seems to be working for me...
How I've slowly but surely been getting over social anxiety
First off, I just wanna say, for anybody in doubt or anybody who has tried tons of things to overcome their social anxiety but nothing is working.. this post could be very helpful in overcoming your social anxiety disorder. I'm around 80% rid of this disease from these methods.
I just wanted to say exposure has been helping me get over my social anxiety slowly and I feel like it's the #1 method of overcoming it, and if you're interested, you should read this post. However, I don't know for sure.. it might not work depending what kind of person you are, but I recommend you give it a try.. and don't give up. You can do anything you put your mind to.
Personally, I will NOT take any medication. I used to never have this problem, and I can get rid of it myself. Besides, medication doesn't get 100% rid of your anxiety. Do you really wanna have to take pills daily just to be able to be happy in life? Maybe you do. That's fine. That's not good for me.. I like doing things my own way.. and I've done 1000s of hours of research and testing, exposure is the only thing that has worked.
Social anxiety sucks, and I don't feel anybody deserves to have to deal with it, and I want to help.
Constantly, I see TONS of depressing posts on this forum.. about how it's impossible to get over social anxiety or whatever.
Honestly.. just look at the first few posts in this exposure category.. quite negative and un-motivating posts.
I mean come on..., how can you expect to overcome social anxiety or any problem with all these constant negative and depressing thoughts. Every time I browse posts on this forum it's sad how many people are giving up on trying to overcome social anxiety.
When I first found this forum and signed up, February 15th, 2012, I remember there was a week period after first finding the site, where because of all the negative, depressing thoughts and posts, I became very depressed. I thought there was no way out, and I was just gonna have to learn how to manage with social anxiety and live an unsatisfying life.
But really, that wasn't true at all. What I've learned is.. it's not impossible. ANYTHING you want to do.. you can do.
One movie, that if you apply it, will change your life forever: http://www.thesecret.tv/thesecretfilm/
Watch the trailer on this page, read the inspiring success stories. Buy the DVD and watch it (I do not make any commissions). It talks about how constant negative thoughts ONLY give you more, constant negative thoughts and how positive thoughts help you attract the things you want in life.
This is the movie that I applied to my life, I've stared getting rid of my social anxiety, I bought my dream car. I also used it to achieve my goal of working online once every few months and being able to sustain $100k a year. So this "Secret" definitely works.
I'm gonna expand more about this in the next post but it's extremely important. Watch it!
Exposure CAN and WILL work, you just have to tweak it to your specific problems and fears. I can help!
Below is my story and tips/tools I've personally used to overcome my social anxiety quite a bit, and I feel it can give most people if not all, what they need to start living a normal life again.
Using the Liebowitz scale, I've been able to keep track of my progress overall. If you're not familiar with it, I would check it out here, so you can see how far you come in your therapy. http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/disorder/liebowitz/.
I first self-diagnosed myself back in January 2012 using the Liebowitz scale. I answered every question very honestly, and I ended up selecting severe (3) for every single question and had a score of 144, which is extremely severe.
I tested it about a week ago, and I'm now down to 67 (almost to moderate!! :)) from a 144+ when I last checked. How's that for progress? Down 77 points on the Liebowitz scale from a years work? Not bad. And I've been going at a very slow and steady pace, but that's how I prefer it.. Besides.. most people who have social anxiety have probably had it for quite a few years now. Going at too fast of a pace can be very overwhelming.. I've done it. If you just now are starting to feel social anxiety coming on, make sure you take action right away.
For me, it's taken me 1 year to come down 77 points from very severe, to just medium/marked. 12 more and I'm basically no longer considered to have social phobia :) However, I'm not gonna lie, I've honestly still got a ways to go, but I make progress every week. I figure in a year or two, I should be 100% over it. Really the reason 12 more points will take me another year or two to get over, is because I saved the hardest tasks for last. I figure that's the best way, considering until I can focus on the hardest parts, it's nice to have the basics of being able to enjoy going out to eat and do stuff, hang out with friends, get your own place, and just actually live a normal overall life.
Remember, there's no "get well quick" or whatever with social anxiety disorder. No quick fix. Doing this takes time and commitment just like anything else. Unfortunately, there really is no such thing as an easy button. Depending on how fast you're willing to go, you'll see improvements. I just recommend to NOT rush into anything, as facing your biggest fear head on, can make it tons worse. This is why I start VERY slowly and work my way up.
What this does is trains your brain that what you fear, really isn't so scary.
Tip (you can easily try this too):
I used to not be able to talk on the phone. I would get so nervous, I'd stumble and not know what to say and freeze, and I'd end up hanging up on them.
So to start solving this, I figured I'd write down what I would say to the person I'd be talking with on the phone, so I wouldn't run out of things to say when talking to them.
I needed to call PayPal to get my account situation figured out, which is the perfect type of call for what I was trying to do. I knew I had a problem I needed solved for my account, I knew I could write down exactly what I wanna say and how to phrase it right without going blank and hanging up from embarrassment. I wrote everything out, even how I would say good bye. I know it sounds kinda silly but it worked.
The first 2 times I still ended up hanging up from being too nervous. But then finally, on the 3rd call a few days later or so, I managed to call PayPal and talk to somebody about my account, and I got everything figured out. And guess what? I didn't die. It wasn't a big deal at all. Now, it's no problem for me to call companies or really anybody. I actually prefer it now. I'm working on a few new business and products, and have been calling and contacting companies non stop to cut deals and all that stuff. It's no longer a problem because I slowly exposed myself.
I retrained my brain to realize, there really is nothing to be scared about. I'll get more into this throughout the rest of the post.
This is just a little proof that exposure and a little basic cognitive therapy does work.
I'm not saying you HAVE to go slowly, go at your own pace. Some people believe jumping head in is the best way to do it. Not for me. Find out what works for you.. test things. If you want help coming up with ideas, feel free to send me a message I'd be glad to discuss it and help you come up with a few ideas to get you started. I'm pretty damn sure you'll see results within a week or maybe less.
Anyway, let's continue.
When I was a sophomore in highschool is when things started getting bad, but I'll start before that. Up until sophomore year, I didn't have any social anxiety at all. As a kid, my mom told me I would run around the grocery stores saying hi to everyone and trying to start conversations with anybody I could. As I grew up, in school I was actually considered pretty popular. I was even voted class clown a few years in middle school and elementary school. I had tons of friends and girlfriends over the years, including quite a few different girlfriends my freshman year of highschool, a pretty good life I took for granted, but now, my life is honestly better and I don't regret anything. I just have a few more problems I need to sort out ;)
Sophomore year, I started gaining weight, my parents were tight with money so I didn't have nice clothes to wear, I had just broken up with my girlfriend of 2 years, and my self esteem just started declining rapidly until I pretty much had none or very little left.
I'm out of room to add much more, so I'll continue in the next post.
Edit: If you enjoyed the post, a like would be nice so more people can see this and start overcoming their S.A.D. :)
Junior year I ended up dropping out.. one reason because I wanted to pursue my goal of making money online instead of working a normal 9-5.. which I did and am very happy now, but the main reason I dropped out, was because my social anxiety disorder was getting worse and worse. If everything was the same sophomore year as it was the year before when social anxiety disorder didn't control my life.. I would have NEVER dropped out. This stuff really impacts your life.. don't let it control you.
Once I had dropped out of school, I would still occasionally hang out with friends and go out and do things, until one night I had a really bad shroom trip (which for anybody with social anxiety or anyone feels like they're starting to get social anxiety.. I would HIGHLY recommend you do NOT take any shrooms, extasy, weed or any other substance to get you high -- not that you should be doing them in the first place :p), as they've been known to cause social anxiety disorder. And I know it's true because that's what happened to me.
Anyway, after this shroom trip, I started hanging out with my friends less and less (very bad idea). I had no idea what was going on with me, and I didn't look into it, which I definitely should have as it could have prevented it from getting worse. But anyway, after awhile, from being alone so much and out of contact with people and reality, my social anxiety became extremely severe, and it got to the point where I didn't go outside for 2 years straight :hide
The only people I would talk to was my parents and sister, or people I worked with online. When people would come over, I would always stay locked in my room until they would leave.. I couldn't even be around family. I couldn't talk on the phone with anybody, I couldn't go outside. The only time I went outside was late at night when all my neighbors were asleep so I could smoke cigarettes. Otherwise I would never step foot outside because of my extreme fear of having to talk to somebody I don't know.
How I've been getting A LOT better :clap
It's been a year now.. and since then I've moved out of my parents house into my own apartment, got my dream car, have been hanging out with my friends, gotten a girlfriend, and tons more. All thanks to slowly exposing myself to what I fear.
All this, talking to lease agents for my apartment, opening a bank account, getting my drivers license, buying my car from a company I had to deal with over the phone, going to gas stations constantly, etc.. when just a few months before I would not even think about stepping even a foot outside my house or saying another word to a girl. That's how bad it was.
For me, exposure is what helped me get this far. And I'm still doing it to this day, very slowly and I've been making a lot of progress.
I think a lot of times, exposure doesn't work for people because they just go out straight into a condition that WILL cause extreme fear and anxiety in them, and something will go bad because of that, causing you to have an even bigger setback.
Your body is telling you from these conditions basically.. that you should be scared as ****. I read somewhere that the feeling of social anxiety and being scared of talking to someone or anything because of the chance of embarrassment, is the same emotional fear your body gives when you're being attacked or mugged or anything like that, which is pretty freaking scary.
So it makes sense that people who try exposure, and maybe go and do the thing they fear most right away, will cause negative effects. Hell, I sure don't wanna be attacked or mugged.
My personal approach to exposure.. is going at a very slow pace. I know social anxiety sucks, and you don't want to feel this way anymore.. but there is no quick fix, and the ONLY person who can fix or change things.. is yourself. You have to try.
My method :idea
My First Step: (basically 2nd step after phone method I mentioned above).
So basically what I did at first, I contacted some of my old very close friends through a facebook message, or I got their number and texted them, asking if they wanted to come over and hang out. At this point.. I had abandoned and not talked to my friends in over 2.5 years. I started having my best friend come over to hang out, and I told him what was going on. Then I would start inviting my other good friends, until I had started getting used to talking to them again and being around other people.
My 2nd Step: I would start drinking, and going outside. Drinking they say can cause more anxiety, which is very true and I feel it the next day or two after drinking usually, but I personally use it as a tool (not saying be an alcoholic), and use it to help overcome your anxiety. I started drinking, and I would go outside with friends during the day.. and realized that the things I was scared of while I was sober, are just nonsense. So I started going outside while sober, still always alone or with a friend where we would be alone. (When you're drunk, it suppresses your nervous system, making it easier to communicate and do things you'd normally be scared of (obviously don't try jumping off a building), which I feel should be used to your advantage.)
Anyway, eventually, I started occasionally waving to neighbors as I was having a cigarette, or an occasional "hows it going". I was making progress :) but I didn't even know or acknowledge it, which is a big part in overcoming in my opinion as it's a great self-esteem boost so make sure you acknowledge and congratulate yourself on even the SMALLEST things. Even if you only waved to your neighbor.. or stepped outside for 10 seconds. You're STILL making progress.
My 3rd Step: After 2 months of doing the steps above, I was forced into a situation where I had to go out into the real world, instead of my house or just a few feet away from my house. It was tax time and I HAD to get out and create a checkings account instead of PayPal so I could pay my taxes. So I went to the bank and setup an account and it was extremely easy.
I think you can see where this is going, but it's getting pretty late here.. or early (5am). I'll post the rest of my story tomorrow as well as some tips and resources that I've used to help overcome my anxiety so much. Hopefully you guys find this useful. If so, let me know.
Just so it's clear, I'm not making money off of any of these posts. Any resources I'll recommend you I do not earn any type of commission or anything. I'm just trying to help and I really believe this can help anybody struggling with S.A.D.
Also, feel free to send me any questions you have at all via PM. I'd be willing to answer anything, maybe ask some questions about your social anxiety and help think of some ways to get started exposing yourself so there's really little to no pressure at all.
Edit: If you enjoyed the post, a like would be nice so more people can see this and start overcoming their S.A.D. :)
I found the exposure worked really well for me, id definitely recommend it
Exposure has been the most helpful thing for me. You should do it slowly though so you don't shock yourself and make your anxiety worse. It's all about retraining your brain and undoing the years of negative reinforcement that causes your brain to react with anxiety and self consciousness. Having a friend or a therapist to help you along with it is the best and you want to make sure that each exposure has a positive outcome. A negative outcome will only reinforce your fear.
People need to attack it slow, at least at first, and make sure to come up with a decent plan suited to your anxiety. Just analyze what you have problems doing because of your anxiety, and start doing them each, but try to find out a way to work yourself up slowly.
Also, thanks for the likes guys :)
gnt92 - Very good posts so far. I look forward to reading the rest.
Also, feel free to give it a like so hopefully more people will see it. This is definitely one of the best ways to overcome your social anxiety, but I feel most people just don't know it yet or know how to approach it in the first place.
I'll be adding the other posts later on tonight also :)
Thanks for your sharing your experiences. I am finding your posts interesting. I also feel some of these posts can be quite depressing but insulting people isn't the best solution either. Anyways, I was looking into exposure therapy and am hoping things will go better going at a slower place, rather than jumping right into the more difficult tasks. I look forward to reading the remaining posts, if you decided to post them and keep up the progress!
I suppose I've been self-exposing myself to my anxiety triggers for that past two years. It's progress, but not very much. I could use a different approach.
gnt92 sounds like the typical marketing stories trying to make a dollar out of people. All it took was a look at your profile. Let me quote:
"About gnt92 First Name Caden
Location Denver, Colorado
Job Internet Marketer"
Job internet marketer also known as rip-off artist. I'm sure you will have something to sell pretty soon. We are REAL PEOPLE with REAL PROBLEMS. Leave us alone.
I tried to only focus on the pain of anxiety, and just live through as much of the pain of it as possible. Even tried to challenge what I feared would happen objectively as well. In the end I ended up socializing with my friend and I tried to purposely recall all the thoughts that I feared, and I felt like my anxious symptoms showed (which is what I fear). Then I ended up with a big feeling of failure that made me feel negative negative about it for days and fueled my anxiety. Before this event I felt like it actually helped. Maybe because I believed in the therapy and had believed that I would get desensitized from my fears if I went through them enough. But after I got the mentioned feeling of failure during socializing, it never helped anymore and increased the amount of anxious thoughts and made them less controllable again.
So as an end result, I guess I am a little less afraid of whatever might happen due to my anxiety, but I can still feel the anxiety in my body as in muscle tension, heart rate, taking more negative perspectives in general, more often. So in a way it both helped and made it worse.
Exposure therapy worked for a good six months with me. I signed myself up for the Disney College Program. I flew to a brand new location without knowing a soul. I was housed with 6 people. 2 to a room. I worked throughout the Disney parks and throughout the whole time I didn't have one panic attack or any social anxiety past the first week. The first week I was really stressed and didn't eat much but after that I was my true self. I was exposed to people at my home and work and for six months I was fearless.
But all good things come to an end. The program ended and so did my fearlessness.
My shrink tried the empty chair theory on me.
I looked at an empty chair and remembered my times at Disney, I visualized the 19 year-old me in the chair. And I had to feel that it was still inside me. Also, he told me to look at pictures from Disney every day to remember it. Some days it does work.
Hope this helps.
Exposure therapy is a type of therapy that helps you decrease distress about your trauma. The intention in exposure therapy is to get your brain to signal you in a more accurate way. In an anxiety disorder, your anxiety system is giving you misinformation. It's giving you information that you're in danger when you're in fact not in danger. Exposure Therapy has been shown to be the most effective anxiety treatment for people with many anxiety disorders.
Therefore exposure therapy is typically conducted within a psycho therapeutic relationship with a therapist trained and experienced with the technique and the related coping exercises.
I work as a receptionist (during summer every year), dealing with hundreds of people every day. Exposure make things worse. I am more anxious now and I noticed I stutter more.
How to Treat SAD in romantic relationships
I am new to the forum and I'd like to vouch for exposure therapy. When I was in college my social anxiety was so bad, I couldn't talk to anyone. I was able to overcome it through frequent exposure, and yes now I have great friends that I love to spend time with (anxiety free!)
While I have had beneficial results in social friendships....I am still stuck in intimate/romantic relationships.
I have performance anxiety, struggle with thinking of things to say, awkward delivery, and feel really handicapped when i am "monitoring" my performance. I've had improvements through CBT and exposure therapy, but i haven't been able to get to the point where I feel comfortable. I have been dating my boyfriend for almost a year....I have moments that are great....and then others that are a struggle and painful with anxiety still after all this time together.
(1) Any tips on CBT reframes for intimate relationships or types of specific exposure therapies? books, research etc that focuses on this specific top of intimate relationships are welcomed too.
(2) also should i share my SAD with my boyfriend? my concern is if it share it, then i will be on hyper monitoring mode and constantly wondering whether he is aware of my social anxiety or thinking about it, etc.
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