My Victory! - Social Anxiety Forum
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-23-2010, 03:17 PM Thread Starter
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My Victory!


I'm going to describe what I've been through, and how I've overcome it. I've been anxiety free for a couple months now. Hopefully this can be an encouragement to others.

About a year and a half ago, I began to experience social anxiety. I didn't know there was a name for what I was feeling, I didn't know how to cope with it, it was completely foreign to me. There was a woman I had feelings for, and I felt anxious and nervous around her. The more I tried to impress her, and fight my nerves, the worse I became.

This anxiety grew and metastasized at an alarming rate.

Whenever I would go to the department store she worked at, I would feel overwhelming anxiety. Eventually I started feeling it whether or not she was even there. Then I started feeling panic around mutual friends, and over the course of a few months, I began to feel it around all of my friends.

Every time I entered a social situation, all could focus on was my debilitating anxiety. I'd think to myself "I hope I don't feel anxious", and of course every time I would.

Gradually, each of my friends excluded me from their lives. I stopped hearing from them, I wasn't invited to parties anymore, I couldn't understand what I had become.

My life was violently spinning out of control. The only people I had left was my immediate family. Then a thought occurred to me: what if I feel anxious around family? Surely this is an impossibility, right? My subconscious almost dared me. Eventually, I felt this panic and anxiety around my family I've known my entire life.

I fell into alcohol abuse, contemplated suicide, even took a solo trip to Maui to try to alleviate stress. It followed me everywhere.

I knew I had to find a remedy.

I bought every self help book I could find on the issue. I believe I have five of them. I read online about herbal remedies. I tried Kava, Valerian, Tryptophan, Passionflower, vitamin b6 and b12, everything that might help.

When I had determined what the problem was, and how to fight it, that's what I did. I tried fighting anxiety everywhere I went. Unfortunately, this wasn't the cure. I took so many herbal supplements that I was constantly sleepy and depressed, and it seemed the harder I fought this disease, the greater it grew.

This went on for a year and a half.

Now let me describe how I beat this monster.

Because this is such a massive and destructive disease, I was under the illusion that it required some massive course of action to fight it. This is the common mistake. The solution is simple.

Here are the steps I took to becoming healthy:

The first thing I did was drop coffee. This was a hard decision, because I had used it as a crutch to fight nervousness for so long. About a week after dropping coffee, I noticed an ENORMOUS difference in being able to assess situations, and calm my nerves. Coming from someone who's drank coffee for years, I'm glad I've quit, and I refuse to drink it anymore.

I started drinking a gallon of water each day. People underestimate the power of hydration. Most don't realize that dehydration can cause depression. I filled a gallon jug of water each morning, and finished it each night. Eventually, I grew to love water so much, I now drink a gallon and a half each day.

The third step is this: I stopped fighting. I had to drastically alter my way of thinking. If you think about fighting anxiety, guess what? You're still thinking about anxiety, and everytime you think about it, it gets the victory. When you fight it, you give it the satisfaction of acknowledging it.

Anxiety and happiness cannot coexist. It's impossible! So rather than work at curing anxiety, solely focus on what makes you happy and pursuing it.

I focus entirely on having fun. I had tried in the past, but made the observation that I was doing so for others' benefit. I wanted them to think that I was a fun person. I was seeking their approval.
I don't focus on enjoying myself to combat social anxiety, I have fun just for the sake of having fun.

There are times I don't feel social. About six months ago, I would have beaten myself down and felt like a loser. I don't anymore, because I stopped doing things for others' approval.

This is the best advice I can give. I swear, anxiety almost took my life, and now I've taken it back by just letting go! I went from waking up each morning trembling and shaking, and fearing leaving my bed, to popping herbal supplements all day, reciting mantras in my head, keeping a journal of my progress, consulting experts......etc. I fought tooth and nail forever, but not anymore.

Remember: Social anxiety isn't you. It isn't permanent. It'll pass just like any other unpleasant phase in life.

The times I do feel stressed or nervous (like any human), I focus on deep breathing and the situation at hand, and relaxing. Nothing else, or no one else.
I also keep a bottle of Valerian root capsules. If I ever do feel a little edgy, I'll take one, and it relaxes me in a subtle, healthy way.

Now I've got all my friends back, and then some. My life is back in order, and for the past couple months I've been able to really smile throughout the day.

For anyone out there battling the hell I went through. Just remember that people love you, the world is great, and when you make it a habit to have fun and enjoy yourself, you'll look back on this period of your life and marvel at how much you've grown.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-23-2010, 08:49 PM
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First of all, big congrats! It looked like you had been a hard road for you and it is encouraging to others to read a success story like yours. A lot of the stuff you wrote makes sense in with some of the things that I've been thinking about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by azbarkingspider View Post
Every time I entered a social situation, all could focus on was my debilitating anxiety. I'd think to myself "I hope I don't feel anxious", and of course every time I would.

I bought every self help book I could find on the issue. I believe I have five of them. I read online about herbal remedies. I tried Kava, Valerian, Tryptophan, Passionflower, vitamin b6 and b12, everything that might help.



The first thing I did was drop coffee. This was a hard decision, because I had used it as a crutch to fight nervousness for so long. About a week after dropping coffee, I noticed an ENORMOUS difference in being able to assess situations, and calm my nerves. Coming from someone who's drank coffee for years, I'm glad I've quit, and I refuse to drink it anymore.

I started drinking a gallon of water each day. People underestimate the power of hydration. Most don't realize that dehydration can cause depression. I filled a gallon jug of water each morning, and finished it each night. Eventually, I grew to love water so much, I now drink a gallon and a half each day.

The third step is this: I stopped fighting. I had to drastically alter my way of thinking. If you think about fighting anxiety, guess what? You're still thinking about anxiety, and everytime you think about it, it gets the victory. When you fight it, you give it the satisfaction of acknowledging it.

Remember: Social anxiety isn't you. It isn't permanent. It'll pass just like any other unpleasant phase in life.

The times I do feel stressed or nervous (like any human), I focus on deep breathing and the situation at hand, and relaxing. Nothing else, or no one else.
I also keep a bottle of Valerian root capsules. If I ever do feel a little edgy, I'll take one, and it relaxes me in a subtle, healthy way.

For anyone out there battling the hell I went through. Just remember that people love you, the world is great, and when you make it a habit to have fun and enjoy yourself, you'll look back on this period of your life and marvel at how much you've grown.
So when you got anxious around the woman it's possible that your system got stuck in the anxiety, possibly the fight or flight mode. I do think it's possible to relax that system. There's the parasympathetic and sympathetic nrevous systems, which normally will balance out, and it's possible to do that by relaxing it through deep breathing, meditating, and relaxing.

I've tried taking all these different herbs and they only help somewhat.

Dropping coffee certainly must help, bravo that you can do that. I think anything with caffeine except perhaps green tea would help.

Hydrating the body makes sense, we always feel better when we drink water, the body really needs it. I read somewhere that the body is over 90% water or something like that.

Not fighting makes sense. My life consultant reminds me that 'what you resist, persists'. It actually builds tension in the body, creating more anxiety. I told some one on here that my social anxiety was lessening because I started focusing more on the experiences of life and the world, relaxing into it, rather than focusing on the source of it--which is how I'm relating or not relating to people, whether alone or not alone.

Also deep breathing has helped relax the system. I tried this before a common social situation that makes me anxious, for about 5 minutes, and it helped considerably. When it came up again, I just took some deep breaths.

That last one I highlighted--yeah, just enjoying the world--which is beautful and funny and so interesting, rather than on the anxiety. It seems the more that you are in it, the more it helps to get habituated to it. I have been borderline agoraphobic, just very anxious and my life consultant started meeting me in different places, and now I feel more at ease in the world. I don't want to miss anything. And yes, there are kind and nice people in the world. I think unfortunately socially anxious people think of the mean people in the world. There really are some decent people out there.

"When you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance"-- Lee Ann Womack

I am not my past. I am not my anxiety, nor depression. I am not my gender, or color, or social status, or occupation title, or any other label. I am not my story.

Last edited by OregonMommy; 05-23-2010 at 08:51 PM. Reason: edited for clarity and too long
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-23-2010, 10:30 PM
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Great story, and congrats! Thanks for the advice. I've got the first two steps down, and I've just added your third step to my list of affirmations. I'll give it a shot.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-23-2010, 10:56 PM
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It's true - Dr. Richards and even Lucinda Bassett talk about how anxiety is a paradox. Fighting it just keeps it coming. Allowing the thoughts to drift out the way they drift in - and this takes practice (I still have trouble with it) - lets us take control of our thoughts.

The only reason I drink caffeine is the Paxil. I actually drink less during the weekend, but I do notice a difference (I am less jittery). Diet soda tends to have less caffeine (and less sugar!), but the dehydration factor is there, too.

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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-24-2010, 01:15 AM
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Great post!

Quote:
Originally Posted by azbarkingspider View Post
Anxiety and happiness cannot coexist. It's impossible! So rather than work at curing anxiety, solely focus on what makes you happy and pursuing it.

I focus entirely on having fun. I had tried in the past, but made the observation that I was doing so for others' benefit. I wanted them to think that I was a fun person. I was seeking their approval.
I don't focus on enjoying myself to combat social anxiety, I have fun just for the sake of having fun.

There are times I don't feel social. About six months ago, I would have beaten myself down and felt like a loser. I don't anymore, because I stopped doing things for others' approval.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-24-2010, 02:23 AM
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Great advice! Thanks for sharing your story.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-24-2010, 05:40 AM
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Congratulations on winning your battle with SA, some day I hope to follow in your foot steps.

I really want to ask, how did you do the following? "The third step is this: I stopped fighting. I had to drastically alter my way of thinking. If you think about fighting anxiety, guess what? You're still thinking about anxiety, and everytime you think about it, it gets the victory. When you fight it, you give it the satisfaction of acknowledging it."
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-24-2010, 08:37 PM
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good to hear it,
what a nice happy ending lol
but me its been 5 or 4 months from quitting every drugs, weed, alcohol and i feel much better happier these days but when i feel down, i feel very depressed
but i learn lot from my sister and dad, my sister is Registered Nurse and she tells me that people who have obsessive and addiction problem like alcohol has life long behaviour, so wt they do is excercise and run for long marathon. then u get used to it. the brain produce chemicals n u feel good, confident and better.
i have lot of disorder so i correct my thinking these days, always tend to do activities so u don't keep thinking. the solution that i discovered is to kill thoughts by doing something doesnt matter u like it or hate it, keep doing it, i do it while walking n i feel much better lol n the world seem much more beautiful place than i ever thought or know b4 n remember every small things matters. u should talk in ur head like today i did this n that n compare to ur past, n give urself reward, remember u r very important person
i typed too much omg my depression just kicked in n i have high blood pressure damn it is really hard man
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-28-2010, 05:18 PM
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Thank you for sharing your story. Was very enlightening.
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