Bonus videos at the end of this post!
Okay, those were only a marketing gimmick to have you look.
However, if I look at my current situation and how SA is pretty much gone now - in a way I could say I am *cured*. Actually, I prefer to use the other "C" word i.e. CHANGE since I never really considered my situation to be part of the "dis-" labels (disorder/disability/disease). Yes, the fear symptoms were there: sweating, heart racing, head aches, nausea, muscle tension and in more intense situations, such as giving a speech at Toastmasters in front of many people sometimes mind going completely blank for a short time. SA was also present during standing in line, going around in a circle and waiting for your turn to speak, talking on the phone and few other issues. However, overall I was probably lucky in that even though it wasn't easy, I was still able to push myself and there were literally only a handful of situation when the intensity of SA was too much and I had to stop. (Kinda like when I went bungee jumping and became frozen for the first 6 attempts ... and finally number 7 was successful!) Also, most of the time I felt like being held back from being able to do freely what I wanted (i.e. imagine driving a car and the breaks lock up in certain situations) and wasn't as "graceful" as others and some things took longer than it did for others. However, after lots of change, now I can do a lot of things that at one time didn't even think was a possibility (e.g. hosting a meeting) and feel "normal" before, during and after. :smile:
As mentioned in a recent bump of my last update post (from 2006) progress that started in 2004 was consistent from week to week yet took a lot longer than expected - even though I was able to finish Toastmasters CTM (10 speeches) by 2006. Overall, I'd say the 11 years that it took to change is somewhat EXCEPTION (more about it below) but on the plus side, now SA is pretty much gone and only feel slight tension in some situations but I do expect those to be gone soon also.
During this update, I'll touch on:
-why change is possible
-"Shortcut" like tools/techniques and why CBT doesn't work for everyone. (To keep things organized, I'll post this in Therapy: http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/...esn-t-1617410/
For some, the main issues tend to be the worry type thoughts, beliefs, self esteem and for others the physical symptoms of fight or flight or freeze response. For me, as mentioned above, the main issues were the physical symptoms and not really the thinking related issues. There were some what if type worry thoughts (if I can't perform > no job > no money > no survival) but if SA would not have been present, then those wouldn't have been issues either. Interestingly, with some "mental martial arts" training, I was able to deal with those.
Before I continue, I need to mention the my most interesting observation while attending SA support groups over the last 11 years. People seem to fall into two groups based on answering the following question.
Do you believe that SA will be completely gone or will it be always present?
-Yes. SA issues will be completely gone and will be able to live a "normal" life.
-No. SA will always be present but it may be possible to cope or manage it.
For me, SA started at a very early age. I remember a few situations of being "held back" by some strange force and had to keep pushing a lot. I kept wondering if it was my "personality" or was it something that I could change. The only relevant tip that I've received was to speak in front of a mirror. I did that for a while but it made no difference. In a way, I kept thinking that "I would like to change it if I could" but weren't aware of any way to do so. ( If you are reading this then you are in a much better situation because at that time the internet wasn't even around )
However, a few things gave me hope (about two decades ago).
Reading about the experience of a person on the website called Shy and Free http://shyandfree.com/
and how he was able to transform his shyness gave hope that change is possible.
Around the same time later I saw two documentaries.
-One was about phobias. Some fairly common: snakes, spiders, mice, etc. There was a common theme though: they had one scary event and after that they re-experience the panic when the trigger was present. This gave me the idea how easy it is to *learn* to fear something. And there also some really strange ones e.g. there was a guy being afraid of opening closet doors because he was scared that his [email protected]
would get stuck there.
-The other one was more interesting. That was about how to *un-learn* such fears. One approach was the common gradual exposure based desensitization, another was hypnosis. They also showed before and after brain scans. The *before* brain scans showed activity in the fear region of the brain but the *after* showed no activity there. Of course, people reported that the fear was gone and they felt fine and were able to feel and act normally but it was interesting to have an independent objective confirmation that change has indeed taken place in the brain. While exposure based approach took longer, amazingly, hypnosis could resolve issues in one or a few sessions.
Later, I've read about other ideas that explained how the so-called irrational fears can be "learned". When we experience a really emotional situation (fear, shame, embarrassment or can be positive emotion also), the brain may store/remember something regarding that event for future reference. As mentioned above, fear of spiders, birds, bugs, etc seems logical. However, it can also remember something general. Have you ever been punished (physically or verbally) and were afraid for your life or been embarrassed in some situation? These events can create many issues that people with SA deal with: issues in the presence of peers, authority types, younger or older people, opposite sex, being center of attention, etc. So, it's not necessary to have a "chemical imbalance". Anyone with a normal brain can "learn" to fear anything.
Another example that illustrates this. An elderly lady mentioned that she felt sad when she saw purple flowers. That sounded strange at first but it all made sense when she later mentioned that her friend had just passed away and her casket was surrounded by purple flowers. Since she felt really sad, her brain "connected" that emotion to the purple flowers and after that she would feel sad whenever she saw purple flowers. Interestingly, in NLP it's called anchoring and can be used very effectively - though usually used for positive resourceful states: relaxation, confidence, curiosity, playfulness, etc. More info about anchoring in my "Shortcuts" post: http://www.socialanxietysupport.com/...esn-t-1617410/