Share your Personal Story of Change!
I'm making this thread to see if anyone is willing to share their experiences with social anxiety for a new "Personal Stories of Change" section that we will be adding to Social Anxiety Support soon.
I understand that many people on the forums are still very much struggling with social anxiety, but I also know there are some people who have made significant positive changes in their lives and still enjoy being part of the SAS community.
These stories are not meant to be provided as medical advice or as a specific path one struggling with social anxiety should take, but rather for inspiration to take action and the hope for a better life.
We envision something similar to what the Social Anxiety Institute has on their website, but our goal is to represent the multitude of different paths people take to make positive changes in their lives. An example of one of their video stories can be seen here: http://www.socialanxietyinstitute.org/video-1.html
A rough version of the new section can be seen here, with some real content and some filler:
Your story can be submitted in either written or video form, whichever you prefer. Also, we are glad to post your story under your first name, nickname, a fake name or anonymously.
If you're interested take a look at the story submission page here:
Let me know if you have any questions, either in this thread, by PM or by email.
Here is my story so far...
I haven't been here in about a year.
Since then, I've tried Lexapro and gotten a job where I'm mostly only dealing with a couple of people at a time (which really is comfortable for me).
I'm considering going back on Lexapro cos of how it reduced symptoms. I've joined a group for people with SA and shyness, we're meeting this time next week. And I'm considering doing Group Therapy CBT and exposure sessions (with psychotherapists in training, however, since they are so much less expensive!!!).
Some things I wanted to say regarding how I've progressed...
Shame and judgements about having this "disorder" perpetuate it. I believe that shame will keep a person locked in this same lonely and painful experience. Judgements and shame exasperate anxiety and they also stop a person from doing what they actually can do, step-by-step, to positively change: it's like expecting perfection when your perception of what this even is is incorrect. And trying to do too much, whilst not doing what you actually can do.
I think that the world around and ourselves also, make add-ons to this condition. Judgements.
Only after being pushed to my limit did I seek help -facing up to having this; then facing my need to get some balance back by taking medication; and now, more recently, joining up in a group of people in my same position. With this Group Therapy that I'm also considering, we'll be doing Exposure Therapy (where we put ourselves in situations where we're accustomed to feeling phobic in).
...What have been and still are my judgements about having Social Anxiety...???
-That I am weak, inferior and pathetic for getting so overwhelmingly nervous around people
- That I have an innate "loser" complex that renders me forever inferior to other people
- That I am doomed to a life of utter loneliness and deprivation
...Thus, I have mostly spent the past decade (in which I've suffered from this) hiding from the world ...waiting it out... hoping I'd snap out of it and become like a normal, adequate member of society.
...Which didn't cure me of my social anxiety. And when I did venture out again, it came back -aborting any new friendships I was forming and getting me fired from two jobs in a row. ...And then leading to profound depression and despair.
-The point I am trying to make with all this is that shame and the judgements about being this way I think keep a person locked in.
So, let's take the opposite approach then: instead of feeling ashamed about this and instead of adding-on judgements, I'll reduce this to what I actually believe it is -what social anxiety really is at its heart.
-Namely: it is high sensitivity, a propensity towards shyness and bashfulness, and quite possibly a great scope for empathising with different people.
...The negatives of being this way, can be grouped in what it means to suffer from social anxiety disorder, S.A.D.
But it needn't be a DISORDER. It could be a personality trait.
Take away the judgements, the immense shame for being so highly sensitive... Train yourself with CBT, exposure therapy, group therapy ...Take medication if it has all spiralled out of control ..Join meetup groups with people who have SA and go to them ...accept the seeming silliness of feeling so self conscious without judging it ...think of how relatively fine it is to basically be very shy and sensitive -when there are so worse things a person could be.
...Essentially, act in ways you would act if you weren't ashamed about being so sensitive.
That's all I think this is. ...High sensitivity, that makes being out in the world a challenge, but a challenge that can be handled and even potentially mastered.
It's the judgements based on shame (-the REAL definition for Social Anxiety???!!!!:):yes) that take a a highly sensitive disposition and make it something crippling and disabling.
In short: think and act, and believe, that the way you actually are, at heart, is perfectly acceptable in this world. You will have to adjust, but the adjustment is likely no where near so massive as your shame and doubt would have you believe.
Emotional Breakdown, Weed, and Weezer
Not to steal your thunder (awesome job BTW!!!)
Weellllll. It has been about three years since I have posted anything in this forum. In the depths of my depression- overcoming it and my social phobia seemed insurmountable, it was difficult at times to just bath or brush my teeth. Speaking was pure misery, every word was hinged on absolutist notions and intense fears. It was crushing.
I have worked for many, many years trying to control this disorder. Which meant me toilng away in therapy, getting down to brass-tacks. Also it meant figuring out what medication worked (and) what made me too loopy. I did/ still do read a lot of self-help books too.
So some really awesome successes:
Got a job requiring constant interaction with people, stayed at that job for close to three years.
Applied for the a full-time position at said company. Applied for a management position at said company. Applied for same management position at said company.
Went on a camping/kayaking trip with a bunch of guys, only one of whom I actually knew well.
Traveled on an international flight to visit my brother who resides in Poland.
Took walks in the neighborhood daily. Tapered off ALL of my psych meds with little negative repercussions.
Hung out at a close friend's house, where she had six other people visiting as well.
Exhibited some of my artwork. Won two merit awards for the pieces that I entered. Gloated in the fuzzy warmth of artistic recognition.
I have come a long way from the scared, lonely person that I once was- it can be really surreal thinking about it. (And) there's still a lot of work that I have to do, that's life! It is a constant work-in-progress, editing and modifying as we move forward.
This is where my plug for motivating that person who was (as I was) comes in. It is going to be an absolute ***** and for a long time you will question why you even get up in the morning. Then a success comes and it feels great! You feel a little less anxious and there is a glimmer of hope. That hope has a sort of snowball effect that soon makes you try harder to over-come your disorder. Plus it gets easier to quell the little self-loathing inner-voice. You start to internalize therapy, speaking becomes easier and more casual. Then maintaining a productive outlook becomes easier, not easy, but easier. It is a *****, but it is worth all of the effort. I wake up some mornings just smiling. No longer being trapped by the confines of your mind, it is a liberation beyond words!!! One more exclamation point!
*keep in mind that it is 3:26 a.m. and I am having difficulty sleeping. This post will most likely be horribly disjointed!
My social anxiety began in about 9th grade, and now i am currently in 12th grade. This year the anxiety and depression really hit me to the point that i was barely going to school. I started going to therapy and then was recommend to go to AIOP (adolescent intensive outpatient). I stated taking medication and attending therapy and it was still not completely working. Then i was told that I was not going to graduate high school. This made me feel even worse, but i decided to start going everyday and see what i could do about it. Recently I requested for an appeal for my attendance. The decision was made that I will be able to graduate. This was the best news i could even receive. I want to continue going to school and attend a community college next year, in a nursing program. My story shows that even though you may have put yourself to a point were you believe cannot come back, you can.
What a great story, you took some action steps, persisted through feeling bad and got some very good results, congrats!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks for sharing!!!!!
After joining an church youth group with my race group I actually learned some social skills and then I left it because people weren't really talking to me anymore. Then I went to a more diverse group and so far they've been nice. And after a couple weeks people from my old church called me up because they missed me after not ever hanging out with me once btw... and we're planning to do some stuff over the summer. I also have one friend who has social anxiety problems as well and we watch movies together a few times a month. Also abandoned the people who never call me and write to me on facebook. My life seems fuller and more happier. It could be better, but for now this is really great progress.
I began a positive blog to help myself and give encouragement to others. I am proud that in a month and a half 538 people in 173 people have read it. This has help keep me focused on my journey and given me a new purpose in life...to help others that suffer from anxiety. I am considering going back to school and getting my Master's Degree in Social Work or Counseling.
I've been really shy all of my life and thought it was just part of my personality. I became sick of being so shy and not doing what I wanted and thought, "Why can't I do this?" I used to have very low self-esteem. I thought if what I wanted didn't come to me than I would never get it. I hated letting people walk all over me but didn't want to say no because I didn't want to start an argument. But then I thought, "Well if I say no and they get angry at me, than they're stupid and our relationship isn't worth it." People look down at you for not stepping up. They take advantage of kindness and I'm sick of making all the sacrifices. I've become more confident and proud of myself. I take more care in my looks and wear much nicer clothes than I used to. I know that other people are wrong sometimes and I can't let their negativity stop me from getting what I want. I know who I am, and that's all that matters.
I try to be very friendly towards people but if they disrespect me or I don't like them then I won't. People get what they deserve.
Of course I still have battles with insecurities so I don't think I'm quite where I would like to be at when it comes to self esteem. I struggle with acne and weight issues that keep my confidence low. But that's gonna change. :) It will take time but with effort I know I can do it. I take extra care for my skin, diet, and exercise.
I'm still really shy when it comes to cute boys though, haha. And I'm still a quiet person, that's part of my personality and won't change. I'm just not energetic and outgoing. But I've grown a lot and I can talk to people if I really want to. I can voice my opinion and not feel like I'm wrong.
Battling with social anxiety has helped me with other things. I can do what I want without holding myself back. I feel like it's worth to at least try.
Mine is so minor compared to everyone else, but to me it was a HUGE step. I walked out of my dorm and i passed this girl and i said hi. It was the first thing i said to anyone in college. I also said hi to another girl yesterday and since then have no spoken a word. But that's two hi's so i'm proud of my tiny steps towards getting better. Tiny steps to recovery.
My goal is to strike up a conversation with some stranger, but i think that'll be a few more years......
few years.. your kidding me! why not tomorrow??
hi was wondering if anyone could give me any advice
i sufferd from servere anxiety about a year ago which caused depresion because i could not leave the house . i started gettin CBT , my therapist set me goals to go out i would do this but i could only go out if i had been drinking. i would have to drink a bottle of vodka in order to be able to go out.after a while of CBT i didnt have to drink any more and it felt like i was completely cured i would go out and ,not drink because i had to ,but because i wanted to ,because i woudnt be anxtious like i was before. CBT really helped . i started going back to school and bacame happy again as my anxiety felt like it had gone . the weekend i left school i was stupid and took lots of drugs and started hallucinating causing me to get very anxious and now im right back were i started im not able to leave my house and have started getting deppressed again. i realy dont want to go back to how it was before as i was so depressed i tryed to kill myself . but its starting to get like that again. that weekend was a while ago now and i still havent recoverd i am still extremly anxious when im around people i get so paranoid and feel like everyone is looking at me and talking about me , so i have started drinking again so i can cope and i have become dependant on alcahol . please can someone help me as this is ruining my life .
Okay. So I am and have always been sort of a shy, anti-social girl. In the past, I used to have anxiety attacks when I would be around huge groups of people. So just recently, I started a "homemaker" mom group. This is a group that allows for children to play together w/ other kids who usually just sit around at home all day. This is also a way for moms to chit chat too! Anyhow, I am so surprised that I even started a group. When people started actually showing up, I could feel my heart just pounding away and I started feeling a little light-headed. But I still stayed and greeted myself to the other moms. I am so surprised that I did this and I know I socialize in a small group. Oh yea!
If it's huge to you, then it matters. A step is a step no matter what size :) Good for you!
I've had SA and been "shy" (whatever that means) since I was in 4th grade. My SA developed because I had introvert parents, introvert friends and I was a 130 pound 4th grader that got teased a lot. Naturally, middle school and high school years kinda sucked for me. I didn't have friends and was scared to talk to people. My only good friend was another shy girl who was also quite anti social and put me down all the time. I did the whole "eat lunch in the bathroom thing" during hs and did not have a boyfriend until senior year of hs. I ended up going to a community college my senior year of high school which was really good for me. I graduated college with a ba and later a bs. I now a have a very good job that I am proud of. Along the way I've taken care of my physical appearence and my relationships with men and dating have been fairly "normal." What i need to work on is developing good female friendships and expressing myself more honestly with people. I still hide behind a kind of "polite" facade that I think turns people off. I'd like to make a good group of female friends and have parties at my place without fear that no one will show up. I hope my story helped somebody or at least entertained.
I made my own small triumph over SA a number of years ago when i decided not to hide the fact that i was bipolar and actually had socail phobias anymore. I finally figured out after a couple of years that trying to lie about my mental problems was only adding to the social stigma of those same problems and i didn't want to do that anymore. I figure that if i had cancer or some other disease i wouldn't be so afraid to tell people and if they can't handle the truth they shouldn't have asked me about my problems in the first place. I'm not ashamed to be sick because that would only make me more sick. I'm not saying i embrace my illnesses just that i don't hide them at all and i'm willing to talk to people about their implications and repercussions on my life.
SA is all in your head. I still have a f3cked up subconscious but I know how to cope with it now, CBT helped a lot though, looking deep at my own beliefs and changing them.
But what helped the most was the concept of mindsets and the idea that you are not your thoughts. Your thoughts come at you but only have an emotional impact if you buy into the reality of them, and when I'm feeling really down in the dumps I just recognize that I have a sh1tty mindset and change it to a more self serving one.
Try to make this is short as possible.
I'm new here, and excited about this place. Few people know about my anxiety and the damaged it's caused besides my girlfriend, a few close friends, and my family. Still fewer know about the triumphs I've had over it
I remember when I was 13, I had my first moment of irrational anxiety ever. I was sitting with a teacher, and all of a sudden, my face started to get red. It got redder and redder and redder until she noticed and said I looked sick. She excused me to go to the nurse. I don't know what happened, but that day, I swear a switch was turned on in my brain that remains to this day.
Highschool was sweating and blushing and shaking. I was tired all day, could barely concentrate. But I had friends, people liked me. I hated myself. When I was 17, I learned that I had celiac disease (can't eat wheat/gluten- no cookie cake pizza doughnuts bread pie etc). Amazingly, the removal of these foods from my diet took my anxiety way down. I felt more clear headed and confident. I looked fitter and healthier.
In college, that switch I mentioned earlier still existed despite the gluten free diet. I felt anxious and nervous all the time- though less in severity. But I definitely still had a disorder. I kicked a girl out of my room once before hooking up because I was so afraid of not being able to perform.
Still, everyday I found myself getting better. On top of the diet, my doctor helped me discover meditation to control my blood pressure. THis helped alot. Then two things happened this past year that almost killed me:
- I did mushrooms
-my parents got divorced
I'll save the mushroom talk for another time... but it gave me profound insights into life/ religion... but it also changed my anxiety in a unique and puzzling way... I started having panic attacks that were related to metaphysical/philosophical issues.
Luckily, these attacks were extremely intermittent. Also, they occured so infrequently that I did not seek help for them... until I came home from school may of 2010 and my family moved- me with my mom and dad to an apartment. Until that time, the attacks had only happened 3 times or so, and at school.
It appeared that my anxiety was so severe that it was causing me to separate from reality via a panic attack- and that the mushrooms may have helped train my brain to do this. My formal diagnosis is still GAD- I'm currently med free and happy. Still have the hot girlfriend who stuck with me the whole way! Still have my buddhism and faith (which the mushrooms gave me- don't regret em!) Still have my life! Still in college and getting A's- and now I have this forum to share in. THanks guys... sorry for the length
These stories make me so happy and proud of everyone!!! It's so amazing to hear how much people have grown. rytaco, you've taken all your experiences and learned from them without being bitter about your struggles, and theuprising I totally know what you're saying about thoughts--having bad thoughts doesn't make you a bad person.
So as for me...I'm a senior in high school right now. I'm not graduating this year. I've missed so much school over the past three years. So in terms of factual evidence you could say I haven't made much progress. But in other ways I've made a lot. I've come a long way from the person I was two years ago.
I was always a shy kid, and I remember feeling like I couldn't say what I wanted to to other kids as early as age 4. I always had at least one friend growing up but things were always strange and unsatisfactory for me socially--I always felt that I couldn't communicate with anyone.
That continued until about 10th grade. That year it finally became clear that I had severe depression. I stopped going to school for a long time, and since then I just haven't been going consistently. I started getting paranoid, and I saw government plots everywhere that I read about in sketchy online forums. I played computer games about six hours every day, and I started to cut myself...it was a horrible period of my life. Then I got obsessed with personality tests for about a year, I literally thought about nothing else.
Anyway, things started to get a little better after that. As of about 8 months ago I'm paranoia-free and haven't been obsessed with anything.
but the big change happened a few months ago. I tried to kill myself, and I was sent to the hospital. I met so many amazing people there who made me realize some important things:
1) that you can have a mental illness and still live life to its fullest
2) that no one deserves to hate themselves, including me
3 that I don't have to be ashamed of having social anxiety and depression
since then I've accepted a lot of stuff about myself I used to hate. I know I'm an anxious person, that I tend to obsess over things, and that I overanalyze social situations. And I know that I'll be able to live relatively happily as I learn how to deal with these parts of my personality. I started CBT and I love my therapist, it's really helping and I'd recommend CBT to anyone who has the option of using it. I've kept in touch with my hospital friends, and I've started talking to more people from my school. I have four or so close friends and I love them so much. That they stick with me means the world to me. I've been realizing that I'm a good person who has a lot to offer to my friends, and that if I just start talking to people it makes me happy. Also, I've started dressing sort of fashionably, and that makes me feel a lot better about myself.
I still need to go to school way more, and I still yo-yo between pretty bad anxiety and feeling okay every couple weeks (I just started to feel okay again). But I've already gotten a lot better and I know I'll keep recovering. I'm actually fine with not graduating on time because I wouldn't have been ready for college. I hope to go to a four-year college at some point and major in english.Anyway not the most dramatic story but yeah :) you guys are awesome
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