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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This is my situation and the treatments I have tried. I guess I am hoping for some feedback on what has helped others.

When I was a child through early teens, I never had SA. When I would see it presented in TV shows and movies, I didn't understand why people would feel that way. I gave presentations, spoke in groups, and didn't care one way or the other about it. I may have annoyed some people with my lack of concern, but I am certain most people didn't care one way or the other either.

In early high school (which was a long time ago now) SA began. I had to give a presentation. It was my first or second year in a new school. I got in front of the class and felt nervous, but also pushed the nerves away and gave the presentation. No big deal. I even joked about something and then gave the presentation and the nervousness immediately went away. A few months later another presentation came up - approx 3 minute one. I had a dream a few days before it that a friend got up to give their presentation and started shaking uncontrollably (maybe a seizure like situation). The day came and I got up to give my presentation. I had kind of a panic attack. I started having tremors, heart racing, hands shaking, mind racing. I gave my whole presentation in 16 seconds (there was a timer). The teacher asked me to stop and breathe and start over and give the presentation again. I made it to nearly 30 seconds. Of course, a lot of people thought it was funny. I probably would have chuckled about it if I wasn't the one giving the presentation. The next presentation came up a few months later. As soon as the teacher assigned it, I pretended to be sick to miss the whole week. She either forgot I never gave mine or gave me a pass on it. I never gave that presentation. For the next few years of high school and college, I did the bare minimum when having to give a presentation. It would get assigned. I would have dread leading up to it. On the day of it, I'd get up and rush through the presentation while doing the bare minimum. The whole time I'd be presenting I would be hoping I wouldn't have a panic attack. It was more of a "do this and fight back having a panic attack" than it was giving any sort of meaningful presentation. It's been the same throughout my working career. I don't even really give a presentation or share information in any valuable way --- I rush through getting out the information while fighting back having a panic. I do get the racing pounding heart, racing thoughts, shaking hands, etc when talking to people or groups, but I haven't had anything like that first one. Having the milder symptoms concerns me that I will have a bad one again. Also, over the years the physical responses crept their way into even more situations. At first, it just happened when standing in front of a group. Later, the symptoms would happen sitting in a group and talking. Now, they happen even if I am talking to a couple of people in passing. I don't even want to consider where they may show up next.

I have tried several "treatments" over the last several years. Most of them go the same way -- I feel better during the treatment, but the symptoms come back when I am in an actual situation.

Fearless Presentations - ~$1000 - It was like a 2 day business training course setting, but for individuals wanting help with nervousness during presentations. The facilitator was awesome and the other people in the class were cool. I enjoyed it. However, I didn't get much help from it. They gave me a guide for the class. It starts off with something along the lines of "The big secret is you don't appear as nervous to others as you feel to yourself." From there it went into techniques for remembering what you want to speak about and how to give effective presentations. We gave a few presentations over the 2 days. I did feel better about the presentations while giving them, but didn't get any long lasting changes from it.

The Lefkoe Institute - Natural Confidence - ~$200 - It is a video series that helps you with different beliefs that can cause your anxiety. They are all handled in similar fashion. You formed a belief in your childhood that you still have. That belief causes you anxiety. Once you eliminate the belief, the anxiety caused by it goes away. They also have a private virtual session to help with public speaking fear, but it is over $1000. I believe it uses some of the same steps as the video series. I felt better while watching the videos and listening to them guide me along. However, I've had no long lasting affects from watching them. I still feel the same way in social situations.

Calmerry Online Therapy - $40 a week. It was more like a chat session with a therapist. The main thing I got from it was "Other peoples' opinions of you is none of your business". I've also read that online somewhere. The rest of the therapy had some keywords and ideas (along with some recommended books to read) that I checked into and found out that it was all based on the Law of Attraction. It helped when chatting with the therapist, but no long lasting effects.

In person therapist - $35 a session plus insurance coverage - It started off with EMDR. Think about the situation that I first had the panic attack in. While thinking about it watch some lights go back and forth on a stand so that my mind can process it all and I guess get past it. I kind of felt better during the therapy, but no long lasting affects. Later, the therapist switched to some CBT methods. I also felt better immediately after the sessions, but no long lasting changes. The therapist moved and I wasn't able to continue.

This Way Up Online Treatment Course - $60 - It was an online guide (kind of like slide show) that went through why I feel the way I do. It is rooted in CBT. It covered a lot of what I was feeling and why. It had some steps to follow to "get better" when dealing with SA. It was very helpful in understanding what is going on. It gave me a lot to consider and was very helpful, but no long lasting major changes.

Several books at random costs. "How to be yourself" by Ellen Hendricksen was probably the best. It seemed to follow CBT methods and gave situations of people dealing with SA and how they got better. Like This Way Up, it gave me a lot to consider and was very helpful. However, no major or long lasting changes happened from reading the book.

Toastmasters - pretty much free - This is helpful and gives a chance to speak. I always felt immediately better after a presentation, but no long lasting changes. I don't think I went long enough. Also, the group I met with had a lot of people trying to compete for regional speaking competitions. I may have done better finding a group that had more beginners.

Some medications - different costs - I was on some for anxiety and depression which helped some, but had major side effects. While consulting my doctor, I stopped taking them and feel a lot better without the side effects. Some other medications help with the heart racing and effects of SA. I take those as needed.

It's always the same situation. If I know I have to speak to a group, I dread it until it happens. While it is happening, I am focused on trying to keep it together. Afterward, I regret the whole ordeal and ruminate on what happened and how I could have handled it better. Throughout the whole ordeal, I am dreading a panic attack happening. It's almost like I am not experiencing situations themselves, but experiencing fighting back anxiety. I may have more of a fear of a panic attack happening than the actual speaking itself. I know they are tied together though.

Thanks for reading my book length post :)
 

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Thanks for the interesting read. I feel like I have been through a similar situation to you but I have some but not bad presentation anxiety, what I really have is general social interaction anxiety. I have tried toastmasters, it is pretty useful for public speaking, and I understand how practice makes better. For interpersonal social anxiety I have tried with a psychologist I believe it was cbt. It was not very effective. I have also tried social interaction class where you go out to random strangers and try to talk to them. During class I found that it was somewhat useful but I didn't practice when the class ended.

Social anxiety for me is like building a sand castle. It is not that I can't make progress I can. However, if I don't pay attention I lose ground easily and making progress is always harder.

I feel like one of the keys may be reducing the difficulty level. Before covid I found that while I was not super sociable I was building momentum. Now I work from home so socializing is much harder. Also the I period of isolation after covid started and there was a bunch of lockdowns that make things harder.

Difficulty for me would start off with distance. I dislike driving so any reduction there would benefit me. I don't like putting myself in social situations so if I am naturally in a social situation there is less work. I'm not a good conversationalist so if I there is a topic at hand it is easier to talk about. One thing my therapist mentioned is that if you have a plan you are more likely to succeed. One thing I have done that has improved my social life and my relationships is leading. If I take the initiative to talk and think of a topic to talk about. It kind of sucks but it also works.

From your post I take it that you are a decent writer. You probably are fairly intelligent and are a decent problem solver since you have kept at it. I hope you find peace of accepting yourself or you overcome your fears. Either way best wishes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the interesting read. I feel like I have been through a similar situation to you but I have some but not bad presentation anxiety, what I really have is general social interaction anxiety. I have tried toastmasters, it is pretty useful for public speaking, and I understand how practice makes better. For interpersonal social anxiety I have tried with a psychologist I believe it was cbt. It was not very effective. I have also tried social interaction class where you go out to random strangers and try to talk to them. During class I found that it was somewhat useful but I didn't practice when the class ended.

Social anxiety for me is like building a sand castle. It is not that I can't make progress I can. However, if I don't pay attention I lose ground easily and making progress is always harder.

I feel like one of the keys may be reducing the difficulty level. Before covid I found that while I was not super sociable I was building momentum. Now I work from home so socializing is much harder. Also the I period of isolation after covid started and there was a bunch of lockdowns that make things harder.

Difficulty for me would start off with distance. I dislike driving so any reduction there would benefit me. I don't like putting myself in social situations so if I am naturally in a social situation there is less work. I'm not a good conversationalist so if I there is a topic at hand it is easier to talk about. One thing my therapist mentioned is that if you have a plan you are more likely to succeed. One thing I have done that has improved my social life and my relationships is leading. If I take the initiative to talk and think of a topic to talk about. It kind of sucks but it also works.

From your post I take it that you are a decent writer. You probably are fairly intelligent and are a decent problem solver since you have kept at it. I hope you find peace of accepting yourself or you overcome your fears. Either way best wishes.
Thanks for your kind response and input. Your sand castle analogy is perfect. I feel great during therapy, but then get in a situation and it all falls apart when my heart starts racing before I can even think about the situation I am in. I will take your advice on taking the initiative. I almost wish I could just get in a situation in front of a crowd and have the complete panic and let it run its course to the end and hopefully(maybe?) be done with it forever. I know I have given presentations before without issue, so I know it's possible. It's just been many, many years. As with you, anxiety has crept into even conversations with one or two people. Best of luck to you. I think a lot of what affects us affects a lot of people the same way. We aren't unique with our "problem" and there are solutions for us - we just have to find them.
 
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