Group therapy essential or audio series sufficient?


#1

Hi all :smile:

Fairly new to the site and forum, currently on week 4. I’m 22 from Scotland, and suffered from SAD since primary school, so about roughly 14 years. I still remember my class mates in primary teasing for always going so easily red (blushing). I became aware I suffered from SAD around 15 months ago, and I had CBT for 3 months last year, but I don’t think it was comprehensive enough as I don’t feel as there has been much improvement.

Without blowing my own trumpet, I feel as if I am a good looking guy, at university, lovely girlfriend and have great friends (whom however I do not see as much as I would like due to avoidance) - which I feel astonishing considering how anxious/nervous I get around people. It’s getting to that stage where I’m months away from graduating and I feel my SA is restricting me passing interviews and enjoying a business graduate role, due to my blushing, shaky lips/frozen face, excess sweating and general uncomfortable feelings - which many of you probably know what it feels like :wink: .

I think I have also developed depression over the past couple of years, by just beating myself up due to my SA, not achieving my potential, not enjoying socialising and comparing myself to others who lead normal, happy lives.

It’s amazing how much info is on this site and how much of it makes sense to a SAD sufferer like myself. For people, and specifically Dr. Thomas A. Richards, to know exactly what I’m going through is instantly reassuring :blush: Also, I really hope the series can help me overcome my anxiety, as I don’t know what’s next for me if it doesn’t work haha!

Just a couple of questions; should I still have realistic expectations in overcoming social anxiety through solely the audio series and not group therapy? (as it’s too expensive due to the location)

And how do I disbelieve ANT’s that I feel are actually true? For example, I had a presentation today and I really felt/knew I came across nervous and therefore I bet myself up over it, because comparing myself to others, others can present calmly and confidently. So I guess, how do I go about ignoring ANT’s which I feel are in fact rational?

Any help would be great from anyone. Thanks guys :smile:


#2

hi Rydo1560 - first of all I know how you feel. Have had SA most of my life but wasn’t diagnosed. I have had some improvement with the audio series alone (stalled at session 13 for a few months due to busy life). There are no group sessions in my country so not really an option for me. I too developed depression when my anxiety got on top of me, so I also know how that feels. One of the things I have learned is that you can be honest with self talk but still kind… so in your scenario it is true (from your point of view anyway) that you probably appeared nervous… so start with that by maybe telling yourself…

Yes I probably appeared nervous but perhaps I didn’t appear as nervous as I actually felt. Maybe my feelings of blushing and racing heart weren’t as noticeable to other people as they are to me internally. Even if i did appear nervous its possible that I was brave to do the speech/presentation given how fearful i have found it. Some people avoid this altogether. Maybe I can stop beating myself up and actually turn it around and tell myself that i succeeded somewhat by just doing it through the anxiety. Perhaps next time I won’t be quite as nervous, or appear as nervous, and things will start to get better…

Hopefully you get the idea… It is true that when we really do have physical symptoms sometimes others notice - but so what… we judge ourselves so harshly… do we judge others who have a quiver in their voice as much as we are judging ourselves? Maybe we need to be kind to ourselves and reduce the judging of ourselves like we don’t judge others as harshly.

Keep on doing the practice. Something might click and then things really can start to improve. I for one know it helps my problem is with a busy family finding the time to do it which drastically improves the quality of my life!

You don’t have to be perfect. Maybe you don’t have to always be happy or never be anxious…


#3

Rydo 1560 and Mathew
I can identify with you, I’ve had it for a long time, I’ve grown old with this,
but there was no cure for this years ago, I thought I was the only one with this,
But you are young, you will recover from this,
We are all so identical, we are so so hard on ourselfs,
We don’t except anything less than perfect from ourselfs, we are so aware of everything and everyone,
We are so forgiven when it come to others, and understanding of other people’s mistakes, but so
Hard on ourselfs when we make mistakes, and this is what needs to change,
I’m working on the therapy, just busy with other things,
But have made a lot of progress,
If I’m honest I suppose I feel if I was to recover from this tomorrow
I would want the rest of my life back that I suffered from this and the depression that goes with it,
Because we don’t feel good about ourselfs for have this anxiety.

But I do honestly believe that you can recover from this,
I think if you get all that therapy deep down into your brain so you won’t forget and it becomes automatic,
But the slow talk really has helped me, I can’t empathise enough Rydo how the slow talk worked for me,
It has a automatic relaxation that goes with it, good luck your young you will beat this


#4

Matthew and Pinetree, thanks very much for your replies and helpful support :slight_smile: I honestly thought that no one would reply haha… but maybe that’s my ANTs talking :stuck_out_tongue:

Firstly Matthew. What your saying is making a lot of sense - honest but kind. I’ll try to incorporate this into my thinking and self talk as much as possible. Your also right about judging others, I never judge anyone as harshly as I do with myself. I feel that I should be perfect, should be nice to everyone, should get everyone to like me etc, too many should’s! Maybe I SHOULD give myself a break…
I’m glad to hear that you have made some progress :slight_smile: Are going to continue listening to the therapy or you at a stage now where your are trying to implement the strategies? Any tips or methods to strengthen the therapy or reducing my fear of people ‘finding me out’ that I’m nervous and anxious?

Secondly, Pinetree. Thanks for your very supportive comment. I find it hard enough to have lived with SA for so long, I cant imagine what its like to grow old with it. My heart goes out to you. Very glad that you have made a lot of progress. Keep it up! Your “good luck your young you will beat this” made me smile inside! :slight_smile: I hope I can overcome this, it feels as if its near impossible to, but I’m trying to practice 30 mins every day, and will be going on to session 5 soon, so hopefully I’ll notice subtle improvement over the next few months. I will try to use slow talk as much as I can to reduce my anxiety levels.

I think a big part of it is hiding my symptoms. For example, when talking to my parents, who know about my SA, I want to come across anxiety free/reduced anxiety, to show them that I am improving. I don’t want them to think I’m weak/weird/a let down. Another example, I don’t want my friends (who dont know about my SA) to notice as I think they might not like me as much and think I’m weir, and ultimately, I’ll lose my friends. And with my girlfriend, I feel there’s pressure to be a great boyfriend, therefore I should be anxiety free and if I show my anxiety to her, then she’ll realise how severe my anxiety is and I don’t want her to know how bad it is.
I dont know if this is making any sense haha… but yeah, I think trying to hide my symptoms/fight my symptoms has a huge role to play in my SAD.

Best wishes to everyone.


#5

Hi there,

Your post really resonated with me and I feel I am very similar to you in many ways.

I am 23 female from Ireland and have struggled with this for five years. I am typically very outgoing, talented, good looking (as much as it pains me to say that). In secondary school I was one of those students that had it all and took part in everything. Then in the stress of final year this whole thing (SA) hit me like a train and I have never recovered since.

Whats most frustrating about this issue is the amount of missed opportunities or wasted talent. I beat myself up about this all the time when I compare myself to what I was like to what I am now (a crumbling mess).

I am one year out of university and finding it so hard. Trying to make it on my own when I have no confidence in myself. I used to have a large group of friends and was very popular but now losing some of them due to avoidance as you said. I have never had a boyfriend which everyone is always so shocked about and I get so embarrassed about as I feel I have to explain to them its because of this secret I have been hiding from everyone. I have had plenty of admirers and potential dates but I probably put them off because I am so nervous and stand offish:blush:

My main thing is fear of blushing. My skin complexion has a natural tendency to blush but now I have just become obsessed by it. I pile on the make up with such heavy coverage foundation when in fact I don’t want to wear make up. I can’t imagine what a state I would be in if I didn’t have this safety cover up and had to go bare like you as a male:)

Im wondering how you got on with the course and if you have seen any improvements? Did anything in particular help you with the fear of blushing ?

Hope your doing well!

Best wishes


#6

Hi Ann23… and fellow blusher!

Aye it’s pretty tough. Academy and university was a big struggle for me as there were so many anxiety provoking situations in a classroom environment - nightmare for me due to several reasons including it is so bright (everyone could see my symptoms) and sitting in a desk meant I had nowhere to escape! (AND as you rightly pointed out, boys can’t really wear make up! :stuck_out_tongue:

I got a graduate job which was really tough to get and worked for 4 months but quit last month… my anxiety probably did have a part to play in me quitting but I think the biggest reason was I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing and didn’t get much job satisfaction or ‘feel good’ emotions from it. Going to try and start a career on something which I am more passionate about, ie sports/sports coaching.

I honestly believe this programme is the best there is out there, including the large bulk of therapists. Do your 30 mins a day, or whenever you can, just remember the more you study, the better you will feel and start to feel more positive about yourself. And alongside your therapy, at least for the start of the course, try to exercise daily or whenever you can, as that helps any anxious or depressing thoughts. I always think whilst I am exercising I am killing off so many ants :slight_smile:

I haven’t stuck religiously to the therapy as I had planned to (have a pretty busy lifestyle, but still, no excuse eh?!) but I have noticed pretty big improvements so far. It is tough tho, its not like you are going to read over a few handouts and in a couple of months you won’t blush any more. Changing your thoughts and feeling takes time, but sticking to the therapy on a daily basis will allow you to do just that :slight_smile: (PS, its not about not blushing; everyone blushes, its about not responding negatively to the blush response).

I don’t want you to skip ahead of the therapy as it is laid out in a very logical manner, but in terms of handouts that helped me most with blushing, I was say its the fighting paradox which sheds the light on how to overcome blushing, alongside ‘Accepting myself as I am right now’ and the ANTS handout - as this handout is just the best thing for any part of social anxiety. You have to look at why you don’t want to blush, as thats the reason you do blush - ie, I got bullied and teased for my blushing in school, therefore, it brings a lot of shame when I blush as I think its a bad/weird thing to do. Therefore, I fear blushing and consequently situations where I feel like I am likely to blush. SOLUTION for negative shameful thoughts = find reasons why its not the end of the world, its no big deal, its not shameful, its not really anything to worry about, how would you feel if someone else blushed? Would you judge them really negatively? Thought not :wink: SOLUTION for the blush itself = experiment, next time you are in a social situation try to blush as much as you can. Try to make yourself blush right now in fact! Can’t do it can you? It’s called paradoxical intention. When you really don’t want to blush, you will blush. When you are not bothered about blushing, or even WANT to blush, you are very unlikely to blush. Give it a go, but please stick to the therapy. It’s just a couple of ideas that are working well for me but might not suit everyone…

Would be good to keep in touch with you, or maybe get a skype call in there somewhere! :slightly_smiling:

Cheers for the message!


#7

Hi there :slight_smile: !

Great to hear that this programme has brought some improvements to your life. I think it is so tough this stupid thing that we have to deal with. It is always there in my mind and I find it hard to take interest or get involved in other things eg. Current affairs. My family slag me as I am always living in my own little world.

Similar to you I got a graduate job that was very hard to get. They promised to moon and the stars with this job and the realisation that it is a very mundane office job is really hitting home and making me depressed. I guess you could say I am having a quarter life crisis. I want to do something a lot more meaningful with my life and the business world is definitely just not suited for me.

Good to hear that your going to doing something that your passionate about. I love sport myself and it has always been an outlet for me and something that I feel confident playing. I need to make the decision of what I am going to do next. I suppose I just lack self confidence to even think for myself and make the first step. All my friends seem to have it all together with so many opportunities going for them.

Sorry for sounding like such a moany Michael I suppose I’m just having one of those bad SA days. But honestly this website provides me with such comfort. To talk so openly about something that I have always kept as my dirty little secret is so refreshing. I would not be on the extreme end if of the spectrum as I am able to function with everyday activities. It just seems to come a bit harder to me than the average person.

Do you still continue with the programme and how is SA affecting your everyday life. Yes I would love to set up a Skype call, we can both sit their like blushing brides :slight_smile: I really think the community aspect of this is something that will help us get over this.

I am wondering about telling some of my close friends about it. My anxiety has gotten so bad that I feel nervous in their company and I am less fun and they are contacting me less. But I guess maybe that’s my ants talking. Have you told many of your friends and how has that affected your relationship with them?

Sorry for the long winded message but hope to keep in touch with you :slight_smile:

All the very best


#8

Yeah it has and it will do for you too if you stick to it and go through it the way its set out. How did you find my advice about blushing?

I am exactly the same haha - business world is definitely not suited to me either. Regardless of how good the money is, I need to do something that I am passionate about, something that involves getting youngsters active and into sport. My family run one of the biggest table tennis clubs in Scotland (and I am ranked number 10 in Scotland!) so I have plenty of coaching opportunities there to keep the finances going for just now. I have applied fora few sports related jobs and I am going to look for some coaching qualifications that I can do in the mean time as well. Feeling fairly positive about it all actually hahaa!

What you thinking of doing with your job then? You going to stick by it and hopefully it will improve or your perspective changes? Happy to talk to you about it if you need any help/support!

Don’t worry, I know all about bad SA days. And you are right, this website is great for support and bouncing different ideas off of people. Yeah it’s hard to say where I am on the spectrum, cause I am pretty outgoing and friendly etc, but sometimes it can feel I am on the extreme end in certain situations, like talking in front of a class, or doing presentations!!!

I am still using the programme and just going into certain sections when I feel I need reinforcement of a particular concept. SA affects my every day life - I see my friends less in situations where no alcohol is involved, I am reserved in certain situations where I actually have so many things to say, I get nervous around certain people who I think know that I get nervous/anxious easily, I probably view myself much more negatively than others do, in public places I find it hard not to think about meeting people I know or bumping into someone in a restaurant etc where I have to make small talk, I find it hard to coach/speak in front of our club members when they are in a group (1 to 1’s I am completely fine).

But as I have mentioned, this programme has helped me so much in every aspect my anxiety provoking situations. I am regularly pushing myself outwith my comfort zone and getting rewards from it. I have still some work to do in overcoming some situations, but with time, I am sure I’ll get there. One big thing/realisation for me was (and I think I have mentioned this in one of my other posts, but you have probably already have read it… #stalker haha!) I put everyone on a pedestal. I thought the world of everyone, which rationally isn’t the case. When I talk to someone now, I try to bring that person down by asking - what’s so special about this person that I’m nervous talking to? How do I know they are perfect? They have probably made many mistakes etc etc. Not in a hating way or viewing them negatively, just calmly taking them off the pedestal. Hope that made sense.

Yeah some of my close friends know, but probably don’t know the impact it’s had on me. And I think lads are less likely to open talk about it, than with girls, as girls are usually more understanding and open. I don’t really talk to anyone about it now. And I know what you mean about being nervous in their company and that you feel less fun and less wanted. But as you say, a lot of that might just be the ANTS talking. What I would suggest is to see your friends in situations where its not really anxiety provoking. For example with a couple of my mates I go to the gym, a couple I go and play golf with, a couple I go to the pub with (alcohol is amazing for my anxiety temporarily, only for it to be 10 x worse the next day!) etc etc. Is that possible in your situation? If not, I would consider telling your closest friends about your anxiety, because some times people interpret how your stand offish and nervousness as arrogant or not interested in maintaining a relationship with them, which I’m sure is the last thing you want your closest friends to think. Have you told your family?

We could arrange a skype call for next week sometime if you want? :slight_smile:


#9

Hi again,

yes the blushing experiment really helped. I am trying to just live with the fact that I will blush and went out for a meal with my family last night with no make up which is a big step for me.

I opened up to my friend about this and he was really lovely and supportive. He was giving me advice on how it is important to do things that you enjoy at least once a day and also that it is a right of ours not to feel this anxious all the time. I am just anxious that the next time I see him it will be awkward. It is funny I was pretty comfortable when I was telling him but then after when we went back to normal conversation I felt really anxious.

I am moving in with a girl from work today which is terrifying. Just wondering how do you find your living arrangements . Do you live at home or on your own. I lived very close to university so this step of moving out should have been done years ago but didn’t for me and a lot of my friends that live near.

Yes as you said sport really helps for me. I ran a 10km race yesterday and felt amazing after it, like killing every ANT one by one.

I’m finding it hard to stick religiously to online series but it seems that you have to do it everyday for 30 mins for it to work. I won’t be able to read hand outs loud so going to have to find a quiet park in town where I can do this.

Yes would love to Skype this week. My working hours are 10-7 so what day/time would suit you ?

All the best


#10

I could do tomorrow after 8pm if you would like? :slight_smile:


#11

My working hours actually changed to 1-10 this week so won’t be able to sorry about that. Weekend would prob suit me better. Would that be OK with you?


#12

Well just re-started the therapy after years of slacking off and not doing it… you really do have to continue with it without giving up for it to work… I’m trying to be kind to myself. Starting with slow talk again and the ANTS handout etc… it still makes sense and this time I need to put more of the behavioural work in. Hope everyone else is making progress!


#13

hey. I do the same , and now trying to consistently practice the therapy? How is it going for you?