Having SA in my Dreams


#1

Hi! I’m writing this as it was great to read other people’s stories on SA. It’s probably going to be a little wordy as I can already feel how cathartic this is going to be.

I’m a 31 year old dude and have been suffering from debilitating SA for about 5 years. Before then, I was pretty nervous and would blush very easily if talking to somebody, but it has turned into a wholly debilitating disorder.

If my SA is triggered, I sweat profusely, blush, feel dizzy and out of body, and I’m not able to think or communicate as the adrenalin is kicking in. Sometimes a rather full-blown panic attack will ensue, often lasting an hour or so and disrupting a large part of my day (or the entire day, and the days after as the ANTs settle in) and turning into deep sadness and depression and despair.

Standing in line is one of the biggest triggers. If I can go straight to checkout then I can usually get through without noticeably sweating (afterwards I’ll usually be dripping sweat when back in the car). Often I leave my items because the lines are too long and I’m too anxious. Sometimes I’ll leave the store entirely and drive around for awhile trying to cool off and relax enough to make it through to checkout. Sometimes I leave the store and go for a drive-thru somewhere and then feel extra shitty.

Seeing an attractive person can trigger it. Thinking about an attractive person can trigger it. Talking to an attractive person will almost certainly trigger it. There are times where I feel so much despair that I will never be able to have a relationship again — much less friends!!! I used to have friends and hang out, but I cannot remember the last time I “hung out” with someone. I can’t remember when I felt relaxed being around people except for just a handful of times in the past 5 years. My parents can trigger the blushing and sweating, or back when I was in a relationship my gf could trigger it. Sometimes it’s triggered when I’m talking to someone on the phone and I’m at my house! Going out to eat is almost always a challenge, as I’ll have to continually drink ice water and go cool off outside.

I sometimes have SA dreams where I feel and experience all the suffering and stress of waking SA.

In the last 5 years I’ve been self-medicating with what has now become at least 6 IPAs and some marijuana to go to sleep at night or to just have a break from anxiety and ANTs. I used to smoke spliffs all the time (mj + tobacco) as it was a great excuse to go outside away from people, or in the cold to cool off from a stressful social encounter. But self medicating is dangerous, and I was at a point where I was chain smoking, even waking up in the middle of the night with ANTs and chain smoking and having a couple more beers.

Last year I went sober for a few months but it didn’t exactly solve things. I tried the handouts for some months in the beginning of 2017, but I was not commited, and once I felt a little better I stopped. I then fell back into the 6 IPA and weed rituals again.

SA is created because your brain is tricking itself. I told myself, “look!! You’re doing better! You’re able to chat with cashiers a little bit and make it through the market without having to leave and come back!! Great! Let’s just take a day off of the handouts. Let’s go for a run instead!!”

And well, I stopped doing the CBT. I started focussing on my small business and physical health and ignored the SA. I spent my evenings trail running rather than working the handouts. I thought, ok, once I’m successful and making money then the SA will automatically go away, right? Right!?? WRONG!

Things have gotten slightly better overall since a year and a half ago, but SA is going to take more than a few months of self CBT for me. I can stand in short/medium lines now without getting too triggered. I can chat a little bit with cashiers.

I had a dream recently that I was on a first date and it went well, but beyond this my social life doesn’t exist and SA has and continues to severely restrict my life.

I’m back on the SAI train, headed to a General Practitioner, and determined to address the SA in a serious and consistent manner this time. I need friends. And a relationship. And the ability to talk to people in general. Thank you for reading; wonderful to have your stories and voices so people know they’re not alone.


#2

Thanks for sharing your story LoganN. I tried the “self medicating” route too and ended up 6 weeks in rehab. It’s NOT the solution. I have been ‘sober’ for 15 months. Life is getting better. I still have not managed to find work but have managed some very tough interviews and coped without a melt down. The sky didn’t fall in. I have not worked the program for a few weeks and need to go back to it. I’ve mentioned this in other responses but I have found prescribed beta blockers combined with this program have been a total game changer. My adrenalin super charge is controlled by the beta blockers which makes it possible to implement what I have learned using this program. Good luck to you Logan. I wish you only good things,


#3

Thanks for sharing your story.

Your experience is completely clear to me, and I’m sure to many other readers here. I know that doesn’t help you in your situation and with your feelings. It’s a hell we have all been in or are in now, working out way out slowly. Before I knew about social anxiety, life was pain and confusion, depression and avoidance, and all the same situations your describe.

Another thing that is natural is that we all want a way out faster rather than slower. That’s completely understandable. People fall in and out of doing the therapy. Setbacks and bad times knock us off. Even good times knock people off from doing the CBT daily as needed. They think, hey, now I’m okay, or something good happens that gives us a kick of calmness or confidence for a bit of time… and so we stop the therapy. Then somehwere sooner or later we’re back to how we’ve used our brains - the anxious way.

There is no shortcut. There is no answer or real solution through self-medicating, as many of us try. Alcohol or whatever that might be to just get through becomes another problem for many of us faced with anxiety.

The answer doesn’t make everyone happy - time and consistent repetition with the therapy. Applying that therapy to our lives when and often before we feel ready. Being open to changing our brains. Taking that first step, taking the initiative when ready. Continuing with the daily out loud therapy. In one sense it’s simple - just do. And in that same way, it’s difficult to stay on track. Those that DO, that I’ve seen here in the groups, they do continue to make progress. Those that continue to act, to take the first step, then the second, they do continue to make gradual improvement. Those that continue past ANTs that pop up later, that still choose to turn the tables on them, to choose rational thoughts instead of deciding to stagnate - they do make progress. They do get to a place where they no longer have social anxiety disorder.

Wish you continued success and encouragement on your path, LoganN! You can do it.