My story on social anxiety, setbacks and how i get better step by step


#1

I have been working with the therapy for over one year now, alone and without any anxiety-group.

Believe it or not but I work as a bus driver, and i am meeting hundreds of hundreds of different people every day.

When i started this job 4-5 years ago i had really high (terrible) amount of anxiety every day, my life was a living nightmare, but i knew if i quitted the job it would be a huge huge defeat for me, so i endured the anxiety every single day.

At the first year i could not say hello and look at the people entering the bus, and i did not dare to use the microphone to give out messengers, or talk on the internal radio.
i were frequently sick from work because some day i were too scared to even think of going to work.
(luckely for me its hard to get people fired in Norway)

I avoided ALL my colleagues when i could… every encounter with them were super-awkward and anxiety causing. I was sure i were just socially unintelligent, and i didnt want to make a fool out of myself and show them how pathetic and stupid i was.
I was conviced that everything i said sounded stupid and awkward. IT felt like that. My anxiety told me that. I wanted to burrow my head in the sand in shame every time i opened my mouth.
(i had been like this for 15 years )

I remember when i had an instructor with me right after i started the job, he ordered me to give out a message to the people in the bus, i did it, but with extreme anxiety, and i my voice squicked, trembled and i felt sick in the stomac. I had high anxiety meeting the same instructor afterward… convinced he though i were stupid and inept.

I got to the point where i just HAD to find a solution for my life devastating problem, but where?..

I went to talk with different psychologists and psychiatrist, most of them just asked questions and didn’t seem to understand how to threat my problem at all,
They said i should just challenge myself and take it slow, JUST do it they said. It didnt help much.

The psychiatrist i talked with didnt look at social anxiety as a disorder in it self, he said it were just a symptom on something else; something underlying.
He asked me if i got really tired after social situations,
i said “yes ofc because of the high anxiety”

Then he suggested that i might have asperger or something, because they usually get really tired in social situations… he asked me bunch of weird questions.

He made me feel really really bad and inept. I was worried for a long time that there were something very wrong with me, but i know now its all caused by SAD.

After some weeks with that “therapy” they said that they just couldnt help me anymore, and that i had to just challenge myself, after all there were people there that didnt even dare to take the bus or go into a mall or even leave their house. My problem werent severe enough apparently. (I am a master of hiding my anxiety)

I went into a darker depression, and making progress seemed impossible.

After some googling i found Dr. Richards therapy series, i had nothing to lose so i paid for every season,

It was worth every penny spent, I have gotten a lot deeper understanding of the problem that have devastated my life for so many years and what i had to do to get better.

I have recognized that the therapy must be put in to practice over time slowly in a step by step manner and overlearned over and over, which nobody had told me before.

So i started small, i begane to say hello once in a while to people entering my bus, in the start my voice were shaky and really low, and i got very very anxious when they didnt reply,
but after some weeks i got more relaxed about it and i could do it more naturally. Now i am practicing smiling more as well.

The same progress with talking on the intercom, i am not so scared to talk on it now, even if i know hundreds are listening, i use slow talk to get my message out clearly.

Now i can also give out longer messenges to the 50-100 unkown people on my bus, without any significant anxiety. Thats an huge progress in 1 year. Slow talk is doing the magic trick for me here aswell.

I still have a high fear of actual social situations with people that are closer to me, like colleagues. But i have made some progress here as well, but i recognize this will take longer time to fully handle. The negative beliefs i have here is really really strong.

I can approach “easy” people and hold a conversation easier now than i did 1 year ago. On my good days i can talk to small groups as well when there is some “safe” person i can look at atleast.

I have made some progress stampering and turning the ANTs as well but i still have a strong urge to go over social situations obsessively before and after or just randomly. Hard time to stop it, because the urge is very strong.
(a form of safety tactic) Most other ANTs i can stop more easily before they blow them self up.
.

BUT I can do things today that i thought i would never be able to do a year ago, so i will just keep up practicing, repeating and learning. So who knows, Perhaps i will look back in a year and see a lot more progress.:grinning:


#2

It was a pleasure to read your personal story, your achievements in this time. Thank you for sharing.

Your experience of trying to find someone to help you, someone who would understand your anxiety disorder - so similar to mine, so similar to so many people who I know in the groups. Doctors telling you to “just do it”, probably because they really don’t understand social anxiety at all. And other doctors then telling you that they can’t help you, again because they just don’t understand it. Your experience shows me that it is not just HERE in the USA that we face the same lack of understanding from the majority of therapists - it’s your country, too, probably most countries. This is nothing bad about therapists who might in fact be trying to help you. But, the point is that it’s just so hard for therapists to understand what it takes to overcome social anxiety unless they’ve really spent time researching this area, dealing with these patients, and perhaps looking at a comprehensive CBT program such as this audio series. I still don’t think they fundamentally grasp how slow and piece by piece one must go here.

Your story is inspiring in other ways. So many of us, and comments here on the discussion boards involve people quitting jobs, avoiding, or asking how to apply the therapy in their situation. I think there are always opportunities for us, though sometimes hard, still there are ways to take advantage of any situation, any job, any current lifestyle to incorporate the therapy. And you showed how you did that as a bus driver. I think that’s awesome. Big congratulations to you.

Most likely you still feel like there is a long way to go, that you might even say you have struggles in many areas. But still it is very worth remembering you deserve credit for what you have done, and what you do every day. Keep that in mind. Keep that in mind especially when you might have another “low” day. You have come a long way and you will continue in that direction.