Sharing stories on SA


#1

Hi all,
So I am almost done with session 5. I want to share an experience I had today…
So I am in 12th grade at high school and there was a meeting today in the evening which all the parents and kids had to attend. All day today I felt so anxious for all irrational reasons. I was anxious because I didn’t know what to expect or what would happen. I was nervous if a parent was going to talk to me and how I would look or react. I was nervous if I would have to see one of my friends mom that causes me high levels of anxiety. I had all these ANTS. I was tying to stop them at home prior to the event as much as possible but every time I would stop one another one would come into my mind. I was picturing all these different possible things that I would say or do. I was feeling very anxious at home before the event. I kept repeating attitude statements like “so what, who cares, why am I dwelling on this” But it wasn’t seeming to help me that much as I would’ve liked. Luckily, it started down pouring and there was so much thunder on the way to school that we all had to run into the building. My anxiety eased for a second because my mind was distracted because of all the rain and us having to run. But then suddenly I felt it come back as I saw some people in the room that cause me anxiety. I was having trouble making eye contact and focusing because I was so anxious. I kept telling myself that I hate this kind of feeling because I can’t act like myself. When I don’t feel anxious, I am a very talkative person. But when my SA kicks in, I am a very different person. I felt like I couldn’t focus and I probably looked nervous. It all happened in the moment and I could feel myself heating up. The whole school though was really hot so many people were complaining of the heat so I didn’t feel as anxious because everyone else was hot too so i could use that as an excuse as to why my cheeks were a little pink. I tried to make a joke out of it to my friend and I kept saying “omg it’s so hot, here we go again I have my heat flashes, and I was trying to laugh about it.” My friend also was really hot and she was agreeing with me. I was a little less anxious because I wasn’t alone. As we went outside, my anxiety eased because it was dark outside and this to me helps to lessen my anxiety (prob an ANT)
I know I’m still early along in the therapy so this is normal to still feel anxious and to have physical symptoms. I am trying not to rehash in my experience because I know that no one cares. What I learned from this is that I got myself all worked up for no reason. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. I made a mountain out of a mole hill. And usually I would beat myself up for getting all anxious for nothing but I’m trying to not beat myself up now. There’s another ANT that’s popping in my head… “I’m probably going to get anxious another time in the future and I will embarrass myself.” Im trying to distract myself.
After I left the school, I don’t feel any anxiety. This happens a lot with social events. I will get all anxious before hand because I dwell in anticipation of what to expect and what will happen, and then when the social event is going on, I feel physical symptoms (blushing, can’t make eye contact, tense mouth) and then towards the end of the event, I feel less anxious on the way home… I’m going to continue to use conditional self talk. I have some free periods at school and so I am going to use conditional self talk and saying some attitude statements to myself. I have recorded myself saying some of the handouts and I have made index cards of a summary of sessions 1-5 so far. I really don’t like feeling anxious because it prevents me from acting like my true self which I love!! But I’m gonna try not to beat myself up because tomorrow is a new day. I’m gonna put this in the past!!

I will continue to post any more of my experiences as the sessions progress. If anyone has any comments or thoughts, please feel free to share!! And also share your experiences because it can help us all encourage and motivate each other!!! Good luck to everyone:-)) Don’t give up!


#2

Hi Soccer2000 and Everyone!

So, we are a community helping each other, sharing our experience of making progress through therapy. Is anyone else on Session 5 or thereabouts right now? Any comments? What about people who are further along in the therapy? If so, has the therapy helped over time to become more rational with these situations? Or, are you still finding it difficult with more real-world situations like this one?

It seems like Soccer2000 is staying pretty rational with this already, which is great, keeping things in perspective, but we can still chime in with our own thoughts if you have them. It’s also proactive for us to engage in these conversations if you are usually reading rather than writing here. We all know the reluctance to participate. But, you can try! You have the right to speak up here, add to the conversation, and feel just fine about what you’ve said.


#3

Hi Soccer2000, I think it’s so great that you are addressing SA at a young age! I wish I had done the same! Anticipatory anxiety has always been a huge issue for me as well. I work myself up over irrational thoughts to the point that it’s difficult to get through a pretty ordinary event. Then it’s almost surprising that nothing remotely like what I had anticipated actually happened (because ANTs lie). It’s especially bad when I feel that I don’t have a way out. Like before presentations or interviews. My ANTs tell me I’m trapped, I have to perform and I won’t be able to get through it.

You seem to be thinking through the event rationally which is awesome. I’ve also found that doing this before the event helps ease the anticipatory anxiety. Really examining what I’m feeling that’s making me anxious and then thinking about the likelihood that whatever I’m feeling anxious about would actually happen (usually remote). And if it did happen, how bad would that really be? It’s not like I’m going to drop dead or anything! “Who cares?” is my new favorite phrase :blush:.


#4

Thank you Bonzi,
I really appreciate your response!! Yes I think anticipatory anxiety is something I really struggle with. But I know that it’s really just ANTs that are putting negative thoughts in my mind and are making me feel symptoms that I don’t like. Thank you! This has helped me to get into my head even more that ANTs are liars and that it’s no big deal!


#5

The things we talk about in the therapy, a lot of them, are understandable, rational - it’s the way we know we should go, we should be. Some are paradoxical, so we are helped by these things being pointed out to us in the audio therapy series by Dr. Richards. Some are simple, understandable… yet we don’t do them or think that way yet because of social anxiety - that’s fine.

We’re getting there. You’re able to get there by continuing this process.

Staying rational with yourself - easy, right? Not really. Not at first. Despite those feelings, being able to come back later and talk it through rationally - that’s huge, that’s good. Knowing we should do that, and doing that are two different things. And doing it when you’re feelings are telling you otherwise isn’t so easy. Not beating yourself up - we all understand that - of course we shouldn’t be doing that. But, we’ve had that trained into us, by others or ourselves, over time. If you can realize that as much as possible, remind yourself, catch yourself in that act, keep telling yourself that you choose not to beat yourself up, not to pressure yourself before or after - again, I think that’s huge. Easy ideas/strategies/principles. Not easy to keep doing. It does get easier as you keep up with it.

Anticipatory anxiety - we know this only makes it worse. For most of us, sure there will be a moment of panic if something is sprung on us last second - we didn’t have a chance to think/prepare… and worry. Mostly it’s that we didn’t have the time to WORRY before, spending all that energy in negative, irrational anticipation. Yes, it’s rational even to know that you will still be anxious for certain things now and for a while - but not forever. So one could argue that it’s rational to have this insane anticipatory anxiety - but it feeds into that self-fulfilling prophecy. If we didn’t add as much fuel in all the time spent on ANTs, at all moments, we’re just simply not helping their cause.

As we progress through the therapy, too, and as you see yourself change for the better, here and there, it does have that global, snowball effect. It’s not all clean, orderly that we can expect a certain progress for each measured day. But it does come as long as we keep up this CBT daily habit. And as things get better over here, as we feel differently over there, as we face more situations with less anxiety, over time also that anticipatory anxiety tendency goes down. Naturally, it makes sense - you are experiencing less anxiety in an event, and thus the next time there is less reason to anticipate as much anxiety. This good cycle feeds itself, just as a bad cycle would feed itself. We all know how the bad cycle can get worse, bleed over into new areas. We’re going in a new way here, a new cycle that will feed itself off of rationality.

Bonzi, thank you for your comments.


#6

Thank you for your comment! I have a few questions since I have just started session 6 today… So there is a handout about the importance of reviewing last handouts everyday and how to condense the material we’ve learned. So I’ve recorded myself saying the ANTs handout out loud. I’ve been listening to that everyday and I’ve been saying the Attitudes handout out loud in slow talk and then I focus on the handouts in the session that I’m up to for the week (which would be session 6 now). I also have made note cards of a summary of each session so far and condensed the material material. Sometimes I feel like I pressure myself because I want to make sure I am reviewing everything and am strengthening my new neural pathways. Also, there are some days that I don’t feel any anticipatory anxiety or any type of anxiety and so during the day I don’t find myself repeating or using any strategies because I guess subconsciously I don’t feel a need too because I feel fine. Is this okay? Should I still keep repeating attitude statements and reinforcing them? I’ve realized now that I usually feel my SA a lot more when I anticipate the negative symptoms I will feel during a certain event. With that being said, I only feel anticipatory anxiety feelings when I know that I will have to hangout with someone that has seen my physical symptoms in the past and my mind automatically expects it to happen ( I know these are not rational thoughts) Also, sometimes even just seeing people that I’ve had these negative symptoms around in the past, causes me to feel anxious almost instantaneously (the fire and Wire Connections). I tell myself not to dwell on the past because it over and done with and so who really cares? I guess this just takes time for me to fully believe this rational thought. I’m just the type of person who always likes to get things done with quickly and move on and so this series is a step by step process and I have to learn to slow things down and realize that overcoming SA takes time… I usually listen to my voice recordings once I wake up in the morning and then I review the lesson I’m on. I wake up a little earlier so I can do the therapy before school because I usually am busy after school with homework etc. Is it still beneficial that I am listening to my self voice recordings of earlier handouts, or should I say these out loud too?
And one last thing, if I realize that I am feeling anticipatory anxiety over an upcoming event that is ordinary, should I continuously repeat rational statements to myself over and over, or would this be too pressuring on myself? Or is it better to just find a distraction (humming or singing) and not even think about the event altogether and just ignore the ants and negative feelings and let it all pass?

As you can see, I am very determined to overcome this SA. I don’t like feeling anxious or thinking negatively. I want to put the best version of myself out there and anxiety is just getting in the way. I want to enjoy all the joys that life brings and that’s why I am doing the series so early in my life. I appreciate everyone’s support! Please chime in! Any thought or comment can help us all!


#7

Here are my notecards so far.


#8

Review what is important to you.

Sure, we may not have enough time to review everything each day. On the other hand, I find that people who say they don’t have enough time to do it all are kind of doing nothing. Of course we have time, if we make this a priority. This is an aside, not about your post here.

I think we should keep on track with the therapy weekly, just keep the forward progress going. Thus each week you’re adding new stuff to study/review. And that becomes the priority for the week, with your time remaining, you review past stuff that helps you the most, from your highlights or notes. Maybe you can’t review all of it, maybe each day or each week you shift what past stuff is being reviewed. You can see there’s no rule for perfection here.

My feeling on dealing with anticipatory anxiety is that we should try to follow the steps of stopping the worry, saying something rational, finding a distraction to get our minds away from it. Use rational statements when the worries come back and go through the same process. It feels like if you never practice getting away from the thought, then you’re allowing it to stay on your mind. Just my opinion. In time, no matter what you do here, I think you’ll see progress and a change in your feelings and attitudes.