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Anxiety This forum is for seeking advice on anxiety and stress related issues.

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  (#1 (permalink)) Old
JackOffJill Offline
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Severe Social Anxiety - October 26th 2009, 06:06 AM

I am having the hardest time. I am going to college (commuting to classes from home). I am a sophomore. However, I have horribly paralyzing anxiety. I have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. About 4 years ago I didnt leave my house for 4 months because I was literally too afraid of facing people to leave. I was that afraid of being around people. And sometimes I have that same trouble leaving my house. I become physically paralyzed and there is nothing that I can do to calm myself down. Because of this, I have a hard time getting to my classes. When I do go,my anxiety is usually really bad because I do not like sitting around other people. My biggest problem right now in school has to do with group projects. A lot of it is my fear of being left out and all I guess. I dont really know. But group projects are the worst. I dont know how to behave or act or anything when I get into that group setting. I always feel like I am so awkward and noticably anxious, which makes me even more anxious. Does anyone have any suggestions about working with a small group for class projects? any tricks or anything that anyone ueses to help them get through it? if so i would really appreciate the advice.
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Halcyon Offline
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Re: Severe Social Anxiety - October 31st 2009, 05:08 PM

Hi Karyn,

I'm sorry to hear that you're having a hard time.

Why don't you like sitting around other people? What is your fear in this particular situation?

One of the hardest thing to do, but usually the most helpful, is to feel the fear and do it anyway. There is actually a book with that title, by Susan Jeffers. If you can get hold of it from a library, I think it will help.

If you're feeling anxious in a group situation, try taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. Really exaggerate your breathing so it's slow and deep, and you will start to feel more calm. When we're anxious, our breathing becomes quick and shallow; therefore, slowing our breathing will calm the physical anxiety response.

Try to challenge unhelpful thinking and assumptions, and try not to avoid situations that will cause you anxiety. I know it's really difficult at first, but the more you do something, the easier it will get. It's like learning how to play a new piece on the piano, for example. The first attempt might be a wobble, but gradually it will sound more pleasing.

Remember, if you always do what you've always done, things will always be how they've always been. We can change things for the better. Good luck. I'm here if you want to talk.

Halcyon
   
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Re: Severe Social Anxiety - October 31st 2009, 05:21 PM

i dont really know why i dont like sitting around other people. i have always hated social situations ever since i was little. like for example, in first grade my teacher asked my mom if everything was ok with me because for the first half of the school year i didnt talk to anyone. like i literally wouldnt say anything to anyone ever. im not very good at talking to people, ive very very very self conscious and im always afraid that i am going to do something, or say something stupid or embarrassing.
thank you so much for the advice and the book suggestion. i really really appreciate it!
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Re: Severe Social Anxiety - October 31st 2009, 05:42 PM

Hi Karyn,

Think about this: people might not even notice that what you may have said sounds stupid; they might not give what you have said a second thought; they might genuinely think that what you have said isn't stupid. There are a few possible outcomes. And what's the worst that could happen? Be careful not to mind-read.

Try not to hold back. People are missing out on seeing the real you. The real, brilliant, you. There's a quote that I like: "Be who you are, and say what you feel, because those who mind, don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."

I think that no matter how much we know, we aren't always able to apply all that knowledge when it comes to our own suffering. Our suffering gets in the way of our thinking processes, at times. I struggle with it too. But what you could do is write an affirmation for each day of the week - seven to begin with, then build on it - and remind yourself of them every day. You are a likeable person. You are kind and courteous. Just a few to start you off.

Are there any group therapy opportunities available to you? I think it would be a valuable experience for you, should you be able to attend one.

Best wishes.

Halcyon
   
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Re: Severe Social Anxiety - October 31st 2009, 05:50 PM

thank you so much. yeah i really need to start affirmations again. i used to have them posted to my mirror in my bathroom to say to myself every morning. but i stopped. i know that a huge part of my anxiety probably has to do with my lack of self esteem. i have always always hated myself. so i know that is something that i really need to work on. so i will have to start that again. thank you.
as for group therapy, there really isnt much available to me. i have looked into it. but i did sign up for a group at the college that i go to. its through the disability office (and i receive accommodations for my classes). and basically it is a group for females who have trouble with anxiety, specifically in social settings. i have been waiting 2 weeks to hear back about it though so im kinda afraid that its never going to meet. i was looking foward to it because it would give me a chance to possibly meet people at college (since ive only made one friend- and that was last year) and it would also help me with my anxiety. but we will see. im going to email them back today to find out if it is going to get together because i really want it to. i used to go to a group thereapy but that was intensive outpatient when i was under 18. that really did help though so im hoping this works out.
i really appreciate your help Halcyon. it really means a lot to me that you took time out of your day to give me some advice about my anxiety. thank you so much.
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Re: Severe Social Anxiety - November 1st 2009, 09:43 AM

Hi Karyn,

It's no problem at all - I'm happy to help, and I hope that it has helped somewhat. It's something that I suffer from too, so I can relate.

I noticed that you have posted another thread, so I shall have a look at that later. Social Anxiety stems from a fear, or many fears, so we need to work on challenging our thinking patterns so that we are not afraid of something that may be totally irrational. Thinking things that are not true can be really undermining and not helpful to us at all.

I think it would be really useful if that group you mentioned goes ahead, especially to meet people your age with similar problems. I am sure that there will be more people who would benefit from the group as well. If you don't get a response from the college, be persistent and say that it would help you as you are suffering a lot. Good luck with the group.

Take care.

Halcyon
   
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Re: Severe Social Anxiety - November 1st 2009, 08:06 PM

I'm just gonna jump in on this conversation. I agree with everything Halcyon has said, especially about the practice.

It's seems you've noticed this already, but I think the real problem is your self esteem. You need to have confidence that other people will accept you. And think about it...why wouldn't they? If you're worried about how you come off in social situations, then at least you must be confident that they'd like you if they really got to know you. Think about what you like about yourself. What do you like to do? What do you think defines you? (don't let it be this anxiety! ) Just by what you've written here, I like you. I'm guessing it's just easier for you to express yourself online (well, that's true for everyone, right?), and if you came across like this in person you could make friends easily. Just believe in yourself. When you start to feel more confident, it is easier to talk to people, and the more practice you have talking to people, the more confident you feel!

Anyway, I've had problems like this myself, and I've come to embrace the "fake it till you make it" strategy. More and more, I'm realizing that other people are nervous too and are just waiting for you to validate them. Try to smile and look at people when they talk to you. If you want to say something, don't worry about something stupid coming out...most people don't focus too much on what you say anyway! They focus on the fact that you are saying something, and that you're smiling while you say it. I hope this helps!
   
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