May 18, 2008

We are all in the same bucket

One of the first things that my therapist did with me and the most successful for gaining my trust was to explain that everybody has at some level the same anxieties that I have. She used herself and her experiences as an example and it was extremely powerful.

She made sure I understood that I am not crazy and that my thoughts are reasonable and my anxieties not so unusual.

It is tough and very lonely to have social anxiety without knowing what's going on. You feel really really lonely and you think you are some kind of monster that nobody wants to be with. Once you find out that it's not that uncommon, this knowledge comes with a bit of relief that there are other people having the same thing and that there is hope, but on the other side, you have a mental health issue/disease which officially puts you in a I'm at least a bit crazy category. Deciding to do therapy or taking medication is again a step forward, but it comes with the issue of having to admit it to others.

This is why establishing that you are not crazy is a great first step in therapy. Brilliant!

Once we know that we have social anxiety, we tend to identify all our traits that prove that we have social anxiety. Sometimes what is a simple difference between people's behavior becomes in our mind unbreakable proof of our being abnormal. And I think we feel attracted to people that are different and that we desire to be like and don't realize that there are enough people out there just like us.

Just recently I noticed this with me. I considered as a typical social anxiety trait the fact that I only dated two men in my life. I found out that my latest hero, John Halamka, married his first and only date. I don't know that he has social anxiety or not, I suspect not too much, but maybe some people are just more efficient this way. Friends that I stayed with, I liked from the very beginning, so is that so bad? Just like people that start drinking in college because they think that everybody else does. Some people just don't drink and some people don't need to date a lot! Does that make us unusual? Probably, but crazy... no!

So, take heart! You're probably not as weird as you think, and almost everybody has anxieties in one way or another.

2 comments:

travel.trekker1 said...

Yes, so true. The older I get, the more I realize this. After reading a few of your posts, you have really inspired me to do something about this awful condition that I have. Time to be proactive!

Jesse said...

"
It is tough and very lonely to have social anxiety without knowing what's going on. You feel really really lonely and you think you are some kind of monster that nobody wants to be with. Once you find out that it's not that uncommon, this knowledge comes with a bit of relief that there are other people having the same thing and that there is hope, but on the other side, you have a mental health issue/disease which officially puts you in a I'm at least a bit crazy category. Deciding to do therapy or taking medication is again a step forward, but it comes with the issue of having to admit it to others."

Wow, that's exactly how I've felt for a couple of years now. I started having weird symptoms my sophomore year, this year I'm a high school senior. I still don't know what I have... sometimes I hope that my parents are right and I am going through a 'phase'. My mother went through depression and she thinks that's what I have, but I keep telling her that I've had anxiety first... that the depression is a result of my anxiety. But she doesn't buy it. My parents think I'm a loser, I'm struggling to graduate high school, and I can't get over the fear of my anxiety that I can't even go ask for a job application. When I get labeled lazy, it really hurts.

Good news is that I have an appointment set up for CBT so I'll see how that pans out.

Thanks for listening to my petty problems, hope I didn't bring some bad memories back.

Great blog, by the way.