Social Anxiety/Phobia Support – Towards Social Confidence

I can always remember being shy and quiet even within my own family.  I played a lot of sport which I found was great socially because I didn’t need to talk much.  As I grew up and found myself at high school, I became lost in the crowd.  Still shy and quiet but without my friends.  I found it tremendously hard to make new friends.  I found it difficult to talk.  I spent a lot of time on my own and became withdrawn.

For English we had to do a certain amount of speeches for the year.  This absolutely terrified me, for standing up in front of people was one of my worst fears.  I wrote my speeches ok, practiced at home to time myself, and then the day would come to do it.  So I bunked.  The speeches would run for a couple of periods, so I spent quite a few days off bunking.  Actually I took off the whole week.  I couldn’t risk getting called up to do it !!!

My home life changed dramatically when I was ten years old.  My parents separated.  My father left my brother and I with our homebound agoraphobic mother.  I learned agoraphobia traits very quickly and then over the years became agoraphobic myself. 

Going to school became hard as I didn’t want to leave the house.  But once I got there I was ok.  After school holidays and even weekends, I found returning very challenging.  My school reports always had a high absentee rate.

I got help for my agoraphobia through the Anxiety Disorders team.  I repeated the treatment course and with much success as I am now 90% free of any traces of agoraphobia.  Life without it is amazing and it really can be beaten.

Being shy made social situations difficult, so much that I avoided most of them.  When I did go out socially I learnt that if I drank alcohol I would be more likely to talk.  I did this so well that I am now an alcoholic.  I became reliant on alcohol to talk, for my whole life.  It loosened me up, but then I had another problem to sort out.  Today I am 10 years and 3 months sober.

I really had to work my ass off to overcome my social phobia.  The Anxiety Disorders team once again came to the party and gave me the confidence to join in a 12 week course for social phobia.  Changing my thinking, rational thinking, practising exposure tasks all worked for me.  It took some time I might add!!  I went from a sweaty, nervous, panicky woman at shopping malls to a confident shopper who can try on clothing, return goods and eat in malls at peak time.  I can go to a party and join in conversations, start up conversations and stay calm and relaxed.  I enjoy social occasions now and even look forward to them.  Working on my Social Phobia has changed my life.  All of those graded exposures, small steps have lead me to a wonderful place amongst other people.  I feel like I fit in now and am happy within myself.

I became a member of the Towards Social Confidence committee nearly one year ago and am also learning the role of Secretary.     I enjoy giving something back as I feel I have come a long way.

You may also like...