Happy Monday readers! It’s making me pretty sad to see my blog empty, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve considered republishing everything in a big bombshell as I’m concerned about previous readers, but no! I won’t give in just yet! So, I have something pretty exciting to share with you all to kick things off.
I’ll be releasing mental illness related stories that have been sent to me by others who wish to tell their story in order to benefit readers. I think it’s great that people have come forward and wanted to share their stories after my previous post, because talking about it helps! I really hope even more people come forward as I’m not the only one out there going through day to day life in this way, and I feel like this is a great way to show that.
Different accounts also help present things that I may not have personally gone through or ways anxiety can affect people that I haven’t experienced, and talk about different types of mental illness.
As it says in my ‘My Story’ page, “Everyone has a story that deserves to be told” here is Olivia’s! Do enjoy :D!
“I have suffered with social anxiety my entire life. However, I did not know that what I was experiencing was an actual thing until I studied about it during my psychology degree about 3 years ago. Up until this point, I just assumed it was extreme shyness.
Not that being shy or quiet is a bad thing, but I always imagined it as someone tightening a belt around my voice box whenever I attempted to speak out or when talking to someone new, to the point where it was actually a little painful to speak, so I just chose to avoid social situations wherever possible. I always got made fun of by my peers for being really quiet, found it extremely difficult to hold lasting friendships because starting conversations was near impossible. Similarly, I got so nervous about having to speak in front of people that giving presentations at school and university was antagonisingly stressful. Making mistakes is a massive anxiety-provoker for me that I even quit a job working in retail after 3 weeks due to not being able to cope with customer’s calling out on my mistakes. I vowed never to work in retail again after that!
Once I read that social anxiety is an actual condition and there are many individuals who suffer the same thing I do, I felt this huge sense of relief and understanding. With this newly found knowledge, I began finding methods to help my anxiety. In mid-2014, I firstly started taking antidepressants which I don’t believe solved anything on their own and eventually stopped taking them. I then confided in a stranger through weekly counselling sessions. It was good to just let everything out to someone but I found that my counsellor kept relating every issue I had back to my father after I mentioned my negative relationship with him. I then decided that I wasn’t getting much more out of those sessions.
In January this year, I started 15 weeks of cognitive behavioural training (CBT). With the benefit of having a psychology degree, I knew there was a vast amount of evidence supporting CBT and thought it was worth a shot. CBT basically aims to change an individual’s irrational and unhelpful thoughts, instead replacing them with more realistic ones. Each session pushed me a little further out of my comfort zone and involved a lot of homework and practise which I am encouraged to continue despite my sessions being over.
I learnt to postpone my worries and that nothing will be gained through losing sleep about something I said slightly wrong that day. I learnt that making mistakes is human and that I wouldn’t judge someone forever if they made a mistake so why should I assume people will judge me? I realised that avoiding situations only makes it more likely that I will avoid the situation again and again and it doesn’t actually solve anything. Through conducting little activities, deconstructing my thoughts and some roleplaying with my therapist, I feel that my anxiety has definitely been reduced.
Currently, I feel my most confident. I recently moved to a city where I only know my partner and I’m trying to make a fresh start and some new friends along the way, hopefully! I am glad that I have this opportunity to write this because I had a slight relapse the other day when I made a mistake and was so upset that I have let people down and that certain people will dislike me. I needed to be reminded of the progress I have made and that it’s ok to still be affected by some things.
Although I am still not quite where I want to be, I am confident that as the weeks and months and years go on that I will become who I want to ultimately be. It’s a lot of work and dedication to keep pushing myself but hopefully one day the confidence will come naturally to me.
My only point to come from this is that if you are suffering with something, find the method that is best for you. Just because you tried one thing and it doesn’t work doesn’t mean that you should give up. A certain therapy worked best for me but it might not for someone suffering a similar condition. And remember you are entitled to slip up and make mistakes because that just proves that you’re human.” – Olivia