So it feels like ages since I last posted. In a nutshell what has happened since then is I finished CBT for social anxiety, I had end of year exams which stressed me out a lot considering they don’t even count towards my degree, my internship got postponed until next summer, I finished first year (and sort of fell for someone in the last few weeks, round of applause for me…) and I came home for the summer.
In a nutshell. But you know I never just write “In a Nutshell”!
On the SA front: I finished CBT after 10 sessions, and it seems to me like I can barely remember the stuff I learnt but somehow anxiety improved a lot anyway. I’ve practically written a book from the notebook/diary thingy I had to keep documenting all the situations that happened which caused me anxiety. The psychologist guy read it every week, and towards the end he said there was a definite improvement; I was getting better at facing the situations that made me anxious and developing better ways of thinking about them. And he was a brick too, we could have a laugh; before I started I was dreading the prospect of it being too emotional and serious.
The sessions definitely helped, and as I hoped, I didn’t get emotional, although I was probably too wary of sounding whiny. The downside was I found it really hard to give useful, elaborative answers to questions, and I realised that a lot of the time when anyone asks me anything even remotely personal I shut down and it all becomes “Yes,” “No,” “Maybe,” or “I don’t know.” This happens even with people I trust, so it’s like on a conscious level I know I trust them but on a subconscious level I’ve learnt to be ridiculously overguarded, and that’s what overrules most of the time. And when that happens, in my head I literally cannot think of anything to say… So actually a lot of the discussion time ended up being about this because these are defensive mechanisms that probably stem from the stuff which was the foundation for my social anxiety (bullying).
But I am in a much better place with it than I have been in years, because I’m learning not to assume when I first converse with someone that their first impression of me will be bad. I’ve found that in fact I can be friendly and charismatic even with people I don’t know so well (when I’m not nervous, that’s the catch!)
And I can walk around in public and not feel terrified, that’s nice too.
I still have instances where my anxiety gets really bad, mostly on days when I’m tired, so I’m not saying everything’s rosy again. But it’s a lot better. Now I have to try and not get carried away in my new sense of confidence because I know it’s not infallible, and to try and rely more on my strength in God, who is definitely being very good to me!
So next year at uni my goal is to start afresh with societies, which I eventually fizzled out from last year due to social anxiety. If I can just get myself anchored at the start of the year when loads of people will also be starting them new, hopefully I stand a chance. I’m just more grateful than I can say that my first year of uni wasn’t the anxiety-hell that college was. Yays 😀