A few of us are setting up a peer support group for people aged 18-21 with anxiety and depression. We’ve got some funding going and we’re starting this autumn- all we need are a few more ideas!
It’s meant to be a friendly environment, where people can enjoy themselves, make friends, and feel able to talk about anything they need to talk about. The structure is basically that each week starts off with a mental-health/self-care related discussion and then we will have a couple of tables with activities, and sometimes a film.
We already have a few ideas, such as having a group scrapbook, making and painting arty stuff, film nights, maybe even making a short animation film together!
However, more ideas are always good.
If anyone feels so inspired, feel free to comment with any ideas for activities and discussion topics. Also, I’m conscious that some of the people who turn up might not be artistically-inclined, so if anyone has more ideas on how to please them too, you know what to do.
So Part 1 was contextual waffle and Part 2 was about telling my mum. Predictably, Part 3 will be about telling Dad.
Telling Dad started off awkward, progressing to mildly comedic, progressing to absolutely fine.
By the time I got round to talking to Dad, it had been two or three weeks since telling Mum. This was because at the end of the Christmas holidays, I hadn’t found a good opportunity to bring up the subject with him and reluctantly postponed it till my next visit home. So I came back for a weekend and it got to Sunday afternoon, a few hours before I would be getting on a train back to my university town again, and I still hadn’t attempted it. So I figured I’d have to give up looking for the perfect opportunity and just out with it. Continue reading “Being Open about Anxiety for the First Time with Parents: Pt 3”
This is the part that is actually about me telling my parents I have anxiety. See part 1 for contextual waffle.
It was in the last couple of days before I was going to be moving back to university for Term 2 (just over a month ago). I was in the back room trying to study but thinking about anxiety (as per) and my parents were watching a film in the other room. I was mulling over the prospect of telling them about it for the umpteenth time and having just about come to the conclusion that I should tell them had got on to thinking about the how. Then I looked at my phone and the grade of my first essay of the year had come through. So I checked that and it turned out I’d got a C which wasn’t like me so I started panicking about the future and my grades and job prospects etc etc… And I felt so over the edge that I wanted to finally get anxiety into the open now without any further ado. But they were happily watching their film so I didn’t, I just sat there hyperventilating and staring at my laptop screen.
Then their film finished and my dad went to bed pretty promptly so my idea seemed to be blown. Mum was in the front room packing up Christmas tree decorations and I really just had to say something, even though this wasn’t the calm let’s-all-sit-down-together-and-I’ll-explain-that-I-have-anxiety-like-a-rational-human-being scenario that I’d intended. I composed myself a bit more and we Continue reading “Being Open about Anxiety for the First Time with Parents: Pt 2”
I hinted that this post was coming here, so here we go.
Context: It occured to me that I had social anxiety for the first time when I was 16 because I was really disturbed by the amount of shyness I was experiencing and this got me doing some intense googling on the topic. The idea that my extreme shyness met enough criteria to be classified as something called “social anxiety disorder” and that this was classified as a “mental illness” was probably the aspect of this which bothered me most, and to some extent still does. I feel like I’ve been thinking and perhaps overthinking this topic ever since then (the fact I have a blog about it makes that kinda self evident doesn’t it?) but in the following five years I’ve made a big thing of not talking about it (with one or two slight exceptions). Not out of any feeling of shame Continue reading “Being Open about Anxiety for the First Time with Parents: Pt 1”
…Technically yesterday, because I just looked at the time and it’s 1:30am.
So yeah, I didn’t really feel nervous in the build up to it. Frankly I was looking forward to the openness of being around other students at my uni with anxiety. Although I may have freaked out slightly about 10 minutes before when I wanted to just triple check the lecture theatre it was in on the uni emails and the system was glitching and not giving me access. But after going to The Base and uncomfortably asking the receptionist to double check, I got to the right place and was on time.
I put on a very collected demeanor and walked into the lecture theatre. I noticed a lot of students sitting there looking absolutely on edge. I didn’t see anyone I recognised, which was a bit disapointing. I wrote a name badge and took a questionnaire and sat down on one of the front rows. There was a girl sitting on her own there and I internally debated whether to go by the usual unspoken rule of l Continue reading “First Group CBT Thing was Today”
So I got invited to join some group CBT sessions the the university are doing on Wednesdays for the next three weeks. Initially I freaked out when I opened the email, as it was completely unexpected, but now I’m feeling pretty positive about it. It will be something new and not unwelcome to be in a group of people my own age who have this kind of thing, not having to feel apologetic if I’m shy with new people because that’s kind of the issue we’re here about. Heck, I might even make friends. Or everyone will just be horrendously awkward with each other, including me. I can imagine a lot of the other people coming will be bricking it. Either way “It’ll be an experience” eh?
So a year and a bit ago I wrote this blog post about having a dilemma regarding whether to open up to people about having social anxiety. That was just before I started uni. I’ve been at uni forever and a day now. So update time it is.
So I started uni and everything was surprisingly hunky dory with that. Not that social anxiety went away or anything, it just was a lot better than expected. I also went to the counselling people as I had been planning to do once I had moved away to uni, and I went there for 10 weeks.
The first time I opened up about social anxiety with someone in my everyday life was shortly after starting this, because I was meeting up with the pastor’s wife from my new church in my university town every week to study the Bible and pray. So when prayer requests were being bashed around it seemed fitting to mention anxiety, which really didn’t turn out to be that painful a thing to do. I was objective and undramatic about it, I just said how it was and she completely understood and prayed about it.
Then in the summer just gone I was talking to someone I’ve been friends with since school days on snapchat and she casually made a comment about her social anxiety and fear about this phone call she had to make. So I asked if she was serious about having social anxiety, and so she said how she had Generalised Anxiety which included social anxiety for her and she’d just been put on medication for it. So I shared about my own social anxiety too and we had a really long conversation about both our experiences. We talked about it some more recently. She is starting to work towards a career in politics so mental health is one of the things she wants to campaign for, so sometimes she asks me for ideas, and I love to try and contribute these. We’ve been friends like 10 years now so it’s pretty surreal to find we both have these experiences with anxiety and can share both our points of view with each other (that sounds like I’m pleased she has anxiety though, I’m not I swear).
I haven’t opened up to the entire world about having anxiety like I envisioned in that earlier blog post. The thought is still tempting at times but I haven’t deemed it necessary so I haven’t done that, so far. So far I’ve opened up about it to 3 people. The third happened like last week, that was much more of a big deal and incredibly challenging to do, so recounting this episode is something I’ll talk about in an upcoming blog post I think 😛
Anyway, hooray. I must do coursework now so TTFN.
So having been a real worry-guts all this term and feeling like anxiety came back to get me, I went back to counselling today. I finished it in June and everything was much better then, so I felt a bit sheepish about coming back now.
I saw the same person as before, so at least it wasn’t someone totally new. I was really nervous, which was the first time I’d really visibly shown this in a counselling session (before I was very good at keeping my cool even if I didn’t feel like it).
The long and the short of it was, I explained the situation and he thinks I don’t just have social anxiety but “Generalised Anxiety Disorder”. That seriously unnerved me; I haven’t done as much research into GAD but I have it established in my head as something that’s a pretty big deal that I really don’t want to have.
I had been quite proud of the way I could figure out what was going on by myself ages before asking a professional (I figured out I had social anxiety about 4 years previously) so it was espe Continue reading “A Little Bit Shell-Shocked”
I just had a eureka moment while I was thinking about how my social anxiety developed. I already had detailed ideas about it but this feels like the last piece of puzzle.
So I’ve always been very much a peace-loving person. When I was little, people described me as the “peace-maker” among other kids. I never set out to cause controversy or offence but still somehow managed to do that (I’m on about getting bullied, which worked mostly on the level of social exclusion- ie: the bully turns the other person’s friendship group against them, they all make up, but then it happens again and the cycle repeats and repeats)
But I guess when you think of that kind of person you think of someone who’s unflappable and calm (At least I do). But I’m also the type of person that’s always been prone to worry and stressiness.
So maybe these two traits added together + experiences eventually produced social anxiety.
Because when I internalised the bad experiences I’d had with people, despite never trying to be provocative (I blamed myself for these things when I was like 12/13) , then maybe on a subconscious level I ended up paranoid about the way I could disturb the peace with people without even trying. So I got shy and anxious about speaking, fearing confrontation. And I basically conditioned myself to have these anxieties before I realised what I was doing.
I don’t know, it’s interesting isn’t it? I’m sure it starts differently for different people, but maybe some people can relate to this. I don’t know what practical use I can really put this information to, except to urge people (esp. teachers) to take bullying seriously… Please don’t see it as something you can ignore because it’s just kids being silly or whatever, because the experiences they have now affect how they will operate when they get older.
Sorry that wasn’t meant to turn into a preach. I do so strongly feel this is important though.
I’m going to publish this from the MS Word document I just whipped up now because if I wait until the morning when I have calmed down, I will find it too cringey/whiny/ranty/vulnerable to show to the light of day. This is about arachnophobia but could be related to social anxiety or probably any phobia/anxiety problem…
- “Please don’t make light of my phobia just because you don’t understand it. I don’t understand it myself. Before I fully know what’s going on, a thousand red lights have lit up in my brain and I’m screaming and standing on a chair. Please understand I don’t know what I can do to stop that, but I really am sorry that it embarrasses you.
- Please just be glad you don’t have the same problem and help me to have the shortest and least traumatic experience possible.
- Please don’t try and force me to face my fear. If you do this when I am at my most irrational, this will impress itself in my head as something I will be afraid to do even when I am back in a rational frame of mind. Only I can make the choice to face my fear. You probably don’t know how to face this fear, so please don’t act like you think you do.
- Please don’t tell me off for panicking… when I’m panicking…
- Please don’t use my phobia for a prank. I know you mean it in a spirit of fun but doing this tells me you aren’t even trying to imagine the fear I’m feeling or that you think I’m only exaggerating a petty fear. I really desperately wish you would understand but this is the strongest evidence to me that you do not.
- Right now I can’t imagine how I will live the rest of my life with this level of fear in these situations. I’ve imagined some extreme scenarios relating to this, and the unfortunate truth is that many of them are plausible.
- Please don’t laugh at my fear, because then I will have to deal not only with my fear, but with an increasing distrust towards humanity. Please don’t feed that.
- Even if you think I might be an attention seeker exaggerating a fear that isn’t such a big deal, please give me the benefit of the doubt and treat it with discretion anyway. In case I really am out in the deep end.
- I really am out in the deep end.