Sunday, 9 May 2010

My disability

I got a comment on my blog yesterday that upset me a bit. It was asking about my social phobia, the commenter didn't understand how i could truly have it when from what she'd seen in my blog i seemed to have quite an active social life.

I realise now that if you don't have anxiety yourself, or know someone who has it, it can be very difficult to understand. And I guess if you only know me online (which is basically all of my followers) i do come across as quite a cheerful, gregarious person. I'm sorry to the original commenter that i overreacted a bit, i know you didn't mean anything offensive by it. It's just difficult to me to have to prove my disability and when you asked why i was living off the government it just sort of seemed you were implying that i was lying about my disability. I understand you weren't now and just didn't understand.

So for anyone who's interested here's a short explanation of my disability and how it affects me.

My mouth is dry and my heart is racing. I feel a million eyes on me, all staring, all judging. They think i'm an idiot, i look so stupid and weird i can tell everyone is thinking it. I need to say something or they will just think worse of me but my mind is blank and my mouth doesn't seem to want to work. I feel frozen to the spot for what seems like hours.

Where am i? About to begin a speech infront of a crowd?
No i'm at university and someone has just asked me how my weekend was.
Eventually i manage to move my lips just enough to form a whisper of the word 'fine' along with a shaky smile. The girl who asked me the question looks at me with sympathetic pity and moves away and i am left feeling more useless than ever.

I've been shy my entire life. As a child i would hide away whenever my parents friends came to the house and making friends myself was very difficult but i managed it. i was never popular but was happy with my little circle of mates. I was also bullied and verbally abused consistently until i left for university, though I told myself being constantly called fat, ugly, weird, and so on didn't hurt me i think it probably affected my self esteem very badly. Through puberty i went through bouts of depression where i ended up doing really stupid things because i felt so bad about myself. My shyness and lack of confidence grew and i began to find everyday things like talking to shop assistants and answering the phone difficult but it still didn't really affect my life too badly.

Then i left high school and went to a sixth form college and everything changed. Before while my shyness had grown my day to day life was filled with the same old faces i'd known for years so i could cope with being at school. Then suddenly i was thrust into a completely new place where there were only a few people i knew from the past and they were all in different classes to me. Going to classes became absolutely terrifying. I would get to the station and as the train that would take me to college pulled in i would start to panic often to the point of an attack and be unable to force myself to get on. I missed probably 60% of lessons over the 2 years of college. I used to be smart, no genius but still a bit above average. In my GCSE's i got all A*s As and just 2 Bs (i think i got 10 GCSEs altogether) but as i missed so many lessons in college my grades plummeted and i left for university with (i think) 1 B, 2 Cs and a D. Luckilly i applied to art college and they were so pleased with my portfolio they gave me an unconditional offer.

While this was going on as my quality of life had gotten so bad my mum dragged me to a doctor and i was diagnosed with having social phobia and social anxiety disorder. I was offered medication but at the time was hesitant as i'd heard horror stories about people taking anti-depressants or anti anxiety meds and turning into zombies so i turned them down. So instead i was sent for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.
CBT basically works by slowly exposing you to things that scare you so you become accustomed to them and they stop being something to fear.
However for whatever reason it didn't work for me at all. If anything it made me feel worse. I think the reason is that what's meant to happen is you do somehting scary, like in my case talking to a stranger and then you see that nothing bad happened as a result so you think 'that wasn't so bad' and the next time it's easier. However as my phobia is all about assuming people are thinking badly about me so even if nohing 'bad' actually happens i still think they are feeling bad about me. Also instead of remembering the feelings of relief that would come after i'd done my task i just focus on the pain and misery i felt while doing it.
My therapist would talk to me, which was scary and at first i was struck dumb but after about 5 sessions i was able to alk to her almost properly. I don't mind talking about my feelings and my problems. However she would also take me outside the hospital and  force me to approach people and do various little exercises. I did it because she would be right there, maing me, but it made me feel sick and i would always go home shaking and spend the rest of the day in bed crying. She would also set me homework tasks that would generally be something like 'go up to 5 people and ask them the time' but without her there watching me i couldn't bring myself to do it. But then i was too ashamed and frightened to tell my therapist so i lied and said i did everything.

University was better than college as before we made the college aware of my illness before i enrolled so they made some arrangements to make some things easier for me. And, well basically in my college we were left pretty much to ourselves. You were given a studio space, once a week had a lecture and about once every 2-3 months had a tutorial. My social life was appalling though. I didn't leave home like most people do for uni and there were a few people i became friendly with i didn't make any proper friends. At first people tried to invite me out a lot but i was too afraid so i always made up some excuse and eventually the offers dried up.

I got clinically depressed about 2 years ago and started taking some medication. It's supposed to be both an anti depressant and an anti anxiety medicine but while it helped a lot with my depression it hasn't done anything to help with my anxiety.

Social phobia is basically shyness taen to an extreme level. While most people feel anxious when they are made to give a speech or something i feel anxious just leaving the house because i worry constantly about what other people will think of me. I hate crowds and they make me feel dizzy and often i hyperventilate. I never, ever approach people but if i am forced to talk or interact in some way i feel sick with anxiety and get lots of other physical symptoms. I can't answer the telephone or front door and can only rarely leave the house on my own (i only can when i am going somewhere i know very well). I find little, odd things like just walking into a strange building first incredibly difficult. Recently i've got a lot worse around people i atually know as well, i have begun to feel like i am just a bother when i talk to them, that i'm not remotely interesting and everyone would just rather i weren't or at least wouldn't approach them so they would be obliged to talk to me. I stay in my house the vast majority of the time, usually, apart from a quick dog walk in my local park most days, i will only leave my house once a week and i do that with great reservation. When i do go out on my own (sometimes i force myself to in an attempt to get better) i generally have to drink some alcohol to give me dutch courage.

I don't really know what else to say about it but if you have any questions please feel free to ask. I really don't mind talking about my condition. Again i'm sorry i overreacted but i just feel that at the moment i am having to prove the fact that i am ill a lot and being told that i'm wrong and exaggerating is quite hurtful. It affects my life every day and really is, in a way, ruining my life. I would love to be able to get a proper job and go out and make new friends. This is hard to explain but i am actually quite a social person, i want to make lots of friends and go out all the time and i really, really want to be liked by people but i can't do any of these things because of my fears. I try not to feel ashamed because i cannot help the way i am, it's an illness, but sometimes i cannot help it. My family and Claire sometimes have to act like they are my carers. There are so many things that i just cannot do some they have to do it for me and it's not fair for them.

Recently i decided that i wanted to try and get some more help so i went to my local GP (who i really like) who then referred me to some sort of mental health specialist. However this was the man i mentioned in my previous post that made me feel awful. I felt like he bullied me, he was forceful and nasty and patronising. And at the end the only thing he could recommend was more CBT, even though i explained that i'd bhad i before and it made me worse. So i'm not sure what i'm going to do. I don't want to put myself through something that will cause me such pain when it might , at the end, either do nothing or even made me worse, especially when it's been recommended by someone i felt really did not know how to handle someone with my problems.

If you want to know about the condition in general here's the good old wikipedia page:


  1. Though story and I hope this helped you a little. Always good to sort some things out! It's a familiar thing here though I don't have a social phobia, too bad that most of the time there's misunderstanding.

    Telling you have a mental illness sometimes is like you told someone you've run around with syfilis for 10 years.

  2. my sister suffers the same thing, more people need to recognise it.
    your beautiful, inside and out. disability or not ♥

  3. I'm seeing I'm having a typing disability as well now! Anyway, what I wanted to add to my comment is that do what you like and what makes you feel good. :)

  4. It's natural that people will ask questions when someone has a disability that isn't as obvious as a physical one and I wouldn't take it too badly. It's extremely brave of you to write about your social phobia and the fact you are even writing this blog and doing youtube videos shows you are trying to "beat" your illness.

    I can't answer the phone unless I know who is calling, I can't call companies, talk to sales assistants or even ask for a sandwhich in Subway so to an extent I do understand what you are going through daily. I have to get my boyfriend to go into shops for me sometimes and if we are out for lunch he has to order because I panic about what to say, which as you will know, feels so stupid as it's such an easy task to most people.

    I've never went to a doctor about it and your posts make me feel less stupid and that maybe I'm not just shy. Keep on blogging and making youtube videos and I really do hope you don't take what people say to heart too much, you shouldn't need to prove your disability and it shouldn't be a reason for people to form an opinion on you. Loads of people enjoy your blog regardless of your social phobia and everyone will suport you :)


  5. Thank you for this post. It was enlightening. I hope you won't mind me asking, but how did you meet your girlfriend despite your condition?

  6. Lillian I love you for being able to write this, I completely relate to this and it feels so good to hear I'm not the only one and reading this actually did make me cry. I know what its like to be a social person and want to go out and be involved but there's something stopping you and it's you, but at the same time you can't fight it, and it makes you feel bad about yourself.

    I lie to my CBT therapist all the time too because I'm ashamed to admit that I'm scared to be home alone because I'm so scared of being alone like completely.
    One thing that's helping is being a puppy walker! you have to talk to people because they ask you about the dog, if they can stroke him and how you got into it and it's been doing wonders for my confidence, plus you get all of the love from this little puppy! it made me want to do really well to help Blake to become somebody's eyes so I started trying to throw away all my fears and help him, it's not 100% helpful but it really does make a difference

    xxxx Thankyou so much for being able to write this Lillian, and I'll always be here if you need somebody to talk too

  7. I think it's great that your family and Claire have stuck by you and are helping you through this, I'm sure lots of people are probably going through a similar thing alone which is quite sad.
    I am not sure if this will help you or not but please know things can only get better, it's obvious that you want to get better.
    My philosophy is that we only get one life, so who cares what other people think? Obviously this goes against everything in your head, but say if you met someone and they didn't like you, what's the worst that could happen after that? Just move on and find someone else who's worth spending time with. I don't want you to think I'm having a go, and I know you've probably heard this all before, but I just wanted to let you know that if you keep your head up then it's other people's problems if they don't like you, not yours!
    I think you come across as a really nice, down to earth, honest and fun girl with a good sense of humour, I really hope that one day you feel well enough to go ahead and do a make up artistry course, you're certainly passionate enough about makeup!

  8. Awww hunni, I sort of understand how you feel. I suffer with anxiety, not to the the extent that you do but it's there. I get so nervous and feel sick when I have to talk to someone new, I get nervous on the phone even to people I do know except Hayden and my Mom. I hardly ever talk to SA's or order things for myself in restaurants etc, as I just cannot do it without panicking.

    I always see the worst in every situation, I am a negative thinker and I go to a counsellor every fortnight to try and change these things about myself. I have been going for about 7 months now, and it is helping slowly. I have to go some where or do something specific I check it over and over and over again because of my fear of getting it wrong or being late or getting lost in cases like catching the train.

    I have little to no social life because I just don't go out unless I have too. People my age are all into drinking and going out but I'm not which sometimes makes me feel like I'm not "normal" or something. One reason why I joined the beauty community, even then I sort of set myself at a distance. I think I do this through fear of rejection and people not liking me.
    My counsellor says I have to tell myself I am worthy of being liked and then I'll start to feel more confident, easier said than done unfortunately. I want to be outgoing and sociable, I just can't seem to do it at the moment. I'm hoping getting a job will make it a bit better for me.

    Sorry for the long comment, but I just wanted to let you know that I understand and should you ever feel that you want to talk to someone, I'm always here to listen.


  9. It must be so distressing when people are ignorant to your disability. Also reading about how you were treated when you were younger made me so sad and angry. I love how open you are by telling us this in such detail. I hope you find the help you need. xoxoxo

  10. Social Anxiety is VERY real. Although I only have bouts (usually in the winter as I also have Seasonal Affective Disorder - yep, TWO S.A.Ds) it's bloody horrible.

    My doctors were a total pain to me, when I sat and told him about it before I'd even finished talking he said "Just before you finish, just know you're not going to get any drugs from us!" WTF??!!!!! CBT NEVER worked for me either, it's a very old-school techinique. (But my friend who had anorexia says it worked with her, so maybe it depends on the person and the disorder?)

    People at uni are pains too - they just kept saying "Ooh if you go out and have a laugh you'll cheer up." Uhm, SHUT UP?!

    So you're not alone at all, and are ery brave for talking about this on your blog :) xxxxxxxxxxxx

  11. Hugs to you for posting this!
    I know how hard it is for you to let people in without feeling judged.

    You are one amazing lady and I'm so happy to know you!


  12. Aw you poor thing xx I know what you mean about having to justify things all the time -I have ME and I've had similar comments - just because people can't always see whats wrong with me - (I sometimes use a cane tho but not out of doors pride is often painful :() they assume nothing is :( I've also suffered from severe depression in the past - so I'm fully aware of the stigma :( You are a strong gorgeous lady for having the courage to talk about this -don't let people get you down you don't have to justify anything to us we love you for being who you are - my fingers remain tightly crossed that you'll find a solution xxxx

  13. I understand completely what you're going through. I have anxiety and paranoia that's gotten worse since I was a child.

    I've been shy since I was very little, and for some reason have always felt embarrassed and stupid no matter what I was doing. I had a small group of friends growing up as well, and was bullied throughout school. My grades were miserable because I would skip every project or assignment that included speaking in front of the class. When I got to college, I barely went to classes or to the dining hall by myself because I was afraid of running into people and being awkward. I've usually been excited to make friends but then always felt like they didn't like me, and never really tried to talk to them again.

    I try to go out to places I know I won't run into certain people, no matter how far away. One of my biggest fears that I've gotten better with was talking on the phone to strangers, such as calling to check movie times or order take-out.
    The worst part for me is having people not believe you or think that you're just being dramatic. My boyfriend didn't understand for some time, and just thought I was being 'weird' or a 'drama queen'. I've actually been able to get a bit more comfortable in public thanks to him though, and seeing how he interacts with people when we go out. Once I turned eighteen I decided I didn't want to take any medicine for it, so I try to work through my anxiety day by day.

    Sorry that was long, I'm just happy someone has finally come out and spoken about it. I always feel scared people are going to think different of me if I talk about it, but your post has shown me otherwise. :)

    x Casey

  14. Stay strong Lillian! I had surgery on my spine at age 10, due to the fact that they cut straight through every muscle in the middle of my back, I still have a lot of pain and can find walking very hard. As a result I have set myself the challenge of walking a marathon in June to raise money for the charity Walk the Walk. I managed the 10K several weeks ago, and I'm still suffering with the after effects while working a 40 hour week on my feet. I tend to suffer in silence, leading people to question whether or not there is anything wrong with me. I can't really prove my pain, much like you can't really prove how you feel. People just have to believe you, and if they don't then it's their problem. I'm dreading the 26 miles I have to complete in June, but I just keep thinking of the people I'm raising money for and how much worse pain they are in and how the money I raise can help to alleviate that pain. That's what keeps me going. Never forget that no one, not even your closest friends truly understand the way you feel.


  15. Hi Lillian, just wanted to say thanks for this post. As someone who works in mental health, it's sometimes really difficult to help people recognise that issues such as the ones you experience are just as important and affect people's lives just as much as a physical disability - just because you can't see it doesn't make it not real, and I think this post will bring that home to a lot of people who don't really get that!
    Lots of love... Jen x

  16. Lillian, hang in there. I don't think you've found the right therapist. Your therapist should be supportive, and not make you feel small.

    Yes, there is some discomfort in change, but you should change only if you want to change, because who is to say what is normal? You could be the "normal" one.

    Mostly, it's not that you're not normal but more that you are in the minority but that doesn't mean anything is "wrong" with you. If you find your niche and you are happy, then accept yourself and feel good about yourself. If that means having more limited social interaction than the next person, so be it. Who cares what someone else does? Stop judging yourself so harshly or listening to the tapes in your head of whatever is negative. Enjoy being you.

    Only if you would like to do something different and want support in getting to that place should you seek help. But you should feel empowered, not horrible about doing something out of your comfort zone. If you feel horrible, then that therapist's approach is not a good fit but of course the ego of the therapist will get involved and they'll think they're right, so learn to trust your gut feel.

    I come from this as a parent of a thirteen-year-old who has multiple disabilities and finding the right doctors is sooo key! Some of them just don't get her and some of her teachers haven't either. I've made a few doctors mad when I've told them off about what they've said to her or prescribed.

    And you are very, very right to be skeptical of medication. There can be horrible side effects that are worse than what you were trying to treat to begin with so therapy would definitely be better. But a medicine that works for you is also good. Sometimes it's just hard because they don't know why one thing works for one person but not someone else. But if you feel a need to lie to someone, then that person doesn't get you and is not someone you should waste your time listening to but it doesn't mean that another therapist wouldn't be a perfect fit.

    Many people are ignorant as to what you are going through. I've had to educate just about everyone, including doctors who are supposed to be experts about my daughter. Only you can advocate for yourself but it doesn't mean you need to feel you have to justify yourself to everyone. You can humbly sit back and tell yourself that person is feeling that way because that is where they are in life and they don't have the enlightenment yet to get another perspective. But you don't always have to be right. You can just acknowledge what is going on and tell yourself "noted" and not give their opinion a second thought.

    If this helps you, great but if not, please disregard. Take care. You are fine just the way you are and if we were born knowing everything, what would be the purpose of life? It's a journey. Relish every step.

  17. Hi Lillian, you don't know me because I've never commented on your blog although I always read it. I started having horrible crippling panic attacks years ago. Fortunately, I was diagnosed before anything terrible happened and with therapy and medication, lots of support and hard work I was able to get better. It was the hardest thing I've ever done and I'm sure the fact that my children were little at the time kept me working hard to get better.
    It's difficult if not impossible for someone who has never been there to understand things like this.
    As hard as it is to deal with, please don't give up and try to find a therapist who you feel you can work with. Thank you for sharing about this on your blog, and the best of luck to you!

  18. I want to thank you for sharing this, even though it brought back memories of feelings that I'd forgotten. I had social anxiety and on-and-off depression throughout my teenage years, yet I was involved in things which involved performing and people didn't understand why or how this made sense. I would much rather have been on stage. Face-to-face was when I felt that I was being put 'on the spot'.

    Strangely enough, this is sort of how I became more interested in make-up, because I would spend at least an hour applying it every morning before college, to the point of being late for classes. My reasoning was that I had to make every possible effort to make myself 'likeable', and seen as there was something 'wrong' with me then I'd better 'make up' for it in other ways!

    I went through similar things to what you described when I moved into college, even though it was part of the same school and I was surrounded mainly by the same people. I started with the panic attacks and ended up missing a lot of lessons because it was easier to just stay home.

    I can completely see how CBT could make you worse. I tried it once, had the biggest panic attack of my life and said 'never again'. It didn't help me at all. I was on meds, though, and they did help eventually, along with anxiety workshops that I went to.

    I know it's devastating when you feel like someone is implying that you're exaggerating or something, even if you know logically that they're probably not. I think the answer is definitely education and spreading awareness of anxiety and other 'unseen' conditions. Which is why I think it's useful to write things like this blog post.

    Keep doing what you're doing, you seem like a wonderful person.


    P.S: Re: my last comment...: ASOS? Seriously? *runs off* =D Thanks!

  19. Lillian, again, if you feel comfortable about it, try looking for a psychoanalyst or another psychodynamic therapist. They have no exercises and you mostly talk about everything. They might sometime comment or ask something, but if you ever happen to interact with something it'll be either your therapist or an imagination character (if it's psychodrama).
    My sister had problems with her CBT as well, lied and felt awful, but she's with a psychoanalyst now and she's feeling much better.
    We always say at college that everyone has a therapy that fits, and you just have to find yours.
    Some people do great with CBT and hate psycho-dynamics approaches (my father is one of them), some do better with psychoanalysis (my boyfriend and my sister), I go to a therapist that uses Daseinsanalysis - and this is the path I'll probably follow too.
    Some people I know love psychodrama...

    Still, you should try to find a good therapy to help you deal with your suffering... And find a person that makes you feel comfortable.
    It's hard and it'll take some time until you find a good person to help you.
    If you want, I can try to do some research, talk to some teachers, see if they know someone from England... I don't know...
    I just think that you are a wonderful girl and it's sad to see you going through so much pain.....

    I agree with you on the medicine matter. It can have horrible side effects and I experienced them with my father's depression... he had euphoria that put his life and ours in danger sometimes.
    It works really well for some people, but for others it might do more damage than good...
    I know one of my teachers treat things with homeopathy, but I don't know if it works for every illness... she does not tell us much about it....

    I wish people would learn to take mental illness more serious. It could save lives, it could help lots of people to fight their suffering...

    Still, this is a recent field of study, and most people are skeptical about it....

    I think you are a wonderful, amazing and talented person. I think you don't deserve any kind of suffering, so I hope you'll be able to find someone to help you in your fight against your phobia!



  20. Lillian you are so amazing and brave to put this out there and fight your illness every time you make a post. I have an anxiety disorder which is no where near as bad as it used to be. I look at you and how you've gotten through your illness and it helps me fight of anxiety attacks. I think you're really amazing, I know I've told you that before over twitter but I really do mean it.
    <3 <3 <3 * a really big hug from across the pond *

  21. Hi Lillian, this is my first time commenting but I've been reading your blog for quite a while now. I just wanted to say well done for posting this. You are a very brave, beautiful person.
    I can understand a little bit about what you're going through. I have a form of OCD known as 'Pure-O', where my compulsions are mental rather than physical, and I sometimes feel that people don't understand how hard it can be to deal with, or even that they just don't believe there's anything wrong with me at all, because people are so used to associating OCD with arranging things in a certain way or hand-washing. It got to the point last year that I was almost unable to leave the house because all I wanted to do was curl up and cry because the constant fear, worry and guilt was so bad; I missed almost a third of the school year, and even now, I'm still hardly able to attend my university classes. CBT wasn't completely effective for me either; I spent 90% of the time seeking reassurance from my therapist about my worries (and anybody who has OCD will tell you that's one of the worst things you can do in terms of getting better, as odd as it sounds), and the techniques didn't help me - like you, my worries were concerned with thoughts, and because I couldn't prove that they weren't true, the exposure just didn't help much.
    If you would be willing to, perhaps there's another form of therapy that would be more effective in helping you deal with your social phobia. I don't know much about different forms of therapy so I can't recommend anything, but I do think it might be worth looking into. Also, I know you said the medication you took didn't help with your anxiety, but perhaps it was just not the right type of medication for you. Last year, I was put on medication for my OCD and it really really helped; earlier this year though, I became depressed while on it, so my doctor tried changing me to a different medication - the depression seems to be gone, but my OCD has come back in near full-force and I've been hardly able to deal with it for the last few weeks, so I'm going to have to go back onto the old form of medication. So it could perhaps be the case that the medication you were put on wasn't quite right for you. I don't know much about psychology, so I certainly can't say for definite whether a different form of therapy or medication would help, but I just wanted to offer some advice.
    Reading about that last mental health specialist made me so angry. Making a patient feel bad like that is, in my opinion, one of the worst things a medical professional can do, and that man deserves to be fired. But remember that for every bad doctor/therapist, there are plenty of really wonderful ones.
    I'm sorry to have left such a long rambly comment. Good luck with everything and stay strong :)

  22. you know, i still think getting out there and trying those exercises are beneficial in the long term. i hate to call it CBT, i never have and never will. but getting out there and trying things like ordering a coffee (actually, you should go out there and try and get something you like so that it's something to look forward to, with Claire by your side but not doing it for you) for example, slowly after time (and i mean trying these things gradually like 20 times over a month) will really help. it might be a bad experience at first but without continuous efforts you won't get any results. and i think you have to acknowledge that your thoughts are part of a 'delusion' (again, hate to say it that way, doesn't mean you're delusional or psychotic, just means that they are not true), and that you have to fight against them and say to yourself that they aren't true or that you won't listen to them. sometimes you might get into a situation that makes you feel like people are judging you, but sometimes either they are not, or they do that with everyone and that's a fault in their self.

    and i totally understand, i don't want to seem like a bad person with all these 'forceful' sounding messages. i was also the one that hid in my bedroom when guests arrived and asked my brother to get things for me instead of asking myself.

    and i know you aren't looking for advice, but i'd hate to see a person such as yourself with amazing capabilities have to hide behind the walls when i know you are truly at home with others! (if you want to email me feel free as well)

  23. (oh and you don't have to email me for just advice. sometimes it's just interesting to talk and think and have a bit of fun :P)

  24. I think you're really brave to be explaining your disability.
    Luckily nowdays there is the internet that can really connect you to people without actually speaking (live) to them :)

  25. Thank you for that great explanation. I'm one of those people who doesn't really understand the disability although I have a friend who suffers from anxiety.
    This was such a wonderful post, it's great to have a better understanding of what it's all about.

  26. I have social phobia, too. Lately I've been taking tranquilizers to be able to leave the house and they help some (though it's still often difficult to BE outside, but they help me through the door).

    You could start blogging about your artwork and maybe get commissions etc. that way? Just a thought, I find it helps with my self-esteem if I have something to do "officially".

  27. Wow, good for you for being able to actually recognize what's going on with you and your life! It takes a lot of work to just be able to go seek help and find out what's going on in your head in the first place, and you managed to get there.
    I have social anxiety, which lead to depression and suicidal thoughts. With the help of Effexor, supportive friends and immersion therapy, I was able to get through it. I'm now off the Effexor and my life seems so much more open.
    It sounds like you're not ready to do immersion therapy, but you can definitely impact your anxiety in a positive way by finding something that holds you back. For me, it was my ex. He had so many complexes and issues that he held me back and made mine even worse. He wasn't trying to do that but it just happened by accident and made a mess of my mind.
    Like some have said, finding a different therapist would be a good idea. Someone who will fit you would make it 100 times better in the long run.
    Also, as far as medication, if nobody's talked to you about it before, I suggest looking at Effexor XR. I ended up on a 150mg dose per day. I was worried about being a zombie too, but this didn't do that. I still would have the "What if...?!" thoughts, but I didn't have the full-on physical panic, which helped reduce some of the bad thoughts and eventually made them manageable. Not saying it will work for you, but might be something to look into and talk to a doctor/therapist about.

    Just keep in mind that you can function with this and you can live your life. You don't have to be a slave to this illness. Your friends and family are there to help you and give you love and support. And, no matter how annoying you think you are to them, you aren't actually.
    (sorry for the long-winded reply. Best wishes to you and hope you can find a way to work with your life)

  28. Totally agree with everything you said. Some situations I may not understand due to nt having it myself, but in a lot of cases I can get physically unwell due to nervousness and just plain anxiety. I don't like using the phone for example and I hate going to places alone where I haven't been and doing things alone that I've never done before. Some people just don't know how to deal with someone who has something like this though. What's the PC thing to do? Ignore it?

  29. Hey sweetie! I'm sorry that someone commented at your phobia. Not nice. I know what you mean about the blogging. My blogging personality is more like my personality towards friends. However, when I am with friends, soemtimes I feel like I still have to watch what I do becuase I feel like they hold me to a certain standard: good girl, doesn't party blahblahblah. Isn't that weird? I'm more afraid of being judged by my friends than by strangers, becuase at least with strangers, they don't know you so they don't have preconcieved notions about you.

    For the shyness, I am still fearful of speaking in public, especially if it's about my own writing work (like essays and short stories in school) It sucks and bascially I feel like I'm going to cry each and every time. Sucks, but it's something I'm still working on

  30. haha, effexor made me crazy. i got aggressive and angry all the time. though, i'm glad it worked for you trina!

  31. Hi Lillian, I'm so glad you told your story here, I think it's important for people with these kinds of disorders to be able to read about these things and know they're not alone (corny but true!) I have suffered with anxiety ever since I can remember, I was bullied from such a young age that it's hard to tell if that was the cause or just an accelerator. I'm much better these days but it actually affected me most in uni, I'd panic about walking into the lecture theatre because I'd feel like everyone was watching me, and most days I'd turn around and walk home, and eventually I couldnt even face trying to go. I also know what you mean about becoming anxious even with friends, If I know I'm meeting friends I feel nervous beforehand and for about 15 minutes when I'm with them! And If I see someone I know in the street I literally turn and walk the other way, people must think I'm soo rude!
    I'm the same as you in that I worry about what people are thinking of me, I don't even know why that bothers me so much! I think I just think too much! I've become so much better lately by trying to tell myself 'it doesn't matter what people think' because I know deep down it really doesn't! But it's still hard, and most days I just wish I were different!
    Anyway! Just wanted you to know it's much appreciated and keep positive!

  32. Hi,

    I was moved by what you wrote and also impressed by all the answers you got. Obviously what you wrote touched a lot of people because a lot of blog posts on the Internet get ignored.

    Anyway, I wanted to say I'm a social phobia person too and I wanted to share a great resource that has really been helping me a lot, Social Anxiety Anonymous has free (and gentle and low-key) support groups (and great articles) that really help social anxiety / social phobia.

  33. :( !

    I sympathise on the asshole doctor front - my GP went off at me one day because this other doctor had ordered the wrong tests for me, and the results were useless. So then I was like "well should I leave then?" and she was like "why?" and I was like "BECAUSE YOU'RE BEING AN ABRASIVE BITCH :|" and I've hated her since. But now she's moved to Tasmania, thank god - she can go fuck off and die for all I care.

  34. @ SilhouetteScreams: haha, she's a tassie devil now!

  35. I'm sorry to hear that because I'd never rated you to suffer from social phobia. I know bullying (I was also a victim. So, let's form an association of former bullying victims.) and depressions but I try to fight my fucking demons every day. It's weird that the shadows of the past still haunts us. But the most important thing is that you start to love yourself, dear! You'ren't fat, ugly and weird (I heard exactly the same. Haters aren't very creative in choosing their bashings. Haters = Losers!!! *lol*). I've seen a strong and powerful woman on the pics. Maybe you'll see her sometimes, too, and show her to the world without any feeling of fear. Jeez, forgive me for talking like an old granny but I always behave like this when I like someone I even just know from a blog.

  36. I'm very impressed. really. I hope you will face it :)
    maybe some psychoanalist theraphy would be good. or some pshycodrama ( i don't know if there is such a thing in england).
    thank you for sharing it with us!

  37. Lilian....I was going to reply to your comment on my blog initially, and then I found this post...and I forgot what I had to say.
    I read it very carefully, and I am so emotional that I felt you while reading it. By that, I mean that I felt a mix of opposite feelings: sadness, frustration, but also so much hope, and lifeloving!

    It was very brave for you to write this post, but afterall I feel where it is coming from. You're probably tired of wearing a mask you don't want to wear and scream to everyone "that's the truth about me! You can stop judging me now!"
    Writing is so much easier!

    When I was very young, up until the age of 14 I was really shy. All my mid-term notes from teachers in elementary school said "very smart and creative. extremely talented, but lack social interaction with groups". And it was true. Everyone seeemed to betray me at some point, and betrayal to me means 1 thing only "no, I am not going to forgive you and I will steer clear of you for the rest of my life". I still do that.
    Thing is, I now know where all this comes from. Our brain works in such weird ways it is even hard for us to understand that! People never know, cos most of the times when we suffer a lot, we can't speak up!

    And do you want to know what really helped me? Going to Edinburgh (all the way from italy) by myself at the age of 14! Where I knew no one and nothing. Where my life could start over again, and it really did!

    Now my shyness has nothing to do with your pathology, but may I ask you...were you hospitalized some time when 0 to 3 yrs old?
    I have read some psychology books in my life, trying to understand why I was that way, and it turned out hospitalization when you're just a baby can do these sort of things!

    I am no specialist, but my advice is looking for another therapist. Honestly, I think you can make it, and defeat the illness!
    Please do not let it take over you, you're so smart and and creative, and young!


  38. Just read this...

    Well done for writing about it, I know how difficult it can be, but also that sense of relief.

    I hope you continue to make progress with your condition and try not to let it stop you doing the thing you enjoy and are good at.

    I too can totally sympathise with the connotations attached to being depressed and having mental issues.

    I wish you all the best xx

  39. I had just linked to your profile from your youtube, you are very brave writing about this, don't let other people get you down like, they can be means for sure. I have had horrendous anxiety, agoraphobia, claustrophobia (just can't win lol) for most of my life, though especially bad since i was 17 ( i am 22 now) which really surprised people too as i am probably the least communicative person ever hehe.
    I had CBT too, though over the phone as i couldn't leave the house, i think it only works on certain people as i did not feel very 'helped'. I know what you mean about family being 'carers' too, my partner has had to do everything since we moved in together and i feel totally bad for him.Luckily the last few months after hitting rock bottom things have got a little better. Found an excellent book on anxiety by Doctor Claire Weekes called self help for the nerves which is probably the best book on anxiety i have ever read, still have to read between the lines to take what you need from it but it has been dead good anyway =] She has written other books too (one on agoraphobia and i think other ones too) Also have had success with some complementary therapies that sort of boost the tools that the book gives you, it really is excellent (and i've tried pretty much everything hehe).
    It is not nice when people say mean things about it for sure, people have no idea what its like unless they have experienced it, they deserve to have their shoes eaten for sure!
    You are very brave and keep up hope because it is possible to beat this one step at a time :-) hugs xx

  40. I just came across you from Nouveau Cheap and I LOVE your blog. And THANK YOU A TONNE for writing this post! Online is one of the few places I can express myself and show my true persona without having a panic attack in a social situation. Thank you for the awesome other posts too! :D

  41. This comment has been removed by the author.

  42. (Sorry, I didn't realise just how huge my first post was! Have cut it down a bit.)

    I realise that I'm a bit late to the party here but I've been up all night reading through your blog and had to comment.

    I've also suffered from Social Phobia/Anxiety Disorder since I can remember. My family and I had just put it down to being very shy, but after researching it a couple years ago I realised it was more than that.

    For me, it was worst when I hit 15. I was barely at school, I despised it so much. I always woke up feeling sick with worry and tried my hardest to convince my mother to let me stay off; it paid off more often than not and when I was forced to go in, I'd usually manage to get sent home by matron not long after. For someone who was seldom there, my GCSEs turned out very well, however!

    I got out of there eventually and went onto an art course at the local college- at first, I was so happy to be doing what I loved (I plan on becoming an illustrator too :)) and made some new friends fairly quickly to my surprise. (Having my best friend on the same course helped a lot, mind you!) Alas, in my second year, the gloom started to descend again and the depression steadily built up and peaked last Summer (I only just about passed my course) and well into the last few months. It got so bad over September/October that I dropped out of my art foundation year after being ill for what was essentially a month and struggling with a monumental art block (which I'm still stuck with) as well as feeling ridiculously paranoid about the girls who I shared a space with.

    So I left. Decided to take the year out instead, work on a portfolio on my own and apply for university by myself. I'm still not quite sure what's going on or how I feel. I was considering going to the doctor for help but I'm too scared to. The bad patches seem to come and go- I've always just gone with it and tried to help myself out of it as best I can. But I digress.

    As soon as I've posted this, I'll be hitting that 'follow' button. :) I hope you'll excuse the state of my blog should you choose to have a look at it- it's a work in progress at the moment!

    I hope things have gotten better for you since you posted this- take care. xxx

  43. Hi there! I've recently been following your blog (which is really well-done, I think). I've had this same kind of anxiety and social isolation since I can remember. I'm really impressed, though, that you are able to open up and post about your anxiety, because so many people with social anxiety find it too difficult (I often avoid it even with my few close friends), and when people talk about it, more people seem to realize that this is a real thing. I feel that educating people about it is the first step to clearing the guilt and social stigma of mental disabilities, but it's odd, because even as we try to explain to others, we still feel guilty.
    I've been thinking of trying CBT myself. After reading about your experience, I wanted to ask, if you had it all over to do again, would you just not do it? Do you think CBT would work for someone who feels she can really trust her therapist?

  44. I really appreciate finding this blog post.

    I have HFA, and much of the time, it's very much an 'invisible' illness-- I've been told 'oh, I never would have guessed!'. Which is all very well when it comes to talking to people in public when I do manage it, but I know what it's like to do a lot of my socializing online, where I come across much better than I would in person, and it's hard to explain why I do need to be on the government dole.

    It's really nice to see a post like this from someone whose videos I've been admiring and enjoying.

  45. This post is awesome i like to read this and i am enjoying to read this information . I will share this to my friends.
    social anxiety disorder


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