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Has anyone had any therapy/counselling or used a self help method to get passed your (social) anxiety and live a more fulfilling life?

(11 Posts)
niceview Fri 17-Jul-15 11:29:10

Over the course of my adult life I have done a very good job of masking my issues and whilst every year or so I dabble with therapy - or the idea of it - and invest in the latest self help book, I don't commit and find it easier to go to brushing my issues under the carpet.

On the face of it I live an ordinary, lovely family life. I have a loving husband, lovely children and a decent professional job. But I suffer from social anxiety. I function well in others' eyes, but I use a lot of avoidance techniques and safety behaviours. Internally I feel like I have the mind of a child. My emotional regulation is poor. I easily feel shame in the company of those I perceive as smarter, prettier, funnier, more confident, and men. I'm fearful of scrutiny and being judged and criticised. As a result, I feel unfulfilled in my life, I haven't fulfilled my potential, I don't live my life doing the things I would like to be doing, I can be snappy with my loved ones and I don't think I 'feel' proper emotions.

I grew up with controlling parents. I had a nervous temperament as a young child and my father was judegmental and unpredictably short tempered. My mother exhibited general anxiety.

I took the plunge two years ago and started to see a therapist. I found it difficult because it is so hard for me to take on the position of painting myself in a less than perfect light. It was odd to sit there and have the therapist bring on sobbing and then for me to get into the car where I went back to my normal, happy--enough life. Has anyone else found this hard? Exploring painful feelings for an hour when you spend all other hours of the week going about business as usual? I know I need to do something again though.

If you read this far, thank you! I guess I am looking for other people's stories of therapy or self-help and what has worked for you. I can't commit an endless pot of money to therapy so would rather go with something time-limited that has an evidence-base.

niceview Tue 21-Jul-15 20:42:06

No replies. Does that mean no-one else suffers with this type of anxiety or no-one has managed to get beyond it? Perhaps the latter. There doesn't seem to be a renowned treatment for social anxiety.

Bubble71 Thu 23-Jul-15 21:49:27

I had counselling for anxiety for a year and it really helped me. I learned so much about myself and my anxiety. But you have to be open to counselling and ready to realise things about yourself that you may find confronting.

Maybe you should try a different counsellor. You have to have a connection otherwise it will not benefit you. I got on so well with the lady I saw. It was like catching up with a friend - a very wise one at that!

I will say that my counsellor never "cured" my anxiety. It was more of a case of her giving me the tools to deal with it myself. That's another reason why you have to be open to counselling. It's true that you can't help someone who won't help themselves.

I suggest you read Counselling For Toads by Robert de Board. From reading your post, I think you will find it interesting. It explains a lot about family dynamics and how our parents affect how we feel and behave. It really helped me.

fretaway Fri 24-Jul-15 01:36:19

Sorry can't help very much but just wanted to say I am very much in the same boat. I used a therapist, she was in training so I was paying a discounted rate and it helped me unlock some things I was bottling up.

My social anxiety really limits me in what I can do and certain social situations terrify me. Hoping that someone will come along and tell us what to do!

julesldn Fri 24-Jul-15 01:43:12

Sorry to hear you're going through this.

I haven't suffered from social anxiety myself but I have had therapy, for about a year overall. It was CBT and was really helpful at i time when I really needed it. Therapist was excellent. It is expensive overall but the problem is unfortunately unlikely to go away of its own accord so I would definitely think of it as an investment.

Maybe see if your GP is willing to refer you? Although from what I know they tend to only offer limited blocks which I think might be a bit counter-productive.

Hope that helps and please don't shy away from help, it will get better smile xx

niceview Sun 26-Jul-15 17:42:34

Thank you for your responses. It's good to hear that others have had positive experiences of counselling. That Toad.... book looks good. I have added it to my wish list.

littleladybird14 Tue 28-Jul-15 11:59:05

Can you try CBT by referral from your GP? That's what I've done, I initially had 6 session at low intensity and on my 5th of potentially 20 sessions at high intensity. The low intensity didn't do anything for me and my anxietys I knew were not rational so talking around it didn't really help. I had a breakthrough at my session yesterday through what she called formulation, so trying to figure out what happened at an early age to trigger my anxieties and negative thoughts. Most likely cause is issues as a child with my parents or more so my mum. I can't tell you how after hearing it from someone else it all just makes sense, all my feelings of self doubt, afraid to make mistakes, need to be liked by everyone and generally worthless all seem to stem from the way my mum treated me as a child. Don't get me wrong I had a happy ish childhood. But all along I was openly seen as the naughty child (in comparison with my elder sister who could do no wrong!), my mum would often say if she had of had me first she wouldn't of had anymore kids which I could laugh at but these comments seem to have gone some way to me feeling inadequate and afraid of getting into trouble. My mum would openly smack me, often leaving hand prints although now she can't recall smacking me that often! She never showed any affection, kisses, cuddles or I love yous, although this was our family in general. The only time I saw some affection between my parents was at a grandparents funeral where I saw them holding hands!
Anyway I've gone off track! I'd say definitely try CBT through your GP before going privately. I'm still in the early stages but now I see the causes of my issues I'm looking forward to discussing with the therapist how I can change my mindset and maybe I guess accept that it's not been my fault and I'm not a bad person after all!
Good luck x

niceview Tue 28-Jul-15 21:27:14

Thank you littleladybird14 for your comments. Can I ask how long it took to get the referral? Was there a wait between having low intensity CBT and high intensity CBT? Did you also take medication? What made you finally go to the GP and did you ask for counselling or did the GP suggest it?

Your childhood sounds similar to mine, except my dad was mostly the sub-optimum parent. I am the younger sibling of two and I grew up feeling flawed, in comparison to my elder sibling. I was made to feel like the difficult, annoying, over-sensitive, weird child. Even in my late teens when I enjoyed a better relationship with my parents, they joked about what a pain I was. But there were other things too. My dad was a misery and unpredictable with a short fuse. we were scared of him and did not speak when he was present.

I'm pleased to hear you think CBT is helping for you. I found the NICE clinical guidelines for treating social anxiety and they recommend CBT, of a specific type, lasting appx. 15 sessions. I wonder how often those guidelines are adhered to.

niceview Tue 28-Jul-15 21:29:09

Is your CBT with a trained psychotherapist/psychologist or just a person trained to deliver CBT?

littleladybird14 Tue 28-Jul-15 21:41:45

I would say I waited around 2 months for my low intensity sessions then at the end of these maybe another 2 months although my therapist was at the end of her training so if I was happy to be filmed (sounds worse than it actually was) I could be seen quicker. She's finished her course now and I'm no longer filmed and she is very very good so I'm glad I took her up on the offer. Normally it can be 3-4 months although it can depend on your area. I noticed leaflets at the office which said you could refer yourself so didn't have to go via the GP, don't know how that would work but sounds like a possibility if you didn't want to see your GP.
I went to see my GP for a normal check up and ended up breaking down as things were getting on top of me, work, home, child etc, I just felt anxious in all these situations and like a failure in them all too! She prescribed me citalopram which I took for around 6 weeks although started to get more noticeable palpitations so she's stopped them until I have a 24hr heart check up as citalopram can cause side effects if you are prone to irregular heart beats, I nearly fainted when she old me this in the docs much to my embarrassment! Another health anxiety kicking off! She also referred me for CBT as she felt this would help with my anxieties but even if your doc doesn't mention it I would definitely say it is something you would like to try. In all honestly I don't want to take any medication, I'd rather the CBT has the impact it's supposed to and changes my mindset for good rather than the temporary effect of medication (or alternatively taking it forever!), but that's my personal preference and I know my therapist said CBT does work well in combination with medication.
As you say it sounds like we've had similar childhood experiences, all day I've been thinking about so many traits of mine that I can link back to my mum and feeling inadequate around my sister, but actually how they affect me now in everyday life is just unreal. As I say out next session will most likely delve a bit deeper and figure out how I can get past these emotions.
Do try the doctors, even if it means you waiting it'll be worth it in the end x

littleladybird14 Tue 28-Jul-15 21:46:18

In all honestly I'm not sure re your CBT therapist question! I go to a centre that purely offers CBT to help with anxiety and depression- the place has about 20 separate rooms and is used for my city region but have people trained to different levels, so my low intensity therapist couldn't continue my treatment as she wasnt trained to high intensity level.

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