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Social anxiety/accompanying a school trip

(14 Posts)
CC77 Sun 20-Mar-16 02:07:36

I have just moved to a new country with my husband and family, and my kids have just started new schools. As you can imagine, starting again with no family or friends is pretty hard and my social anxiety is starting to peak. The thing I need help with is: my daughter is going on a school trip on Tuesday and parents are invited to accompany and help out. I said no because I thought there was just no way I could, but now my daughter is sad and I see how much she needs me to support her and help her feel secure and settle in this strange new environment. As the adult, I know I need to get over myself and do this for my daughter but anyone with social anxiety will know how terrifying this is. I don't know the teacher, the school, the kids, the parents, i don't know what the trip arrangements are, I'm not confident at helping other people's children, etc, etc.

Can anyone give me a pep talk?! What do you do to get over your fear of situations like this? It sounds so small but there are dozens of other issues going on in the background, and this is the immediate problem that is bringing it all to a head (by which I mean, don't judge me for this tiny thing, it's the tip of the iceberg!)

MattDillonsPants Sun 20-Mar-16 02:12:38

I have social anxiety....I know exactly what you're going through. flowers Is your daughter really sad or is she just latching on to your anxiety around not doing it?

Is your daughter happy to socialise generally? Has she made friends?

Floggingmolly Sun 20-Mar-16 02:13:20

They almost certainly only wanted a few parents to help out; not every child's parent? Just tell your child you haven't been chosen to help this time.

MattDillonsPants Sun 20-Mar-16 02:15:14

Good idea Molly! I agree.

OP I don't put myself through things like that....I know it's important to try and push myself so I do set little challenges but not as big as going on a school trip.

CC77 Sun 20-Mar-16 02:22:49

She went on a trip on her first day there last week, and she said lots of children had their parents with them. I don't know if she's genuinely sad, as I know both children have been laying it on thick recently , saying how much they miss England and their dad (he has helpfully been away on business), but I'm sure there's some genuine emotion in there too. She's pretty shy and often wants me around in playgrounds and other social situations.

I know doing this with her will help her, and might be good for me, reassuring me about the school - it was far from our 1st choice, and she comes home with stories of other kids being really badly behaved, which I'm probably overplaying in my head. I really want to do it, I just can;t get past the fear of it. Then again, I often make myself do things that make me feel uncomfortable, and they don't always go well because I'm so useless out of my comfort zone.

CC77 Sun 20-Mar-16 02:25:49

Thanks for the advice - I just cross-posted. It's a relief to have someone say that I don;t have to do this as I'd got myself into a bit of a state telling myself I had to. It would be a huge relief to not go, and like you say, find an excuse to tell her.

MattDillonsPants Sun 20-Mar-16 03:18:48

I always think part of my social anxiety is getting things out of I'll torture myself over whether to text someone or not for example and literally lose sleep over it! People without social anxiety don't think twice about stuff like that.

It is always so reliving to be told that "it's fine" as you say...always come on here OP and get support. I do! Are you in Oz? We've also recently moved to a new country and I've found school etc quite a challenge too!

sadie9 Sun 20-Mar-16 11:51:23

This is long now because it's a subject close to my heart. Sorry now I am going to tell you how to go on the trip.
There are other ways to think about this that might make you more willing to go on the trip. Going in the trip might do a lot to help your social anxiety as well, more than you think. When you think about the trip, your mind goes into all sorts of scenarios which simply do not exist because they are in your head. Your body then follows with really frightening sensations of fear and terror because it's trying to protect you from what it sees as a 'dangerous' situation.
So your mind's interpretation of the situation is not real it is imagined, however your feeling of fear is very very real. I get that because I know that fear very well. It's important for your mind to make you avoid stuff that makes you uncomfortable. However, uncomfortable feelings are not a danger to you, though they tell a damn good story of danger.
However, ask yourself What's Important here? Who's Important? You are important, your daughter is important. She would absolutely love you to go on that trip.
Here is my biggest question: Would you be willling to have and hold uncomfortable feelings for a few hours in order for her and you have a really valuable experience?
You could be a person with social anxiety and still do the trip. Your mind will kill you for it, it will issue some really angry press releases, but you could bring those feelings with you on the trip like you wheel your whinging kids into the supermarket because you need to buy food for your family.
If you wanted to move towards who's important and what's important in your life, would going on the trip be a move towards that, or would avoiding the trip be a move away.
When you find your mind jumping into the scenarios of 'I'll have to talk to people, I will feel like a fool, they'll think I'm an idiot, I won't know what to say, I'll probably faint or cry' etc etc just Stop Right There and say Whoa hold the freakin horses here. Then think of situations you have been in with one other person who has been nice and kind to you, a person and a parent just like you. People are all shit scared of something, we just hide it well. Your trip out will be made up of tiny moments one at a time, it's not one big mashed up terrible experience that your mind is presenting you with. The fear will go up and down. In reality we live our lives in tiny chunks, if you can do 10mins, you can do another 10min, and another and soon a whole hour has gone by.
You could look right at your daughters precious little face the next time she comes into the room and think to yourself....and here's another big question:
Is a few hours of fear worth having for you? Is a few hours of being afraid of embarrassing myself worth having for you?
Then you can think of the trip, feel that awful awful creeping waves of fear, you can get really afraid and want to avoid it...And still do it. You could, if you wanted, say to your mind, I am not turning this freakin bus around, we have important stuff we need to do here today. If you would be willing, just for 10mins, to give your daughter this gift of fear and uncomfortable feelings if it meant something really important.

The above is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which has helped me face my fears beyond anything else. You focus on your values, who is important to you and what's important to you and you use those values to carry you through situations even if your mind and body don't want you to. You don't wait for the fear to subside before you do stuff. Because in some cases that's a whole lifetime of waiting. You do stuff and then the fear subsides.

coffeetasteslikeshit Sun 20-Mar-16 11:56:06

Great post Sadie! If I find myself over thinking things I sing (in my head!) Stop! In the name of love.... and it reminds me why I'm trying to do whatever it is I'm trying to do.

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Sun 20-Mar-16 12:03:01

You will be spending the time in the trip with your child - they will want to show off you as their mom -

You may notice bad behaviour or not - but you can put names to faces and reassure your child the X is just silly?

You aren't going to make life long friends - just a nod and an hello will get you through

hefzi Sun 20-Mar-16 12:47:19

flowers Brilliant post, sadie!

sadie9 Sun 20-Mar-16 12:51:47

One last thing because it might help someone, I'll shut up then. There is a part of you that wants to do this trip. So get in touch with that part of you. If you gave yourself a chance, could you take it?
There might be something in this trip for you too. Maybe there is much much more for you in this trip than you know. You might actually enjoy it in places! And think of how rewarding it will be in the long term that you did it. But only your own experience will tell you that.
Avoiding is a quick fix in the short term to avoid future painful experiences, but can have long-term negative consequences. Not avoiding is painful in the short term, but has very positive long-term consequences.
My brother when we were little, had a saying about new potatoes (which he hated). He used to say 'Eat your yuckies first'. That means, choose to eat the stuff you don't like first so you can enjoy the rest of it. If you leave the yuckies still hanging out there in the future, they are still going to be waiting for you on the plate and you won't enjoy any part of the meal.
If you Choose to Have Uncomfortable Feelings because of something important to you, you will find you can take on much, much more of it and it is much more manageable than constantly avoiding painful events that haven't even happened yet.
Think of it like having a cold shower. If someone forced you to have a cold shower under duress, it'd be very very unpleasant.
However, if you were going to a close friend's wedding, had forgotten to put the hot water on, you might choose to still have the cold shower - but because you Chose To, because you were facing an Important day with people who are Important to you, the water wouldn't seem as bad or as cold as in the first situation.

Having said all that, sometimes I know there are times when we really really feel we only have one option, and that's to avoid uncomfortable feelings or sensations. We do the best we can at any point in our lives, depending on the inner resources we have, and the emotional and social support and physical support we have at that very point in time. If there was a 'better' option we felt was truly open to us at any point in our lives, we would take it. So don't beat yourself up no matter what you decide to do. You can only do what you can do at each particularly moment in time.

CC77 Sun 20-Mar-16 19:37:30

Thank you so much for this. Tomorrow I think I'll go into the school office and ask how I can accompany the trip on Tuesday. You're right Sadie9 - the pay-off long term if I can get through the short term will be so worth it.

Then, when I've registered to take part, I will re-read these moral support messages over and over again!!

sadie9 Sun 20-Mar-16 21:16:14

Good woman. Your mind will give you grief no matter what you do. So you may as well make it earn its keep by giving it something to really kick off about. A shamrock for good luck shamrock

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