If emma can do it then you also can replicate how he managed to eradicate S.A in his life so its high time we take a deep breath to peruse through one of the most acclaimed way of getting over a debilitating depression.

 

Emma's Story

Hi,

My name is Emma and I'm 24. I have had SA since I was three and have since recovered to start my own business. I thought others might like to read about how I did this. I can be contacted on [email protected]

 

For as long as I can remember I have always been known as ‘incredibly shy’. At school I always had few friends. I never went to sleepovers, parties, days out shopping or just hanging round talking about boys and makeup. My earliest memory of feeling fearful about joining in with the group was as a three-year-old at a soft playgroup. I remember seeing all the children running about, laughing and having fun. I watched them from the sidelines, sitting always next to my mum and the other mothers. I so wanted to go and play but always waited until there was no one else about. My mum even had to get up early so we could be at the playgroup first. That way I could have ten or so minutes playing with the toys before the other children arrived. Then I would simply crawl back to my mum and site in silence.

That never really changed, as I grew older. Looking back now there are so many things I would have loved to have tried… dance classes, art classes, acting and even learning a musical instrument. But at the time I had no confidence to try anything.

I managed to work hard at school. I kept my head down and always tried my best when it came to schoolwork. Even at the age of six I knew I wanted to go to university and become a filmmaker… so I could make Star Wars films! That goal never diminished.

I had my problems though. Various people throughout secondary school bullied me. I was always the one who gave up her homework so the others could copy. I was the one at the butt of the jokes. I was the one that was often left red-faced and humiliated.

One of the worst times of my life was when I turned fifteen. For various reasons I was incredibly depressed. I decided that I would end it all and take an overdose of paracetamol. I went as far as writing a note to my parents and buying some pills. But my loyalty to my family was so strong that I couldn’t do it to my mother. I realised that I would simply be passing my problems straight over to her if I died and I did not want that. Through sixth form I struggled. I was suffering from depression and had very few close friends. Then, in one of my new A-level classes it became apparent that we would be taking it in turns to read aloud in front of the class on a regular basis. I lost count of how many anxiety attacks I would go through as I waited for my name to be picked out.

One of the main factors was that I had a terrible stammer when I read. I would lose my place in the book and repeat the same line over and over. I would miss-pronounce words and miss-read words that were there. This new A-level class was full of girls from the high achievers class. Girls who were quite well to do and very popular. I remember them sniggering as I attempted to read which always made things worse. It got so bad that one-day the teacher had to take over from me.

Typically I ended up playing truant for most of that class until I decided to drop it from my A-levels. It meant my dream university place went up in smoke, but it was a price to be paid for saving my own humility. My sixth form days went quite quickly at times. I had an attendance rate of 62% (I know this thanks to my report card). But it was never really questioned by the teachers. After all, they had the money for my signing on and I wasn’t one of their star pupils, so who gave a toss? In the September of 1999 I left with two A-levels (which I just scraped with a pass) and went to the University of Sunderland to study media. Basically, it didn’t matter what you’re grades were for Sunderland at that time. They would have taken a baby if it meant filling a chair. I would have rather have gone to Northumbria to do the countries leading filmmaking degree, but I had given up that with my third A-level. Plus my careers tutor told me that I wasn’t the kind of person they took!

University ended up being a complete nightmare. It was 90% group work and my attendance rate was about 30% for that. Often I would travel into Sunderland from Newcastle, taking about an hour and half on the bus and train. I would arrive at the platform in Sunderland, have a panic attack and then turn round and get the train back home. I lasted one semester before it all got too much. I was close on having a complete breakdown, so I went and confessed to my mum what I had been suffering with all these years.

Her reaction was “thank god for that!” This didn’t surprise me. They had tried to get me to admit it since the age of eight but I always denied there was a problem due to embarrassment. I was sent to see a GP at our surgery who referred me to a psychiatrist at the hospital.

SA has come one along way since 1999. At the time it wasn’t a well-documented condition. My Doctor's knowledge of Social Anxiety was basic. He told me I would grow out of it, but that a twelve-week anxiety management course would help me to control the symptoms. Now attending a group was normally my idea of a nightmare. But I decided to go and stick with it just so I could go back and say to the doctor ‘look, I did what you said but I’m still not right’.

The anxiety group started out as a group of twelve people and two therapists. In the second week and remaining weeks after that it was a group of three people and two therapists. I was one of the three. Basically this group was about learning how to relieve anxiety symptoms by meditating. It ended up being a complete waste of time. How can mediate when your body feels like it's dying? I wanted to correct what was causing the anxiety, rather than to learn how to breathe and count to ten when it was occurring.

I went back to my GP surgery and saw another doctor. He turned out to be my saving grace. He said he had seen such a rise in this condition and that in his experience medication would be the best bet. So I was put on Seroxat. I know that Seroxat has a bad name in the media. Personally though I haven’t had any real problems. The first three months were the hardest. The side effects were tiredness, muscle twitching, headaches and some nausea. One night I even hallucinated. But they settled down in time. Within a month of taking them I would wake up in the morning feeling incredibly happy. It was if I couldn’t wait to get up and take on the day. I wasn’t cured of my SA as I would rather stay in doors, but for the first time I felt so overjoyed for no reason.

After three months I began having regular chats with my neighbour who would wash his car every day. It started out as a quick hello, but increased slowly every day. Normally we would discuss the football scores and it was enough for me. After six months my confidence was growing daily. It is amazing what you can do when you feel happy in yourself.

The only thing that was getting me down was loneliness. My parents were out at work all day and my sister was at school. Looking at the four walls everyday was getting me down. I didn’t feel confident enough to go out socialising. The thought filled me with dread, but just to have someone to share the day with was what I really craved. So that following March I got Harry, a seven-week-old West Highland white terrier puppy. He ended up being my cure.

Having a focus other than my phobia was really all I needed. Harry was tiny and needed taking care of. When he got to fourteen weeks, he, like every dog, needs to be walked. I would take him to the local park three times a day. He loved attention and would often run over to other dog walkers in the area.

My fear of people some how disappeared as I ran after him. It was if the bond I was developing just overpowered any thoughts of anxiety. The other person would always ask me how old he was and what he liked to do. It was amazing how taking the focus off me and putting it on to him made my SA symptoms slowly disappear. Yes, I was nervous at first. But doing it three times a day, everyday, made it become eassier. I was happy to talk about him to anyone who came upon us. I got to know certain dog walkers quite well and slowly they would ask me questions about me and I would ask questions about them. It was a slow process, but it was just the right pace for me to adjust.

There were some people who weren’t so friendly but Harry seemed to know instinctively and would pull me away from them. He even pulled me off the park one day. He just didn’t want to walk and pulled me towards home. I called him ‘lazy’ until I read in the news that just ten minutes later a man hiding in the bushes had attacked a girl just meteres from where I had been standing. Something like that would send anyone into a mental state, but for me it would have undone so much hard work – and probably more.

My growing confidence was on such a high that I decided I wanted to try University again. This time I would apply to the course I had always wanted to do – film production at Northumbria. I knew it would be hard so I made sure I studied for the extra qualifications I needed to make the entry. In the June I had a letter from them saying I had been selected for interview. It was the first time I had done anything so important. Apparently 600 people had applied from around the world and they were offering interview to 200. I was lucky to get this far and was determined not to screw it up.

I sat in a room with six other people waiting for my interview. They were just as nervous as me, which was actually reassuring. My interview was with two of the male tutors. I told them about my SA and they informed me that they would be able to accommodate me by offering extra support or exchanging presentations for written work. I went away quite proud of myself.

Three weeks later I received a phone call. I was told that that only 30 candidates had been chosen for the course… and I was one of them! I was over the moon! Plus it was only a couple of hours a day of classes, so I could still spend the rest of the day with Harry ay home.

One of the big worries for me was the reading. There was a lot of reading to do and I was so incredibly slow. As it turned out, my university suggested a dyslexia test for new students. I was found to be dyslexic and had a poor reading ability because of it. But they said that it was common for people on my course. Apparently highly creative people tend to be dyslexic.

Three years later I graduated with a 2.1 honours degree. My SA at that point had pretty much disappeared. I had the occassional anxiety attack about certain situations, but they were never as bad as they used to be. Plus, I used my 'little bit at a time' routine that I had devised thanks to Harry and it did help a lot.

Whilst I was at University I had had an idea. It seemed like a good idea and I discussed it with my family. I have to say that some people thought ‘how the heck could she ever pull that off’, some people thought I was just all mouth. My mum though said I should go for it…so I did.

Now, nearly two years later I turned my idea into Launchpad Media Ltd. A company dedicated to providing new opportunities and businesses at the 18-30s market. I’ve reached two business award finals, been in the newspapers, met some very important people and have attended some big ceremonies… generally anxiety free. Plus Harry gets to come to work with me and is still dragging me round new people so he can get a scratch.

At this moment in time I’m preparing for a big business presentation, which I will make to an award panel. If I’m successful it could mean investment in my company. If I’m not, then it means I’ve still succeeded by attending a presentation I would normally have run away from.

It's amazing what you can do when determination takes control. Set a goal and do a tiny bit day by day. It's amazing how confident you will feel once you make that first step. Then you'll sit and wonder what you were so afraid of – trust me!

  Its your turn for an unquenching and infallible happiness because today is your day

  Culled from a site and hoping it will make a statement in the life of all and sundry.

 

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1 Comment
  1. lexi 15 years ago

    the links above don't work

     

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