Coming to the realisation that getting better from Social Anxiety Disorder was going to involve more than a quick fix, was the first real step I came to in finally starting to recover.
I was 22 or 23 when I made that decision, and I'd had severe S.A.D since I was 11. For years, although I knew something was wrong, and that I was far more 'nervous' of doing things than other people, I refused to listen to people telling me that I had to work hard to fix the problem. I honestly thought it would just eventually go away. That I'd 'get over it'. That one day I simply wouldn't have to deal with it any more.
For my entire time at high school I played the avoidance game. I became very good at giving excuses, making up little 'white lies', being 'sick' at invonvenient times or just not doing things. My friends and family came to simply 'accept' that that's what I did. It stopped seeming weird. In fact, if I had done something different, they probably would have made a big deal out of it - which maybe made me even less likely to try and change.
It wasn't until I'd dished out big money for a university degree only to find myself unable to sit in a lecture theatre without nearly fainting or vomiting that I finally started to accept I might need help.
Sure - I'd seen counsellors galore up until then, but leaving home meant that now I had to face up to some realities.
It's not normal to feel nauseas upon entering a supermarket.
It's not normal to be unable to breathe during a movie just because you aren't on the edge of an aisle.
It's not normal to be unable to eat 3 weeks before a performance (the day of, sure, but three weeks?).
It's not normal to lock yourself in your dorm room because you can't face interacting with your flatmates friends.
When I decided I wanted to be a teacher, I had to make a serious choice. I got offered a place on an intensive three week cognitive behavoural therapy group course for sufferers of Social Anxiety, but in order to do it, I had to quit my job.
So I quit my job.
I thought "I didn't really need to go on it", that "I wasn't bad enough to be in cluded in their group", that "this was only a way of helping make me cope with speaking in front a class".
But when I got there, it was clear that I was one of the worst.
I cried twice and had three panic attacks on the first day, and went home refusing to go back.
But I did go back, and it was hard. But it did help. Just not immediately.
Three years later, I am back in their clinic after relapsing. Seeing the same amazing clinician who is teaching me to slowly change my thought processes. To view panic as something that isn't dangerous, but just is. Learning that I will never fully be 'free' from anxiety, that if I were, that would in fact be a bad thing. That this process of 'overcoming' anxiety simply means learning to manage it better. No longer letting it rule you - but allowing you to have the skills to rule IT a little more.
There is no quick fix for anxiety and depression. It takes a lot of hard work. But it is So worth it.
Contact me and follow more of my journey and song writing project here. http://jessicaclaire.webs.com/apps/blog/