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Thread: My Path Towards Freedom

  1. #1
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    My Path Towards Freedom

    (1) My Commitment

    Not many years ago, I had my feelings kept as a secret. I wouldn't dare tell anyone no matter how close they were how I felt in social situations.

    I thought I was alone, with a 'unique' problem. I had a sense of guilt that I was different; that I couldn't just swallow my anxiety, 'pull myself together' and go talk to people.

    I didn't actually even understand what my problem was back then. I just had that feeling that I wanted to run away from all those who I thought were staring at me.

    But for how long can I run away from myself?

    In my second year at college (that was two years ago) I decided that there was really something wrong with me that needed my attention.

    I told my mom that I needed to go to a psychiatrist; that I couldn't stand it anymore. She agreed.

    I remember sitting on the word processor writing pages, exploring my past and my deepest feelings, preparing what I was going to say to him.

    But to my astonishment when I talked to him, he seemed to be very familiar with what I was saying. Although I never really went to him again, that day was a candle. The first candle in my path, because in that day I knew there was actually 'something' called social anxiety disorder.

    I've read a lot, and I think that now I have enough knowledge and commitment to start what I call 'self-therapy'.

    I know what I'm talking about is not easy. I know I have to go through tremendous pain, to expose myself, to face my fears. But deep within my I know I don't want to be here anymore. I don't want to see myself forty years from now, still worrying and being upset for what I irrationally think people think of me.

    I do not want to settle for an easy job with no excitement, no challenge and little money just because I'm afraid to go out to that interview, or take that course.

    I dream of the day where I can look people right in the eye and stand up for my own rights, and let them know that their scary look is no longer scary and that I'm no longer afraid.

    I know the path is long. I know I need to have courage and to act in a consistent way, day after day, week after week, maybe year after year. But I'm ready to do it. I'm ready to pay the price, to go through the pain, the frustration, the doubt and to plan and persist. No matter how hard, no matter how many setbacks. I won't turn back. I won't go lock myself in that dark room within me waiting for the day when someone else will come and rescue me. I will do all I can to be that 'someone'.

    It really gives me a sense of hope to know that I'm not alone.

    Thanks for this wonderful site!

    Consider this my journal.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Re: My Path Towards Freedom

    Hi and welcome to NMP,

    I wish you all the best on your journey and also look forward to reading your journal.

    All the best

    Nechtan

  3. #3
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    Aug 2008
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    Re: My Path Towards Freedom

    (2) The Phone Call



    Yesterday I was up late listening to an audio book called 'Awaken the giant within' by Anthony Robbins. It really motivated me and I decide that I no longer wanted to settle for any comfortable way of living 'now' that would ultimately destroy my chance to really live my life to the full and to break those chains that are holding me down.

    I know what I need to do: I need to consistently confront the situations I'm afraid to face head on, while consistently embracing the new belief system, the new perception, the new interpretation of events and the new thoughts that would teach my subconscious mind that things are never as bad as it thinks.

    Minutes ago, I've just made an accomplishment, a little step forward towards freedom. It was merely a phone call. And for people who don't know much about social phobia, this is not as easy as it seems.

    I want to fix my cellphone. Its joystick hasn't been working for more that a year (!). But somehow I've been able to convince myself that I could go along without the joystick. Weeks ago, I finally realized why I've been putting this off. The act of going to the center for the first time in my life and talking to people I don't know and explaining the problem with my phone was completely uncomfortable.

    But I went. And they told me they couldn't fix it now and gave me a number and suggested I call them in two weeks.

    Today, I've decided it was time. The center is a few blocks away. 'Something inside me' insisted that I should just go without calling them first. I've been there before, the phone call was uncomfortable. So I thought I would just go.

    But suddenly I noticed that ugly old pattern of thoughts! The pattern that just wanted me to be content in the here and the now and just couldn't understand the power of exposure.

    I opened my diary and started writing about the phone call, what would I say, how would I feel and what was the worst thing that can happen. That moment, I knew what was right.

    I picked up the card in one hand, the phone in the other. I hesitated for a minute. Then I called. The lady spoke really nicely. My irrational fears that they would think I was stupid just evaporated.

    Then she asked me what the model of my phone was. I totally forget. I hesitated. I said something like: 'Umm .. Amm ..I forgot .. I don't know'. Then she suggested nicely that I should find out and call back.

    And I did!

    Now I feel happy and I can't wait to face my next fear (actually going to the center) because I know I've already done the hard part!

    And what's better is I've given my subconscious mind a new lesson that I want it to study well:

    It's okay to sound 'silly' sometimes. Not all people would make fun of me if I do. If I hesitate or make a mistake, its likely that the other person won't hurt my feeling for it. And even if they do, its their problem, not mine at all!

    I'm human, and I have the right to make silly mistakes every once in a while and that does not by any way- make me a silly person.



  4. #4
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    Re: My Path Towards Freedom

    Nechtan

    Thanks for your replay!

    I hope the best for you too

  5. #5
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    Re: My Path Towards Freedom


    (3) Should People Care?



    As I entered the center, there was an old man right behind me. But I entered first and said hello to the guy on the desk. The man behind me poped up and gave the guy his cellphone saying its not working and bla bla. I was quiet. I thought in my mind:

    How did he just do that?! I entered first! How can he just pretend I wasn't even there.

    I wasn't mad or anything. But as I sat on the chair looking at him, I wondered if there will even be a day were I didn't care about what others think? Will there be a day were I could just do what I want and not care if I hurt other people feelings 'a little'?

    But that's not really what I want to be. I know that deep inside me is a caring person and I don't want to kill that person in my quest for freedom.


    Last edited by Archaeopteryx; 12-08-08 at 22:09.
    __________________
    Our Life Is What Our Thoughts Make It.


  6. #6
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    Re: My Path Towards Freedom


    (4) The End of The Tunnel







    I need to talk about my anxiety. The life it has taken away from me. I need to love the path out of this hell, not because the path gives me pleasure. But because at the end of the tunnel is my freedom, my chance to live a life I can be proud of and to do all those things that I really want to do but my anxiety just prevents me from them.

    I want to break those chains. But first I have to hate them and believe that I can break them. I've read like three books and tens of articles and I know enough about CBT. I know that -by using the appropriate strategies- human beings have the power to change their own selves through consistent hard work.

    I want to wake up tomorrow and go to college to get some papers. I've been putting this off for weeks. But I just want to shout: enough!. There is no real danger, there's nothing. But my fear from the situation is just there and has been making my heart pound for weeks.

    The lady I have to get the papers from. She has this strange look. She always looks angry and treats everyone in a rude way (or I imagine so). Maybe she just never smiles. But she really always gives me that look that tells me:

    I'm not happy to see you at all!

    But is that my problem? I don't know why she's like that. Maybe she doesn't like her job. Maybe they don't give her enough money. But it's not my problems. I just want the papers from college! And I have the right to ask for them.

    And even if she did give me that look, even if she shouted to me or made a rude comment on my low voice or even refused to give me the paper .. I don't care.

    Those scenarios going around in my head won't stop me from going there, asking for what I want. No matter how much pain I go through I must focus on my goal; the light at the end of the tunnel.

    I hope the best for all of us.

    Arc.

    __________________
    Our Life Is What Our Thoughts Make It.


  7. #7
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    Re: My Path Towards Freedom

    (5)The Cost of My Anxiety



    Avoidance is like consuming drugs. Instead of addressing the real problems we just run away and try to forget about them. On the contrary, when we push ourselves to exposure, we come face to face with all the problems our anxiety is costing us. And then we realize how ugly it is. And how much damage it is making in our precious lives.

    Yesterday as I went to fix my phone, and after a few minutes talking to they man there, he said to me:

    But you should know that the whole memory of the phone will probably be erased..

    Inside me I was like: What the ..??!!

    But I just repeated calmly: erased ...?

    He said: Yes.

    I said: Okay.

    I didn't have time to think clearly, actually I don't remember having thought that minute at all. I have like 100 contacts on my phone. Most of them I'll never be able to restore. But I probably justified my answer with things like:

    I can probably get the important numbers by emails!

    But the minute the guy asked me I didn't even consider the possibility or the option to say: No! And take the phone back, copy whatever I needed from it at home and take it back to the center. I thought it was somehow 'rude' to tell the guy that.

    Nonsense?!

    Well that's true. Most anxious thoughts are nonsense, else I wouldn't be writing this journal in the first place.

    __________________
    Our Life Is What Our Thoughts Make It.


  8. #8
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    Re: My Path Towards Freedom

    (6) Assertiveness



    I've been through a lot in the past few hours and I really feel the need to get it out in my Journal so it can be recorded in my memory in healthy context. (Whatever that means!)

    I went to college today, committed to ask for all the papers I need repeating to myself that it's my right and the lady there had no reason to be rude or angry all the time.

    I had to fill in a form. I didn't have a pen.

    May I borrow a pen?, I asked.

    Go buy one!, She replied.

    She just always talks like that. Even the other people in the line murmuring about her rude style. Anyway, I managed to ask for ALL the papers I needed. And as I moved away going back home, I felt great relief.

    But, I thought I needed to reward myself in some way so my mind can really understand the fact that I'm proud of 'him' for standing up and facing the fear boldly.

    I decided to go to a flower shop next to my home. It was a new experience and also a nice 'exposure' to go and buy the flowers.

    __________________
    Our Life Is What Our Thoughts Make It.


  9. #9
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    Re: My Path Towards Freedom

    (7) ... Stay Until the Anxiety 'goes'




    A very important point I wasn't aware of in my early days of recovery is that simple exposure is just not enough.

    You first need to go through the social situations repeatedly AND you need to stay in each situation long enough.

    You see, if you are afraid of heights for example and you decide to go to the tenth floor and look from the balcony. Let's assume you did so. At first you'll feel tremendous fear. Okay, the important point is to STAY there until your fear goes away on its own. If you walk away while you're still too afraid, it's not likely that this form of exposure will help you.

    I learned this concept from a great book called 'The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook'.

    Consider the anxious part of you as a little child that you need to 'teach' something by giving him/her examples. The point is not just to 'face your fears'. The point is to STAY there so you can LEARN that it won't kill you or harm you in any way!

    But the problem that we the socially anxious have is that the very nature of social situations rarely gives us the opportunity to do this.

    If you are anxious about asking people in the streets for directions. The very act of asking for directions takes merely a minute! You can't expand it.

    But you can be creative and play tricks on your mind. This is something I also learned from the book mentioned above. You can go on the streets and ask repeatedly for directions until you feel at ease with it! Ask many different people as you walk and watch for your reaction.

    That's what I've done today on my way home. I asked 7 people as I walked home for directions about the street I actually live in. It was actually a little funny, because although I asked seriously and they all answered seriously, I was pretty sure none of them suspected that I actually knew where the street was more than anything and that I was just asking because I was treating myself from some disorder called social phobia. LOL! I wonder if they even ever thought there was such a thing as social phobia!

    __________________
    Our Life Is What Our Thoughts Make It.


  10. #10
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    Re: My Path Towards Freedom

    (8) Two Flowers



    I went to the flower shop and bought two flowers. As I walked home I was thinking if I should give them for my mom or just to myself.

    As I was walking there were three poor girls (about 12 years old) sitting on the street. One of them said as I passed by:

    Can you give me this flower?

    Normally I would just walk and neglect her (because people on the streets ask for stuff you hold all the time). But that moment I thought there was an emotion worth trying!

    I gave them the flowers and walked away as they fought which one would take it!

    As I walked I felt so embarrassed! How did I just give a flower to a little girl I didn't even know?! What if someone saw me what would they think?

    I don't know. My mind kept going here and there. But here I am writing this in my journal and telling myself that giving them the flowers wasn't wrong or anything no matter what my anxiety tells me!

    What do you think?


    __________________
    Our Life Is What Our Thoughts Make It.


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