Monday, October 11, 2010

~Mental Health Monday Guestblog~

Today's guestblogger is Kelli. Thank you for sharing your story!

Do you ever dread when your at the store and see your Aunt Mable by the milk so you try to avoid her so you dint have to hear another story about her bunions? What if you had a panic attack because you have to go to the store and might see someone you know? Well for me, that's my reality. My name is Kelli. I'm a fun loving, cupcake making 20 year old. I love to swim and dance and go to baseball games. I try to live as normal of life as I can even with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). SAD is when a person has an irrational fear of social situations.People with this disorder can have a false belief of the situation, distorted thinking, may have a hard time speaking in public or on the phone. This can completely shut a persons social life and relationships... but it doesn't have to. Social Anxiety Disorder is treatable!
I may have SAD but this isn't a sad story!
Ive had problems with some sort of anxiety most of my life. I think I had my first panic attack at age 10. Ive always have been a social butterfly and has never met a stranger in my life. In middle school I was in the choir and in high school i was in a few of the plays and musicals. Now your probably asking yourself... how can you be so outgoing and still have an anxiety disorder? The answer is simple, those situations are predictable. I know who's going to be a play practice and i know what to anticipate and how to prepare myself.
When i go somewhere like a mall or even the grocery store, that's when i start getting anxious and the thoughts start flooding my head like, "Its Thursday, Claire likes to come here but maybe it wont be today or maybe she came earlier', or Ive seen this persons mom in here before i hope she doesn't see me then tell her daughter that she saw me" I have this huge fear that Ive going to see someone i know and in there head they are judging my every move. I know they probably don't even know I'm there but I just cant shake it. This fear holds me back alot, it makes a shopping trip longer than it should be because I'm always scanning the room multiple times and figuring where i could hide if need be. Dates are also hard! My fiance' and I go out for dinner every Monday for a date night. There are 2 reasons why we go on Monday nights, 1. its the one night where we both have the day off and 2 Monday nights are less busy than other nights. I always have to sit facing the door and there are many times i cant focus on our conversation. I personally don't think that it puts a strain on out relationship but I do feel guilty when i don't give him my full attention. I wish i could but this fear of finding someone i know just holds me back
SAD also effects my job as a Massage Therapist. I work in a salon and there are many times where i have to grab the phone when everyone else is busy. i usually don't mind but if i know the person on the other line or i don't know how to answer the question i get really nervous. Its really hard to stay professional when inside your panicking. I love that we have a computer system and i know exactly who i have for the day. That helps my anxiety knowing that i have a plan for the day. I can also see who else is coming in for the other stylists. What i hate is walk ins, i never know who is going to walk through those doors. I try and hide my anxiety from the other girls i work with and i hope they will never find out. It makes me feel embarrassed and childish but i know this is not my fault.
I have never been on medication for my SAD. My parents have always denied that Ive something wrong. They've always thought that its just an attitude problem or that i would grow out of it or that i was just doing for attention since i was a middle child. When i was old enough i talked to my doctor on my own we sat down and told me some of my options. I had never been on any long term medications before and i was nervous about starting a new medication especially when my parents and i weren't on the same page. I then started researching more natural means of treatment, start from there and see how it went, if that didn't work then i would start a low dose of medication. The first thing that i did was to start meditating every night before i went to bed. It really helps me concentrate on something else and center my mind. I feel like I'm in a better state of mind and it helps the attacks not be as severe. Now I'm not saying that i don't have panic attacks, actually i still have then often but I'm starting to figure out how i can deal with them. When I'm faced with a situation i try take deep breaths and start a meditation mind set, even in the store. Another thing that i tried was acupuncture. Acupuncture can naturally tap into your nervous system, stimulating epinephrine and serotonin aka the calm and happy hormones. I can tell a difference almost instantly, it makes me feel so good and refreshed. The effects from me last about a month or so. Its something that i enjoy and look forward to my sessions. I know this isn't for everyone but for me this has really worked for me.
My advice for anyone who has Social Anxiety Disorder, remember that it is not a death wish. You can still enjoy everything that you are use to doing, you just have to find a way to make it work for you. There are some days that i wish that i could be a normal person and be able to confidently walk into a store, and i hope one day ill be able to do that but for right now I'm still in control of my destiny and i feel that my SAD is in control but i also know when i need to ask for help, there is no shame with asking for help, i don't know where i would be without the support of my friends and family and I'm grateful for everything that happens to me!

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