"Social Anxiety Disorder", Anyone have it?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Marc Carra, Feb 26, 2004.

  1. Marc Carra

    Marc Carra Supporting Actor

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    After the mostly great advice I got in my relationship thread last week, I thought I would see what happens with this one. It's another personal problem. Seems I'm full of them lately [​IMG]



    I'm pretty sure I'm suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder. I've had this problem for a few years now, but it has become progressively worse. I didn't actually realize what it was called until a few nights ago, I'm watching TV and I see a Zoloft commerical. In the commercial they outlined a few symptoms of S.A.D. and I have every one of them! It's almost like an excessive nervousness that comes over me when I'm in the public eye or any kind of situation where I'm being watched. Since I work with the public, It's coming to the point where it may actually start to interfere with my job. Here's a few examples of things that affect me:

    1) walking into a bar or restaurant. I feel like all eyes are on me, and I can actually feel myself start to tremble abit. Usually I will duck into the bathroom, and find my way to the table a few minutes after everyone else. I know, it sounds stupid.

    2) Carrying something. For example, when I go to the movies, I can't actually carry a popcorn or drink back to my seat without spilling it (agian the nervous shaking). My girlfriend usually has to carry it, after a bit of persuasion.


    3) doing something while being watched. Sometimes at work, I will be processing a sale, and if the customer is watching me closely , I can become nervous to the point where my hand is shaking when I try to swipe their debit card. Really embarrasing!

    4) any type of nervous situtaion, like a confrontation with an angry customer, will make me 10x more nervous than I should be.


    I'm going to see a doctor, next week, but I thought I would see if anyone here has ever heard of this or even had anything remotely close to this?
     
  2. Erik.Ha

    Erik.Ha Supporting Actor

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    Guess what... ME AGAIN [​IMG] You probably want advise from me like you want a hole in your head...

    I had an undiagnosed case of this for years when I was younger. It runs in my family. My father has a case bordering on agoraphobia.

    Unfortunately, I have no idea how I overcame it... I just sort of "did" (however in situations like you mentioned I still get twinges, but it isn't debilitating.)

    I used to be unable to walk through a mall without sweating and getting sick to my stomach... I would try to walk at a controlled pace, but the more I concentrated on my pace, the weirder I would walk... By the end Id be doing that silly "speedwalking" thing you see at the olympics and twitching like Joe Cocker...

    I can tell you some of the "crutches" I use.

    I NEVER go anywhere late, simply because walking into a crowded room is too much. If I'm not 10 minutes early, Im not going. This is especially true for movies... I have big pockets because I keep my hands empty. Clinching fists causes me more tension. Likewise, when going out for a night, I used to leave at 8:30 knowing nobody got to the bar until 10 or 11. That extra time allowed me to relax. It also gave me a sense of "This is my territory and you're just a guest in it."

    Calling someone on the phone makes me want to be sick. Even though I know they will answer and we'll have a normal conversation, if I can get someone else to make a phone call for me, I will... The words "I don't wanna call, you call" are some of my most frequent words. Better yet, I call when I know Ill get a message machine and have them call me back (another, MY TERRITORY thing).

    I took a LOT of acting classes. (read my signature line... its not just a parody of that stupid aspirin commercial...) I found this seriously helped. Now, when I'm in an overwhelming social situation, Im just an actor, playing a role. I am a lawyer, which requires quite a bit of confidence in public speaking situations (vomit) and in front of people. By law school I had perfected a "lawyer" role that worked for me... I would "get into character," a process that initially took several hours of prep time, but now is down to just a few minutes, and then I was fine, because it wasn't ME talking, it was a role I was playing. I was VERY successful in oral competitions, and the videos made of my "performances" were always the most checked out by other students. Keep in mind, when Im NOT in character, I have actually begun to cry uncontrollably while speaking. Not from sadness, or fear, I could be reading the phone book out loud and just start to well up...

    I from time to time teach at the college level, and for those, I mimic a professor I had who was ABSOLUTELY over the top in terms of performance. I SCREAM and YELL and LAUGH and at the end I always get comments like "My god!!! You are the most entertaining teacher Ive ever had!!!" and "I love to see you get wound up and let lose like that!!! you must be amazing in court" to which I respond "I dont go to court unless Im in handcuffs... I can't do it... If I did this day in and day out, Id be dead of heart failure in five years." They obviously see someone who is very comfortable speaking, but inside Im not...

    I also found the relaxation techniques that are a part of every acting class are invaluable.
     
  3. Marc Carra

    Marc Carra Supporting Actor

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    Erik,

    Thanks alot for responding to my thread. I wasn't sure anyone would. Your response is GREATLY appreciated.

    I feel so much better knowing that I'm not alone with this problem.


    Oh my gosh, I had that mall thing too. It's not so bad now, but when I was a bit younger, it was exactly how you described. I would almost try to walk along the side of the wall so as not to be noticed as much. It would really freak me out.

    I also do the 'go to the bar early' thing. Once I have my table and have had a couple drinks with my friends I feel much more relaxed and can actually have fun. The territory thing actually works. If I have to walk in afte the band has started, for instance, it really sucks for me. I prefer to get there early.


    Did you try any sort of medication along the way? The fact that you became a lawyer shows you definetly made some progress. Congratulations!

    Marc.
     
  4. Erik.Ha

    Erik.Ha Supporting Actor

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    No medication here. My wife has a bit of it also (hers manifests more in just general anxiety, worrying about stuff she doesnt need to worry about...) and SHE HAS tried the medication. It did work to a degree, but the side effects were worse than the underlying problem.

    I think the best advise I can give (and this ties back in to the other thread) is to find somebody who UNDERSTANDS it, appreciates it as "part of you" and is willing to modify her behavior to help you. Having a support structure is DEFINITELY key. When I say to my wife "Lets go to the movies" and she says "ok... theres a show in 15 minutes... if we leave now we can make it before the credits are over" and I say "DAMN! When is the next show?" thats it, end of discussion. No argument.

    Just as a general question, how do you feel about eating at the counter in a restaurant??? I myself can't do it... I need the seclusion of my own table or better yet... A BOOTH!!!
     
  5. Marc Carra

    Marc Carra Supporting Actor

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    Eating at the counter? No way, I can't do it. I usually ask for a booth. What's even worse is going to a fast food restaurant and having to carry a tray back to my table. If someone else isn't there to take it, it would end up on the floor!

    Marc.
     
  6. Scott_lb

    Scott_lb Supporting Actor

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    Marc - you do not sound stupid. Many people have different types of phobias/fears and yours is no worse than anyone else's. I also commend you for having the courage to post what you did, given the problem that you are discussing.

    I can't offer much advice here, as I've never had a problem being around others. I'm someone who doesn't mind presenting in front of large groups and tend to do it relatively often. Good luck with your appointment.
     
  7. Erik.Ha

    Erik.Ha Supporting Actor

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    Yeah... sounds like I had/have the same thing... I usually skip the tray, ask for a to go and take the bag back to the table... much easier to handle.

    Good luck... Talking about it cant hurt.
     
  8. Guy_K

    Guy_K Second Unit

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    I have a bad case of shyness and social anxiety disorder, and I've had it ever since I can remember. I did use a self-help book at one point (which basically deals with changing unwarranted expectations in social circumstances and taking small steps at a time), but it didn't really help (or I hadn't the will?). I think I'm so used to it at this point that it would be extremely difficult to change (it's become a part of my personality.) but sometimes, like right now, I hate having this disorder. The problem is I don't take risks because I'm always afraid of the approach, outcome, looking like a fool (too self-aware for my own good).. the smallest details will bring me down: I can relate to all these details listed in the post.. Other things like the awkwardness of eye contact, walking into someone, even a minor confrontation, getting upset at myself over a mistake. I didn't learn how to drive until I was 21 because I was afraid of every possible aspect of driving. Also, If I'm with a group of 3-4 strangers, I won't say a word unless I'm asked.

    Friends, I generally find 'em wherever I reside, but it's usually they who initiate the friendship, and eventually I do get more comfortable with them to the point where all these symptoms are gone. Girlfriends? Same deal, but it doesn't happen often. That's my story at least. Not sure if all of this is Social Anxiety, some may just be general shyness.

    On a different note, I love the idea of 'playing a part.' I've tried it actually, but even that I find difficult to bring about from within. I wonder if there's any reason one gets Social Anxiety Disorder.. A result of past traumas? Or chemical imbalance? Genes? Or a little of everything.
     
  9. Erik.Ha

    Erik.Ha Supporting Actor

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    I sincerly beleive its hereditary... My parents BOTH had it in varying degrees...

    I dont make a lot of friends. I hang on to the ones I have. [​IMG]
     
  10. chris_everett

    chris_everett Second Unit

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    Me too. Like others, I tried medication, and found it just made me feel "wierd". Tried counseling, which didn't help either, although it might more today. At the time I was just lumped in with being depressed, and while SAD shares traits with depression, I'm glad it's being recognized seperatly now. I also took some acting classes, and they helped a lot. I guess I've learned how to "box up" the anxiaty generating part of my brain, and set it aside when I need to. It doesn't always work, but it has made life livable for me. As for cause, mine is "tramatic event", short version - public humiliation. Quite honestly, I'm only now coming to terms with how much it affected me. I was shy before that, but there is a huge difference between the two.

    I've found it's important to pat yourself on the back for victories, large or small. About a year ago, I had to give an impromptu, 30 minute talk on computer security (part of my job) to about 300 high ranking law enforcment officers (Police chiefs, County Sheriff's, State police administrators) at a statewide conferance. No warning, no notes, and no preperation, which I usually rely on. It felt like I was stumbling through the whole thing, but when I was done about 50 different people came up to me and told me how great it was. Calling on successes like that helps a lot when I find myself with the "shakes".

    Good luck to you Marc.
     
  11. Ron C

    Ron C Stunt Coordinator

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    Don't forget its still a commercial. They want to convince you to buy their drug, so they list broad traits that almost everyone has had at sometime or another. The best place to read up on disorders is www.healthboards.com Try to avoid drugs if you can. Both "good" and "bad" have side effects that often outweight their benefiets. Its best to focus on natural solutions such as supplements and knowledge.
     
  12. Erik.Ha

    Erik.Ha Supporting Actor

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    Yeah... I agree with Roc C... That commercial is VERY broad and applies to everybody...

    Having said that, what Marc describes (which is the DEAD ON CLONE for what I experienced) IS a problem IF HE FEELS IT IS...

    If He feels its interferring with his life, work, etc... He should definitely do SOMETHING about it.

    Whether drugs are the answer, Ill leave up to him and his doc. [​IMG]
     
  13. Erik.Ha

    Erik.Ha Supporting Actor

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    Are you willing to give the longer version? I dont want to push it if you dont, but I think it might help others here... and maybe help you as well?
     
  14. Marc Carra

    Marc Carra Supporting Actor

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    Well I managed to see the doctor earlier than planned. She had a cancellation so I went yesterday afternoon. I'm pretty disappointed because she wasn't very helpful. She only spoke with me for about 10 minutes then prescribed me something called Xanax. I think I will try to see if there is a specialist in the area than I can see. Meanwhile I'm hesitant to try this med.

    You guys who have posted their experiences here have been more help than this doctor! Thanks again.


    Marc.
     
  15. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    Marc, Xanax (like Paxil) is a fairly easy drug to handle. I was told that pretty much all of the drugs do the same thing, it's just that every person reacts differently to each drug so it may take a little while (and a few other tries with other drugs) to find one that works for you.

    The BEST advice I can give you (and PLEASE listen to this because I've experienced it and have seen first hand how people go through metal institutes and through suicidal tendencies)...the advice is, don't take ANYONE's advice as the law.

    If someone hears that you are on Xanax and they say "DON'T DO IT! I was on it and it made me feel WORSE!" - don't take this as a reason not to take the drug, because it doesn't mean that you will experience the same thing. Only listen to your Dr., your Dr. is the ONLY one (besides yourself) who can tell what's right for you. And don't give up if one drug makes you worse. Sometimes that will happen, that's why it's important not to give up, because another drug may.

    The reason why I am so against what others (non-professionals) say is that mental illnesses are not all alike (even if you expereince the same exact symptoms). What works for me, may be the worst thing for you to do, and what doesn't work for me, may be the BEST thing for you to do.

    So, again, take comfort in the fact that many are going through the same thing, but remember that we are all different and their advice may not be the best thing for you.

    Stick with the Dr.,it's a great first step. And stick with it because it can be very frustrating. No matter how many people will say that there's no need to see a Dr., that's not their decision to make for you, a 'good' Dr. will be able to decide wether you need to stick with councelling (or meds.) or not.

    And also, try not to listen to those who say that Dr.'s are only making you take medications so they can make more money. While there may be some that do, they're not ALL like that. You have a smart enough brain to tell yourself wether your Dr. is full of it. And there's no law that says you can see another Dr. if you feel uncomfortable with your current Dr.

    But again, please don't let people tell you what to do. Sure I may sound hypocritical since I am telling you to listen to my advice, but my advice is to seek (and stick with) professional advice...there are some people who feel the need to tell a person like you to not take meds. and not see a Dr. because it's all BS. This (IMHO) is absolutely HORRIBLE advice, especially since we don't know you. That's so very true. If it is affecting your life, then yes you should seek help to overcome it. Seeking help is nothing to be ashamed or scared about.

    Take care, and good luck.
     
  16. Jason_Els

    Jason_Els Screenwriter

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    Xanax is great. I have panic attacks from time to time so I pop a xanax and soon everything calms down. It's been a tremendous help as these attacks can occur for no apparent reason. I've had them at work (most usual), driving far from home where I don't know anybody who lives close by, walking around NYC, and even during Trilogy Tuesday while watching LOTR: TTT! It's just a nightmare as they're so debilitating.

    My Xanax is always with me. Just knowing it's nearby is a huge help in itself, acting as a comfort blanket. There are warnings not to use it while driving or operating machinery but I find that, like speed with hyperactive people, it actually calms me enough so that I can think clearly and normally. I'm actually a better person when I'm on Xanax as I tend to be more easy-going and able to concentrate. I do have some OCD thought processes and the Xanax helps with those. I use about 20 pills a year at 5mg each.

    Give Xanax a shot. I know it works differently for different people. Some, like me, just mellow out a bit while others get positively goofy. It may take several different tries at different medications to find one that fits you. If Xanax doesn't work, and I can't urge this strongly enough, do not hesitate to tell your doctor and ask for something different. When I was suffering from clinical depression, Prozac was a nightmare for me, so bad in fact, that I ended-up being an example in a paper published by a shrink at Mass. General. Buspar did nothing, Clomiprimine turned out to work much better for me even though it's usually prescribed for OCD. Go figure.

    Anything having to do with psychological problems requires you to take an active part in your treatment. You have to constantly let the doctors and therapists know what is going on and what you think is working and what isn't. Be sure they address your concerns. Doctors tend to not tell patients very much. Don't be embarassed about getting the information about your treatment that you need.

    Don't let anyone tell you what you should or should not do regarding your treatment. Your best path is through knoweldge. Read, read, read, and read some more. It is exceptionally common in the psychiatric world for patients to know more about their condition than the professionals do. Learn about treatment options, read experiences of others, and go from there. Learning about your problem and the treatments available gives you power over the disease. Don't be afraid of medical journals, USDA drug information publications, and anecdotal evidence from professionals and fellow patients. Your best bet for a successful course of treatment is to learn as much as you can and be a partner with your treatment team. Also, do NOT forget to talk to the pharmacist about your drugs! Pharmacists are wonderful sources of information. They do much more than just dispense pills.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes!
     
  17. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    I used to be terribly shy myself (never would approach strangers). However, since I got my first job in retail I've naturally become a lot more outgoing (I always talk to new co-workers at work first, etc.) as my job requires me to approach complete strangers. What's also helped is after losing 80 lbs. worth of unsightly fat I have a lot of self-confidence I haven't had in myself for awhile.

    I think six days a week of exercise (cardiovascular as well as weight lifting) has contributed to my healthy outlook and attitude. However, I'm still afraid of rejection from women but I am working on that (I think that's due more to fear of the unknown and fear of negative reaction to my lack of...errr...experience...rather than social anxiety disorder).

    Keep in mind though, this is coming from a guy that's hearing impaired -- who's been able to approach strangers regardless of his hearing disability.

    I'm not sure how much this could help you guys, but I thought I'd chime in a little. I also think everyone should check out Napoleon Hill's "Think and Grow Rich" for some excellent motivational advice that can be applied in all areas of life. If you feel lacking in social skills, perhaps Dale Carnegie's "How To Win Friends and Influence People" will help you out. Both books have helped me tremendously. I highly recommend them.

    Okay, enough of the shameless plug. [​IMG]
     
  18. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    Ditto what Mark Hastings said. That was a tell-all!

    I do need to add here that if you are taking anything else, and that includes Asprin, make sure that the Pharmacist knows about it, because some of them don't mix just right. You might want to keep a log of when you took it and how many hours went by before you felt something different, be it good or bad, too.

    Best of luck! Glenn
     
  19. Ryan Wishton

    Ryan Wishton Screenwriter

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    Mixing Asprin with other drugs???

    Bad... Bad... Bad... Dont do that...

    Get a professional opinion before you plan on mixing anything...

    I remember that one commercial where the old man passes out on the tennis court from a heart attack... They then give him asprin...

    What if this person was allergic or couldnt have asprin??? You could very well be helping this guy right to his grave... I mean the poor guy has one foot in the grave already... No need to plummet him into the grave completely...

    Always, Always check before ever mixing meds...
     
  20. chris_everett

    chris_everett Second Unit

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    I thought about it Eric, but I'm not quite ready to air that in front of so large a group as this.
    I will give an expanded explanation to that. The first person I told the full details to broke confidentiality on it (the before mentioned pshrink). A professional ethics violaton, but I didn't know so at the time. I'll give it (telling the long version) some more thought though.

    I would add to the conversation that it's worth getting a second opinion from another docter if your unsure about their diagnosis or treatment plan. Most doctors are overwhelmed in literature and studies on new drugs, technology, studies and so forth. A google search on the drug in question can give tons of useful (and not so useful) information. I would also agree about the commercial being very generic.
     

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