Dear Dr. Richards,
After living with this mess called social anxiety for most of my life, it was exhilarating to hear -- for REAL -- that there was help for me. When I began listening to the tapes, though, I still was amazed that this therapy you were talking about applied directly to me! I really couldn't (and hadn't) believed it would be so direct, and practical, and so good.
In 1991, I tried to commit suicide because I felt completely lost and hopeless. There was no one else in the world who was such a loser like me. My anxiety was so high I could barely talk to others and the thought of taking on a job was overwhelming. My depression over my whole life was so strong that I thought suicide was the only way out.
They took me to the hospital and doped me up on antidepressants, none of which worked. They seemed to make me sicker and sicker. But my mother was very concerned, and even though she didn't understand social phobia/social anxiety, she still was supportive of me. I owe her a lot of thanks for that.
Then, in the mid-90s I was still very anxious, nervous, and scared, and I still had depression, but it did not make me want to commit suicide anymore. I could see the pain in my mother's face and I realized it would hurt her beyond words...
But I still didn't know what to do about myself. At that time, I didn't know what I had, I thought I was just weird and hopeless, and expected that I would be a miserable outcast all my life.
This was very frustrating because I knew I had talents and I knew I could do things. But my anxiety would get the better of me and then I could not function. Sometimes I would "go blank" as they say, over an anxious situation. Other times I was too down and depressed to be able to function.
Sometime, in 1998, I discovered the Anxiety Network on the internet, and the large section about "Social Anxiety" was really a godsend to me. I could not believe at first that other people had this same problem that I had.
I don't know if you remember, but I e-mailed you and you replied to my e-mail. I can't even remember what we e-mailed about, but just having you respond was surprising and very helpful to me.
I was one of the first people to sign up for the audio series when you first put it out on the Anxiety Network, and I was one of the ones bugging you to get it done. I didn't know what else to do, since I had been to so many psychologists and counselors and none of it had done any good.
I really never thought this would get finished (no offense :-) So I was overjoyed to get the e-mail saying the series was finally finished.
Now, after receiving this large series, and working on about half of it so far, I can tell you it was worth the wait. I really can't believe how my thinking pattern go so out of whack. I am seeing things more rationally now, even though I have a ways to go. But maybe the most important thing is that I am much more in control of my anxiety than ever before. I can feel this and I feel like shouting every day from happiness!
My anxiety used to eat away at me constantly. But the therapy, which I knew I had to apply and apply to my own life, has already made a big difference.
I don't want you to think I'm prefect or "recovered" yet, but I am amazed at the amount of progress I have made in the last two months.
I could say a lot more, but I wanted to thank you, and whoever else is involved, for this tape series. It really is just made for social anxiety, and I guess you know what to do after suffering from social anxiety most all your life.
Anyway, you are helping thousands of other people with their social anxiety, so please NEVER GIVE UP. I've met a couple people through the list, and we are planning on getting together to organize a group.
Thanks, thanks, thanks again,