Dr. Richards,

I am currently going through the audio tape therapy program.

I believe what you say about it requiring determination and persistence. There are times when I do not feel like doing it but my determination to get over this keeps me going.

I have a question from your personal experience - maybe you answer this on the later tapes which I have not yet reached.

My questions is:

From what I gather from what you say on the tapes, you had a bad time at the beginning with your social phobia.

Today, you appear to have overcome it and am putting your personal achievements to good use (i.e., this Web site, etc).

Do you still suffer from the ANT's etc.  I'm sure even you have bad days.  Is it true to says the there will always be a "scar" of SA which will follow recovered people for the rest of their lives.

Or, does overcoming SA mean a complete eradication of it?

Thanks again,


Jack:   Yes, even I have bad days :-)  

But, my "bad days" now are not very bad.  Actually, to be honest, they are good days compared to how I felt in the past.

CBT teaches you (and me) to deal with all this.

My thinking is 360 degrees different than it was fifteen years ago.  I do not have automatic negative thinking -- it is all gone.  

Everyone has negative thoughts and feelings (but now mine are usually related to feeling overwhelmed with all I have to do and being frustrated at things).

Today, though, I also know how to handle these ANTs feelings when they come up.  I am not about to sit around, worry, brood, or dread things.  I am not about to  depress myself, put myself in a bad mood, or allow myself to go negative.  Why should I ruin my day or let my day be ruined by external circumstances?

So, I slow myself down, take a deep breath, and have a short, rational talk with myself ( those of you doing the audio therapy series will understand these terms better).  By doing this, I am back on track fast, I am in a good mood, and I can continue to be productive almost right away.

So, to be honest with you, if you had known me 15 years ago (...no job, no home, no friends, no hope, suicidal, depressed, scared of everything) and then knew me today ... you would realize that ALL of us can make progress and then overcome social anxiety ... provided we are persistent, consistent, and do it in the right way.

I had a more severe case of social anxiety than some other people with social anxiety.  So, when I say to you that you can overcome this anxiety disorder altogether, I literally mean that, even though this is hard to believe when you're going through it.  (I know!)

The "scars" you mention turn around for good.  Now, (I hope) I am wiser, calmer, and living in the present moment.  Those scars are no longer scars to me-they are events that helped me become the person I am today.

The same thing is true of you, and everyone else.  As you continue to progress and improve, you will be surprised and amazed at how much you change, and one day you will not be having any kind of (irrational) automatic negative thoughts at all.

So, continue on with the audio series, take one step at a time, and your thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and perceptions will all begin to change.