Hello Dr. Richards,
First I would like to thank you for your devotion to helping the many SA people who suffer silently. Your work on this list, and the tape series will help so many of us to change our lives for the better.
I have been working on the tape series, currently starting session 13. When I listened to the first tape, I cried tears of joy at finally finding someone who so thoroughly understands this disorder.
I am 45 years old and have spent most of my life searching for an answer. Through years of therapy focusing on my depression and my childhood, and never getting any better. In fact over the many years I became more depressed and avoidant as I just sort of gave up any hope of ever getting any better or overcoming what I thought was crippling shyness. I finally went to a psychiatrist last year, giving in to my resistance to taking medication. I was clinically depressed and frightened. He listened to me and told me I had "Social Phobia " as well as depression. That was when I got on the computer and found your web site.
Reading the mailing list daily was a form of therapy. It helped me to understand how my self-talk and thinking was at the root of the problem: (Automatic Negative Thoughts, Anticipatory Anxiety, Criticizing myself. etc.) Just knowing that this was a kind of anxiety, that it wasn't my fault, and that there were so many others who also had this, was a tremendous help. It seems so obvious now but I really never knew this was anxiety I was experiencing.
Like Dorothy in the "Wizard of Oz", who spent all of her energy trying to get home, only to find out that the power was with her all along--- in her shoes. I realized, through working with the tapes, that the answer I have been searching for all of my life was with me all along ---I just had to change the way I think. It's not easy--- but it's possible. By the way, I always related to the Cowardly Lion in that movie.
The tapes are helping me to change the way I think. I have noticed a big difference in how I am handling life. I am able to do things without that constant critical voice pulling me down. I have pretty much stopped having ants, or I quickly catch any that try to sneak by. The feelings are a bit more difficult to stop, sometimes I have trouble remembering what to do when I'm feeling the anxiety. I just tell myself now that I am making progress instead of putting myself down for not being able to remember what I need to do.
I know I have to be patient because it takes time to re-program my thoughts after all these years. I know that this is the answer to overcoming my social anxiety as long as I keep working at it. I am so happy to have these tapes, and grateful to you, Dr. Richards, for all of your hard work.
I feel really hopeful about living with less and less SA in the coming year. I would like to try to get some people together who are using the tapes to start working on the behavioral therapy.
I live in the NY area, in the northern suburbs. Anyone in Rockland, Westchester, Northern New Jersey or in the city, who would be interested in working on the tapes together, please contact me.
I would even be happy just to have any kind of contact with others who are using the tapes, via e-mail, telephone, or in person, whatever would be most comfortable.
I would be willing to try to organize a CCBT group, even though it would be a "challenge" for someone with SA.