About my social anxiety II: psychiatrist visit

After my experience with social interactions on alprazolam, I eventually worked up the courage to ask a friend to make a psychiatrist’s appointment for me. (I couldn’t make it myself, because it required a phone call, and phone calls are among the things I cannot do.) Then I freaked out about the upcoming appointment whenever I thought about it, imagining how utterly embarassing it would be to try to put my issues into words, imagining counterpoints the psychiatrist could bring up, complete with dismissive and/or skeptical glances.

What if they thought I was just a drug-seeker? Alprazolam is a benzodiazepine, after all. (I resolved to emphasize I wanted something else than benzos if asked about it.) What if they just chalked my problems up to my age and told me I’d simply have to practice and get over it with time? I’d already heard that one far too many times, and the issue had gotten worse rather than better. And I knew I wouldn’t have the courage to make a second appointment with a different psychiatrist, or at least not in the near future. What if I failed to explain the situation correctly and ruined this chance at becoming better?

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About my social anxiety I

[It’s been a while. Whoops! I won’t promise improvement because (a) I expect to have rather less free time in the near future and (b) I’ve done so way too often to still believe myself.]

In the final two months of 2017, I participated in a study that researched the effects of humor training. This involved meeting with a group every Sunday to hear a short lecture on some aspect of humor and do a variety of exercises.

I had expected to be somewhat anxious at first – new situation, new people -, but to mostly get over it fairly quickly, helped by simple exercises designed to ease us into the experience and build our skills from ground up. Unfortunately, even many of the simpler exercises involved being thrown into the center of attention with an order to be spontaneous and creative and funny: tasks so far out of my comfort zone they were all the way over in the panic zone. I soon dreaded each session the whole day long – the sweating, the racing heart, the racing thought, the dry mouth, the sheer amount of time spent in fight-flight-freeze mode with all of these options made impossible.

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Keeping track of time

Back in September, I posted about starting to use a time-tracking app (Gleeo). I used it very consistently and conscientiously for four months, right up until I reset my cell phone a few days ago and lost the app. I re-installed it fairly quickly, but haven’t properly configured it yet, so I’ve spent the past six days off the record. (Feels pretty weird not to pick up my phone and tap a button every time I switch activities.)

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Weekend preparations

This weekend, D is coming to visit, and I’m nervous about it.

I’ll have to share my tiny room with another person, to deal with someone else’s stuff cluttering the floor, someone else’s smell permeating the air (okay, this is not an issue with most people, this is just an issue with D), someone leaving bread crumbs and footprints and other dirt on my floor, someone breaking unwritten and unspoken rules I keep to about where to put and keep things and how to handle them. I’ll have to diverge from my usual routines and mold my life around him in some ways, to consider someone else’s needs, to deal with the uncertainty and spontaneity that automatically comes with being around another person (with some exceptions – I never feel that way around my father, curiously). I’ll have to cope with being observed almost constantly, and with the inhibitions that inevitably brings: about food, movements, how aware I am of myself and how much I keep in control of my face and gestures and actions. I’ll have to cope with the increased amount of noise – breathing and chewing and moving and burping.

And there will be touching. Given our less-than-stellar record at good consent practice, I’m also nervous about that. There will be situations I won’t be able to escape – a narrow mattress to share, mostly (put on the floor where it doesn’t belong, because my bunk bed doesn’t handle our combined weight too well, getting dirty and being in the way), and there will be many situations in which I’ll technically be able to escape but might not be able to in practice.

It seems so easy in my imagination – just say “stop”, or “not right now”, or “no hugging please”, or “I need a bit of breathing space”. But in reality, so much happens so fast and so often, and before I even find my voice my head is already filling up with fuzzy white cotton and pushing through all of it to get the words out seems like so much work and isn’t it much easier to just wait until it passes on its own?

It may be easier, but it’s not right. I am an important person in this world, too. My desire not to be hugged is no less important than his desire to hug me, and standing up for myself is no less important and valuable than standing up for someone else. I need to have my own back, here – I need to be the voice speaking out for the voiceless part of me.

And I know that this will benefit me, benefit him, benefit our relationship, make this weekend a vastly more enjoyable experience, pave the way for future equally nice or even better visits, build my interpersonal skills, develop my character in the way I want it to develop, and improve my mental health.

There are good things I want to happen this weekend. I want us to go swimming. I want us to have food and fun with friends. I want to practice driving (and drive without another person sitting at another brake for the first time, which is scary but exciting). And I want to relax during all those things, to breathe easy and speak freely and have a clear head devoid of any cotton clouds, to feel safe in the knowledge that if anything I don’t want happens, I will speak up for myself as clearly and as often as needed, and it will stop happening.

And dammit, I will make this happen.

Blogging is hard (and so are many other things)

Once again, it turns out that consistent blogging actually involves a decent amount of work and self-discipline.

This is not horribly surprising, since exactly these requirements also killed off my previous attempts at blogging, but it is somewhat disappointing that it also applies to this blog, which was intended as a really low-quality, low-effort blog right from the beginning rather than a blog filled with thoughtful, in-depth analyses incorporating lots of facts and citing all sources. I figured that since I spend a considerable amount of time navel-gazing anyway, writing some of that down and posting it would not take much more effort.

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Preliminary Assertiveness Research 2

The second result in my assertiveness research was a shortened version of a whole chapter on assertiveness training on another site, which has 15 chapters on different topics in total. Chapter 13 is titled “Methods for Developing Skills”, with a subsection called “Assertiveness Training“. (The title of the subsection is at the bottom of page 17, but the link leads to page 18, because that’s where the actual content starts. Sloppy layouting.)

As with the first result, I’ll quote sections and comment on them as I go along. (If you only read this blog post, your view of the quoted site will be negatively biased, though – I quote things to nitpick, not to agree.)

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