too anxious to seek help for anxiety..

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too anxious to seek help for anxiety..

Postby afraidofyou » August 20th, 2014, 3:01 pm

hi,

I'm a 19 year old girl & college sophomore and i'm looking to get help, 100% independently, for the first time.

I've had depression/social anxiety since i can remember. it gets worse each year, esp. with the stress of college. freshman year i experienced a lot of things for the first time or much more intensely than before--panic attacks, suicidal ideation, self-harm, compulsions, feeling "unreal"/"incorrect", weight loss from restricted eating, the social anxiety, etc.

I'm also scared that irrational fears i've had for ages are suddenly becoming more "real" + affecting my behavior (e.g. slamming on my brakes while driving out of panic the car behind me was following me, or rummaging through my roommate's things looking for hidden cameras) and that, with my age + family history of bipolar, i might be at risk for psychosis.

I really want to get help before things get worse! But my social anxiety stops me. It's severe; of all my issues it's the one that makes me mess up my life the most. this, plus my many irrational fears, distrust, etc, have made me so anxious during previous therapy that i can barely move/speak (I almost got dxed with catatonic depression bc of this, lol!). the fact that I've never done this on my own before makes it so much worse, too.

I guess i'm looking for reassurance/advice from people like me (which is why i'm here and not the therapy subforum). Especially if therapy has helped you. I have millions of worries. Like: Is this serious enough to get help when others need it more? How do I explain things without downplaying or exaggerating? How do I make an appointment via email--how formal should i be, how much should I say (i tend to over-share)? How might my therapist accommodate for my anxiety during sessions/can I ask them to do this? Are there parts of the "process" i don't know about bc adults did it before (forms, people to contact, etc)? What do I tell classmates if they ask? When would my therapist have to break confidentiality? Is it "ok" to start therapy partway through college? How important are diagnoses (to me, to therapists, to school)? What if I do become psychotic? Could i be forced to leave school, take meds, etc? And I guess anything else that helped you face therapy/what you wish you had known?

I'm ashamed of how LONG this is and very embarrassed/scared to look stupid by posting it, but i'm going to.. This is just a tiny baby step in the right direction but it's the first one i've taken all on my own. I would appreciate + be grateful for anything. Sorry if i'm in the wrong place.
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Re: too anxious to seek help for anxiety..

Postby manuel_moe_g » August 20th, 2014, 4:28 pm

Hello afraidofyou, welcome to our little forum!

I would recommend writing down what you wish to cover in therapy in a notebook, and then just reading from the notebook line by line. This will prevent long silences, which are anxiety provoking.

About your questions:

1)Is this serious enough to get help when others need it more?

Therapy is not a contest about who is the sickest. You deserve help to maximize your future accomplishment and fulfillment. Professional therapy can be part of that help.

2) How do I explain things without downplaying or exaggerating?

You will at times downplay or exaggerate. Everyone does this all the time. This is a basic problem with human communication. Your therapist is expected to have the skills and experience to compensate.

3) How do I make an appointment via email--how formal should i be, how much should I say (i tend to over-share)?

Over-share a bunch! Take advantage of the therapist's professional confidentiality.

About how formal to be, be as formal as you can writing as fast as you can. If you draw out the writing process, your anxiety will grow. I wish I had learned earlier that it is best to decide to write fast and stick to that decision, then edit quickly just a few passes. Outside of great novelists, writing does not improve otherwise.

4) How might my therapist accommodate for my anxiety during sessions/can I ask them to do this?

You deserve to have the therapist accommodate for your anxiety. I would write down on paper politely asking them to accommodate your anxiety and then read that off first thing in the session, as often as you need to.

5) Are there parts of the "process" i don't know about bc adults did it before (forms, people to contact, etc)?

Yes, there are a lot of details, none of them are important. Fill out the form completely, but as quickly as possible. People fill out forms wrong all the time, so the therapist will already have processes to deal with this.

6) What do I tell classmates if they ask?

Since you tend to overshare, I recommend to tell them to mind their own business and that they are being rude and intrusive by asking about your personal life. Then walk away, because rude and intrusive people are a bummer to be around. You don't owe jerks anything.

7) When would my therapist have to break confidentiality?

Practically, only after you buy a firearm or take some concrete steps in a plan to commit violence. It is a very high standard that much be met before this is an issue.

8) Is it "ok" to start therapy partway through college?

Yes. This is actually an ideal time, with the resources available to you in college.

9) How important are diagnoses (to me, to therapists, to school)?

Diagnoses are designed to help the patient. If the therapist is using a diagnosis to depersonalize you, you can call them out on it. Your diagnosis is of no matter or concern to the school, because of professional confidentiality.

10) What if I do become psychotic?

Unlikely, but if it happens then you will have done well to start the process with a professional therapist. Getting help is a net positive, without exception.

11) Could i be forced to leave school, take meds, etc?

No, you cannot be forced. The only exception is if you buy a firearm or take some concrete steps in a plan to commit violence, or something that drastic.

12) And I guess anything else that helped you face therapy/what you wish you had known?

Early in my therapy, I wish I had written down a list of what I wanted out of therapy, and forced the therapist to stick to that list. Also, I wish I had better known my power to "fire" my therapist for being unable to help me out.

Hope this helps, all the best, cheers, we here are cheering for you and for your greatest today and tomorrow!
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Re: too anxious to seek help for anxiety..

Postby oak » August 20th, 2014, 6:33 pm

Thanks for posting! I am really glad you expressed yourself. Congratulations for using your words.

Manuel Moe offers excellent advice.

As a college student, you have excellent resources in the campus counseling center. Since you are paying for it through your student fees, you have a right to go there.

When I used such services (both as an undergrad and grad student), I went in person and asked to meet with someone. They were very kind, and I am sure you will have the same experience. For me it was a totally nonthreatening experience.

That is the most direct way to start to get help.

Since you are a sophomore, you have probably found some responsible people on campus you can trust. These are also people you can approach. Off the top of my head:

resident director (I'd avoid RAs, unless you really trust them. Also, you need not go to your current RD if you don't want, approach any trustworthy
sorority chapter advisor/Greek advisor/national staff
campus minister
LGBT resource center
very trustworthy academic or career advisor
academic dean
ombuds (This is an excellent resource!)

My suggestion is to keep telling people what you've told us, until someone cares. It might be the first person you tell, or it could be the fifth or tenth. Someone will care. Don't give up until you find that person. They're out there.

Another suggestion, something that helps me, is called "bookending". That is where I script out a difficult conversation, and then bookend reaching out to friends.

For example, to seek counseling I might script: "Hello. My name is name, and I am a sophomore here at XYZ. I'd really like to talk with someone about some struggles I am experiencing. Can you please direct me to the appropriate person to set up such a meeting?"

[It can be a good idea to write this down]

Then, call/email/text a friend for the first part of your bookend, something like: "Hey! I am about to take this action, and I am a little scared. Do you mind if I call/email/text you after I try it?"

Do the action, then complete the bookend by contacting your friend again with the good news that you tried the action, and report what happened.

Of course, you can bookend here on this forum, if you like.

I hope things work out for you. Hang in there.
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Re: too anxious to seek help for anxiety..

Postby Syuni » August 20th, 2014, 11:44 pm

I have no answers to help, but I still wanted to thank you for posting this and thank you to everyone else for the informative replies! I am experiencing a lot of anxiety about starting therapy, the same anxiety I want to treat. I can barely get myself to call a doctor for physical health reasons. The idea of searching for a therapist sounds like the most terrifying thing, and that's just the beginning of the terror. The things you asked about are many things I worry about, so this thread has been very informative. I hope you can get the help you need!
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Re: too anxious to seek help for anxiety..

Postby Lilac » August 23rd, 2014, 4:08 pm

Bravo to you for seeing that you need some help!! Therapy is one of the best things that you will ever do for yourself and YES you are worth it. Yes, it is very difficult to tell a stranger your thoughts but I think you will feel so much better afterward. You will see that the things that you thought were so aweful are not quite so bad.

I had suffered from social anxiety for 30 years. When I started therapy, I thought I was going crazy. I couldn't go to the store to buy food without someone coming with me. I was too self concious to even go to get an ice cram. I thought people were constantly judging me. Through therapy, I have learned that I am not a terrible person and you will too. You will see that you are super just the way you are. Your anxieties will slowly go away. You will feel good in your own skin.

The hardest part is asking for help. Take a deep breath, close your eyes and jump! In a year from now, you will wish you had done this so much sooner. We re here for you and you are NOT alone!!! :clap:
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Re: too anxious to seek help for anxiety..

Postby Brooke » October 10th, 2014, 2:26 pm

Omg, when I was your age, I went through a nervous breakdown that lead me down years of depression off and on. I'm not trying to scare you with that comment, I've gotten wiser and learned so much in the process. When you are that age, you don't know where to go mentally and no one really sits down and show you the way. I wish I had someone who was there for me, but I guess we all have to learn ourselves... It's great that you are seeking help, that is courageous. I'm still thinking I can "do it on my own." If you are that courageous, I think you can go one step further and tell the therapist exactly how you are feeling right from the get-go. I believe that we can't heal if we are not totally honest. Just sit there in anxiety, it's ok. Who says you need to talk in therapy? Some cases, it takes that silence to gain trust. Showing is better than talking. Just be real when you are in the office. Maybe in your head, you are thinking, "Ooh, I need to talk but I can't because of my anxiety, what am I going to do?" And that worsens your symptoms and want to avoid the situation all together. It can be so freeing to just "be." That's a sign of vulnerability and it is very powerful. That's how we make the real changes. Just tell the therapist that you can't talk because of the anxiety but you don't want to run away from it, so you're just going to sit here for a while. A therapist would understand that respect you for your courage. You don't need to "downplay or exaggerate," just be you and don't worry about "messing up." That's why you are in therapy. A therapist will not judge and that's the only safe place where you can just let everything hang out. It's their job to handle you, not the other way around. If you overshare, overshare! Ask them anything you want and need. This is the place to do it! The power of just letting everything hang out is something you can't understand in your head, you just got to do it and the true healing will start. Any progress is better than being stuck in this overwhelming worry.
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Re: too anxious to seek help for anxiety..

Postby IdentityPoltergeist » October 10th, 2014, 2:40 pm

Omg lilac I so relate to that. I can't go many places alone. I used to pay people to pay for the things I wanted because the social interaction of paying for something a the register was too intense.

I really wish there were alternatives to seeking treatment for the anxiety prone. I tried calling a place and when no one answered I freaked out and hung up, relieved. I thought they would think I was stupid for even trying. I will say that the first voicemail I sent to my last therapist was so anxiety prone (panic attack didn't help) that my issues were do obvious I didn't need to even disclose. I still did, in my very nonsensical ramble way.

Manuel really has good advice, I will have to copy paste that to myself when I get the nerve to seek help again.
"Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live." -- Oscar Wilde
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