Somewhat encouraging

Just over 2 years ago, I took the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale Test and posted my result:

68(fear) + 64(avoidance) = 132

You have very severe social anxiety.

Well I recently redid the test and this is my result now:

63(fear) + 51(avoidance) = 114

While I’m still in the “very severe” range, and taking into consideration the limitations of this scale (the results may vary from week to week depending on a wide variety of factors, arbitrary definitions of “severe”, “moderate” and “mild”, and the scale only covers a relatively small number of situations which are commonly feared by people with SA), it’s still somewhat encouraging that my score has gone down by that much (though I know it probably doesn’t seem a lot). If I can continue at that rate, I will be very happy. My goal is to be around the 95 mark (or lower) in another 2 years’ time.

Recently, I’ve started reading CBT-based self-help books again and I’ve also been considering purchasing an online, 25 session CBT programme designed specifically for people with social anxiety disorder. While I’m usually extremely wary and (rightly) suspicious of any online treatment for SA which requires you to part with money (actually, I’m highly suspicious of just about any treatment – online or not – that requires you to part with money to treat SA) because there are unfortunately so many charlatans and scammers out there who are looking to exploit the desperation of those of us with incapacitating social anxiety, the majority of people on the SA forums have said that they found this particular programme helpful. And the few that didn’t find it helpful admitted that this was probably because they didn’t ‘practise’ the CBT often enough, or gave up with it. It’s designed by an expert in social anxiety disorder who has also suffered from the condition. I’m still swithering as to whether or not to go for it, but I most likely will. It’s still considerably cheaper than a few sessions with a private therapist, which is something that I’m unlikely to waste money on anyway, because (given that I cannot find anyone within a reasonable distance of where I live who is an expert in social anxiety disorder) I don’t believe it would be particularly helpful. I’m already working the next Monday bank holiday (We get paid time and a half. Yaay!) and can hopefully help night shift out again to cover the cost of the CBT programme.

What do you think? Should I go for it?

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9 Responses to Somewhat encouraging

  1. Go for it. What I like about CBT is that it’s so practical and structured that it can be effective when self-administered by a person who is both highly motivated and capable of self-reflection. I started my recovery journey by working with two workbooks, and it got me strong enough to eventually continue the work with a therapist.

    I just retook that Leibowitz test. When I started posting I was around 100. Now I’m down in the 30s. It can be done! Interestingly, my numbers are skewed much more to “fear” than they are to “avoidance.” So the “B” has worked for me more than the “C”.

    I’ve started taking small doses of propanolol in work situations and the different in my level of relaxation has been like night and day. Feeling and being relaxed has shifted how people respond to me, because I’m able to smile, look them in the eye, I’m not trying to get away from them. That has helped my confidence. It’s s wonder drug for me. Have you used it outside of public speaking?

    I’d love to know how your online treatment goes. If you’re willing to share the program name/link (and you have a good experience with it) I would like to be able to share it with others on my blog and IRL.

    Have a great weekend, Gemma!

  2. Liberty says:

    That’s really good that your Anxiety score has gone down, I must try this out! I have also found the CBT books helpful for SA, the online sessions sound good i think its worth a shot! xo

  3. mysadbattle says:

    You are a good writer and you seem to be a bright girl. It’s sad how SAD holds us from being ourselves around people. I have been suffering for as long as i can remember and I did not even know I had SAD until a few months ago. I just thought i was strange and cursed. I have improved a little since high school but I am still having a really hard time in most social situations. The thought of dying often crosses my mind but life is too beautiful and I guess there has always been a flicker of hope deep inside so I am still breathing. After I diagnosed myself and read about treatments on the internet, I have become a little hopeful although where i live, there are no treatments available whether in books or by therapy but I am hoping i might get some online.

    Could you please share the link to this online session you mentioned and also suggest some good CBT books for SA?

    • Gemma says:

      Thank you for the kind comment. 🙂 It is very sad how much our condition holds us back. I’m sorry to hear that you have been suffering for so long and that you also think about suicide. Which country do you live in?

      Here’s the link to the CBT sessions that I will be trying (I don’t know why I can’t insert a hyperlink in comments):

      As for books, I haven’t read many self-help books. There are a number that I’ve been meaning to read for a while and I’ve only now (after working through a more general CBT book) started working on a self-help book specific to SA. I will hopefully put up a review section on this site in the future, once I have read more self-help books. I’d recommend a book called ‘Mind Over Mood’ if you’re completely new to CBT. It seems somewhat moronic and perhaps patronising in parts, and as I say, it is very general, but it did help me a little bit. I’m also currently reading a book called ‘The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook’, but it’s a bit soon to tell whether or not the book will actually be helpful. I’m sorry that I can’t be of more help to you at the moment.

      • mysadbattle says:

        Thank you for the link, and the book suggestion. I will look it up.
        And I am from Bhutan. I am sure you have never heard of it. It’s a very small country sandwiched between China and India. People here have no idea about SA and we do not have any CBT therapists so I have nowhere to go to ask for help. I have come a long way though. Looking back at myself now, i think i had severe SAD but as i grew up and pushed myself into the world, my social skills improved a little. But i still suffer from SA and there are times when I feel so frustrated with myself and wish i was never born. During such times, I try to think positive and distract myself and eventually forget about it. I guess that is why I have never been depressed. You should try it, too.

        You have a better chance at getting help than I do. Work hard and get treatment. I hope the online treatment works for you. Meanwhile, try not to care about what people think of you because soon you will be fine and you can show the world who you really are! All the best dear!

    • Gemma says:

      No problem. 🙂 I had heard of it but I wasn’t sure exactly where it was. It’s awful that you don’t even have access to mental health professionals. 😦 Unfortunately, not being (clinically) depressed isn’t as simple as just thinking positively. It’s like saying to someone with social anxiety disorder: “Just talk to people”, or “Don’t be shy”.

      Thank you. I will try as hard as I can. I hope that the CBT programme or self-help books help you.

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