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Social Anxiety Documentary: Afraid of People with English subtitles  

this program is brought to you by

freedom from fear a nonprofit

organization dedicated to helping people

who suffer from anxieties and depression

remember back in high school that quiet

kid in the class who never raised his

hand there's out always I'm Outsiders in

every high school that me I was I felt

like I was on the outside of the

outsiders and how about that co-worker

of yours who hardly speaks at meetings

if they asked my opinion on something I

just move you know you're very

frightened we've all known people like

this before and we've all suffered

through our own share of shyness do you

brush your teeth every day

but for some people shyness goes way

beyond what you could ever imagine

this documentary will take you on a

journey into the world of people who

suffer from social anxiety disorder the

third most common mental disorder in our

country after depression and substance

abuse what does it feel like to suffer

from this disorder feeling of Terror

like a life in that situation how does

it affect families it's a chemical

situation that has affected just about

all eleven aunts and uncles of mine and

it's now come down to second and third

generations what causes it recognize the

disorder we've described it we

understand something about the biology a


the population

and how can you get help if somebody

does have social anxiety disorder they

should know that there is very effective

treatment and treatment that's very safe

and well tolerated I want to be

confident I want to be out guy I want to

have a lot of friends I I'd like to move

up in my career I really think I have a

lot to offer I just have to get past

this awful fear one of the things that

strikes me is that there's all this loss

potential in a group of people who tend

to be our most sensitive and often our

most caring so it's like those are the

people we need to get out

when I get up on a Monday morning I get

up and I have my coffee but I'm already

getting nervous um

I procrastinate I spent a lot of time

doing stuff around the house I know I

have to be there but I try to prolong

being home in my little comfort zone as

as long as I can as I'm driving to work

I can feel the anxiety building my

stomach starts to get sick and I start

to sweat by the time I get into work

driving up that driveway I'm pretty much

a mess going up the stairs walking down

the hall I'm just dreading every moment

of the day social anxiety disorder is

one of six main kinds of anxiety

disorder that we now recognize in

Skytree in psychology it's actually the

most common it's also known as social

phobia social anxiety disorder affects

millions of people worldwide it causes

someone like Pam to feel intense anxiety

in almost any social situation if I get

one wrong look from someone I'm

immediately gonna think that I'm an

absolute idiot we're gonna have to leave

people with social anxiety disorder

become very overly sensitive about what

other people are thinking about them

interestingly they'll often come in the

office and say I'm paranoid but they're

not parented at all what it is is they

have tremendous interpersonal

sensitivity so every time they're around

other people they think that people are

judging them because they think they're

actually doing bad looking stupid

looking incompetent being inarticulate

having people criticize them even if

it's not verbalized the idea that people

are judging you and criticizing you

potentially or negatively evaluating you

is a huge fear for these people there's

a range of severity so people with who

have it to a more moderate degree can

function but with enormous effort and


they maybe can work but they'll do

something that's below their

capabilities we could rather than have

to interact a lot with other people very

much to have friends it's very hard to

form a intimate relationship it's very

hard to socialize for some people the

disorder manifests itself only in

performance situations but for others it

permeates every aspect of their lives in

the extreme people become extremely

isolated they don't work they end up on

disability or being supported by their

families they'll be afraid to use public

restrooms to become afraid to eat in

restaurants because they're afraid

people may be watching them and they may

spill their food or choke we've seen

people who are afraid to endorse a check

in front of the teller because while the

teller is watching their hand starts to


well the checkout line is the worst of

course and then other than that no first

going into the store it's like home I

know it's not happening

like all eyes and turn see who's coming

in and down and then walking around and

looking at stuff you know what so it's

like um I always feel like I'm you know

under spotlight James lives at home with

his parents and hasn't worked in four

years just being out of his house for

longer than an hour is sometimes more

than James can bear

social anxiety disorder has taken over

his life I felt a lot of times I did

just like a freak you know just because

just because of this I mean I mean how

can you how can you be be so mean

actually afraid of other people I mean

it doesn't have never heard of that

we've all experienced moments of shyness

but suffering from social anxiety

disorder and being shy are two very

different things

shy people may be uncomfortable or not

like doing certain things but they're

able to do them whereas the people

social anxiety disorder get these actual

panic attacks and really cannot do these

things while socially anxious people are

often limited by their disorder shy

people play an important role in society

more society rewards with a great deal

of dignity and economic reward those who

like to work alone like computer

programmers scientists poets writers TS

Eliot was a very shy child and a very

shy adult and so he closed the door and

wrote poetry and plays and won a Nobel

Prize in Literature it's only a problem

when it's over-the-top okay when it

incapacitate sus when it keeps us from

getting to do the things that we want to

do in life when it robs us a pleasure

when it keeps us from working it keeps

us from having relationships it's a


the worst time for me was was in a

particular meeting where I was having a

panic attack and I just I still can

remember the feeling of just being

frozen I didn't want to turn my head at


I was afraid to look at anybody on the

side of me just just sweating and just

having this feeling of being outside my

body kind of looking down on me it's a

feeling of Terror like a life-and-death

situation basically and it's totally

unrealistic but that's that's how I feel

inside chris is a computer programmer he

started a social anxiety disorder

website to help others who are going

through struggles similar to his own

right after years of battling with

social anxiety chris considers himself

90% better i feel that i've overcome a

lot of the disorder and i want to show

other people that that they can do the

same they've come a long way from where

I was in the past and I'm a lot I'm able

to handle it I'm that hundred percent

cured but I'm able to handle it a lot


barb knows social anxiety as a

psychologist and as a patient she

lectures on the importance of

self-acceptance in overcoming anxiety as

she struggles to find that acceptance

within herself I'm a psychologist I

should be able to have myself more

together just feeling like that somehow

that's not cool you know that but you

know I'm sure doctors get sick and have

to go to doctors and get antibiotics so

why wouldn't psychologists have mental

health problems too one of the hardest

things for someone with social anxiety

to do is get up in front of an audience

today Barbara is doing just that giving

a presentation on social anxiety

disorder for the general public the

anticipation of giving a speech is

really the worst for me sometimes I'm a

little bit reluctant and you know

sometimes get angry or frustrated like

you know why do I have to do this but I

don't really have to I'm choosing to and

part of it is is growth that's why I

keep doing it today's presentation is

about people who are painfully shy it's

also known as social anxiety disorder or

social phobia but this presentation is

more than just about social anxiety

disorder it's about courage I'm going to

try something that I haven't done before

I'm going to try to share some of my own

experiences but it's gonna be hard it's

not like I go around and tell everybody

that oh I have this problem with anxiety

and you know I don't do that I did well

in school academically but I never said

a word I always sat in the back of the

class hoping the teacher wouldn't call

on me if there was ever the slightest

hint that class participation would be

involved that day I felt like I was

literally going to die if there's

anything I hope I can pass on to my son

is the important lesson I've learned

it's good to take risks unless you take

the risk to break out of your comfort

zone to try new things your world stays

small and you never know what joy you

might be missing thank you very much

when I'm done and it's over a lot of

times I just feel this huge relief but

also there's been times where I feel so

emotional like I want to cry because

it's just like I think I've built so

much into it and it's just been so

draining that you know I just kind of I

don't know it just all I don't know I'm

just sad

I guess just talking about all the

painful times I didn't know I'm just

wondering but I did the right thing to

do that it's so much easier just to stay

and be the professional

over the last two decades experts had

explored what causes this disorder we

certainly know that it runs in families

so that people who have first-degree

relatives parents for example who have

the illness are more likely to get it

than other people but that only explains

a part of the reason people get it many

people have a situation where maybe they

were humiliated criticized rejected

evaluated poorly socially and then they

felt a loss of control and they felt

embarrassed and there was a lot of shame

that they experienced in that moment and

then what happens is they became more

and more fearful of those situations and

so more avoidance took place or just

negative perceptions of situations like

this and so they started to then develop

it almost like a conditioned response to

their fear

of all the adults for adolescents that a

psychiatrist would say have social

anxiety or social phobia some acquired

it they didn't have any special

temperamental or genetic bias but some

did the temperamental bias which is

inherited is not for shyness what you in

here it is a tendency to overreact to

anything that's new novel unfamiliar we

know that a particular circuitry in the

brain of animals is reliably triggered

when those animals experience fear in

particular laboratory situations is

something called conditioned fear and it

specifically involves a brain structure

called the amygdala which is kind of the

central part of the brain for fear


this structure always fires when

anything new happens you hear a sound

you didn't expect you see a sight you

didn't expect a smell you didn't expect

and we think that the children who are

born with this bias to overreact to

novelty inherit a neurochemical are very

excitable in a groundbreaking study dr.

Jerome Kagan of Harvard University

videotaped the reactions of infants to

unfamiliar stimuli his research suggests

that some infants have a temperamental

bias to experience anxiety if you were

an infant with such a chemistry then if

we showed those infants interesting

stimuli they never saw before like

Mobile's colorful dolls that were moved

in front of their face that if you had

this chemistry you would begin to show

this motor vigor and begin to cry

because we had passed your threshold

that is a sign that you have inherited a

chemistry in the amygdala that that has

rendered it very excitable therefore for

the rest of your life you should be

biased to react to unfamiliar things

with an initial restraint

okay well what did you learn yesterday

did you have your picture in your desk

is your picture in your desk can you

share it with us kayla is 7 she suffers

from a disorder called selective mutism

which is a form of social anxiety

disorder there are some children that

just manifest social phobia this way

they just literally shut down and they

do it with their voice because that's

their easiest way of not communicating

not interacting they find that and over

time they learn that's I going to learn

behavior so they shut down and they

don't speak so no attention will be

brought to them then you brush your

teeth every day

yes or no do you brush them every day

yes are you shaking your head yes I

didn't hear it rattle

should I come back to you okay I'll come

back to you these children want so

desperately to talk and they can text

the words just don't come out they can't


it's stuck I've had little kids tell me

that they're stuck in their throat

they're stuck in their chest their

tongue is playing tricks on them their

lips won't open up right their mouth

just doesn't work their brain is telling

them not to talk

right who's your neighbor I watch my

daughter in the classroom um it's very

painful to see her struggle and not be

able to interact with the other children

like like they do and um just breaks my


but before Kayla was diagnosed Cheri was

filled with frustration and anger I can

remember yelling at her saying you know

why are you doing this you know quit

embarrassing me

I really thought that it was some kind

of control that she was doing this

almost on purpose

I mean its child was suffering from

major anxiety and I just didn't

understand it's often difficult for

parents to tell that these children have

social phobia or selective mutism reason

being because at home you're comfortable

and they're totally fine

can I go fern they're often bossy oh

they're stubborn there are um they're

very assertive you got that one oh yeah

I am I Shh

Sheri is suffered from anxiety for many

years but she didn't associate her

feelings of fear with Kayla's behavior

and then one day she had to give a

speech to a classroom full of her peers

and reality hit a fear that took over my

body I mean I was literally feeling sick

I was sweating I was and that's when it

brought so much light to me I'm like oh

my gosh this is what my daughter is

feeling every single day close to you

the majority of cases this anxiety is

hereditary it's passed on from one

family member to the next so when these

parents find out that the symptoms that

these children have are due to anxiety

it makes them to take a step back and

realize this is me this was my brother

this was my sister all these things that

my child is going through is what I went

through and what I'm feeling

it's just been a real eye-opener for me

I've learned so so much about myself it

helps me to understand myself better and

mostly it helps me to understand Kayla

this is me on the map of my room natalie

is Kayla's best friend in school

I cherish their friendship because kayla

has come so so far this year and a lot

of the credit goes to Natalie and to her

teacher mrs. Decker say miss Knope

his children tend to bond with very

outgoing children because they will do

the speaking for them and that's what

you see with Kayla

you see Kayla having bonded with Natalie

well when she's shy the tops just tells

me he whispers it to me and I say it

and I made a talk cuz the first she was

reading to me they keep telling that she

could do it Kailas come a long way she's

got good friends in school and she

speaks with Natalie but in order for her

to fully recover dr. Blum has suggested

that she take antidepressant medication

we're starting on very low doses of

medication in order to lower their

anxiety level the children are much more

receptive when their anxieties lower

they're able to perform the things that

we need them to do once Kayla becomes

more confident and comfortable in the

classroom she will be slowly taken off

her medication the prognosis of

selective mutism when it's viewed from

an anxiety perspective is excellent

these children overcome selective mutism

so if we can give them the coping skills

and develop behavioral techniques to be

able to deal with a stressful situation

they're able to carry that over into

their life as they get older

now I try to look at things in such a

positive way and I know that no we

recognized the problem in that route

getting help for her and she's gonna

overcome this at a young age and she

won't hopefully have to go through the

pain all these years that other people

do kayla is fortunate she's growing up

in a time when many doctors and families

are recognizing this disorder in

children but for socially anxious adults

like Chris the diagnosis took years

Westham Hakeem Chris is visiting his

parents home for the first time since he

has started treatment for social anxiety

disorder the conversation brings up

painful memories of a lonely child as

documented by his mother Audrey in her

diary but I can see going through this

there's a number of times when I do

mention shy and I mean even one

particular place where I'm actually

concerned about Chris's personality he

didn't want to leave the yard all last

summer he wouldn't talk or even look at

others he wouldn't go to the neighbor's

houses and had trouble with Sunday

school and library school yeah I know

there were some problems because I did

didn't feel cut remember I'd go down to

the bus stop and everybody would sit on

one side of the street and for some

reason I would stay alone on the other

side by myself so there's another aspect

in our family I have cousins that have

social anxiety situations but I have

less events that have had phobias

grandma couldn't walk around the block

unless you and Cory were with her

because her her legs would be like

rubber aunt bee couldn't go on a bus

they all had heart palpitations anxiety

attacks it's a chemical situation that

has affected just about all 11 aunts and

uncles of mine and it's now come down to

second and third generations very

heart-rendering to think that you were

seeing these things and and I was would

have left of try to help you with it

social anxiety affects more than the

people who suffer from it it also has an

impact on everyone who loves and cares

for them so do you think you've gotten

everything you want to get for your

mother for Christmas I feel at times so


that she has so much capability so much

intelligence beautiful woman you know it

has everything in the world going for

her but she can't recognize it make it

the party that's extremely painful for

me to watch is somebody that I care so

deeply about you know when she thinks

okay I'm ugly I seemed unprofessional

all of these thoughts my first reaction

is to just say you're crazy I think it's

hard because I've always seen so much

more in her than she sees in herself

I didn't know I had social anxiety

disorder and I didn't have a word for it

back then anyways I mean I was pretty

depressed not very happy see I feel bad

for even my parents watching this I cry

myself to sleep a lot

but I don't know if I want them did that

I was suicidal you know a lot and they

didn't necessarily know that

I mean I think I have it in over in my

high school yearbook that I wrote some

letter in there I think maybe I've

hidden it that that I would kill myself

at a certain point if things didn't get


in high school I didn't have too many

friends I was a lot smaller than some of

the other kids that kind of got picked

on a lot beat up a lot it's especially

tough dealing with this disorder I

believe being being a guy because we

don't want to show our weaknesses and

with the social anxiety being shy and

reserved that's a weakness I try to

compensate in other areas by doing

things like skydiving getting involved

in sports bungee jumping

I think I did a lot of crazy things who

try to show my man listen guess there's

our always I'm Outsiders in every high

school but me I was I felt like I was on

the outside of the outsiders because I

was just completely alone what my thumb

everything I was going through and

everything I went through me and it was

tough to just seeing that other people

having home at least someone a friend

you know just to you know get through it

all with and I didn't fit in with the

other kids and all that so it mean a lot

of that experience is just getting to

high school we went looking at colleges

I picked the easiest thing I possibly

could the closest thing I possibly could

when you know at that time in my life I

should have been looking for something

challenging and exciting yeah went to

secretarial school it was the easiest

thing I could think of I knew how to

type I knew how to do all that stuff I

wouldn't be threatened I wouldn't be

challenged and it would be easy

further progressed in college I would

miss my classes that would I'd sleep on

the couch all day just a lot of

depression I drank a lot if I drink then

it eliminates some of the anxiety feel a

little more comfortable talking to

people one study showed the median age

of onset of social anxiety disorder was

age thirteen that means that there are a

lot of shy anxious socially inhibited

children who are probably labeled by

their teachers as model students because

they are not disruptive they don't

disturb anybody they're quiet and it's

probably not recognized that these

children are terrified to raise their

hand having a lot of trouble making

friends because they get nervous in

these social situations and these

children have a very very high risk to

grow up to continue to have these

problems to develop depression and also

develop substance abuse problems because

a large number of people with social

anxiety disorder realize unfortunately

that alcohol is one way to calm you down

into social situation so we really want

people to pay attention to this even in

school-aged children for socially

anxious children like Pam Chris James

and Barbara there was no diagnosis and

no treatment constant anxiety caused

them to develop other disorders like

depression and the way to deal with

acute shyness they were told was to pull

yourself up by your bootstraps get over

it snap out of it I don't think that

really works but that's our attitude

toward people with mental health

problems behavioral problems and

emotional problems so that I think that

people tend to think well this is just

the way I am and I'm gonna get laughed

at if I try to get help for it

I went to visit my friend in western New

York and she had one TV channel on her

TV and all of a sudden this commercial

came on for a social anxiety series of

tapes that was supposed to help you get

past this social anxiety mainly started

listening the symptoms yeah I said oh my

god that's me

it's me on that tape I started to cry

because I just there was a name for it


so many years

there was a name for it and something

existed and it looked like I could get

help social anxiety disorder was

misunderstood for years until 1985 when

dr. Michael Leibovitz published a paper

about its devastating effects doctor

Leibovitz started the first anxiety

disorders clinic in the United States

the last 15 years we've recognized the

disorder we've described it we

understand something about the biology a

lot about how common it is in the

population we can really help most of

the people affected by it to a

significant degree at the New York State

Psychiatric Institute a research team is

looking into the brain in a whole new

way utilizing PET scan imaging they

search for the answer to a puzzling

question how did the neurotransmitters

dopamine and serotonin affect patients

with social anxiety disorder

neurotransmitters are chemicals that

help pass a nerve signal from one neuron

to the next

how do they affect us

well when you wake up in the morning

it's because certain nerves are flooding

your brain with a neurotransmitter

serotonin or when you're exercising your

nerve endings release dopamine a

neurotransmitter that helps muscles move

more easily neurotransmitters affect

everything we do

every thought we have and they have a

great influence on our sense of

well-being think of a neurotransmitter

as an electronic messenger that passes a

nerve signal from one neuron to the next

throughout the entire body in order to

do its job it has to move through a

small gap between neurons called the

synapse and get absorbed by the next

neuron but sometimes for reasons

scientists don't yet understand that

doesn't happen and when it doesn't

people experience a myriad of problems

including the effects of social anxiety

disorder the reason that really I'm

focusing now on serotonin is due to the

success of the serotonin reuptake

inhibitors and those are drugs which are

all currently being used in the

treatment of social phobia dr. Kent uses

PET scan images in the hope that she can

see how the group of antidepressant

medications known as the SSRIs help

neurons absorb serotonin she starts by

doing a baseline PET scan on patients

prior to treatment with the SSRI drug

paroxetine in the second column here we

see the baseline PET scan or the first

PET scan that was done before treatment

was instituted in the hot areas or the

brightest areas here are the areas of

the greatest binding or greatest density

of the serotonin transporter after three

to six months of treatment with

paroxetine on rescanning these patients

these images show a significant

reduction in hot hot spots or brightness

indicating that those sites now are

occupied by the drug paroxetine it does

suggest that at least with this drug

that there is very very high occupancy

of those brain sites and so you can

really see the mechanism of action of

how this drug is working in the brain

all the patients really were feeling

significantly better and actually

functioning better in their social lives

and really overall much much much less


social anxiety disorder shows some

difference in symptoms around the world

dr. Roberto Luis Fernandez studies the

impact of social anxiety disorder on

different cultural groups and he's found

some surprising distinctions in some

Asian groups for example the concern is

much more about the impact of your

symptoms on somebody else how they feel

embarrassed or uncomfortable by you

whereas here in the United States it's

often about feeling embarrassed yourself

cultural differences influence how we

view social anxiety disorder they also

influence what triggers the u.s. Latinos

are Latin Americans in general dancing

is very important and a lot of people I

see come in because they're concerned

about feeling embarrassed about the way

they dance in front of other people

Thomas de español CIO mojito for new

immigrants social anxiety can be

triggered as a reaction to a foreign

environment people who migrate um might

have been in their countries of origin

somewhat shy but not to the degree where

it would have caused a problem but after

migration they might feel much more

difficulty in social interactions

because they have to deal with following

a new set of social rules which they may

not completely know about or feel

comfortable with whereas if they had not

been in that migrant situation they may

never have had social phobia to that

degree or even have received the

diagnosis there are two kinds of

treatment that have been proven by good

rigorous scientific studies to be

effective one is a type of psychotherapy

called cognitive behavioral

psychotherapy and the other are

medications particularly medications

that we usually call antidepressant

medications although we now know that

they're useful for anxiety as well the

medications maybe have a little bit of

edge in terms of how potent they are but

the cognitive therapy looks more durable

in terms of its effects after you stop

so there may be ways to combine the two

to really get the best of both worlds

medication in psychotherapy are intended

to change the person and the person is

part biology part psychology dr. Richard


director of the adult anxiety disorder

clinic at Temple University uses

cognitive behavioral therapy with

socially anxious adults in this form of

therapy patients learn to change the way

they feel by changing the way they think

okay she won't go out with me she'll

have changed her mind by the time I call

okay those very very negative

predictions right and the outcome in

truth was she went pretty amazing how

different those things can be isn't yeah

this therapy assumes that part of the

anxiety response in adults affected by

this disorder is a learned behavior

and like many other learned behaviors it

can be modified through training a very

important piece of cognitive behavior

therapy is not only talking about

situations but actually doing and

learning by doing is she somebody that

you would like to call again

definitely okay well how about we set

that up as our agreement between us that

that's that you'll call her this week

sometime the next day or two in fact

would say because you don't want too

much time to pick okay I guess no were

you agreed to do it yeah I'll try were

you agreed to do it yes

overtime patience learn to replace their

negative anxious response to social

situations with a more appropriate one

the first step in getting better is

often the hardest finding the courage to

ask for help at least now I wanted to do

these things you know to reduce the

anxiety absolutely I think you're on the

road to recovery you know not only that

but just coming here yeah and doing what

you're doing is very courageous and

desperation you could call it

desperation um what do you feel better

calling a desperation or courage what's

gonna make you feel better they're both

correct well well I guess whatever

people want to call it you know to me it

feels desperate they don't get deals

desperateness but if you set it

courageous say courageous courageous say

desperate desperate which feels better

well not which feels more real what

feels better

um courageous feels better for me it's a

better thing you know it's so that kills

you better but it feels desperate me

where you need to go in your thinking is

to start balancing that negative

thinking that it's desperate yeah - one


Aegeus they're both correct yeah but the

other way is gonna make you happier I

see I never thought of it that way

before that they're both correct yes

this tomato just seemed desperate and I

was that well think about it as

courageous okay okay just two months

after beginning cognitive behavioral


James start seeing results today I'm

going to the to a grocery store because

um that is something that has been hard

for me to do in the past

thank you I have made some progress you

know in dealing with social phobia

just on by trying to face the things I

used to avoid before

I've been using a lot of technique

something that I learned from the

therapist I'm seeing a doctor Caden one

of the ones that helps me a lot is just

um remind myself you know even if I do

feel anxious and um you know even if it

is noticed by other people that it's not

the end of the world you know I just

think so what you know even if they do

see that you know about me knowledge

thanks you too it wasn't as bad as I

thought it was gonna be on I'm learning

that about a lot of things lately you

know nothing is as bad as it seems it

could be another way James copes with

his anxiety is by using a talent he's

had for years turning his experiences

with social anxiety into cartoons I

guess it's like with with I'm writing

they say right but you know it's like

this is something I knew what it was

like to go through so I might as well do

cartoons on on that you know

I can appreciate you know how awful the

certain experience can be but then find

the humor in it and it put into a

cartoon a couple of websites that also

deal with this some have put them up got

a lot of good feedback it's good just to

look at the bad experiences and you know

make funny cartoons out of them and if

other people can look

maybe laughs - and all the better so

many people there after years of living

with anxiety pam has also decided to

fight the fear been about four weeks I'd

say since you guys were last here and

I've started taking a medication

continue to see the social worker who's

helping me with cognitive therapy and

I've had some ups and downs today Pam is

going to the hairdresser an activity

most women look forward to but for Pam

it has been filled with fear I've been

going to the hairdresser in Boston for

probably 12 years and I'm still scared

to go in and talk to this man

the day before I go you try to think of

interesting things to talk about so that

when I go in and start talking to him I

feel like I have something interesting

to say in the day of the event I'm a

basket case

and it's nothing this man has done for

some reason he makes me nervous as Pam

and her boyfriend Mike approach Boston

she waits for the inevitable hit of

anxiety to take over her day

now this is interesting usually where

this time I like to start shaking before

my highway well yeah cause if we get

closer to the city I start getting


well a little but not like usual

I think I'm getting better

usually when we get to this point on the

bridge my heart would start pounding and

start breathing really quickly and my

legs feel like absolute jelly really

yeah that's not happening now no that's

cool I mean I'm a little nervous but not

Pam and her hairdresser Alan have talked

and laughed during their appointments

for years in all that time and never let

on that inside she was filled with


but today their banter is surprisingly

comfortable and her laughter is real

coke is great because I love to come in

here she loves it this is the first time

actually in about 12 years since I

started coming to the salon that I've

actually really enjoyed being with them

as opposed to thinking it myself being

nervous it's a great feeling

a lot of people would never allow

themselves to be filmed while in there

and their mind they look the worst that

they can possibly look but they're so

comfortable with herself you might be

surprised about that

I can let myself be interview to getting

my hair done like this I think I can do


not the color yeah fuck appeal I feel

pretty good actually I didn't feel as


they filmed everything like the hair

colors really the medication must be

starting to kick in or something

two months later Pam's feeling even


I'm doing much better since the last

time I saw you I feel like I have a

sense of my confidence back I'm able to

talk to people now where I couldn't

before going to a party at one point

would really make me very nervous and I

would cancel more likely then go to the

party I'm much better with that I can

talk to people even strangers yeah I get

up early I have a long way to go and I

have my ups and downs there are weeks

when I feel myself getting back into

that spiral again all your bad bad bad

but you just pull yourself out get your

medication go to the therapist in it you

just feel much better you can't be

friends with people you can be social

you don't have to hide in your house or

hide from social activities or hide from

work there there is a way to get past

this it's liberating it's been almost a

year since kayla started taking

medication for her selective mutism

Cayla started on medication shortly

after we were here and the medication

has helped her tremendously at home here

she became much more adventurous she

would climb trees and hang upside down

or swing sets and just became like a

little monkey which was something we

didn't read ever really saw in our child

before we didn't realize how truly

inhibited she was just in everyday life

before she started on the medication I

mean it's just amazing to see what she

can do now versus what she couldn't

before but the biggest change in Kayla

comes out at school in the classroom

kayla has just really become a different

child her body language is so different

she seems so completely more relaxed

than she ever has been ever in the last

few years of school she interacts

so much more with the kids and you know

speaks with them now

in small groups doesn't have to whisper

although Kayla's come a long way in here

there's still some areas that she needs

to continue working on where can we find

jumbo burger like interacting with your

teacher ceilidh you want to point to the

jumbo burger sometimes she'll just nod

yes and no sometimes she'll say

something but usually just one or two

sentences and then other times she won't

say anything and she'll whisper and her

friends ear and her friend will tell me

you know the answer

Christmas morning Sara run Steelers

stocking okay to help Kayla feel more

comfortable with her teacher her parents

make tapes of Kayla reading at home that

she shares with her teacher after school

because if Sara looks out her window she

makes a wish by doing this they hope to

eventually ease Kayla into speaking with

her teacher during class hopefully by

next year we can get her talking out

loud to the teacher in the participating

in class verbally in front of everybody

we'd uh we'd be extremely happy and I

think that's realistic weather happens

in a year and I don't know but uh she's

certainly on her way there kayla is

always gonna have a shy disposition

about her she's never gonna be able to

walk into a classroom know hey I'm here

but just to have her being able to to

interact and speak freely with with

everybody really would just be a great

accomplishment for her and if she can't

do it

you know what will stall over the same

I found out about five years ago I don't

know has about 27 when I first found out

there was a name behind it I just was

shopping in the bookstore and found a

book called the anxiety and phobia

workbook and it described my symptoms

exactly and then I started practicing

some of the things that they recommended

learning what was happening to my body

learning how to control those bodily

symptoms and then also dealing with some

of the mental thoughts that were going

through my head and contradicting those


once Chris started combining medication

with his therapy he began to notice a

change I didn't see any results for

about six weeks but after six weeks all

of a sudden I had this big meeting and

it was with the top two people in the

company now I never I never had a

meeting with those two so it was like

what these guys want and so I go to the

meeting and I just couldn't believe I

mean I did not feel nervous at all at

that point that's where I knew that the

medication was working for me and I've

been on it for about a year now and I'm

hoping in another six within the next

six months I'm going to try to slowly

get myself off of it and try to pick up

on some of the therapy a little bit more

for many socially anxious people like

Chris getting better means knocking down

the walls of loneliness around them

when I first decided to act surely to

marry me I wanted to do something

different something original let's talk

to my sister and she thought it might be

neat if I I made a big sign on the

building across from my apartment so I

thought that's a great idea

so ended up making this big sign it was

about 30 feet I went over to the

building across the street from where my

apartment was at I went up there and

started putting the sign together and I

had my my sister and her husband across

the way in my apartment they were

filming me and tell me if the sign was

it wasn't crooked make sure and it was

great they were scared I was going to

fall off the edge

I got it out there went picked up

Shirley brought it over to my apartment

I pointed out the sign and she's in

college that's not for me is it then I

got down on my knee and and asked her

she said yes looking back I never

thought I would would have the

opportunity to get married or find a

relationship like this just feels really

good to be able to overcome this and get

to this point

I've come a long ways it's kind of a you

know just a little bit a day-to-day

progression there's gonna be ups and

downs there's gonna be times where you

feel like wow I'm making great progress

but then there's also times where you

have setbacks and you feel like

withdrawing again for me that's been

important to realize that okay it's not

just a total you know linear progression

upwards in terms of recovery and the

fact that I still struggle with it I

don't think in any way negates the

progress that I've made or the progress

that is possible that I still may make

in the future well there's no cure for

social anxiety disorder treatment can

make a difference what does that mean

they'll still have anxiety they may

still have more anxiety than you know

Joe Schmoe next door who doesn't have a

problem with social anxiety but they

have a very good chance of starting in a

positive way along the road to doing

those things that they haven't been

doing to doing it with a great deal

blessing xiety than they started with

that's a huge step forward

and I think I really as barb continues

to get better she hopes to help others

in the process she and her husband Greg

have written a book painfully shy which

gives patients information on how to

cope with the disorder

Greg is like the best thing that's ever

happened to me and we are a team I feel

like he saved my life and getting

married to me is kind of symbolic of

loneliness being over I want people to

know that there is hope and that don't

give up I mean if I had known I was

gonna meet Greg you know when I was a

teenager you know I would have like okay

I'll just cruise through the next 10

years but you don't know that ahead of

time and I mean there's so many times

where I thought okay I want to kill

myself because I'm so miserable and what

if I had I wouldn't have met Greg or I

wouldn't have had Jesse one of the

things that strikes me is that there's

all this lost potential in a group of

people who tend to be our most sensitive

and often our most caring so it's like

those are the people we need to get out

no two paths to recovery are the same

each patient must find his or her own

way to overcome anxiety and fear

actually but for those who have spent

their lives being afraid of people

there's no greater feeling than knowing

you don't have to feel afraid

I suffered from social anxiety disorder

of quite a few years and since my

treatment since I'm able to alleviate

that problem from my life life is so

much more enjoyable now you don't have

to worry about what people are saying

about you you don't have to worry about

what people are thinking you don't have

to second-guess what you're going to say

or do in public and think somebody's

gonna laugh at you

because you can just be yourself and

enjoy life may is mental health month

and you can receive a free screening on

national anxiety disorders screening day

for more information call toll-free 888

four four two two zero two two

this program was brought to you by

freedom from fear a non-profit

organization dedicated to helping people

who suffer from anxieties and depression

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