Social Anxiety Update ! (Post Therapy)

Social Anxiety Update ! (Post Therapy)


Hey beauts ! I have not written to you guys in a bit now describing and sharing my social anxiety progress with you’s. If you are new to my channel I have been struggling with social anxiety for a long period of time now . Recently I was involved with a social anxiety group therapy program teaching us different cognitive behavioural techniques and skills to help cope . I also had an exposure hierarchy that I was working on , where I would expose myself to my biggest fears which provoke my anxiety and trigger it . 

So it has now been approximately two months passed since I have finished my group therapy sessions and I just wanted to give you guys a little bit of an update as to how I  am doing and coping lately . A lot has been going on lately , especially this month. To my surprise I actually have been working quite a bit on my exposure hierarchy without even knowing . Not going to lie, I haven’t been quite on the ball like before planning out exposures and what is going to happen each day or what I am going to work on. Life gets in the way and that is okay. But writing this post and sharing more progress I have come to the conclusion that I have made some huge progress over the past couple of weeks. 

1) Job Interviews– On my exposure hierarchy list, I had written down that I want to remain more calm and comfortable when it comes to job interviews. Recently I had an interview , a Skype interview, which was completely new to me , on a volunteer blogging position. Of course I was psyching myself out and was debating whether just to cancel this interview or not go online. I was impressed with myself as I pushed through my nerves , and managed to attend the online interview which was 30 minutes long. The interview involved two people listening and watching me speak as they asked questions in regards to my blogging and my blogging channel. It was very easy but still nerve racking for me. So that was that ! I ended up getting the position which I was super stoked about. If some of you are curious it’s for the blogging company ” INKspire“, which I am going to start soon! If I would have let my social anxiety get the best of me , I would not have had the opportunity to get this position. I am happy I stuck to my guns! 


I also have some interviews coming up for part time jobs as I am heading back to school. This will be nerve racking for me for many reasons. Within my job now I hardly have to speak to any people aside from the mom, dad and grandparents. Now getting a “normal“job , I will have to push out of my comfort zone and associate with more people one on one. Fingers crossed everything goes okay ! I got this ! My coping statement that I often use through hard times like this is ,” you are good at interviews, you got this “. 

2) Going back to school– So as some of you may know I decided to go back to school! I applied to Mohawk college for social service work , so fingers crossed I get in! I have been wanting to do this program for a while now , so I am super excited I got the guts to jump on it! This process has not been easy. I had to inform my boss that I needed to leave and put in my two weeks as I will be going back to school. Quitting a job is never easy, especially the confrontational part about it. I would rather just send a text but we all know that’s not professional whatsoever….. sigh. But I managed to do it, and phew I am still here today , can’t win this time anxiety! I also managed to fill out my whole application without mammas help (that’s pretty big considering I hate doing school work forms). I will be attending my program hopefully next week ! I know my nerves will kick in as I will have to speak infront of people , but I know that I can do this. Just like that two minute presentation I did in group therapy. I did that , I can do this .


3) Speaking on the phone – Recently since applying to school, I have been on the phone with people trying to sort out my application. What shocked me the most was most times I did not hesitate to pick up the phone, I just went right away and did what I needed to do. I have found that speaking on the phone is not as bad as I thought , and I can do it more naturally now. Not to say the anxiety is completely gone, but I can cope and manage it better than before. 


As you can see I have been slowly working on my exposure hierarchy without really even noticing it . I think the biggest challenge for me will be school, since I was so used to have classes with friends at Brock University, that now I have to start fresh and brand new.  This will be hard for me but I am excited because I was informed there was a program you can register at Mohawk called the “Accessible learning centre”, where they accommodate your needs if you have learning disabilities or mental health issues going on. They can extend your assignments, move you to a separate room to write your exams and so forth. This honestly eases my anxiety a ton and makes me feel way more comfortable with my decision to go to Mohawk. All I have to do is just register for this program.  So that was the update that I had for you guys ! Let me know if any of you guys had tried out an anxiety group therapy program or not , I am curious how it worked or is going for you! If you have any questions in regards to this don’t hesitate to ask! I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week, be sure to follow my other social media accounts located on my home page for the latest updates! 

Social Anxiety Group Therapy- Session 4

Social Anxiety Group Therapy- Session 4

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Happy Hump day everyone! Wow…. I am on a roll today with these blog posts, mostly I give credit to this amazing and unreal coffee getting me through! So I know some of you have been wondering how my last Wednesday session went at my social anxiety group therapy. Honestly, it was a struggle going to this meeting that time. It was a very long day and the thought came into my head, “meh lyss….come on… you can miss just one!?”. In reality guys, you can’t. I mean sure if you really have an emergency or something which is totally acceptable but it’s so crucial going to every single one of these meetings, you literally learn something new every single time. I am so glad that I pushed myself to go. I knew for a fact that I was going to have days like this where I really did not feel like going and then your brain explodes with excuses why it’s okay. So.. shall we jump right into it?

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I honestly was not nervous whatsoever this time, literally no nerves at all which I found so surreal. I sat down in a different chair this time and quietly waited for 6 o’clock to hit. There was the same amount of people there as last time and everyone just kept to themselves until the session started. We began with doing some mindful thinking and breathing like the last few sessions. I rather enjoyed it more this time because we had to close our eyes and listen to a girl on an app speak to us and calm us. I actually have this app on my phone and can honestly say I really do love it. There is something about listening to other people speak to calm me down as opposed to listening to my own thoughts. If you guys are interested in downloading the app it is called, “Stop, Breathe and Think“. I remember clear as day, the first time I ever tried this app, I chose “trying to feel more thankful & grateful for things” (you can choose what you want to work on). After listening to the lady and finishing with the mindful breathing, I sent this huge text message to my aunt saying everything I was grateful about towards her, I will never forget that!

So after the breathing was done, I was feeling extremely relaxed and we started getting into the session. We always start by taking up homework that we had to do that week. Of course, I get called upon, but now when I am getting called upon… I really am not tensing up that much as opposed to what I usually would do.  We were working on exposures that week and I decided to focus on trying to incorporate more “small talk” with my boss or the mom I nanny for. I had looked at my hierarchy of exposures and basically came to the conclusion that alot of my fears have to do with having a conversation with someone whether it be via face to face or over the phone. I decided to give it a go. I remember that week trying extremely hard to push myself and initiate some of the conversations that I had with my boss. Prior to this exposure, I really tried to keep our conversations really basic and would hope they would finish like that so I would not have to talk as much. I started pushing myself with little questions and conversation starters such as, “how was your week or your weekend?”, “what did you do on the weekend?”, “how were the boys this morning” and so forth. This sparked some nice conversations between the two of us which was good for a change. The mom knows that I am taking part in my social anxiety therapy group sessions, so every Thursday she asks how my session went the night before. Of course, I do not have the balls to say “oh hey I am doing my exposure on you“, so I basically just tell her I am onto exposures now and so forth.

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I continued to try to initiate small talk with the mom every single day. I tried hard to push myself to go that extra mile and stayed in the anxiety-provoking situation. I shared this current exposure with the rest of the group and shared that after the week it really felt “natural” to have conversations with my boss. I also informed the group that I really am capable of having small talk with someone, and that I am very hard on myself. This is accurate for someone struggling with anxiety, we are so hard on ourselves and just need to step back and say, “I can do this“.  We then went around the room where others had shared their current exposures as well. After doing this, we went right into what we were going to learn that day and what was “skill building“.  The instructors asked several questions and read out several statements to us, asking if any related to us at all. One particularly stood out to me and I informed the instructors.

“I am just shy,  but others say I appear snobby or better than others”.

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“I am just shy,  but others say I appear snobby or better than others”. This literally was me to a T. I then shared my story with the group how in my first year of residence, I hardly spoke to people on my floor because I didn’t know anyone and was super shy. I remember hearing that some people on my floor literally thought I was a stuck-up bitch for not socialising with them which was extremely hurtful considering I am so far from that! Often I do feel judged when it comes to my shyness and that is one of the reasons why I am attending this program, to work on it. We then began to talk about skills to help us communicate better and help us with our listening skills, some of these include:

  • looking  more interested by making more eye contact
  • more involvement by asking for clarity
  • staying with the conversation
  • a response that is honest and supportive
  • being open and showing awareness
  • do not worry about being perfect

Often there are certain things that I found that interfere with my attempts to listen to someone. I often rehearse everything that I am going to say back to the individual who I am engaging in a conversation with, this can distract me from actually listening to the person. Being an anxious individual, I come off as a closed listener. I try to avoid eye contact at all costs, usually, my hands are wrapped around my stomach or crossed in front of me, I sometimes sit hunched over, or I even have a serious face. So…. taking that into consideration it may come off to others that I am not actually listening to them within the conversation. This week, I have been trying to be more of an open listener. I have been trying to: make more eye contact with others, lean forward, sitting up straight, smiling, and having my arms placed at my side.

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For our take-home homework, we had to record down on a sheet different ways we showed active listening. I will let you guys know in my next blog how that went and if I actually pushed myself to engage more so stay tuned! We also had to continue doing some more exposures as well.

Lastly, with the remaining few minutes of the session, we had to get into partners. From there, we had to literally interview each other and ask personal based questions to get a better understanding of that individual and their interests. Some of the questions I asked my partner were:

  1. do you have any pets? What are their names?
  2. how do you exercise?
  3. favourite movie and type of music?
  4. tell me about your education.
  5. where do you work? etc…

So we had to take around 10 minutes to ask these questions to each other and write down the answers. After this, we had to share and address to the group who your partner was sharing their answers out loud and introducing them. I will admit, I was pretty nervous for this. I hate anything to do with partner work and I also found it extremely awkward when my partner was introducing me for some reason. I do not usually like being the centre of attention, so I think that had something to do with it. But hey I did it. That was a beneficial exercise to get to know everyone a tad bit better, which was awesome.

Well I hope you guys enjoyed this update on my therapy! As you can see it’s going great so far and I am slowly opening up more and pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Be sure to follow my other social media accounts to be up to date with my blogs!

snapchat-alyssahotrum

main instagram page- alyssahotrum_xo

blogging instagram page- thatothertwin_xo

Much love xo.

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Social Anxiety Group Therapy- Session 3

Social Anxiety Group Therapy- Session 3

Processed with MOLDIVGood evening my beauts and happy Saturday! So I have some pretty good news to share with you guys, I have not been in a rut this week so that is a good start! I have been feeling pretty good lately since I have been eating a lot better, meal prepping and even going to the gym on a daily basis. That being said, my mood has been up lately and I have not been in an aggravated state recently. So, that being said, moving onto session number three of my social anxiety group therapy. This Wednesday was a lot more interesting than the other ones by far, as we actually started to get into the real deal. Shall we get right into it?

I actually was not nervous at all this time when 6:00 hit. I was feeling a lot more at ease and comfortable which felt so nice. The week prior I had been filling out my cognitive therapy tracking form. We had to track for the week our social anxiety thoughts. This basically included different situations such as the place where it happened, what your anxiety was rated during that moment, what different anxiety provoking thoughts and predictions that were going on in your mind, different alternative thoughts and predictions, the evidence and realistic conclusions afterwards and lastly your anxiety rating after the situation. So.. this was a lot of information to track down as you can see but it is crucial to get every single detail within that moment so you can actually sit back and view how your anxiety gets triggered and how you cope with the situation. I only basically had written down one big situation that had happened that week.

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We began the session by some mindful awareness exercises… basically, like meditation. We closed our eyes and focused on our breathing taking 4 big deep breaths in, ensuring your tummy pops out as you are inhaling, and exhaling for 5 seconds through your mouth afterwards. I do find these extremely relaxing but I often find myself not being able to hold my breath that long so I really need to work on that! haha! This went on for about 15 minutes for the start of the session, then we reviewed the homework that we were assigned to complete that week, such as the anxiety thought record sheet. Of course, being a social anxiety group, nobody ever really volunteers to speak when the instructors ask if anyone wants to share some experiences they had that week. I am however thankful that they push you to step out of your comfort zone. So of course, I did not raise my hand whatsoever, and just kind of stared down at my sheet hoping they would not call on me. This brings back so many memories back when I attended Brock University. If I would not want to be called upon I would often look down and avoid eye contact at all costs. So low and behold who do you think they call upon? “Alyssa do you have anything you want to share with us?“. I wanted to badly to say “pass” but I knew deep down I would only be letting myself down and not really trying to push myself to go at it.  I remembered during that whole time when I was wishing they would not pick me, just going over and over in my head what I would share if I had to. That’s part of my anxiety,  going over and repeating what I would say, often preparing myself so I do not stumble or make a fool out of myself. I began explaining what had happened that week and how I actually had my first panic attack. I will share it with you beauts what had happened to me that Thursday night.

I was at the gym and actually had my last personal training session that I had paid for. I had a total of 4 personal training sessions which I absolutely loved and I really did love my trainer. I informed her a lot about my life and what was going on such as my anxiety and so forth. So after my session had ended, she sat down with me and offered more extensive training to me. Basically, for 9 months I would be training 3 times a week with her. I honestly was very excited about this opportunity and did not fully think through the financial aspect of it. Personal training is not cheap. So once I saw the number that I would have to pay by the end of the nine months I almost passed out. She then began to inform me to not look at that huge number but that I would be making bi-weekly payments instead. At the end of the discussion, I decided to sign the contract without informing my boyfriend who I am living with right now what I was doing (bad mistake on my part by far). Anywho, I eventually told my boyfriend Ian later that night what I had chosen to do and he was pretty upset with me, to say the least, which was completely understandable. I would be upset too if I were him, especially since we are saving money at the moment. So as I was speaking to him I decided to message my personal trainer informing her that I had made a mistake and if I could possibly cancel my contract and the personal training altogether. Let me just add in there that this personal trainer is actually the boss and the head person at my gym. She had messaged me back saying that she could not cancel the contract as it was already sent to head office, my registration. This caused a lot of tension in my home, as I was now informed that I had to stay in this contract and keep making these payments. I could feel my anxiety going up tremendously, and my heart started to race. Tears then started streaming down my face and I was having a hard time trying to breath. I literally thought I was dying, but I knew right away that I was having my first panic attack. Luckily my boyfriend had calmed me down at the time and actually looked more into my contract. He then found a statement in fine print at the back of the contract that basically said I had ten days to cancel my plan and get out of my contract. I could not believe it. If it had not been for him looking more into it, I literally would have been completely stuck. I do not really know anything about contracts and how they work, let alone this was the boss that was giving me this false information. In her messages,, she kept saying she could lower the payments and cancel some training sessions so I did not have to pay for as much. Long story short, I cancelled my personal training…. thank god… but this whole thing could have been completely avoided from the start. I was so mad and felt the frustration run right through me.  We ended up complaining about the whole issue to the head office, so I am not too sure if something had been done about it or not.

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As I shared this whole long story with the rest of the group, I was actually surprised by myself how I did not even stumble over my words. I took my time when I was sharing my story and didn’t feel the need to rush through it. I was honestly proud of myself for speaking and even speaking for a long period of time. After others had shared some of their stories as well, we then got onto the topic for today’s meeting which was “exposure therapy“. I have been dreading this…. you guys can probably tell by the title just what it is. The instructors informed us that a lot of people would rather avoid situations instead of dealing with them head on. Basically, avoiding an anxiety provoking situation brings immediate relief but only for that exact moment, not for the long run. By facing your fears, on the other hand, you learn that avoidance is not the only strategy out there. We then went over some subtle avoidance and safety behaviours that a lot of people tend to do including me. One that stood out was distraction. Often when I am in an awkward situation and I do not know what to say, I pull out my phone and immediately start texting or looking at social media. This helps me feel more comfortable in certain situations but this stops me from learning different ways to manage this uncomfortable feeling. Another behaviour that stood out to me was “overprotection“. I was called upon again and asked if this had ever happened to me before. I then stated to the group that I often like to go with a friend to certain events. I stated that in previous years I only went to the gym with a friend and I would not dare to ever go by myself. I also would never go to the mall by myself as well. The instructor then questioned why I would not do these things, what I would feel. I then stated that I would not know what I was doing at the gym if I went by myself. I would look like a complete idiot not knowing how to work the machines. That way if I was with a friend, they could help me out without me having to ask someone else. But I have been slowly challenging my anxiety without really taking the chance to step back and notice. I joined a gym here in Hamilton, and actually go by myself. However, I made sure I felt comfortable in the atmosphere before joining and that it was an all girl’s gym. I also love to go to the mall by myself now too, and I can literally take as much time as I need in the stores….. which I love! This also made me remember about a week ago what my best friend had pointed out to me. I was shopping with her in Lazensa and she was looking for some bras and needed help with her size. The lady who works there came over and asked if we needed help with anything. I then proceeded to state that my friend here was looking for a size in a certain bra. I also thanked that lady for her help on the way out of the store when we were finished. My friend then stated that she was super proud of me and could not believe I did that. Some things I do not even really notice I am doing now, which is a huge step for me.

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Some of the other behaviours that were mentioned included: overcompensation; which could include preparing topics to discuss at a party, excessive checking and reassurance seeking; including constantly checking how other’s perceive you. This behaviour I can strongly relate to, especially when it comes to my relationship with my boyfriend. Whenever he looks upset I always ask him, “what’s wrong?”, or “are you mad at me?”. I often am always concerned about his state meanwhile he just had a long day at work or he’s just tired. This sometimes comes off as nagging on my end which I can totally understand but I sometimes can’t help it! Another behaviour that I can relate to strongly is “substance use“. Whenever I am invited to a party, I usually always ensure that I had a drink before arriving. I hate being sober at parties and even this thought causes me a lot of anxiety. I am usually afraid that I will not know what to talk about, and that when I am intoxicated I am more sociable and outgoing.  So after going through these safety behaviours and avoidance behaviours in great depth, we then discussed the “exposure hierarchy“. Before I even attended my first social anxiety group session, I had to attend an orientation. Within this orientation, the instructor and myself came up with a hierarchy of different social situations that make me nervous. I will share with you guys exactly what was on my list:

  1. talk with individuals one-on-one                 Fear(90)   Avoidance(50)
  2. maintain eye contact                                          Fear(70) Avoidance(40)
  3. manage anxious thoughts about what people think of me  Fear(80) Avoidance(80)
  4. tolerating criticism                                               Fear(80) Avoidance(90)
  5. express more in a job interview                        Fear(80) Avoidance(50)
  6. go to a party sober                                                 Fear(90) Avoidance(100)
  7. call people on the phone                                     Fear(90) Avoidance(80)
  8. return an item to a store                                      Fear(80) Avoidance(100)
  9. ask someone for help                                            Fear(90) Avoidance(100)

Ask you guys can see this is quite a big list, but it basically covers which really triggers my social anxiety.  After reading this list again we started discussing the topic of “therapeutic exposure“. So basically this needs to be structured, planned ahead of time and it needs to be done frequently. I had to decide when I was going to do my exposure, what time I was going to do it at, who was I going to do it with and it needs to be done as close as possible to each other. One thing that the instructors emphasised was that while thinking of these exposures and planning them, we needed to make sure they were small and not overwhelming. These exposures are going to test out our anxious thoughts, and also challenge our beliefs and predictions.  We were informed to make a plan. While working on our plan, remembering to let our feelings happen, and to not leave a high anxiety situation, but rather to wait it out. No safety behaviours are to be used in these exposures as well as no avoidance. We can also use the cognitive strategies I had mentioned in my last blog post to challenge the anxious thoughts that come up afterwards. One that I had mentioned that worked well for me was stating, “it’s only temporary“.

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Phew, that was one hell of a long blog post this week sorry guys! There was just so much to discuss that had happened in this meeting. I have been slowly tracking different small exposures that I have been doing so far. Some of these exposures include:

initating small talk and one-on-one conversations with my boss. Asking more questions such as “how was your weekend” and so forth.

-returning an item that did not fit from Forever 21. 

I am making some progress but it is not just all going to happen at once. I will admit I was anxious in both of these situations, but I did not leave and pce the hell out. I dealt with them, and they were really not as bad as I thought. I am still brainstorming what other exposures I will do until next Wednesday. I will be sure to tell you guys in my next blog post, what other exposures I did. I hope you guys enjoyed reading this post! Let me know what you guys think. Be sure to follow my other social media accounts as well:

snapchat-alyssahotrum

main instagram page- alyssahotrum_xo

blogging instagram page- thatothertwin_xo

Much love xo.

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