This morning I read Michelle’s post on her blog about how social anxiety started for her. She did so in honor of the United States Mental Illinois Awareness Week that started yesterday. I thought I would share some of my own experience seeking out therapy to improve my mental health and well being.
I first went to therapy in 1995 when I was 25 year old college student. I looking for some help with my relationship with my family and with the depression that I was experiencing. It quickly turned to problems that I had with my own sexual orientation.
Part of my therapy was to to become part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. It was such a sense of joy the first time I was among other guys (and girls) that were just like me! It was like being lost my entire life and then finally finding my home.
I stopped after nearly a year of therapy. I wasn’t depressed as longer and I was at peace with myself. I’ll never forget what my therapist told me that last session I had with her and what she said to me. “Keith,” she said, “you still do have other issues to work with.” I was confused by her words, because I felt much better.
I always thought I was just a shy person. I didn’t like to socialize or be around other people. I was much more comfortable being alone and by myself. Yet, there are times when this isolation creates depression for me. It has been an up and down roller coaster for me my entire life.
A few months ago I thought that I would take ballroom dancing lessons at the local Fred Astaire Dance Studio. I always loved to dance, at least alone in my room. I thought it would be fun to be taught how to dance. It was also give me the exercise my medical doctor thought that I needed. Sure, it took me three trips around the dance studio before I went in, but that was normal, for me. Yes, I was shaking like a leaf meeting all the new people, but again that was normal and I thought nothing of it.
It wasn’t until my first dance performance in front of everyone that the flood gates opened. I missed one step half way through the routine. Being the perfectionist that I am and the high standards I place on myself, I freaked. My mind went blank and I forgot the rest of the routine. It was a disaster, in my mind.
I turned to the internet to find out what was going on with me. Why I acted that way. It wasn’t until I saw an article on social anxiety that I realized that I have been living with the disorder my entire life. I then did research to find a good local therapist and work on this problem. I’ve been working with her for a month now, but being the social inept person that I am, I still haven’t been able to talk to her about my feelings yet. It will take me some time.
If you are suffering from depression, anxiety or any mental illness, please see a therapist. It really does help!