When she "brought" her social anxiety to the Toronto Anxiety Clinic, she was 17 years of age. The whole process of undoing her anxiety patterns took 12 sessions.
Here is her story as she describes it herself.
He walked alongside me, and he was not nice company whatsoever. He always ruined the moment every time I made contact with other people.
Not only was his presence bothersome and tiring, but others sometimes noticed the discomfort he was causing me as well.
This person who I am speaking of is the social anxiety that used to be a constant presence in my life.
As if hypnotized into my anxious patterns of behavior, ever since I was a little girl, I shied away from people.
As I became older, this shyness grew into social anxiety feelings, which would cause me to avoid people for fear of showing my symptoms.
I don't know how I ended up in a state of social anxiety. I can only speak about the symptoms.
My symptoms would usually include trembling, a shaky and uneasy voice, forgetfulness, sweating and a racy heartbeat, overly tensed muscles, and faintness.
Anyone who has ever felt any of these symptoms knows what I am talking about, and it is definitely not pleasant whatsoever!
For myself, enough was enough; I couldn’t take it anymore.
I decided to end this unnecessary suffering by finding someone who would help me with this problem.
I was referred to Dr. Walter Orlowski, by a family member who gave me an ad with the Toronto Anxiety Clinic phone number.
It took me a couple of weeks to work up the courage to call, because, not only did I feel anxious near people, but I also experienced anxiety feelings whenever I needed to make phone calls.
I finally decided to call the Toronto Anxiety Clinic, and I was scheduled to meet with Dr. Orlowski soon after.
Calling the Toronto Anxiety Clinic brought me relief because, I knew for sure that I was going to begin on the road towards undoing my social anxiety patterns of thought, feeling and behavior.
I was a bit nervous when I first met came to the Toronto Anxiety Clinic but Dr. Orlowski’s presence was calming, and I assured myself that he was there to help me.
We first tried to find the cause of my anxiety, and I spoke of the various situations in which I felt terribly anxious and afraid of people.
Dr. Orlowski informed me of the different approaches he uses to help people get over their anxieties, such as hypnosis for anxiety, and non-hypnotic anxiety-disolving methods.
For the next few sessions, I was guided through various hypnotic states and levels of consciousness in an attempt to change my negative subconscious conditioning.
We also tried non-hypnotic methods that dealt with my anxiety patterns at the source.
By dealing with my social anxiety at the source, I was able to see how controlling it was, but I soon found out that I was able to manipulate it and realized how powerless it actually was.
I want those who suffer from social anxiety to understand that, one of the ways to get rid of your anxious thoughts, feelings and behaviors, is to simply make fun of the situation, by realizing how much stronger than your anxiety, you actually are.
Dr. Orlowski decided to try something new. He wanted to take this training a step further.
That step further was to get me to read pieces of writing I have written, and to play my violin, in front of a group of people.
At first I thought that, I would not be able to go through with the idea because, I was reminded of my past experiences of presenting in front of people.
The only way to know how much I had accomplished was to find out.
Before describing Dr. Orlowski’s psychodrama-like approach, which required that I perform in front of a group of people, I would like to describe two of my most horrible episodes of social anxiety.
My first prominent experience of social anxiety was almost five years ago when I had to read an eight-page speech in front of my class.
As I finished the first page of my speech, I began to feel all the symptoms I outlined before.
When I couldn’t take it anymore, I had the urge to tell the teacher I was not able to do it.
On the other hand, I thought that, quitting would be even more embarrassing than continuing with my trembling performance, so I decided against it.
The remainder of the speech was overwhelming, and the only thing I wanted to do was to disappear. I went through another prominent experience of social anxiety, when I played violin in front of a large group of people.
I was sure I had the piece of music perfected beyond doubt, so I assured myself that everything would go well; all I had to do was focus on the music.
Once it was my turn to play with my ensemble, I felt that everyone was looking at me.
The reason I felt that way was because I was nervous – and it showed.
I felt that I had ruined the piece of music because of my inability to stay focused.
Ever since that experience, I was aware that, I needed to find someone who could help me to overcome my social anxiety.
After poking fun at my fear, with the help of Dr. Orlowski, I agreed to his plan of presenting in front of a group of people.
More of social-anxiety-undoing training commenced, and I began to get better at eliminating my anxious patterns of thought, feeling and behavior.
I had gotten so good that at times I felt my anxiety was completely non-existent.
I had come to the point that, when a stranger began talking to me in public, instead of seeming disinterested in order to avoid conversation, I would actually carry on the conversation!
With every stranger I talked to, it was worth it, and had left me feeling uplifted and satisfied with myself.
Instead of my usual assumptions that people seemed careless, distant, and negative towards me, I found that they actually enjoyed my presence, and oh – not to forget the compliments I received!
I realize now that, there are people out there, who will continue living their lives, being tormented by social anxiety, because they feel there is no way of escaping it?
I know now that, there is a way out from social anxiety, and in case you suffer from what I used to suffer, I want to encourage you to seek your own liberation through the anxiety dissolving services offered at the Toronto Anxiety Clinic.