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Trying new things

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I have really been pushing through a lot of the boundaries and problems I've had for myself.  One of the problems has been a real difficulty making decisions.  I have such a hard time making major decisions (like where to live, whether to travel, what career I want to pursue) that I usually just avoid the decision.

I have a wonderful therapist and have been really pushing myself to try new things and make decisions.  Recent changes I have made have been:

--Switching careers

--Taking the GREs

--Applying (and getting in!) to graduate school

--Taking a trip out of the country (alone)

--Being single

--Going out by myself sometimes

The problem is that although I have been able to push myself to do these things, the changes have caused my anxiety to get worse.  My doctor actually *doesn't* feel that I have GAD.  Instead, he thinks it's a secondary symptom of my depression.  Even so, the more I push myself the more uncomfortable and nervous I feel.  It's just a general sense of fear and nervousness...like "something" will go wrong.  Do you guys have any suggestions?  What has worked for you?  Unfortunately, for anxiety in social situations I tend to drink...but I also wanti to cut back on that.

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Hello Devon00,

Congratulations on your achievements! Sounds like you have made a lot of progress.

There are a lot of relaxation techniques (deep breathing and such) that you can do on your own that might help. If you find that the anxiety is becoming too much, you might want to talk to your doctor about meds to help alleviate them (such as an SSRI).

In regards to your drinking and social situations.....have you discussed this with your doctor? This is a very slippery slope and, in my humble opinion, a symptom of an anxiety problem that a doctor should not be so ready to dismiss (if you have told him/her).

Good luck and be well.

On a side note - I'm gearing up to take the GRE, and I do NOT understand the point of the essay part. What is the point of a timed essay where you don't know what the subject is going to be? I know it's supposed to be general knowledge, but still....if a prospective graduate school wants a sample of my writing, then I'll be happy to print my senior thesis out and mail it to them. I don't get it.

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Good for you on all your progress. It is a natural effect of that progress that you are going to feel anxious. However, the thinking goes that if you are exposed to it enough you won't be anxious in that situation. I don't know how true it is.

All I try to do is :

1. Be as prepared as I possibly can for the situation

2. Walk in as if I've been doing it all my life and it's no big deal

3. Meditate

4. Try to be mindful of my feelings. Mindfulness includes not being judgemental, so that means if I'm anxious I just have to sit with that feeling and accept it. I know it sounds impossible but it can happen with practice and the way of feelings is that they don't last forever.

5. Do anything you find relaxing

6. Write about your experiences so you know what to do better on next time AND so you can congratulate yourself for having done what you did.

7. Never let the negatives outweigh the positives.

Hope something of my ramblings can help.


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Depending on the severity of your anxiety, it might be helpful to relax a bit... I mean it's absolutely wonderful that you want to do new things! I can't emphasize that enough! Perhaps you've bitten off a little too much for yourself all at once? Nobody can know that except for you.

When is your trip out of the country? Is it possible to maybe postpone that until after you've gotten comfortable in school and the new job? What about being single? How long have you been doing that? Is it comfortable and natural to you yet?

I'm very fond of Amethyst's suggestion about being mindful of your feelings. Have you identified what kind of anxiety it is? Are you afraid you'll have a panic attack in public? Afraid you'll fail at something and look foolish? Afraid you've made a mistake about doing these things? I've found it really helpful to try to hone in on exactly what my fear is. Then I start challenging it in my mind. "So if I fail and look foolish, what's the worst thing that can happen?" "Well, the very worst thing is that I'll lose my job and my income and my home and I'll have to rely on friends to shelter me. That would be terrible... but probably not life threatening."  For me, fear loses its power when I confront it with what is the worst case scenario. Usually, the worst case scenario is pretty sucky... but when I'm looking at it without panic, I'm able to feel pretty confident that I can get through it. AND, I am allowed to remind myself that that's only the *worst* case scenario. Most likely, the results will not be nearly as dire as that.

And finally... CONGRATULATIONS! Wow! You are making some amazing progress, and you should be so very proud of yourself!

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