Home Page My Approach & Background Clinical Associate Button Video Introduction Personal Change Stories Services I Offer Anxiety: Good & Bad Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Free Social Anxiety Workshop Social Anxiety Therapy Group Group Norms and Contract National Public Radio Story OnLine Articles on Social Anxiety Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans: LGBT Payment Plans and Contract Confidentiality and Insurance Rights and Responsibilities Privacy Policy Intake Forms Referrals and Links Office Location How to contact me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social Anxiety Help is a founding regional clinic of the National Social Anxiety Center (NSAC): nationalsacenter.com


 

Click below to listen to the audio recording of I's personal change story:

 

How other people judge me has always worried me. As a gay child, I cared deeply about being accepted and liked by others. For me, being judged "poorly" was terrifying and I did everything I could to "earn” the good kind of judgment. Little did I know that this normal human need to be liked and respected would turn into a sickness that would cripple my life many years down the road.

In my 40s, I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. I am sure this was rooted deeply in genetics and decades of dealing with viciously homophobic people. I felt toxic shame, had a breakdown and saw a psychiatrist. I took antidepressants to live a somewhat normal life. Unfortunately the antidepressants had really bad side effects and eventually I had to stop taking them.

Successful people learn to hide mental and physical illnesses. Over time, I was forced to reveal mine, and finally, at 50, I could no longer tolerate the demands on my sanity made by my high-powered career and I took early retirement.

This major life change was difficult. No longer needing to "go to the office" made it really easy to retreat into an internal world of loneliness and deepening depression. I lost touch with everyone, because most of my friends were through work. My already troubled relationship with my parents and siblings took a major turn for the worse. I developed severe PTSD.

Two years after my retirement, I was living a very painful, lonely and depressed life. Gradually, my self-imposed solitude, something I thought I wanted and would be good for me, had turned into a full-blown fear of leaving my apartment. I got panic attacks driving, talking to people, even when answering the phone.

I had enough money and technology to survive inside my own little world — groceries and every other life need could be ordered online and delivered to me. Eventually, I was so lonely and fearful I realized that things had become impossible. I came across a description of what I was going through online. That is how I learned that social anxiety is a real thing.

Luckily, my therapist knew of an excellent social anxiety expert near where I live. He had a really informative and helpful website, which gave me enough courage to go to one of his introductory workshops.

The workshop took place in a room filled to capacity with dozens of people of every age, race, gender, sexual orientation, intelligence, lifestyle, social and income strata. Seeing them, I finally realized that I was not alone. And I could do something to help the sad creature I had become.

I joined the 5-month Social Anxiety Group program by signing a contract that required mandatory attendance at one 3-hour meeting a week, and LOTS of practical exercises and activities with other people. This sounds daunting but the structure is amazing. All the techniques used are widely tested, researched and combined into a cohesive "process" designed to succeed.

I was too desperate not to sign the contract. I realized that my life was literally on the line because the social anxiety was exacerbating my already major depressive disorder to breaking point.

Since completing the program more than 2 years ago, I can certify two things: firstly, while I still have depression in my life, my social anxiety is cured and my depression is certainly less intense than before. Secondly, I can only stay cured if I continue to do the things I learned during the program.

I can only speak for myself: for me it was definitely worth it. I feel it is my responsibility to share my story. I want to offer hope to others who are trapped in this crushing condition. It is possible to find personal strength and happiness and not live in loneliness and desperation.

 

OTHER PERSONAL CHANGE STORIES

M's Story

(video)
31-year-old gay, white man
Washington, DC

"I can just be me....
I moved forward. I took a risk, and the result has paid itself out so many times!"


R1's Story

(written)
30-year-old African-American woman
Washington, DC

"I was bullied by all of my classmates....
I am a good person. No one can ever make fun of that."


Liz's Story

(audio & written)
27-year-old Hispanic woman
Maryland, suburban DC
(immigrant from Peru)

"People are finally starting to see me differently.
I'm pretty confident that there are going to be more great things along the way
that are still there for me to discover later.
Social anxiety therapy has really changed my life."


D's Story

(written)
37-year-old white, male writer
Colombia, South America
(formerly of Washington, DC)

"I struggled with shyness and low self-esteem,
specifically with regard to my physical appearance and feelings of attractiveness."


K's Story

(video)
33-year-old married, white woman
Maryland, suburban DC

"I felt like I didn't really fit in with most people...
I felt like I was just bad at having conversations,
that I never knew what to say."


S's Story

(written)
44-year-old single, female nurse
Washington, DC

"My life is different now.
I feel like I can be who I always was inside."


Mike's Story

(written)
34-year-old Jewish man
Costa Rica, Central America
(formerly of Maryland, suburban DC )

"I finally had the courage to do things I'd always hoped I'd be able to do"


C's Story

(written)
33-year-old transgender, white woman
Maryland, suburban DC

"I fell into a core belief that 
I'm fundamentally different and defective
 and that I have nothing in common with 
those I perceive to be 'normal.'"


R2's Story

(written)
26-year-old African American woman
Washington, DC

"I was living too much in my head,
instead of being mindful and in the moment in social situations."


J's Story

(written)
24-year-old gay man
Washington, DC

"Did I fit in? Was I gay enough?"


T's Story

(written)
29-year-old South Asian man
Washington, DC

"Would people notice my nervousness?
Would I say something dumb?"


Judy's Story

(National Public Radio audio broadcast)
57-year-old white lesbian
Washington, DC

"Now it just seems like the experiments I did in the very beginning look so easy to me,
that I could do it without even thinking or without becoming at all nervous."


Justin's Story

(written)
25-year-old white man
Washington, DC

"Just having any person stopping by my cubicle at work
would bring feelings of trembling, blushing, sweating, and extreme tension."



If you have any questions or comments,
please email Larry Cohen, LICSW,
with offices in Washington, DC.







[Larry Cohen, LICSW, does not endorse any of the products or services advertised by others on this website.]


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