Mrs Bashful

The REAL lowdown on Life, Love and living with Social Anxiety…

So Long, Farewell!

 

I came to a difficult decision this week. After a lot of thought and consideration, I have decided to cease blogging as Mrs Bashful.

The main reason for this is because I love writing so much, I at times feel restricted and limited to writing strictly about social anxiety/mental health issues.

I have come to the realisation recently that there’s so many other things I love writing about like politics, music, race issues and current affairs. I’m just not able to have that level of scope as Mrs Bashful, unfortunately. :(

Thus, I have created a new moniker, Ms. Cocoa Britannia which gives me the freedom to write about anything that takes my fancy. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t abandoned writing about social anxiety/mental health and I am committed to blogging/tweeting about these issues from time to time.

Thank-you sincerely for all of you who have taken the time to read, follow and comment on my posts as Mrs Bashful, much appreciated. 

My new blog on WordPress is: mscocoabritannia.wordpress.com and my twitter handle is ms.cocoa_britannia

Please feel free to follow me on WordPress or Twitter if you like what you see!

Hopefully see you on the other side, if not then so long and farewell!

Mrs Bashful

 

 

 

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Motivational Mondays-Thought Into Action Challenge

 

 

Image courtesy of phanlop88 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of phanlop88 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Happy Monday! I hope you are ready and raring to set this week into positive motion. :)

How did last week’s challenge go? I hope you were able to find the strength to complete it in your own way. I’m happy to say that I was able to do the challenge and actually smiled and made eye contact with a few random people on public transport during the course of the week.

The thought of actually carrying it out was way more nerve-wracking then actually doing it. And do you know what the funny thing is? I’m so surprised at how friendly Londoners are!

We have a bad reputation worldwide of being cold, apathetic and moody but when I actually made an effort to be friendly, I was shocked at how quickly it was reciprocated!

I guess its true that smiling is contagious and I’ll make more of a conscious effort to do it more often!

Ok so for this week’s challenge:

I will get in touch (e.g. phone, email, text) with someone I haven’t spoken to in a while.

And that can be a friend, relative or acquaintance. The reason why I set this challenge is that often, social anxiety sufferers like myself tend to procrastinate and put off calling those in our circle for whatever reason. Let’s try and be proactive and make the first step in re-establishing contact, instead of waiting for them to make the first move, which I have a bad habit of doing!

Good luck and as always I’ll be interested in knowing how you get on during the course of the week!

 

 

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Motivational Mondays-Quote of The Week

 

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“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”

                                                                             Lao Tzu

 

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The Unimaginable Terror Of…Public Speaking

 

 

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Nine times out of ten, if you asked a social anxiety sufferer what their biggest fear is, they’re very likely to say speaking in front an audience.

Forget spiders, rats or snakes, they don’t even get a look in when it comes to a phobia of public speaking.

On the surface, there seems to be something so organically terrifying about standing in front of a group of people and seeing a sea of faces stare right back at you. It gives me the shudders just thinking about it!

But what is it that makes the fear of speaking publicly so unbearably intense for us?

Well, I guess that’s quite an easy question to answer.

Think about the last time you stood in front of a group of people, perhaps to make a presentation or offer a point of view about something. Do you remember how it felt to know that every pair of eyes in the vicinity was focused squarely on you? Or remembering that audible hush that descends and hangs heavily in the air just before you utter your first words?

Unfortunately I remember it all too well and its a horrible feeling.

For me at its deepest level, the fear is of being exposed-to my bare bones. Its that feeling that I’m on display for each and every person in the room to dissect me, pull me apart piece by piece and to cast judgement on me. Sounds very dramatic doesn’t it, but that’s truthfully how I feel. 

The trauma stems from childhood when teachers would pick on me to answer questions during lessons. I recall the fear growing as every child in the classroom would swivel around in their seats and crane their necks to watch me squirm-which I inevitably did. The same pattern would ensue. My mind would go blank, my heart would start pounding, I’d break out into a cold sweat and my mouth would feel as dry as sandpaper.

I swear some teachers actually got some perverse pleasure from watching my discomfort unfold, as if they could sense my fear on a primal level. And yes I’m talking about YOU Mrs. Brown, my Year 10 maths teacher, who made every lesson absolute misery!

Maths was my worst subject and the old bat knew it but she would still insist on calling me out to solve difficult maths equations on the board. No matter how low down I would sink in my seat, her beady little eyes would always find me, like a heat seeking missile. 

I’ll never forget that feeling of dread that I felt and memories like that haunt me up to this day. I doubt that fear will ever completely go away but it can definitely lessen over time.

There really is a simple solution and that’s practice, practice, practice.

By the time I got to University I realised that I couldn’t hide away forever because my course syllabus involved completing quite a few group and individual presentations that would be graded.

So I started slowly warming myself up to speaking in public of my own free will by answering questions when we had smaller classroom discussions. The more I spoke up, the easier it seemed to become.

I soon realised that my intense fear had grown worse over the years because I every time I hid in the shadows, I was actually drawing more attention to myself inadvertently. This in turn would encourage teachers/lecturers to seek me out because I would barely be interacting during the lesson.

The more I was proactive and speaking up publicly of my own accord, the easier it would become. Don’t get me wrong, I was still scared and from time to time I would stammer slightly or my hands would tremble but the inherent dread had all but disappeared.

And today, well yes the fear is still there but it doesn’t stop me from taking a deep breath and speaking up when I’m in group situations. Remember, don’t wait to be a target as you may feel you’re invisible but you’re really not! Be proactive and take the first steps and you’ll soon discover that that old saying is true; ‘the only thing to fear is fear itself’!

 

 

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My SAD Story…How It All Began [Part 9]

Image courtesy of Vlado / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Vlado / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

This week I’ll be looking back on my 24th year i.e. 2010-11 and the ups and downs that I had in my life at that time relating to my social anxiety.

Last week’s segment chronicled how my issues with my Dad had indirectly worsened my anxiety problems and so I was about ready for a positive change to come my way.

I felt very much like I was adrift again. After all the drama, turmoil and pain that I had experienced over the past year, I felt mentally and physically drained. I spent some time in early 2010 feeling down and depressed, not wanting to do anything or go anywhere. But I knew that I had to lift myself out of my funk because it wasn’t a healthy place to be and it wasn’t doing me any good to wallow in misery.

New Job, New Start

With a new positive but tentative outlook, I started looking for a new job. I had just turned 24 in April and I think my birthday was the catalyst to start getting my life back on track. I was relieved that my Dad had finally agreed to hire a carer to tend to his needs on a daily basis. That helped to free up my time so I could get back to work, which I was happy but apprehensive about.

I’ve always had a massive interest in history and so I was thrilled when I discovered a job advert to work in an archives repository. The job was a bit vague as to what I would be doing exactly but I was more focused on the fact that I could be surrounded by historical documents all day long AND get paid for it!

I filled out the application, not really expecting to hear something back but I was excited to learn three weeks later that I had been offered an interview for the position. I was so nervous as I was out of practise in how to do interviews but I just rehearsed, rehearsed and rehearsed some more until the big day arrived. 

The interview went ok, I felt. It was very nerve-wracking because the three heads of the department interviewed me and were firing questions from all directions it seemed! I think I could have done a bit better but I was quite proud of myself for having some good answers prepared. After a few weeks wait, I was delighted to learn that I had been offered the job on a rolling contract.

Settling In

I really thought that finally my career was heading in a new direction and that for once I would feel settled and secure professionally. 

I threw myself completely into my new job. I have to be honest though, the actual work I was doing was quite a bit different from what I had imagined! Essentially, working with a small team, we would get customer orders sent to us and we had to find the correct document in the archives and deliver it to them. 

The work was very manual to say the least as the archive repository was very much like a warehouse with stacks and stack of boxes on hundreds of shelves. I couldn’t really complain though as the work was very easy mentally and I was able to spend a lot of time on my own due to how expansive the repository was.

Plus I was actually making friends which was nice. On the whole, the people I met there were some of the most decent people I have worked with in any job I’ve had so far. I liked the relaxed and quiet atmosphere of the job and being able to wonder around the archives alone without much supervision was definite bonus.

In fact, I noticed that my social anxiety wasn’t that pronounced. I felt at ease in that environment because of the solitude it allowed and because the demands of the job were shared equally among myself and my colleagues.

Something Has To Give

The only thing I was having a problem with was the physical aspect of the job. Having to lift heavy boxes around all day was very taxing on my body as I’m just over 5ft tall. Of the ten people on my team, there were were only two women employees including myself. I really struggled at times to find the energy to lug the boxes around all day and after four or five months, my body started to loudly complain.

It started with a niggling pain in my shoulders but the pain eventually spread to my neck and lower back. After visiting the Doctor, he expressed that I had caused myself a repetitive stress injury because I was constantly straining to reach and lift the heavy boxes on high shelves. My male colleagues were lovely and had expressed for me to call them if I needed help carrying out any tasks but my stubborn independent streak prevented me largely from accepting their assistance-to my own detriment.

I was determined to carry on the job for as long as possible though and so I relied on pain killers to get me through as well as reluctantly asking for help more often. Unfortunately my aches and pains were getting worse and so I made the difficult decision to leave my job after seven months. 

It was the longest continuous employment I have ever had up to this day and I still look back quite fondly on that time of my life. But I knew I had to do what was best for my health as I didn’t want to be left with permanent back problems.

I left at the beginning of 2011 which was perfect timing really because my twin sister had just given birth to my nephew and I was determined to offer as much help to her as I could.

Stay tuned for part 10, next week, when new conflict is brought to the surface and I begin to feel torn between my family and partner for the first time…

 

 

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You Are What You Eat! How to Eat Positive & Reduce Anxiety

Image courtesy of SOMMAI / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of SOMMAI / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

If like me, you’re one of the millions of people across the globe who suffer from an anxiety disorder, then its crucial that we start paying attention to what we’re putting in our bodies.

21st Century Food

What we eat can directly affect our moods and cause chemical and hormonal imbalances in our bodies that can aggravate and therefore raise our anxiety levels. This also applies to people with other mental illnesses like depression and bi-polar disorder.

Scientific research has shown that nutrition pays a key role in the management, growth and prevention of certain mental illnesses. Studies highlight that people with mental illnesses tend to eat more unhealthy foods (processed and fatty).

Two thirds of adults (in the UK) that don’t have a mental illness consume fresh fruit and vegetables every day unlike less than half of those who do have a mental illness. These findings cannot be coincidental.

How is it that more people than ever before are suffering from mental problems like anxiety, stress and depression? I believe in part that its down to the change in diet. Food in the 21st century is very processed. We have become accustomed in western society to our food being fast, cheap and tasty. But this is has led to a change in the way our food is being made.

Food production now relies on heavily processed techniques to keep up with the growing demand for these refined food products. As a result, our mental as well as physical health has declined. We are now eating less organic fruit, vegetables and pulses while our intake of additive-rife foods full of fat, sugar and chemicals has dramatically increased.

Ways to Reduce Anxiety

So what can we do to reduce our anxiety levels? Try cutting back on caffeine which is found in coffee and certain energy drinks. Although caffeine can give you a quick energy boost which helps when you’re feeling tired or lethargic, drinking it in large quantities can lead to an increase in blood pressure, cause loss of focus and can make people feel emotional, anxious and jittery. This is because caffeine is a stimulant and so its consumption is like adding fuel to a fire for an anxiety disorder sufferer. 

Swap simple carbohydrates like white bread, white rice and potatoes for complex carbohydrates like wholemeal bead, brown rice and sweet potatoes. This is because simple carbohydrates are full of sugar that are released quickly into the bloodstream which causes an initial surge of energy but then leads to a ‘crash’. This means you’ll end up feeling lethargic, low and out of sorts which can heavily effect anxiety levels.

Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. If the body is deficient of essential vitamins that can be found in healthy foods of this nature then it could lead to an increase of anxiety, stress and depression.

It is so important to eat three meals a day because your blood sugar levels can dip alarmingly if meals are missed throughout the course of the day. This can lead to mood swings and irritability which could trigger an anxiety attack. Remember to drink plenty of water on a daily basis. A lack of fluids can lead to dehydration which can negatively affect your mood and leave you feeling tired and emotional.

Feeling Good on the Outside and Inside

I really do notice the link between what I eat and how I feel. My body often craves sweet, sugary snacks but after I’ve eaten them, my mood drops and I’m left feeling low and depressed. It leads to a vicious internal cycle because the more I eat junk food, the worse I feel and the more my anxiety levels increase.

But I have taken small steps to improve my general well-being over the past few months. I have started baking sweet treats myself. This way I can use less sugar and fat but still satisfy my sweet tooth at the same time.

A few years ago, I was of the belief that it was only junk food that tasted good but how wrong I was! Healthy food like fruit and vegetables taste just as good and as a bonus are even better for your physical and mental health.

Lets try paying more attention to what we put in our bodies so that we can improve our mental being and feel good on the outside as well as the inside!

What is your diet like and do you see a link between what you eat and how you feel mentally?

 

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SAD Media Spotlight

 

article-71342_640For this week’s post, I’ll be focusing on a short news story that I found really interesting. It was posted on the In The Mix website, which deals with all dance-related current news.

‘What has that got to do with social anxiety?’ I hear you ask. Well quite a lot actually (click here to read the story).

The title of the post immediately caught my attention when I was searching for social anxiety related news earlier today. ‘Can DJing Save You From Social Anxiety’ was such a bold title that I was very interested to find out more.

Essentially the story is publicising an up-coming documentary that a film maker called Brandon Ross is currently in the process of creating.

Its called ‘Before We Were Kings’ and looks at various super-star DJ’s such as Moby and Wolfgang Gartner and explains how music has been a source of therapy with helping them to deal with their social anxiety issues.

The documentary will feature in-depth interviews with the DJ’s and highlight how much of an impact living with social anxiety has had on their lives and how music has helped to heal them.

The post goes on to mention that Ross has set up a Kickstarter campaign as he needs more donations so that he can film in other locations and find music therapy experts to interview for the documentary.

I have heard a little bit about how effective music therapy has been shown to be for people who suffer from mental illnesses, which various tests and studies carried out have attested to. You can read more about the benefits of musical therapy in this article.

I am so pleased that a documentary focusing on social anxiety will be released. There doesn’t seem to be many films currently out there that draws much needed attention to such a debilitating yet common mental illness.

By using familiar faces to relay their experiences of social anxiety, the documentary will helpfully encourage other people to seek diagnoses instead of suffering in silence, as well as inspire them to seek alternative and more natural methods of treatment.

The best way to get rid of mental illness stigmas is to shed more light and help to educate the masses. Here’s hoping the eventual release of ‘Before We Were Kings’ will go some way in doing this.

Here’s a link to a short trailer for your viewing pleasure.

Before We Were Kings Trailer

To donate money towards the project, please visit its Kickstarter page.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished product, are you?

 

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Mrs Bashful’s Journal

 

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Lately I’ve been thinking about the amount of emotional baggage we carry around in life. I mean, most of us have some kind of baggage that isn’t very easy to rid ourselves of.

But what of a social anxiety sufferer? Is our baggage any more heavier than the average person’s?

Some days it certainly feels like it. I’d say the heaviest baggage that I possess is guilt. Its something that I’ve held close to me subconsciously ever since I was a small child.

I was under the impression that if something went wrong, that it was automatically because of something I had done. As a result, I would constantly say sorry, even if it was something that I had no control or involvement in! 

In fact, I said it so much that it drove my family round the bend. I just couldn’t seem to help it back then. I viewed it as a way to make amends for my supposed transgressions and that was the best way my young mind rationalised to do it.

I learnt over the years that it was fruitless to apologise for something that I didn’t do but I still haven’t been able to rid myself completely of my guilty feelings.

Before I even knew I had social anxiety, not returning a phone call or trying to actively avoid seeing family and friends would trigger a flood of guilty emotions. I was an awful human being, unfeeling, self-centered, not worthy of being loved. It would inevitably lead to a vicious cycle of depression and self-destructive behaviors like binge-eating that would leave me feeling empty and hollow.

Now that I know I have a mental illness, I’ve been trying hard to purge the guilty thoughts from my consciousness because I’m slowly beginning to realise that some things are out of my control.

That’s not to say, not taking responsibility of one’s own actions is fine but its coming to understand that for the things in life that you can’t control, that its ok to let go of the guilt.

I didn’t make myself have social anxiety, it was my environment that contributed towards me developing the condition. I am a work in progress but I am beginning to forgive myself and learn to manage my anxieties instead of beating myself up over the mistakes that I make.

I refuse to let my emotional baggage define me as a person. They’ll come a point in my life when it will grow ever heavier and cumbersome and I’ll have no choice but to set it down and leave it behind, no matter how accustomed to it I’ve become. And to be honest, I truly can’t wait until that day comes… :)

What emotional baggage do you carry around with you and how does it affect your life?

‘Til next time.

 

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Motivational Mondays-Thought Into Action Challenge

Image courtesy of phanlop88 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of phanlop88 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Happy Monday! Let’s make this week a positive, productive and most important of all, a happy one! :) I think its so important to start the week on a optimistic note so that we’re ready to go out and face the world with confidence, despite our perceived flaws and imperfections.

And this leads me to today’s thought into action which is a challenge that I want everyone, including myself to vow to complete at least once during the course of this week.

So without further ado, here it is:

This week, I will smile and make eye contact with a stranger.

This may be a harder task for some then for others but lets all try our best to break out of our comfort zone and do something a bit out of the norm. For me personally, its been a while since I’ve made any sort of eye contact with someone whom I don’t know, let alone taken the first step to smile at them.

But there seems no better time than the present to set this simple challenge for myself and I hope y’all will join me!

By the way, if you find this week’s thought into action a little tame then try to spice it up a bit by making casual conversation about something as offhand as the weather.

Good luck and let me know how you get on!

 

 

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Motivational Mondays-Quote of The Week

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“Noble and great. Courageous and determined. Faithful and fearless. That is who you are and who you have always been. And understanding it can change your life, because this knowledge carries a confidence that cannot be duplicated any other way.”

                                                   Sheri L. Dew

 

 

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