social anxiety disorder

Acceptance – A Poem on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (“ACT”)

I have been participating in group therapy for people with social anxiety.  It appears to me that the amount I sweat has an uncanny correlation with the social situations I am in.  And I believe the best way to confront social anxiety, is likely within the settings of a social group.

The group focuses on cognitive behavioral therapy, with a particular focus on acceptance.  A main part of the philosophy of the therapy can be found in the book The Happiness Trap – which summarizes the tenants of Acceptance Commitment Therapy (“ACT”).

In short, the theory is premised on the notion that one cannot change their thoughts, but one can defuse them in realization that thoughts are a mere string of words.  After analysis, if a thought is helpful, then pay it mind; if not, then do not fuse with it.  As an “exposure” in my group, I wrote and read aloud this poem:

The Lock In My Mind

If my senses stopped, then I’d stop, in a sense;

From the digging, the wriggling, uncomfortableness

The head wraps and bends, in circles and knots;

Til you wrap your head round, it’s not have but have nots.

The truth is deception, perfection an illusion;

the illusion is perfect, for this world’s delusion.

 

That perfect is real, that it can exist,

Our society of have-nots, yearns for just this;

Tom Brady, Lance Armstrong, Oscar Pistorius,

Their shine and their shimmer can only be glorious.

But even they – they cheated – lies, doping and murder,

So the notion of perfect can’t be more absurder.

 

Yet I return each morning, sobering thoughts of being fallible;

the idea- a shame, the disgust, not palatable.

 

The solution’s acceptance,

Not from others but me,

Stop worrying about others,

and you’ll be halfway free.

Whether they accept me or not, I’ve got what I got;

I’ve been blessed, I’ve been cursed; for better or worse.

 

So like me or don’t, I won’t think much of it; Cuz even if I did, it wouldn’t change shit;

And while this talk comes easy, in practice it’s a bitch.

 

Speaking of which, the other part of the equation,

Accepting yourself, unconditionally,

Knowing from practice, that that is the key;

To the lock in my mind, that won’t accept me.

 

Regardless of success, relationships and wealth;

Regardless if I’m a moron, I stutter and smell;

Regardless of career, material things and debt;

Regardless of anxiety, nervousness and sweat;

Regardless of pain, medication and disillusion;

Regardless acceptance must be the solution.

 

Replacing Weed With Drugs (Part II)

Weed is not a diversion, for me. It’s a medication. I never was a person who took rips from the bong. I left that to the boys of Cypress Hill. Because I wasn’t a stoner. I took little hits, from little joints, because I needed a little mind alteration….because I had a big amount of anxiety.

Because social anxiety can weigh one down. Two hits. That’s it. And the trailer’s gone. The weight has been lifted. That levity…those oppressive, ever-present shackles. Click! They’re off.

And that is why I loved weed. With that said, I’ve already discussed why it doesn’t work for me, now, in my life (click here to see why).

“What are you going to replace it with?” – I’ve started group therapy for social anxiety. I think that’s where my sweating starts. This was the question the therapist leading the group asked.

I paused. Thought. Alcohol?? I grinned. Thankfully, alcohol just doesn’t afford that relief I get from weed.

My mind drifted to two months prior. I was at the psychiatrist’s office because I needed Klonopin. Xanax too, although I almost never take that. Anxiety at work had beaten me down. “Well, just taking panic medication alone isn’t really ideal.” I was sitting there on the psychiatrist’s couch. “I know, I know. Write the damn prescription already.” That was all I was thinking.   I’m not taking full-blown anxiety medication for this. I’m just not. I refuse.” The stigma was speaking for me.

Two months has passed. Two weeks now without weed. Enough for an about-face, I guess.

Back at group therapy…”I’m gonna go back on medication for social anxiety,” I heard myself say.

Replacing Weed With Drugs (Part I)

The other day, somebody asked me: “What’s the longest period you’ve gone without smoking weed?”

I wasn’t sure. Not shockingly, my memory can be a bit….hazy these days. The past six years, I think two weeks may be the longest stretch I’ve gone without it. Certainly, I don’t recall a period significantly longer than that. The question sorta drove home the point that I have become entirely too dependent on the stuff.

So I’ve given it up entirely. The weed card is expired. The remaining stash being kept in trust by my best friends. All access denied. Last weekend was one of the first weekends I can remember that I didn’t smoke at all. This will be my second.

I had a realization too: My dependence on weed began when I stopped psychological medication for social anxiety.

I hate the stigma attached with meds. Meds are Big Pharma. Meds are a crutch. Seems like half the U.S. is on something…symptoms of a society that’s led itself astray. They’re unnatural. To be turned to as an absolute last resort.

Weed, on the other hand, is counterculture. It’s the hippies…and free love…and art…and expression. Weed is cool. Artists, musicians, the trend setters – they all blaze it up. Chronic, kush, purple haze….It’s SEXY.

John Mayer wonders: “who says I can’t get stoned? Turn off the lights and the telephone…” Nobody. The answer is – Nobody. Nobody says that. So you can sit home. Blaze it up. And there you’ll be.

For a long time now, I thought I was just another stoner – and not in any way unhappy or concerned about it. It was enhancing my life. Loosening my tight ass up a bit. Allowing me mental liberation like I’d never come close to experiencing prior.

But I’m not just a guy that likes weed. I’m not John Mayer. I’m not Snoop Dog…Or Lion…Or whatever. I’m a person with social anxiety.

NEXT UP: Replacing Weed With Drugs (Part II)