Avatar universal

How can I manage anxiety

Hi, I am seventeen years old and  I have already experienced problems of anxiety since I was 12 years old,it's still a problem.
I can't make phone calls, I mean I can but it takes weeks until I finally do them.
I want to make new friends, to go out more often and fight against my comfort zone, but I just don't get to know new people because I stay always in the same circles of friends.
I am also afraid of shopping, like I can't do it alone, otherwise I am starting to sweat, shake, I get trouble with breathing and my head shuts down completely.
My parents can't understand me, I am already going to therapy, but it doesn't seem to help.
I understand that the things my head makes up aren't real and that makes me even more sad because I understand but can't make actions against my behaviors. I get depressed at the end and do nothing over many days. I just don't know what to do. (sry if my english is bad)
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Avatar universal
Eh, me too.  I make a list of three things to do in a week that I am not able to just do.  If I had to call someone, I'd put it on the list.  I have 7 days to complete.  I view it as non negotiable if it is on the list and I only put a couple of things on the list a week.  It gets me to do 'something' I need to do.  Do you have any friends?  I don't.  Well, I have one but he's kind of an introvert so never does much.  I talk to myself a lot.  
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I'm tired all the time.  Makes it hard to do the hard things I'm avoiding.  But once I do it, it's usually not as bad as I thought.  Kind of motivates me to do it next time.  
Avatar universal
Therapy takes time.  Be patient.  It takes work.  And sometimes the therapist you're seeing isn't the right one for you, it just doesn't click.  The type of therapy also differs a lot for different therapists.  These days a form called CBT is usually recommended for anxiety.  Your therapist might not know how to do it and might not really treat anxiety a lot -- therapists again differ quite a bit in what issues they are concerned about.  When you're anxious you want a therapist who specializes in treating that, not someone who specializes in relationship problems, for example.  Unless something traumatic happened to trigger this, sometimes a therapist just sits and chats and this can go on for years with no real help.  Don't give up on the therapy, but if months pass and you're not benefiting, don't be afraid to find a different therapist.  In the meantime, a dead giveaway your therapist doesn't normally treat anxiety is you haven't been taught any relaxation techniques.  Meditation can be very helpful.  Exercise helps.  There are many breathing exercises.  Again, if none of these have been taught to you, you aren't seeing a therapist who specializes in the treatment of anxiety.  Peace.
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207091 tn?1337709493
What does your therapist say about all of this? Have you explained all this to him/her?

So my first question is, why are you pushing yourself to do these things right now? It's the middle of a pandemic, and we all have enough stress as it is. Be kind and gentle with yourself.

Yes, at some point, you'll need to be able to do these things. You're 17. Focus on what you can do now. When my sister was your age, she couldn't make phone calls either - that lasted a long time. She didn't like to call and order take out (we are old enough that you had to order by calling on the phone). I don't even remember how she got over this, but I'd guess it was when she started having to make calls for herself and no one else was around.

Instead of focusing on this whole big step of "expanding your social circle", how about making that smaller, and certainly less intimidating, by making a goal of "talking to one new person a week"? Not everyone we talk to will become a friend, but you'll get better at talking to people, right? If you're in the classroom and not virtual, ask what they watched last night, or if they saw a funny tiktok (if that's popular where you are), or whatever. If you're into sports, ask them about a game. If you know they are into music, ask them if they heard a certain song - listen, I'm not 17, which you can probably tell lol, but you get my idea. Ask what they did over the weekend. I don't know what the chatting opportunities are over virtual school are, but you can do similar things if you have those chances. I know my niece and nephews are certainly maintaining their friendships virtually lol. I don't know that they are expanding much, though - it might just be the times.

For the shopping alone - is that something you must do? Would it help to start small? I mean, maybe don't start at the mall, but maybe at a small store and just buy some snacks.

But most of all, be kind to yourself. Be gentle. You might always have anxiety, and some things might always be a struggle, but you can work through them.

Talk to your counselor about coping skills. Has she given you any tools to help you get through the panic?

There's something called the 5-4-3-2-1 method - https://www.therapistaid.com/therapy-article/grounding-techniques-article

If you're panicking, you can help ground yourself by naming:

What are 5 things you can see?

What are 4 things you can feel?

What are 3 things you can hear?

What are 2 things you can smell?

What is 1 thing you can taste?

It helps take you out of the panic, and bring you back to your surroundings. Read the article - it explains it a lot better than I can. :)

Just be good to yourself. :)

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