For the past 24 years of my life, I’ve been wearing a mask.
Not just any old flimsy mask, either. No, this is a true military grade bulletproof battle helmet, complete with a stainless steel cage, high-density foam padding, and some screws to hold it all together. It’s even custom molded to better protect, perform, and intimidate.
For most of my life I’ve struggled with social anxiety disorder, along with generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, and depression. During the worst of it, I was on strong medication and medical disability benefits due to my fear of job interviews. I would feel uncomfortable or awkward in public 90 percent of the time.
Details about how to implement cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in treating anxiety, specifically using exposure and response prevention (ERP), cognitive restructuring, behavioral experiments (exposure to anxiety triggers)
Video produced by AnxietyTraining.com
As a child, I was gregarious, outgoing, and happy-go-lucky. Then something went horribly askew at about age 12. I did not know why I was unable to focus when I had been the best reader in school. I had been talkative, but I kept to myself, remained silent, and let bullies pick on me. I hadn't the slightest idea what was going on with my body and mind. Eighth-grade was probably my worst year because I was taunted, harassed, and bullied.
Two years ago I wondered if the horrible feeling, the gnawing in my stomach would ever leave. Inside my freshman dorm room, I lived in my own mind, fixated on my thoughts and tormented by irrational messages and faulty fears.
Founded in 1979, ADAA is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to the prevention, treatment, and cure of anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, and co-occurring disorders through education, practice, and research.