Do’s and Don’ts of Helping a friend with social anxiety or Phobias (Sting and Paul Simon Serenade)


Perhaps you have a friend or mate who becomes intensely uncomfortable in social situations. Or perhaps you yourself have an intense aversion to large crowds or some other phobia that the people around you think you need to “get over”. Getting over these phobias is easier said than done. In this article we will explore some forms of social anxiety from other people’s point of view interspersed with some of my own failures and successes where social anxiety are concerned. I’m going to begin by listing a bunch of attempts that ended with less than successful  or mixed results, I will finish up with some recent victories.

Lets take a journey in the way back machine

and look as some of my past attempts to interact in social situations when there are a lot of people around.

July 27, 2010

Longmont Colorado City Council chambers

Longmont City Council Chambers 7/27/10

July 27, 2010 1 hour 15 mins to go. I’m sittin in the council chambers….. first signed up to speak, but its agenda item 11A

On July 27, 2010, I gathered my courage and went down to the Longmont, Colorado City Council Chambers to speak about the Council wanting to ban dispensaries in the city of Longmont.  I was terrified. I knew I was walking into a metaphorical “lion’s den” and I was doing it alone. I dressed as professionally as the closet of clothing and fashions provided by the the thrift store on my meager income. I had spent a great deal of time preparing myself for the 3 minute speech I was to give to our city fathers and mothers. I had my speech all written out on 3×5 cards so as to appear more professional. I arrived almost an hour early, but that had more to do with the distance I had to walk and my paranoia that it would take me longer than the average person to walk the 5 mile distance from the place where the RV I lived in was parked and the City Council Chambers. While this experience was a success in that I made it to the city council chambers, I do not count it as a success. I was successful in that I did manage to attend and to give my speech and even go through this same process several more times, even getting my name repeatedly in the Longmont Times Call (the local newspaper) and my little speeches to the city mothers and fathers even were aired on TV, appearing at the time on “The Longmont Channel” (a public access channel serving the Longmont area)

Anyone who may question why I do not consider these exercises a success need only watch the video from one of the city council meetings. Despite the eloquence of my words, you can clearly see (and I even mention) how afraid I am.

07/20/2010 View the video here: I am the second citizen to speak

http://65.49.32.143/presentation/longmont/777305ac-340b-4c4c-9600-bb3ec6c0d414/072010of_Agenda/presentation_file/mgpresenter.html

the video from July 27, 2010:

http://65.49.32.143/presentation/longmont/62fc90a1-21ab-41f4-b9f4-4068d164d029/072710rs_Agenda/presentation_file/mgpresenter.html

associated links:

times call article list: http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=LCDB&p_theme=lcdb&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&s_dispstring=allfields(Breedheen)%20AND%20date(all)&p_field_advanced-0=&p_text_advanced-0=(%22Breedheen%22)&xcal_numdocs=20&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&xcal_useweights=no

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=141767912509893&set=a.151763424843675.27293.100000300558421&type=3&src=https%3A%2F%2Ffbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net%2Fhphotos-ak-frc3%2Ft1%2F38509_141767912509893_2555818_n.jpg%3Flvh%3D1&size=300%2C400

links to more experiences so that those along the path may see that it can really take a lot of failure on the social anxiety road before you can reach a shining success… I’m not going to go into each humiliation in great detail, but you can visit the links and see for yourself what I am speaking about here:

New Years eve 2011: https://www.facebook.com/breezy.kiefair/media_set?set=a.181356261884391.40580.100000300558421&type=3

state capitol edible hearing: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=196532210366796&set=a.151763424843675.27293.100000300558421&type=3&src=https%3A%2F%2Fscontent-a-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net%2Fhphotos-ash2%2Ft1%2F181912_196532210366796_5403390_n.jpg&size=640%2C480

artistic images from that hearing: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.204678466209542.55495.154533251224064&type=3

Traveling through Southern Colorado on foot and Stranger’s kindness

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.308895199121201.84420.154533251224064&type=3

2012 MLK day march https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=342732465746769&set=a.151763424843675.27293.100000300558421&type=3&src=https%3A%2F%2Fscontent-b-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net%2Fhphotos-frc3%2Ft1%2F401386_342732465746769_2115864266_n.jpg&size=640%2C480

Ganja Gala January 27, 2012

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=350522411634441&set=a.151763424843675.27293.100000300558421&type=3&src=https%3A%2F%2Fscontent-a-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net%2Fhphotos-ash2%2Ft31%2F210824_350522411634441_1816312773_o.jpg&smallsrc=https%3A%2F%2Fscontent-a-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net%2Fhphotos-ash2%2Ft1%2F396573_350522411634441_1816312773_n.jpg&size=1280%2C2048

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=358500207503328&set=a.151763424843675.27293.100000300558421&type=3&src=https%3A%2F%2Ffbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net%2Fhphotos-ak-frc3%2Ft1%2F420024_358500207503328_1375356071_n.jpg&size=308%2C480

fb ganja gala event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/256052781125358/

event description:

Join us at Colorado’s inaugural Ganja Gala, benefiting the Medical Marijuana Assistance Program of America (MMAPA) and National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). This Roaring Twenties-themed fundraising joint will celebrate the achievements of the medical cannabis industry with Prohibition Era cocktails, tasting stations serving swell snacks, and gabbing with other cannabis industry leaders to swank twenties era and modern music. Get dolled up in your costume or cocktail glad rags and join us for a night on the town. It’s sure to be the cat’s meow!Need more information? Contact Christie@303-250-0096

I was actually thrown out of the Ganja Gala when a brain injured member of my party engaged people across the vip lines… i was mortified, but also took a stand for the low income people the event coordinators were using for fundraising but not truly helping.

Paris on the Platte, revisiting a place of strength

https://www.facebook.com/breezy.kiefair/media_set?set=a.755419424478069.1073741855.100000300558421&type=3

Cinderella’s misadventures at the Halloween Hash Bash

https://www.facebook.com/breezy.kiefair/media_set?set=a.691553604197985.1073741843.100000300558421&type=3

Interaction in small groups

Michelle Lamay’s Thanksgiving Visit https://www.facebook.com/breezy.kiefair/media_set?set=a.711323275554351.100000300558421&type=3

Purchasing from private growers: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=740424859310859&set=t.100000300558421&type=3&src=https%3A%2F%2Ffbcdn-sphotos-c-a.akamaihd.net%2Fhphotos-ak-prn2%2Ft31%2F1556308_740424859310859_616353164_o.jpg&smallsrc=https%3A%2F%2Ffbcdn-sphotos-c-a.akamaihd.net%2Fhphotos-ak-prn1%2Ft1%2F15658_740424859310859_616353164_n.jpg&size=2048%2C1536

Donations from Rev Baker via a Good Neighbor: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=740382512648427&set=t.100000300558421&type=3&src=https%3A%2F%2Ffbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net%2Fhphotos-ak-frc3%2Ft31%2F1501632_740382512648427_1236464536_o.jpg&smallsrc=https%3A%2F%2Ffbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net%2Fhphotos-ak-ash3%2Ft1%2F1043861_740382512648427_1236464536_n.jpg&size=2048%2C1536

Diana Sunshine Wulf and Pennies for Pot

https://www.facebook.com/breezy.kiefair/media_set?set=a.709271002426245.100000300558421&type=3

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151852060018757&set=t.100000300558421&type=3&src=https%3A%2F%2Ffbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.net%2Fhphotos-ak-prn2%2Ft31%2F1421171_10151852060018757_529150658_o.jpg&smallsrc=https%3A%2F%2Ffbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.net%2Fhphotos-ak-prn2%2Ft1%2F1424359_10151852060018757_529150658_n.jpg&size=1600%2C1200

Renting a Basement from a friend for a few days to make cancer cure oil:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=658667970819882&set=t.100000300558421&type=3&src=https%3A%2F%2Fscontent-b-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net%2Fhphotos-ash4%2Ft31%2F1167505_658667970819882_1543100740_o.jpg&smallsrc=https%3A%2F%2Fscontent-b-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net%2Fhphotos-ash4%2Ft1%2F1146743_658667970819882_1543100740_n.jpg&size=1448%2C2048

I’ve detailed some pretty sad attempts to interact socially. No matter what I did or how I tried, these social interactions with larger groups of people just kept ending in disaster! Interactions with smaller groups were easier, but still difficult. My fears in social situations had become social anxiety or maybe would be better termed as a social phobia. I simply could not walk into a crowd without running away 3x as fast. Then one day, I found myself interviewing a new roommate and was invited to a concert that I would dearly love to see. I was faced with the old social anxiety dilemma… “do I go and risk running out, or do I not even try?” I decided to keep on trying.

Victory at last! Attendance of Sting and Paul Simon Concert 2/11/2014

Playlist of videos performed at the concert. Please note that this playlist is not the actual concert, it is a peace offering to audio purists because the quality of my video and mic are so poor. I have tried to get the music video the artist produced for mass consumption whenever possible. If an artistic music video was unavailable, I have substituted it with a live performance of much higher quality video/audio than the video I shot.

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwc43UiVjiufYewv_-RgH0icVF61lxgne

Some of you know what a huge deal attending last night's concert was for me. Yes, it was amazing to be serenaded by two artists of such high esteem. Yes, it was an enormous gift too big and lovely for me to have even contemplated far outside of what my own income ever has been able to provide... Yet, there is a huge truth that usually would have prevented me from attending. My ptsd has left me with a near phobia of crowds, and it is rare I even attempt attendance where there will be many people except when I need a bit of in person research for kiefair.com and the research cannot possibly be done any other way and is meant to help folks... I am sure there were some folks last night who were waiting to see me run screaming away from the concert. This did not happen. We got there early, and for a full 3 hours I was in the midst of a crowd. In the end, it wasn't the fear, but sting's light show towards the end was just way too much stimuli for me (nearly had a seizure for the first time in a long time). When I could not stand any more, my new roommate was so kind, nonjudgemental, and also was more than ready to go, allowing me not to have to fight the crowd on the way out. If you can see why this image would be a huge deal to me to attend and not run from the crowd, then I thank you for cheering me on.  ref: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=751610774858934&set=a.151763424843675.27293.100000300558421&type=1&permPage=1

Some of you know what a huge deal attending last night’s concert was for me. Yes, it was amazing to be serenaded by two artists of such high esteem. Yes, it was an enormous gift too big and lovely for me to have even contemplated far outside of what my own income ever has been able to provide… Yet, there is a huge truth that usually would have prevented me from attending. My ptsd has left me with a near phobia of crowds, and it is rare I even attempt attendance where there will be many people except when I need a bit of in person research for kiefair.com and the research cannot possibly be done any other way and is meant to help folks… I am sure there were some folks last night who were waiting to see me run screaming away from the concert. This did not happen. We got there early, and for a full 3 hours I was in the midst of a crowd. In the end, it wasn’t the fear, but sting’s light show towards the end was just way too much stimuli for me (nearly had a seizure for the first time in a long time). When I could not stand any more, my new roommate was so kind, nonjudgemental, and also was more than ready to go, allowing me not to have to fight the crowd on the way out. If you can see why this image would be a huge deal to me to attend and not run from the crowd, then I thank you for cheering me on. ref: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=751610774858934&set=a.151763424843675.27293.100000300558421&type=1&permPage=1

fb photo from concert: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=751610774858934&set=t.100000300558421&type=3&src=https%3A%2F%2Fscontent-b-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net%2Fhphotos-prn1%2Ft1%2F1932238_751610774858934_704856247_n.jpg&size=960%2C720

So, what made this time so much different?

1. This concert was a “bucket list item for me” meaning that I wanted to attend a Sting Concert before I died. The fact that I have so often wanted to attend a Sting concert was a definite factor in me overcoming my fear. The person feeling the fear must be excited enough about the event to overrule the fear. A business event within the industry the person works within can be a double edged sword for those with social anxiety. Those types of events appear attractive because there may or may not be people the person having the anxiety knows at the event. For me, industry events are like kryptonite… I always feel like I’m about to jump into a shark tank. It probably has something to do with my past failures at such events where other people needed me to take a stand, no matter how uncomfortable to me… For this reason, it is not my recommendation to mingle work and your attempts to overcome social anxiety at least in the beginning. If you are strong at work from behind your computer, don’t try to change that dynamic too much to start. It’s more rewarding to make this type of growth outside of the work setting and in a fun setting anyway.

2. I did not have time to overthink the event. The invitation happened the night before the event. I had a clear choice without much waiting or anticipation surrounding it. I said yes, and went the next day. I have sometimes found that when I am given too much time to ponder an event, it makes it impossible for me to attend because my mind is given too much time to ponder the negative possibilities.

3. Choose your mates for the battle carefully! The person attending the event with me knew how difficult the crowd would be for me and made every effort to help me through it. When I became overwhelmed with the crowd, a member of my party directed me to a quiet area to recenter. It did not take me long at all to regain my bearings and be able to continue along our way to our seats despite a long walk and a lot of people to get through. In the past, others have reacted to my fear in far less supportive ways causing me to utterly fail in my attempts to overcome. They probably did not realize they were making it harder for me, so no one is to blame really for my previous failure…. but the point is, the right support can = success.

4. I knew I had permission from myself and those in my party to leave if the experience proved to be too much for me or just became overstimulating in general. We stayed through nearly the entire concert, but this permission did come into play towards the end of the event. We left the event slightly early not because of my fear of any crowds, but from the stimuli of the light show on my seizure disorder.

5. Leaving a little early can help you not have to fight the same crowd twice. By either showing up early and/or leaving early or late, you can effectively avoid having to fight crowds too much. It was a far different experience walking out of the event than it had been walking into the event.

videos from the event

Links on social anxiety, Ptsd, and Related articles:

social anxiety from wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_anxiety

NIMH social anxiety: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/social-phobia-social-anxiety-disorder/index.shtml

Related posts on Kiefair.com

Cannabis Activism Home Movies from the Kiefair Journey

Weight Gain Journey of an Intractably Nauseous Stomach

PTSD People and Passive Aggressive People… a toxic mix

About Breezy Kiefair

links about breezy blog http://breedheenorilleykeefer.com/ on youtube http://www.youtube.com/user/Mr8MrsKiefAir?feature=mhsn ~ Do all that you can to cultivate peace within yourself, that it might shine out from you, and plant the seed of peace in other spirits, for them to cultivate.~ {Remember... it is when we choose act on the issues that are in front of our faces, when we choose to get involved instead of looking the other way as our fellow man struggles, when we choose to take those small simple little actions, working on righting little wrongs in our everyday lives that really make change happen, those seemingly small actions are what really make the world a better place and are a catalyst for greater social change.} ~Both quotes by Breedheen "Bree" O'Rilley Keefer~ an interview in the 420 times http://the420times.com/2010/06/the-faces-of-medical-marijuana-an-interview-with-breez/ Cannabis Health News Magazine... see pages 37-39 http://cannabishealthnewsmagazine.com/PDF/CHNM_Feb2010_small.pdf

Posted on 2014/02/11, in American Dream, Breezy Kiefair, Cannabis, cannabis, Healing, Health, Hemp, United States and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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