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Businessman with Social Phobia "Trains" 5 Months to Attend Son’s Wedding, Has Great Time

03 Apr

A businessman with social phobia and panic attacks spends 5 months preparing to attend his son’s wedding, and he winds up enjoying himself more than any of the 180 guests in the room.

I am a successful businessman with a wonderful wife who is also my best friend, and two grown children. In spite of my good fortune, I have always suffered from anxiety. I had panic attacks as a child and again in college. They resurface at unexpected times. Anxiety seems to run in my family. My mother suffered from it, as does an older sister and my youngest brother.

Over the past decade, I have experienced increasing social anxiety. As a result I found myself choosing to stay home rather than go to "optional" social activities. To my extraverted wife’s regret, I avoided many events and parties, even with people we were very fond of. She attended alone. However, when my son announced his intention to marry his beautiful fiancée, I knew that this was one "party" I could not, should not and would not avoid.

Panic Basically I worked with the Help with Panic program. I am very organized and determined, so I began 5 months before the wedding date, which was scheduled for New Year’s Eve. For two months, every evening and every morning, I practiced what Belleruth refers to as the basic, self-regulation exercises. I got very adept at counting my breaths and doing mantra meditation, until I was doing these practices in my sleep (I am calm, I am peace). I almost could hear them just beneath the surface of my everyday activities, like subliminal hearing. The effect was slight in the beginning, but after a few weeks, there was no question that I was becoming calmer and more grounded on an everyday basis.

Then I started with the panic imagery and affirmations - imagery in the morning and affirmations at night, except for two days a week, when I would return to the breathing and mantra work. The warrior imagery was very positive for me. It gave me a sense of my own courage.

The long and the short of it is, I enjoyed my son’s wedding more than anyone else in the room, and there were 180 guests there. In fact, by early December, I was looking forward to the event, most of the time. My wife enjoyed my willingness to "practice" by accompanying her to the theatre and to two holiday parties. My only regret is that my son did not decide to get married earlier!

My wife encouraged me to write. She felt it would give hope and motivation to others in similar circumstances. I hear there are quite a few of us.

Yours truly,
John T.
Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award