"What are some skills you could use to to handle the anxiety you’ll be experiencing [in the first group session?]"
And I was so overwhelmed with anxiety over the thought of attending the first group session that I couldn’t answer her.
I wasn’t able to speak when I was first introduced to the therapist who runs the group sessions, but we’re going to try again in two weeks. At that time I will try to talk to him to ask if I can use the coping skills I used in group at the hospital, most notably coloring. I’m also going to mention it took almost 20 contact hours before I was able to talk at the hospital, and ask to sit by him in case I need to write out my answers to questions.
Yes, I very nearly had a panic attack just thinking about being in a group situation. I couldn’t breathe for a minute after she said “there’ll be eight to ten people in the room,” and she straight up told me to ask my doctor for anxiety meds to use for that session, at the very least. I was this close to having to actually put my head between my legs - and crying even before I fully processed that there was something to be scared about. There isn’t a single doctor or therapist who has ever questioned the social anxiety diagnosis, except when trying to narrow down exactly how bad it really gets.