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Steve's journey (reflecting back as a Support Group Facilitator)

This page added April 14, 2013

By Steve (ADAVIC Volunteer - Support Group Facilitator)

It has been around eight years that I've been involved with ADAVIC, with the first year and a half as an attendee of the support group meetings with both anxiety and panic disorder, particularly social phobia. I had my own conditions attached to attending the meetings where I had to sit next to the open door ready to escape in case I had a panic attack and I would not attend without a support person.

Well a lot has changed over the years and now I am one of the facilitators at the Altona Support Group trying to convey my skills and support to anyone whom attends the group. It was a long seven year journey to find a support mechanism and also find out what was wrong with me. Little did I realise that everything was right with me, I just discovered that I had an emotional side which was doing overtime. Yes, that's the whole of it, just doing overtime and showing up stronger and more often than laughter, happiness, contentment, joy and assertiveness, along with all of the  other reactions and emotions that come with everyday life.

I went from therapist to psychiatrist to counsellor without any real effective treatment and progress. ADAVIC and the support group gave me all the right tools and a real direction through its wealth of information and expansive network of health professionals that specialise in this area to find my way.

The first step was to know that I was normal. From there I learnt to trust myself and anything that I felt was simply an out of the ordinary peak in generic everyday human anxiety, which is very manageable with some simple and effective techniques which were proven time and time again. All I needed to do was practice just like learning to ride a bike which means that once you know how to do it you can never forget. The bicycle took me on an unforgettable journey where I came into touch with my emotions and developed a love for life which I can only describe as being released from 10 years of solitary confinement. Now I've never been to jail so this description may be too simple, just as simple as the support, strategies and listening to other people's stories at the support group which gave me great freedom to know that I was not alone, and that others were going through the same thing as I was. There was no more sitting on the back step thinking "Why is no one else feeling like this?" I now sit on the back step thinking about the beauty of the trees, grass, sun and the freedom that I have earned from remaining on that bicycle. I'm sorry that I can not lend you my bicycle because it doesn't sit in my shed gathering dust. I'm still riding it to this day. I can however show you how to find your own bicycle and embark on your own journey.

I am almost a qualified Counsellor which will give me the opportunity to work full time helping others to manage their anxiety and panic.

Looking back I would never have thought that my experiences would be the best thing to happen to me in my entire life to date. There are still many more years to come and I hope to see you muster up even just one gram of courage to meet me and the other facilitators at a future support group meeting to get on your bike! And guess what? We give you permission to have the biggest most earth-moving panic attack at our support group. After eight years I've never seen it happen, and if it does you will end up on our wall of fame for bravery because you're taking the first step towards recovery.

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