I went to a reading group at a recovery college ran by the local NHS mental health trust. There were about 10 of us in the room. Most the others had been there before but there was one other man who was new.
People tend to take turns reading and I was offered a go so I gave it a try. I managed about two and a half sentences. My breathing became laboured and I was shaking. My voice was trembling and I was really embarassed. Halfway through the last sentence I was reading I felt I was about to gasp for air, so I blurted out "Sorry, I don't like-" and I couldn't even finish the sentence. Then the woman running it said it was okay and asked someone else to read.
After that I didn't have confidence to discuss the book after we read it because I was worried the same thing would happen to my voice.
It worries me that something so basic was so difficult for me. I had a similar panic attack at an accounting evening class I started a year and a half ago but that was for a different reason, it was because we all were instructed to introduce ourselves, and say a bit about ourselves at the beginning of the class. Also when people began to talk to one another in the class I felt totally alien from the others, not at all finding their humour funny and feeling like they were all becoming too familiar and talkative with one another, way too fast.
Does anyone relate to that?
maybe next time you could go along, but arrange with the organizer that you don't read, but just listen, and see how that goes?
Yeah, that's true. I might need to do public speaking one day though.
yeah, but one day...start small!
I suppose you're right, Rome wasn't built in a day; thanks for your support
Just keep going and you'll feel less awkward each time
Hopefully that's true, thank you!
I have experience with this behaviour too, ever since I was a child. I also exhbit apraxia or aphasia when anxious, where I find it difficult to recall words and will be in a frozen state of confusion.
I cannot speak as though I have overcome this problem, but from my own personal observations I tend to relax when I enter into what is known as a flow state, where I am hyperfocused on the task at hand and all other distractions fade away.
Typically when we are anxious it is because our attention is being fixated towards how other people may be reacting towards us, we will then engage in catastrophizing, which starts as unconcious thoughts that precede the event (reading), such as what if I panic? What if I stumble my words?
As Esmeralda points out, you will feel less awkward each time due to a process called habituation, where repeated exposure of the activity will force the brain to interpret the event as a normal circumstance.
Really interesting reply! Thanks. Learned two new words too - apraxia and aphasia.