• Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone!
  • Drugs and Alcohol and SM
  • Medication and Therapy for SM
  • Selective Mutism and Sports
  • Review: The SM Treatment Guide

Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone!

July 22, 2014 in SM Blogs, SM News Articles, Selective Mutism

I was recently reading online that children with SM have difficulty speaking to people they’re already not talking to. In other words, it’s easier to start talking to a stranger right off the bat than speak to someone with whom they’ve already established a pattern of silence. It’s a really interesting point, and someone asked why this was.

I can tell you that this was definitely the case with me. When I was a senior in high school, I was talking a little bit to my classmates, but I was still very much very withdrawn and suffering from various issues – depression, social anxiety, love sickness. That’s when I decided to run away to a different city (I came back a week later). I took a bus to Austin, Texas where one of my musical heroes, Stevie Ray Vaughn, used to live.

What happened during the trip was unexpected. I was able to let go of everything I was holding on to and get into the moment of things. I started talking to people on the bus and met some nice people, talked to the people in the hostel where I was staying, made new friends, played in a band, etc. Because these people had no idea that I “didn’t talk” it was a lot easier to establish a relationship with people where I did talk from the beginning. Of course, I still wasn’t super talkative or the most social person around, but I was no longer at that level where not being able to talk was emotionally crippling to my life.

To get back to that person’s original question, why is it so hard for SM’s to change in their existing relationships? It’s not exclusive to SM kids alone. It’s human nature to try to stay within your comfort zone. For example, for many people it’s extremely difficult to start an exercise routine. They get through with work, go to the gym, work out, and they’ll stick with that for a couple of days maybe even weeks. Then what happens? “Eh, I can miss one day.” Then that becomes two days, three days, and eventually they stop going. They tried stepping out of their comfort zone by going to the gym, and then reverted back to what they were comfortable with when it got difficult.

Here’s an example for people who don’t have SM. Say you are at a bar having a great time with your friends, laughing and joking around. All of a sudden your boss from work comes in the bar. For a moment, when you see your boss come up to you, you’ll revert back to work mode, and you’ll want to act in a different, more reserved way. If you don’t snap yourself out of that zone, you might stay this way throughout the night.

In the same way, kids with SM want to preserve the status quo around people they already know, and once you establish a pattern of silence it can be difficult to break out of it (although it can be done). I’ve heard about many cases where kids switch schools, and they become talkative almost instantly. However, there are counter examples to that where kids do move to a different school and then fall into the same pattern of SM. So it all just depends. A big factor that’s affecting that dynamic is forming an identity around SM, which I’ll talk about in another article.

Another example of a clash of comfort zones might be when you were a kid you had this really cool teacher at school. And one day you’re out shopping with your mom and you see that really cool teacher out in a non-school setting. It blows your mind because the two roles you play – your mom’s child and student – could conflict with each other, and whichever role is stronger will take over. If that kid had SM, he or she will most likely go silent because the ramifications of talking are much more immediate and perceived as a danger in the child’s mind.

Hopefully this provided some insight into the world of SM, and it was relatable to you in some way. Once you start to see these things happening in your own life, then you can take the next step to get out of your comfort zone. Constantly challenging yourself is the way to continue growing as a person, which is what it boils down to – and that goes for everyone. I’ll leave you with this quote.

“If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”

-Anthony Robbins

-Seth

P.S.

I found a really cool video on a guy who overcame his SM. He mentions breaking through your comfort zone, along with some other really inspirational stuff. Check it out!

00:18:10 Overcoming select-mutism! This is my story on how I overcame the biggest challenge in my life. I suffered from select mutism f...

Drugs and Alcohol and SM

July 22, 2014 in SM Blogs, SM News Articles, Selective Mutism

As sort of a continuation from the previous article, where I mentioned medication can help as a tool. Drugs and alcohol can be in many ways similar to taking medication. Let me just say, in case you are reading this and you’re a bit slow, DRUGS ARE BAD. I am not condoning drug taking, but I’d like to share my experiences with drugs, which may be limited, but hopefully will provide some insights, and you can take what you can out of it.

My former roommates smoked weed every day (and snorted cocaine sometimes, but that’s another story), and I would occasionally join in. I would talk to my roommates, but the conversations were very limited because more often than not, I wouldn’t know what else to say. They were very outgoing people and were always trying to get me to have fun and open up. At that stage of my life I was dealing with a lot of issues as a result of SM and depression. What I found was that smoking weed or drinking alcohol would get you a temporary high for about 10 minutes, and then after that you’re either smoking or drinking more to chase it and get that high back, or you’re back to your old self with all your problems still intact.

I know many people who drink socially who are fine. They enjoy it and just have a good time without any repercussions. And if you are one of those people, that can be a great way to relax. But a lot of people use alcohol as a way to allow themselves to bring out that inner self and to become more social. The good thing about this is it shows them that they can be a social person. The bad thing is once they stop being that social person, they want it again, and they can’t be that person unless they start drinking again. It becomes a crutch.

One of my favorite guitarists is Eric Clapton, who was a naturally shy child growing up. I read his autobiography years ago, and I remember him saying how he needed to drink in order to become that fun person he thought everyone expected him to be. Of course he is sober now, and much respect to him. But isn’t it funny how this problem can affect even the best of us?

I’m not saying never to drink, never do drugs, and never do anything bad ever. I’m saying if you are going to do those things, use your own judgment and be smart about it. For example, if you’ve never been social before, then trying alcohol or medication can give you a reference experience of how it feels to be in that state. Then in your normal state, you can actively try to recreate how it felt to be free and unstifled. But your end goal shouldn’t be the drug itself. If you find yourself saying “I can’t talk because I didn’t take my medication today” then you’ve become dependent on it, like learning to ride a bike with training wheels, but never taking the training wheels off. And unless you have those extra wheels, you can’t ride a bike. You wouldn’t say “I can’t ride my bike today because I don’t have my training wheels.” You have to keep taking action and trying to better yourself no matter what.

The point I’m trying to get across here is if you are planning to take medication or drugs to help you or if you’re already taking them, it’s so important not to fall into that trap of getting dependent on external sources of getting into a good headspace. I don’t want to use the word “addiction” because it has so many other connotations and associations attached to it, but there’s a definite correlation between what we’re talking about and addiction. You always want to be working on yourself without the use of alcohol and drugs. If you keep working on talking and becoming more social naturally, the benefits will be so much more grounded and gratifying, and ultimately you’ll realize that you don’t need anything but yourself in order to be yourself.

-Seth

Medication and Therapy for SM

July 22, 2014 in SM Blogs, SM News Articles, Selective Mutism

A question I’m often asked is what I think about medication for SM.

Some people are very dogmatic in their belief that medication should never be used in children, like messing with the batter before the cookies are even baked. If you are like that, then more power to you because the natural ways are of course ideal. I do believe medication can help when used correctly. It can definitely be a great tool to physiologically lower your levels of anxiety. However, we have to realize it’s only a tool, not the solution itself.

If your child is young enough that he or she hasn’t spent enough time to really identify with SM, then the medication can actually be a huge help. Since SM hasn’t been ingrained so much into them like someone who’s had it for years, essentially they become a very normal kid on the medication, and they can develop their social skills naturally alongside all the other kids. There should be a clear line of communication between parent and child that it’s not a magic pill, and eventually they’ll have to be weaned off of it.

Of course, I’ve also heard many stories where families say that medication had absolutely no effect on their child. Every child is different, and what works for one family may not work for another. You just have to take stock of what options are practical for your particular situation and what’s not.

A lot of older kids who’ve already passed the early stages of their life and have somewhat identified with the SM label take medication in hopes that it will “fix” them. They want to just take the medication, which will allow them to be normal and go on living their life. This is absolutely not the case. It’s the equivalent of seeing an ad on tv or online for a pill that will make you lose weight. All you have to do is take it once a day and watch the fat melt away. It is b.s. I’m not a big fan of things that try to hide the truth or provide a temporary band-aid on a much bigger problem.

On that note, I’ve seen a lot of adults and older teens who are stuck in that really hard place in their lives, which believe me I’ve been there too. And they go to therapy to try to fix their problems. Don’t get me wrong, I think therapy is very important. Some of my most profound realizations came from the help of my therapist at the time. And my girlfriend is currently starting grad school to become a therapist actually, and I support her all the way.

A lot of people with social anxiety go to therapy to try to get help. They go meet someone who talks to them, asks them questions, one on one, for maybe an hour a week (maybe more depending on the severity of the situation), inside a closed room… with no one else around. I’m not saying I’m a professional or anything, but it seems to me that there’s something very important missing, which is other people. The most effective and tried and true method of getting over anxiety is through positive associations and┬árepeated exposure to many different situations. What that means is going and talking to people over and over again. I realize that for a lot of you who have SM, this can seem almost impossible, but I promise you it is possible. I’ll be sharing how I overcame my selective mutism and details of how my journey started in future articles.

-Seth


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