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Old 2 Weeks Ago
 

Hi everyone,

I have just stumbled across this forum, and after reading so many of the posts and comments, I feel incredibly moved and touched by the accounts bravely shared by everyone. It has reminded me how debilitating and crippling our issue is. I am truly humbled to read of your perseverance and strength in the face of something that is so daunting, so pervading, so dominant over our lives, and your efforts to overcome it.

The one thing that has really struck me, is the amount of young people that are struggling with the same problem that has accompanied me along my life journey to date, but more worryingly to me, the effect of the problem, and the dominance of it in your individual lives, constricting your development; not through lack of foresight, direction or will, but not knowing how to deal with our shared nemesis.

This has moved me beyond words, and It suddenly struck me that my experiences, and especially how I have dealt with it recently, might be able to help you take back control of your life relatively quickly, and not suffer for years to come unnecessarily, putting your potential on hold until you maybe stumble across a solution at 37, as I did.

I have read many articles about self-belief which have resonated with me enormously. This concept has been the foundation of my acceptance, and the beginning of overcoming this particular obstacle in our lives. One which I would like to expand on now; and one which I have always believed, but did not always realise the power and potential in believing:

You are extraordinary. Let me say that again:

YOU. ARE. EXTRAORDINARY.

Your potential is limitless.
You are not defined by your blushing.
The sum of you does not = blushing.
Look in the mirror, even at your lowest ebb, and find one thing, however small, that you can smile at. Even if it is just the fact that you have stood up and are now looking in the mirror - it is a beautiful first step toward realising that this is an episode, a chapter, a challenge, an ally even, that will make you stronger, and help you to move forward and thrive free of this, live an extraordinary life, and to help others.
Everything you need is within you. Your magnificence is already there.
You are capable of things that you probably cannot even conceive right now, because the scale of this condition seems so insurmountable.

This is truth. This is part of your truth, your story.

Write yourself a life mantra, similar to the above and say it to yourself often. Hold these thoughts. Your mind is a beautiful gift, try to redirect its focus. Start to change the narrative of that omnipresent voice in our minds that haunts us so much. The one that says, “don't go red, don't go red”, and “oh great, I've got to speak in a minute and I'm going to go red in front of all my colleagues”.
Visualise in your mind the things you want to do but think impossible because of this obstacle - whatever you hold in your mind, becomes your reality - I truly believe this, and has helped me enormously.

As I read about the experiences of my fellow sufferers, I have realised that my relationship with blushing is not a solitary battle. I am not alone, and have not been alone during the past 25 years of living with this crippling problem which has, up until recently, dominated my thinking, restricted my progression, instilled a fear of blushing in me resulting in panic attacks, limited me from realising my potential, and to which, there has seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel.

I also realised that we all had so much in common in our experiences....

The absolute dread at being put on the spot and asked a question in front of a whole class or office meeting group, ( in fact, any "put on the spot" situation in front of a group of people), having to present at work to peers, having a conversation at a checkout till or bank with the cashier and being aware of people watching and listening to you; having to stand up in the middle of the office, and give an explanation about your role to a group of visitors; that first day of company inductions where you have to introduce yourself; audience participation at comedy gigs, theatre productions or workshops; dinners with a group of new people when you're asked a question and literally the entire group attention is focused on you; speaking in the open office to a person you find attractive and worrying that "it" will happen, and everyone around you will know how you feel, and the person you find attractive then thinks you're weird. When "it" finally does happen, and non-sufferers think it’s incredibly funny to highlight the fact to a wider audience who hadn't noticed, but have now, and having absolutely no idea that you are crumbling inside, and how low you then feel for the rest of the day beating yourself up about it. Being asked to do a reading at a wedding by a dear friend and worrying you will literally broadcast your problem to friends and family that you may have concealed the issue from for many years; when the person you love starts fantasising with you about the future and all you can think about is it happening on your wedding day - it's supposed to be a blushing bride, not groom right?? On that note, managing to conceal it from your girlfriend by avoiding certain situations and worrying that if you had to have the conversation, she will think less of you and will affect her view of you because she is not a sufferer and does not understand. Not applying for promotion because you know it will mean more public speaking situations.

All the above regularly left me beating myself up, feeling worthless, broken and ashamed. Reducing my self-esteem to very low levels, where I would become withdrawn. Desperately trying to reflect on the positives in my life, the things I am grateful for, the gifts I have been bestowed, my achievements to date - anything that would lift me from the despair I felt, but still the sense of failure prevailed. Feeling beaten, alone and hopeless.

Like many of you I would imagine, I have spent so much time over the years pondering on my problem and what has maybe happened to me in my earlier life that has sparked this reaction. I still can't answer that question, but it has not been necessary, for me at least, to know the answer to have triumphed over it.

What I find incredibly interesting is that this subject - our problem - seems so taboo and unspoken about. The level of ignorance amongst non-sufferers, and some health care professionals for that matter, actually put me off confiding in people and keeps the problem "underground".

So, what has helped me?

-Regular yoga practice and meditation – ESPECIALLY MEDITATION. It has helped me become a lot calmer - not in a constant state of “fight or flight”, and switch off the negative voice in my head.
-Learning about the nervous systems in the body, and how you can build resilience by using breathing exercises and movements that will augment the parasympathetic nervous system and help to calm the sympathetic nervous system.
-Positive affirmations.
-Positive visualisation.
-Speaking about our issue. For a very long time I could not bring myself to even acknowledge what was happening to me to others. Now I seem to be sharing and talking about it so often and without hesitation.
-Moving outside my comfort zone. For me, I always knew I would have to face my fears head on to overcome it and build confidence. To do the very thing that scared me the most. I went on a yoga teacher training course, and have been teaching classes since returning. The thought of which used to scare me to death. Even if you have no intention of teaching, I would massively recommend doing this. It built my confidence, expanded my knowledge, and was the most supportive and loving environment I have ever been in - it helped to heal me, and was one of the most profound experiences of my life.
-Acceptance. When it occasionally happens it's not such a big deal anymore, and I know what works for me to get my mind back in the right place if I happen to dip back into old thinking habits.

How has it helped me?

-Anxiety in social and work group settings massively reduced.
-Colossal reduction in blushing episodes in all aspects of my life.
-Increased confidence and happiness.
-Better sleep.
-No longer need to take medication – I was prescribed Propranolol for a long time (please talk to your doctor before stopping taking any medication).
-Advancement in my professional life.
-Improved communication.
-More belief in myself and abilities.
-Changing my own view about blushing so it’s a small part of me, not my entire world.
-I am now doing things that I once feared.
-Equipped me with coping tools and helped me change my mindset.

What to do if this seems right for you?

-Look up your nearest yoga/meditation centre or teacher, and either go and have a chat with them, or email them to see how they can help you. I’m sure you will find them most receptive and helpful. It may take a bit of time to find a teacher or practise that you feel comfortable with and feels right for you.
-See if there are any beginner classes near you. If a group setting is hard for you, then don’t worry, lots of teachers offer 1-1 sessions, and may offer discounted rates or be involved with a support group which will help keep the costs down.
-Have a look online for guided meditations that you find calming and soothing that you can do at home, or download onto your phone.
-Speak to your Doctor before attending a class.
-Have a look at the below video for some of the latest Science about yoga:


It is worth pointing out, particularly if you are new to yoga, that yoga is a life philosophy that deals with the mind, body and spirit. If you are not spiritual in any way, that is totally cool; so many people that attend classes have no interest in this part of yoga but still benefit greatly from practising. Yoga is not a religion or cult, and accepts people of all faiths or none at all – give it a go, you may find it incredibly helpful.

I truly hope this will resonate with, and help some of you – you are not alone my friends.

My sincere thoughts, empathy and compassion are with you, along with excitement about your futures to come.

You are extraordinary.
Your potential is limitless.
You are not defined by your blushing.
The sum of you does not = blushing.
Everything you need is within you.
Your magnificence is already there.

Much love, understanding and happiness to you all.

Take care of yourselves,

Graham.
Cambridge, UK.


A quick note, I am writing about my own personal experiences. I am not a medical professional, and realise that what may work for me, may not work for you. That said, you may not have considered the above, so it's worth a shot. The above practices have had a monumental positive impact on my suffering with this cruel condition, and I feel it is my duty to at least raise them for discussion, that they may hopefully offer help and comfort for some, whom may needlessly be in a very unhappy place - of which, I have experienced so often before.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago
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I was expecting some form of spam at the end of your post, but was pleasantly surprised.
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